Tyne Valley MTB Newsletter: December 2016
You can improve mountain biking and road cycling in our region by being a member of Tyne Valley MTB Cycling.
Hello members of Tyne Valley MTB and interested people,
Welcome to our end of 2016 newsletter. The club was very active in 2016 with many evening rides (including dark nights with lights), numerous day rides and two x two day rides being the Sandstone Way and Trans Lake District. Our week long Alpine tour through the Dolomites to complete the Great Alpine Chain Route some members have been riding since 2005 was even more challenging than usual. Some members also rode road bikes on a variety of evening and day rides plus a week’s tour in Scotland.
Membership hovers around the 40 mark but more members are welcome to ride MTB and / or road bikes with us. We would welcome young people and females to join us.
As ever, your comments and involvement are welcomed. Please contribute your time and effort where you can – no matter how small as every little adds to the club and can help share the load.
1. Tyne Valley MTB Membership 2017
Your membership provides the club with the credibility to do the things it does on YOUR behalf.
The rates for club membership remain the same for 2017.
New members are welcome and it’s HUGELY important that existing members renew their membership to sustain the route development and advocacy work the club is undertaking on YOUR behalf.
The club’s website is much improved but really requires a dedicated person to keep it up to date. Our Facebook is regularly updated and has a loyal band of followers that is slowly growing. In December 2016 our page had over 2,000 visits.
Plenty of parking and easy access on foot and cycle from Burn Lane over the level crossing
Those who are able to, PLEASE do try to attend the AGM or send apologies. TVMTBC is preparing to embark on a number of bold cycling development schemes so your support and interest is needed and much appreciated.
WE WILL MAKE A MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT AT THE AGM RE PLANS FOR ROUTE DEVELOPMENT
2. Reminder of club work, events, rides and tours in 2016:
In 2016, TVMTBC contributed to keeping the Sandstone Way refreshed and support research into new routes. This will continue during 2017.
Remember this in a previous newsletter? It still applies so do speak up if you can help occasionally.
UNRECORDED WAYS IN NORTHUMBERLAND
A project supported by the Joint Local Access Forum of Northumberland
Research work continues very ably led by the local BHS as we only have until 2026 to claim ‘old’ routes.
There are numerous ‘old’ ways and blocked RoW that are being researched and / or pursued to bring back into use. This small area is good example of work the club is actively engaged in. Time is running out for claims so PLEASE volunteer or help find volunteers to help with archival research if you can. Training is provided.
Blue solid = upgraded to Restricted Bridleway
(now part of Sandstone Way direct route)
Purple solid = claimed route / decision awaited
(To become part of the Sandstone Way)
Red cross = RoW that needs a bridge
Blue cross = RoW that needs a bridge but now easier
to access as a result of working with the Ramblers
It is normal not to shout about on-going and planned research on the principle of staying below the radar. Rarely justified, many landowners are very sensitive about increased access.
Mark Beaumont evening: Newcastle – 9th November 2016
180 people attended this excellent evening including 19 club members. We needed to sell another 20 seats to have broken even but the PR achieved was significant and an offer to sponsor waymarking a section of Reivers Route by MTB resulted from this initiative. Another benefit was we gained a high profile supporter of our work.
We again express our gratitude to the people and businesses – see logos above - that donated prizes to the raffle in aid of the Air Ambulance service.
It’s interesting to see the aura glow that surrounds the high viz vest in the foreground of the image and is close to spoiling the picture! Black cycling apparel doesn’t cause this problem.
This event took a lot of organising – thanks are extended to everyone who helped in any way.
Several applications for funding were submitted to various sources in 2016. These include….
- In May our bid to Northumberland Community Chest was deferred to the Northumberland Cycling Board (NCB) by the chair of the committee who is also chair of the NCB for a decision – we are still waiting for a reply.
- The first of several applications to Windfarm companies was submitted in December
- An application to a commercial developer’s community benefit scheme has also been submitted
- Other applications are in the pipeline: MAJOR announcement at the AGM on 20th February 2017
Several responses to various relevant consultations were submitted during 2016. These include….
- In Spring we responded to a request from the North Pennines (NPs) AONB to contribute towards creating a protocol for event organisation
- In June we visited then reported on Hexham Road in County Durham which helped inform DCC’s decision to re-open this excellent high level trail for non vehicular users.
