Timed runs at trail centres

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  • Timed runs at trail centres
  • This is just an idea, so feel free to tell me why it won't work or how it could be improved.
    The Kona Mas Up proves that people want to know how fast they are at trail centres.
    How about a semi permanent timing system.

    The trail centre buys a number of pairs of electronic control stationsfor around £100 each.
    They move them around week to week and publish a calendar showing which section of which trail will be timed each week.
    Riders buy a SI card or "dibber" for around £30.
    Riders turn up at the trail centre, dib the start control, ride the section, dib the finish control.
    At the end of the day the trail centre collects the control stations and updates the riders times on their websites in an ongoing league table.
    Only the fastest time for each SI card gets recorded each day and overwrites any previous days slower rides. This will discourage people from sharing or loaning SI cards.

    Good points;
    It will increase business for the trail centres.
    It could become a standard feature with one SI card working at all trail centres.
    Riders like to know how fast they are. Now they can prove it.

    Bad points;
    The control stations may get stolen. If they are only used on weekends and there's enough riders in the scheme taking an interest it should be self policing.
    The rider needs to physically poke the dibber in the control station. No flying runs, they will need to stop at the end.
    Somebody's got to come up with a few hundred quid for the equipment to get this started.
    Somebody's got to run it all. Putting the control stations out, collecting them in, updating the league table etc.

    I've used these electronic dibbers on a trailquest. The technology is established and reliable. It's just a matter of transferring it to a new use.

    Premier Icon woody2000

    Won't work – you'll get too many knobbers/wannabee racers making life unpleasant for the majority of people who are just out for a pootle – unless you're talking about having specific days for timed laps only?

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes


    If you want to race, go to a race.


    Long Range Weather Forecast:

    Areas of Wales, Scotland and England will become shrouded in a strange red mist. Met Office experts suggest this red mist also has a strange effect on peoples' mood and behaviour; otherwise placid and laid back individuals suddenly take on an aggressive and competitive like demeanour. 😀

    I think it's a great idea in principle but you might find that the insurance becomes problematic as you would effectively be turning every regular riding day into a competition.


    Agreed, plus would have thought it can cause issues with liability by endorsing competition?

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    Nice idea but there are major insurance implications for it.

    Why is everyone so fixated with Trail centres??

    I've never seen why?

    Surely the best trails are all natural?

    I'd say there was no chance whatsoever of the FC permitting this at any of their trail centres – paranoid enough as it is over H&S issues without increasing the risks even more…

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes

    Hang on, if you really want to do it, I'll provide the equipment.

    Anyone wanting to join the scheme, send me £30. I'll send you one of these

    to use for a year, then return to me. It's not only able to record the time at the end of the lap, but you can see the special digital readout at any time. After your lap is complete, email or sms the size of your willy to my web app, and i will reply saying how big a cock you've been on the day. Simples.


    Trail centres rock, I mean would you like all the weekend warriors clogging up the lovely natural trails?

    Apart from the points about shared trail usage, it would also be illegal for any of the centres which run along or even cross bridleways to operate such a scheme. This would be easily construed as racing or time trialling which was outlawed in a 19th century act of Parliament which our current bunch of wasters can't be bothered repealing despite it being perfectly legal to race cars, motorbikes, on foot, on horseback along them. It is becoming more and more dodgy to even publish times for mass participation rides and is one of the reasons why the likes of the Trans Wales has to have long liason stages which are untimed.

    It's not a race, it's a time trial. A small difference to the riders, but a big difference to the law and insurance.

    OK, so maybe it wouldn't work at Cannock, where there's only one official XC route, but maybe Glyncorrwg and Afan could close one trail a month to pootlers and reserve it for dibbers.
    Maybe it could work just for the DH at Cannock or Cwmcarn.

    Glyncorrwg wasn't closed for the Mash Up last Saturday, I saw plenty of riders without number boards who were just out for a normal day's ride. If the timed sections are reasonably short, I don't see any problem with giving slower riders a head start.

    It's not a fixation with trail centres. it's a fixation with competition.
    Trail centres are just an ideal place to do it.


    A time trial is still a comptetive event, ask BC what they think.

    There's an already a slightly more elegant solution aimed at mountain bikers, in the form of Freelaps


    As other people say though, you'd be looking at running dedicated days or evenings for it when the trail would have to be closed. I'm sure there are already people doing a similar thing for themselves on open trails with GPS and the like, but it's not the sort of mentality I would imagine the trail managers want to foster.

    Racing on bridleways

    It is forbidden to hold a cycle race or trial of speed on a bridleway, a blanket ban introduced by the 1988 Road Traffic Act. However, it is permitted to hold a motor race on a bridleway – or even a footpath – which is clearly inequitable.

