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The UK MTB Trail Alliance has launched. I predict we will look back in a few years and this will be a household name in the MTB community and we will be seeing a dramatic change underway in how we as a community came together in numbers to protect and advance our trails for the future both practically and politically.

As an organisation, they are dedicated to supporting trail associations, bike parks and informal trail groups. They exist to advocate for UK riders and their trails. I've attended a few early Zoom calls and spoken with and know some of the founders. The support already from the UK trail scene is off the charts and that is a testament to the people behind this. iBikeRide has been calling for a National MTB organisation for years to represent our sport. Well, they have finally arrived. We are delighted. The time is now! It's time to carve out our future as an MTB community together.

We are in, are you? I pose it that way as I believe we need to be more active as a community to protect what we love going forward. We have a tendency to keep the best bits to ourselves.  If you know you know is our culture. We are an amazing welcoming inclusive subculture but at the same time, we are also always in fear of what we love being restricted, over-tamed or worse demolished. As a result, we can hide away as a movement and so as a force to protect what we have, we limit that potential for change. It's a catch-22. Let's get organised and let's change that. 

Our sport has grown, but the absence of a national body to advocate for the UK’s trails has us unsupported and vulnerable. The UK MTB Trail Alliance (http://ukmtb.org) now offers trail associations, bike parks and informal trail groups the chance to share knowledge and pool their influence. With over 100 groups already on board, they seek support from riders to accelerate the progress already made by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.

“The UK MTB Trail Alliance will protect and improve our amazing but fragile network of official and unofficial trails, by giving them the support and the representation they need. But we can’t do it without your help. Think about what trails mean to you, contribute what you can, and spread the word” - Robin Grant, founder and chair of the UK MTB Trail Alliance

They are aiming for a future with better and more sustainable trails - where trails have the resources, volunteers, knowledge and permission to prosper. One where fewer unofficial trails are shut down - because they are able to work with landowners to allay and mitigate their concerns, and help local communities take on their management.

“There’s a lot of great momentum growing around mountain biking and trails at the moment, and it’s important riders, trail builders and trail stewards have a voice. Support the crowdfund with what you can, to make sure we collectively have a seat at the table where decisions are made.” - Manon Carpenter, trail advocate, Specialized Soil Searching and Patagonia ambassador and UK MTB Trail Alliance trustee 

Behind the scenes, the UK MTB Trail Alliance has already brought benefits to your trails. They have provided hands-on support to groups up and down the country. They have convened conversations with experts on a range of topics to help our members on monthly Zoom calls. They have engaged with the UK Trails Project and their ‘right trail, right place, right people, right time’ report. They have partnered with Welsh Cycling on the launch of the Developing Mountain Biking in Wales project. They have built relationships with landowners like Forestry England & NRW, national governing bodies like British Cycling and Cycling UK, and national government departments like DEFRA. In a short time, they have already demonstrated the benefits that collaboration and a collective voice can bring.

“Pre-launch, the UK MTB Trail Alliance have already gone above and beyond to provide advice and support to Wyllie Bike Park and Risca Riders. The alliance offers so much promise for helping trail groups and the trails they look after grow. If you're passionate about trails, please donate what you can.” - Jo Atkinson, Wyllie Bike Park and Risca Riders 

“NRW are in support of the UK MTB Trail Alliance, who we hope can help with the sustainable management of trails on the land in our care." - Dave Liddy, lead specialist advisor recreation safety at Natural Resources Wales

“It's fantastic to see the momentum that the UK MTB Trail Alliance is building, and to see so much new energy being poured into trail access” - Tom Hutton, former board member of OpenMTB

“It’s great that trail associations across the UK finally have a home and place to share good practice, support and experience. To build better trails and communities, making mountain biking a better space for all”. - Henry Norman, founder and director of Ride Sheffield

So here is the ask. The UK MTB Trail Alliance will be set up as a registered charity and governed by a board of unpaid trustees. Although volunteer-run with no salaries, this work costs money - there are membership fees for professional bodies to lobby and influence, the admin costs of setting up and running a charity, and expenses to cover. They are inviting all UK MTB riders who care about the future of their trails to invest what they can to make that future brighter - their GoFundMe campaign aims to raise £10,000 to help cover our year-one costs.

Support here: http://gofundme.com/f/help-us-to-protect-your-trails 

“There is a real need for a national body that can make trail builders' lives easier. Be that dealing with red-tape, knowing how to build trails that will last, or just simply being able to chat with others in the same boat. If you can't spare the time but can spare a tenner, donate now to the alliance’s GoFundMe” - Andy Davies, chair of Dean Trail Volunteers

The team have the credentials to make this a success. The Trustees include representatives from small informal trail groups, big commercial bike parks, established trail associations to community-run trails, and from the four nations of the UK:

●      Robin Grant - Founder and chair of the UK MTB Trail Alliance, trustee of Cycling UK, ex-ad agency CEO and successful entrepreneur

●      Ian Warby - Founder of Aston Hill Bike Park, former CTC off-road lead and IMBA UK board member and proprietor of Firecrest Mountain Biking

●      Manon Carpenter - Trail advocate, ex-world champion downhiller, Specialized Soil Searching and Patagonia ambassador, IMBA Europe board member and North Cardiff Trails committee member

●      Ali Hair - Chair of Trash Free Cambu, an informal trail group in Cambusbarron, central Scotland and Trash Free Trails A-Teamer

●      Kath Goodey - Chair of Trail Collective North Wales and proprietor of RideHigh MTB

●      Bern McClure - Chair of Grassroots Mountainbikers, supporting trail builders across Ireland, and Cavehill Mountainbike Club, which manages trails in Cave Hill Country Park in Belfast

●      Karen Newman - Director of Highland Wildcat Trails, a set of community-run trails in Golspie in the Northern Highlands of Scotland

●      Tim Foster - Former management consultant and founder and owner of Revolution Bike Park in North Wales

“It’s high time that trail associations and bike parks had a voice. We aim to put trails front and centre of all that we do. By working closely with landowners, NGBs and others, we hope to become a significant and trusted partner. This can’t be achieved on volunteer hours alone so, please, donate and help us secure the future of our trails.” - Kath Goodey, chair of Trail Collective North Wales and UK MTB Trail Alliance trustee

Please go support these folks.

http://gofundme.com/f/help-us-to-protect-your-trails 

Published: 06/06//2024
 

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