- In July we were consulted by Northumberland National Park Authority (NNPA) for our advice regarding best practice for bridle gates for cyclists
- In August we were involved in a consultation with Natural England to provide information how we supported the Sandstone Way as part of their research into best practice for trail sustainability solutions
- In September we responded to Cycling UKI’s survey into MTBing – see http://singletrackworld.com/2016/11/uks-biggest-ever-mountain-biking-survey-the-results/
- In October we were consulted by NNPA and invited to a site visit in the Cheviots to give our view about best design for cross drains
- During 2016 we have engaged with NCC to support the Advisory Cycle Lanes at Corbridge saying we thought they weren’t ideal but they made the road safer for cyclists than before they were installed
- We also engaged with NCC to point out the supposedly safer crossing of Rotary Way at Hexham was badly flawed (and floored) and not to the design we had proposed
- After attending two consultation meetings in Morpeth during the year, in December we submitted our recommendations for safer cycling provision to be planned into the proposed improvements of the A1
We attend various relevant access-related meeting throughout every year and 2016 was no exception:
- The Northumberland Joint Local Access Forum. It is ‘joint’ because it combines NCC and NNPA
- We attend the bi-annual Northumberland RoW Liaison meeting which access-related groups attend
- We attend the quarterly NPs AONB Access & Recreation Working Group
- We attend the quarterly North of England National Trails planning meeting
- We sit on the Board of the North East Local Nature Partnership to ensure access is always factored
- We maintain an active working relationship with Cycling UK, OpenMTB, The Ramblers, BHS and a number of MTB and roads cycling clubs as well as cycling-related businesses across the region
CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS and ACCESS REPORTS 2016
In September Ted completed a comprehensive access report linked to the Revitalising Redesdale project as part of a funding bid to the Landscape Partnership Scheme – see https://www.hlf.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/future-northumbria%E2%80%99s-frontier-landscape-secures-national
In October Ted was invited to attend a regional Landscape Partnership Scheme Workshop where he spoke on best practice for increasing access.
In October Ted was invited to meet with two members of the Natural England team implementing the National Coast Path ostensibly for walkers – see http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/england-coast-path. Opportunities to improve access for cyclists were discussed.
Rob Aubrook enjoyed attending the three day Scottish mountain bike conference in November. Held in Aviemore, the conference was badged as the innovation edition and Rob said “For me it provoked some great new thinking about the future development of mountain biking”. This is Rob’s report:
Scottish mountain biking is clearly making great progress. There are several reasons for this but the single most important factor seems to be strength of collaboration between businesses, tourism providers, government agencies and the cycling bodies themselves. The Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland project (DMBinS) has successfully brought partners together to develop new facilities especially close to where people live and they have aligned themselves closely with the tourism organisations to promote the sport.
Access is still a real issue in all parts of the UK. Scotland’s open access model was regularly applauded for the benefits it delivers to the Scottish economy but they lack the network of trails we enjoy here in England and Wales and the issue of funding to build and maintain trails across all areas of the UK remains intractable. Everyone agreed that future improvements to the trail network require reasoned argument persistently applied rather than any radical or revolutionary tactics.
As well as all the great presentations on developing Scottish mountain biking we had some inspirational speakers describing their mountain biking journeys. Gary Fisher was the keynote speaker, a true eccentric, cyclist and entrepreneur who’s life story has more turns than a flow trail. Lee Craigie and Tracy Mosely both focused on how they were now trying to give back to the sport after enjoying amazing success.
At the awards dinner, I sat next to a school teacher from Arran who has set up a mountain bike club for boys and girls. They ride twice a week, enjoying the limited number of trails available. He won the award for best youth activity. For me all these speakers reinforced the need for more volunteers acting to develop the sport whether this is work of volunteer groups like the Kielder Trail Reivers, Hamsterley Trailblazers, Thrunton Trail Builders and the Chopwell group. There is a great need for more advocacy, promotion and campaigning through the likes of OpenMTB and increasingly Cycling UK and smaller clubs with commitment which Tyne Valley MTB exemplifies.
To summarise, I thoroughly enjoyed the conference, it provided inspiration, insight and recognition that our sport continues to mature. A full report can be found here.
Rides undertaken in 2016
The pattern seems to be that midweek evening rides are the most popular although a committed core never misses an opportunity to enjoy a day rides. Note: A sample of images follow but it’s only really possible to take pics of riders on easy sections as no-one wants to stop when they are riding good singletrack.
Some MTB rides in 2016
Previous 3: Trans Lakes 27/28th June 2016
Below: Road Cycling: Week long Scottish Islands and coast ride July 2016
Great Alpine Chain Route by MTB: 20th to 28th August 2016
Mayrhofen to Monte Grappa (end of the Dolomites / start of the Venice Plain)
This was the last section of our amazing annual mountain biking adventure ride between Geneva and two points well to the east. We arrived at the Salzburg finish in August 2015 and this year we rode (and pushed) through the Dolomites to the southern end of our chosen route where the Dolomites meet the Venice Plain. The scenery was spectacular and as always the tour was full of the sort of mountain biking surprises we have become to expect. Each tour is always different but this year was as tough as any we’ve done and tougher than most. The consensus was that in the second half of the week there was more pushing than we would have liked but the range of situations we found ourselves in and the challenging terrain we crossed was of the highest order. The spectacular old military road day was just as stunning as the time some of us last rode it and the ledge and tunnel routes we encountered on the last two days were nothing short of breathtaking – in both ways. This was the extreme end of mountain biking. Fortunately, the weather was wonderful from the first afternoon to the very end.