    CTC believes that this is an unnecessarily blunt means of regulating cycle events, and that the relevant section of the RTA 1988 should be replaced by suitable regulations to enable organised cycle events to be held on, and cross, bridleways.

    Premier Icon cookeaa

    To be fair the Mash up is as much or as little of a race as the individual wants to make it…
    I also think there is a difference between having a timed race event like the mash up and a timed practice on your own or with mates…

    I actually like your idea, it would be a great training aid and lets people plot their progress, but it has some key points that need considering:

    -It would be pretty open to vandalism, yes the kit is in the arse end of nowhere but that doesn’t always seem to deter shit bags from smashing up anything they come across…

    -Personally I’d want to know all my times, not just if I was the fastest on the day or not, I’d rather all my times were automatically sent to a pre-registered email address, if this is all going to be computerised and automated…
    And maybe just the 10 fastest times go up on the web (bit like top scores on an arcade machine)…

    -Initial and maintenance costs, setup is one thing but the trail kit needs maintaining and how are the users going to be charged?
    Annual subscription?
    Setup charge plus fee for each run?
    One off payment?
    Possibly different packages, some will only ride one or two centres, others may ride all over the UK, should they all pay the same or can they add locations to their account?

    -You’d need to know what people are willing to pay and how that stacks up Vs the cost of the implementing scheme…

    -The other major thing is what sort and how many sections are you timing at each centre? Is the Bias towards the DH bits, maybe some climbs too?
    If I wanted my time for a full loop of say Whites level but with split times for certain key sections, could you do this for me or is that going to require a massive amount of trailside equipment and therefore additional cost?

    The technology exists; the next hurdle is getting enough people willing to pay for it to come on board….

    The other thing is simpler and possibly cheaper competition, everyone’s seen the freelap jobbies, but you could also time a section using GPS (I think you can with a Garmin anyhow)… a permanently installed timing system could be a flier but the danger is that a quite clunky bit of technology gets overtaken by other cheaper alternatives and fails to generate enough revenue to keep it going…


    Its a good idea, but as many have said the FC probably won't allow it.

    There are time trials, trailquests and marathons taking part on RoWs all the time with the minimum of official involvement.
    The Tour of Britain is a different matter altogether as it is a race involving police and councils and road closures.
    What I've got in mind is more of an off road time trial.
    There's no reason why the control stations couldn't be placed along the Ridgeway or Sustrans Route 45. It's just that there's staff, car parks and riders at trail centres already.

    Premier Icon jam bo

    gawton is getting a permanent installation of freelap timing circuits. watchs will be available to hire or you can use your own.

    a league table will be maintained by woodland riders.

    X posted with pistonbroke. I wasn't aware the law was different for time trials on bridleways and roads. I ride trailquests which use a mixture of the two with no problem.

    I hadn't heard of Freelaps before either. That looks a similar sort of thing, but would need the trail centres again to install and maintain the poles.

    The SI cards are £30 each. If the trail centres sold enough of them for £40, that would cover their costs. I'm only coming up with ideas, not a fully finished business model.


    A bit like this set-up on the Devon south coat for running:

    Endurance Life news article

    I couldn't see anything on their web, so no idea if it's still going.

    The SI cards are £30 each. If the trail centres sold enough of them for £40,

    And you think that enough cyclists will shell out £40 to time a few laps when their watches/GPS units will do it for them. There isn't a cyclist alive who will spend that sort of money for very occasional use. Just look at the constant refusal to pay even a fraction of that sum to park a car for all day riding.

    Having organised Trailquests and served on the governing body, I can speak from personal experience. Trailquests use SI dibbers not for measuring the speed of competitors but to add up their scores based on where they have been.The only mountainbike orienteering discipline which decides the winner on the basis of the fastest speed is MTBO which has to be held in areas without bridleways or operate a marshalling system whereby competitors have to carry thier bikes across them, mad but true. I agree that many marathon events run along bridleways and also publish timed results which is pretty dodgy but yet to be tested by law. It will only take some clever bu££er to try it on and these events will be stuffed. I also worry about things like offroad Duathlons as again the fastest time wins, the organisers seem blissfully unaware of the law and run the risk of being fined or worse for their pains.

    Premier Icon cookeaa

    Bloody nay-sayers….

    It’s not a race nor is it a time trial, there is no prize on offer it’s not part of an event as the system would be running all year round and no formal results or points would be awarded for a fast or slow time…
    It is merely a training aid/timing system to allow enthusiastic/serious cyclists to gauge their speed over a fixed section of cycle trail…

    Just like any roadie; starting a timer at the beginning and stopping it at the end of a training ride, is not a race merely a “performance gauge”…

    So after everyone telling me it wouldn't work for mountain bikes, it's already been done for runners. 😛
    It was an Endurancelife trailquest where I first came across these electronic control stations.

    There isn't a cyclist alive who will spend that sort of money for very occasional use

    Not even those who paid £30 for one days use at the Kona mash up ?

    It will only take some clever bu££er to try it on and these events will be stuffed.

    Really? It's far from clear cut in legal terms, you'd put an end to a whole range of activities that are clearly not against the public interest in any way shape or form, plus you'd face all the usual ineffiency and complications that come with a criminal prosecution, and you seriously think there's a risk of this?

    ollie T

    If you think your Quick or like competition Race, If not just ride and enjoy it. You see it all the time on here about people moaning that they got lapped at a race by a faster or ignorant rider,so imagine all the wanabe racers at trail centres causing mayhem and crashes.

    It is becoming more and more dodgy to even publish times for mass participation rides

    Got any evidence for this assertion?

    I totally agree its a mad law but it is a law and should a body such as FE or Till Hill or anyone else for that matter condone breaking the law by publishing a league table based on timed runs, they are liable to be prosecuted. Of course anyone wanting to privately time themselves is perfectly at liberty to do so, it is the competitive element of publishing times that tips the balance. As I commented earlier, this stupid law doesnt apply to runners, horseriders, car rallys and motorbike enduros. The system can also be used for road cycling such as spotives without issue. IT'S JUST BIKES ON BRIDLEWAYS.


    It could work at sites like Gawton that are essentially private clubs, but there's no way it'd work on a public site.

    Premier Icon jam bo

    at woodland riders other site we run timing sessions for club members. This is covered under our BC insurance. However, we are not allowed to rank/sort those times or award prizes.

    if we wanted to do that then we would have to have full event insurance and all the conditions that go with that.

    which is why we are…


    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    It’s not a race nor is it a time trial, there is no prize on offer it’s not part of an event as the system would be running all year round and no formal results or points would be awarded for a fast or slow time…
    It is merely a training aid/timing system to allow enthusiastic/serious cyclists to gauge their speed over a fixed section of cycle trail…

    That's all well and good (and to a certain extent true) but the FC *will* see it differently. You are encouraging someone to ride an otherwise closed section of trail as fast as they can. That's called a Time Trial – on road or off it doesn't matter.
    As mentioned above the Merida enduro events and most Sportive events are running on dodgy ground. Yes, they're insured as non-comp events but they are timed and *some* people go out to ride them as fast as possible. Sooner or later someone is going to die or be seriously injured whilst doing one and there will be very serious repercussions over it.

    Your system is great in theory but in practice anyone interested in that sort of thing will have a GPS/HRM/stopwatch/cycle computer of some description that is capable of timing them over a set section. You'd need the section to be properly marshalled and controlled otherwise there's a risk that people would start racing each other down it or a faster rider will catch a slower one or (worst case) Rider 2 would come screaming round the corner to find Rider 1 lying unconscious on the trail in front of them.

    Save things like that for the days when the competitive folk want to hammer it and pay for the privilege, let the weekend warriors at trail centres have their fun however they want.

    Mr Agreeable.
    This was the sole reason that the man vs horse vs bike race was stopped in the late 90's as this arcane law was dug up. Just look at the IMBA and CTC Websites for further info. I am not in any way a killjoy but organisers of these events need to be aware of how their events could look in law if they are to avoid prosecution or worse personal liability if there was an accident in what may be proved to be an illegal event.

    I think the point I'm trying to make is that there are laws which are clamped down on pretty rigrorously, such as using motor vehicles on bridleways, and then there are others, such as cycling on footpaths, that the police and the CPS won't concern themselves with.

    If a timed run takes place on a bit of private land and the route just happens to cross a footpath or bridleway, or uses it in a very informal way, then contrary to what's being said above, I can't imagine the authorities going out of their way to enforce it.

    There also seem to be some well-established conventions for setting up "timed but non-competitive events" like the Merida Marathon series, which ensure they aren't treated as races.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    There also seem to be some well-established conventions for setting up "timed but non-competitive events" like the Merida Marathon series, which ensure they aren't treated as races.

    There are guidelines yes but it's a bit of a grey area that (so far) has never been tested in court.

    Until Mr A crashes, can't work for several weeks or worse, tries to claim critical injury insurance to pay the mortgage, you see where this is heading??

    you see where this is heading??

    It's been coming through loud and clear from the start, to be honest. Do you know of any mountain bike events where someone has sued the organisers then?

    Premier Icon legspin

    I think it's a great law. I see enough dicks flying down descents out of control pin balling from one side to the other just to beat there mate down.

    It would be carnage if a hundred or so were there whilst younger and less experienced riders are about.
    If you want to race go to a race. Trail centres are great for social rides and for people to experience mountain biking.

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