3. Proposed events, routes, rides & tours in 2017
2017 programme is below and will be available and updated on the club website - please check it out and put the dates in your diary you would like to ride.
Wednesday evening rides should start mid April - weather permitting
Day rides & Half day Sunday rides take place according to demand as advertised – MTB and road
Weekend trips will be held according to demand – see 2017 programme
Future rides generally - please contact Tyne Valley MTB organiser (Ted) if you fancy a particular route or if you would like to lead a ride OR if you would like to see the rides organised differently. PLEASE DON’T JUST STOP TURNING UP – TELL US IF WE CAN DO SOMETHING BETTER!
Glentress (Scotland) Trail Centre Trip
Tyne Valley MTB Cycling AGM (Café Enna) @ 7-30 pm
Hamsterley Trail Centre & environs
Whinlatter (Lakes) Trail Centre Trip
Cheviots day ride
Tynemouth to Falstone (RCR Route)
Friday 14th to Monday 17th (TBC)
Falstone to Whitehaven (RCR Route) 2 day/1 night (dates tbc)
Saturday 22nd or Sunday 23rd
‘Ride A Route’ Invitation Event
Saturday 29th April to Monday 1st
Borderlands CR (Carlisle to Berwick). 2day/1night Road Ride
MOD Otterburn Sportive^
Saturday 27th to Monday 29th
West Coast of Scotland Road Ride (3 – 6 day trip)
Haydon Hundred Sportive*
Lakes to Shap (E2E Route)
Shap to Kirby Stephen (E2E Route)
Kirby Stephen to Osmotherley (E2E Route)
Saturday 15th to Sunday 23rd
Alps MTB Tour
Kildale to Whitby (NY Moors Road Ride) plus optional Saturday ride
Dales day ride
Cross Border Sportive*
Saturday 9th to Sunday 17th
Grande Alps Road Tour
Saturday 23rd or Sunday 24th
Osmotherley to Whitby (E2E Route)
N’land day ride
Kielder Trail Centre
^Agreed to support / *Local events which may be of interest to individuals or a team day out!
BOOK DATES IN YOUR DIARY NOW!
4. Projects for 2017
The Reivers Cycle Route by MTB is next in line for re-launch. The route braid concept was well ahead of its time when the RCR was originally conceived in 1997 by this writer. The one size fits all alignment was signed and an off-road option was waymarked but with nil subsequent route management or maintenance and in the absence of any meaningful promotion, it’s not surprising this route began to fall into disrepair after a relatively successful first 2 years based on the early fumes of word of mouth.
Funding is being sought to pay for re-waymarking the MTB route, producing a website and publishing the entire route on two maps to the same standard as the Sandstone Way by MTB. Tyne Valley MTB intends to fully support this initiative. Consultation with relevant parties is underway and it’s hoped at least the eastern map will be available by Summer 2017 if not both maps.
Current Reivers Cycle Route breakdown (shown in magenta):
Tynemouth to west of Ponteland (21 miles): Largely off-road – suitable for off-road bikes / entirely unsuitable for road bikes [North Tyneside / NCC)
West of Ponteland to Falstone (40 miles): Entirely on road – suitable for road bikes / unsuitable for mountain bikes [NCC]
Falstone to Kershope Bridge, Cumbria (22 miles): Entirely off-road - suitable for off-road bikes / entirely unsuitable for road bikes [NCC / Cumbria]
Kershope Bridge to Whitehaven (90 miles): Entirely on road (or tarmac) – suitable for road bikes / unsuitable for mountain bikes [Cumbria]
Touring cyclists do not have the capacity to change their bikes mid route to / from a mountain bike or road bike. The proposal is therefore to create two intertwining Reivers Cycle Routes – one entirely on road and one off-road as much as possible. All new signing must factor in both route strands and any other major routes that have been agreed for promotion.
The RCR by MTB will be a fine follow-up to cash in on Sandstone Way cyclists wanting another good off-road route to ride as will the route concept outlined below.
Our close involvement to support an application for a significant amount of funding by NPs AONB to implement the Dozen Dales Routes was unsuccessful. Nevertheless it was good experience gained, time well spent, useful contacts were made and the work will be put to good use in 2017.
The MTB strand of this route concept is Wooler to Skipton by MTB through the Cheviots Alwinton from where it shares the Sandstone Way to Hexham before traversing the North Pennines and passing through the Yorkshire Dales. Three large loops have also been created.
Maps and guidebooks all with TVMTBC involvement
5. Alps tours 2017
The club is organising two Alps tours in 2017. The July tour will be through the upper Valais region of Switzerland to spend 3 days riding at Zermatt. This will be the fourth time we will have cycled this route which gives a clue just how good it is. Only 3 places left.
| 2017 Alps: MTB |
7 ride days
| Upper Valais to Zermatt |
3 ride days in Zermatt
| 15th to 23rd July 2017 |
As is our custom, bikes and bags will be transported out and back by minibus which will also provide en route support. All accommodations have been used in the past and many of the trails have been ridden during previous tours. Uplift provided by lifts and funicular railways will be optimised. Switzerland isn’t cheap but the mountain biking is superb. Guideline not for profit cost is £1,000.00 incl flights.
The September tour will be the very challenging Grandes Alpes road bike tour between Geneva and the Mediterranean Sea. 3 places available
|2017 Alps: road bike |
7 ride days
|Route Grandes Alpes |
Geneva to Menton
|9th to 17th September 2017 |
710+ km / 17 cols / 16,000+ m of ascent / descent / cycle in two groups or at your own pace; bikes and bags to be transported out and back by minibus which will also provide en route support.
Without doubt it is the magic mix of incredible scenery, magnificent MTB routes and immense mountain passes and memorable overnights that will make both these tours extra special and an unforgettable experience for all participants.
6. Forestry Commission Update December 2107: Alex MacLennan
Alex MacLennan is the Recreation and Public Affairs Manager for the North East who collaborates with a wide range of parties to oversee the largest collection of FC MTB trails in England working.
Forestry Commission - sustainable trail management:
2106 has been another impressive year right across the North East. 3 of the 4 volunteer groups we work with renewed their legal agreement with FC where more specifications on health and safety are laid out and renewed vision and aspirations to 2022 shared with the FC.
Kielder: Another excellent year of continued trail maintenance with Kielder Trail Reavers, aided by contract work managed by the FC. The focus in the last few months has been to maintain the training loop near the main car park, an excellent piece of work.
In 2017, work is planned for the Bloodybush trail as well as more maintenance on the blue grade Osprey Trail. We continue to look at building more singletrack to reduce forest road linkages and we are continuing to work with Northern Downhill to create the longest downhill in England.
Events continue to deliver well at Kielder and in 2017, new exciting events for the North of England will include the 24 hour Kielder Chiller delivered by High Fell Events on 11.02.17. More events are being planned so there is plenty to look forward to.
Thrunton: Another excellent year by Thrunton Trail Builders, who have also linked well with Team CHR, maintaining the network of natural trails in the woodland.
Chopwell: After visiting bike parks in Wales for inspiration, our longest established group in the North East has had an excellent year maintaining the Powerline and also formalising the black grade off-line option.
Hamsterley: Another big year for Hamsterley Trailblazers, with funding being secured from a number of sources including Tesco Bags of Help campaigns the group have secured enough funding to yet again construct another section of singletrack – see article for more info. Added to this, FC has been working with the group to plan the blue grade trail for which planning permission will be applied for during 2017. As part of this HTB have submitted plans to FC for a forest based Pump Track.
An impressive fund for trails campaign is underway where people are now purchasing tee shirts to help raise funds for more new trail.
The Hamsterley Beast event raised an impressive £17,000 to the Great North Air Ambulance charity and we look forward to another great event in May 2017, organised by Hamsterley Riders.
Descend Hamsterley: At Descend Hamsterley Craig Hunter who operated Descend Hamsterley for an amazing 18 years has taken a back step and Downhill World Cup Champion Danny Hart and his family have since October become the lead partners at the renamed Danny Hart’s Descend Hamsterley. Danny and his team are working closely with the FC and plans are being formalised for new and exciting events in 2017 and more trail development is being planned.
Between the cross country trail and Downhill there is a lot underway on the already successful MTB scene at Hamsterley and 2017 is looking to be another exciting year.
In summary, there really is an exciting MTB scene in the North East and we all share the IMBA principles for sustainable trail management as our core in how we operate.
Alex K MacLennan
Recreation, Public Affairs Manager, North East: Forestry Commission, North of England
Please contact Ted for more info about anything in this newsletter
Remember, if you ride – you need to support, help fund-raise & build
Here’s wishing everyone a healthy 2017 & lots of good pedalin’
Help improve mountain biking and cycling by being a member of Tyne Valley MTB Cycling