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Death in Delamere Forest: trails under threat

The recent death of a biker in Delamere Forest has brought
into focus usage conflicts within the woods. Whilst you can only express sympathy
for the loss of life, and particularly for the two children with him at the time,
the death highlights the underlying problems in the woods.



Mountain biking in Delamere Forest is under threat. Whilst never a prime MTB venue,
the woods have been quietly used by local bikers for at least 10 years. More recently
there has been massive growth in the number of bikers visiting the trails, and this
has

led to conflict with other users. Families, runners, dog walkers, horses, etc., all
have a claim on the woods.



Forest Enterprise manage the woods and have historically been sympathetic to bikers,
turning a blind eye to the less-legal activities of riders. Strictly speaking there
is a single, very dull,

right of way through the middle of the woods. In reality there is an intricate network
of singletrack and two or three highly developed jump spots.



The massive jump phenomenon has drastically changed the way the woods are used and
led to a boom in digging. The diggers have upset other forest users and are sometimes
out of step with other local riders:

* Countless stretches of established singletrack sacrificed to the spade

* Piles of litter next to all the jump spots

* Jumps appear, are modified and then change completely with bewildering regularity


* Jumps built, ridden briefly and abandoned for new projects

* Many jumps are built macho-style to intimidate less confident riders: with large
and scary pits on their air-sides. Make the jump or crash. Badly.



There’s no doubting the technical competence of some of the diggers. A journalist
familiar to this website (Hiya Brant!) wrote on
mtb-uk "they were fantastically constructed,
to a far higher standard than I’ve seen anywhere. Even at Penshurst or Red Bull."




But its all got a bit out of hand recently. You can no longer afford to ride a once
familiar trail without pre-inspecting it, if only to check it’s still the same run
as you thought it was. Beware the macho pits.



There is talk of separating off a section of forest for bikers only, and keeping
us out of the rest of the woods. This is not a good solution. Not all bikers are
jumpers and it will criminalise those riders riding established trails outside the
zone.



When I rode up there a week or so ago the prime jump spot was cordonned off with
"Police: Crime Scene" yellow tape. Presumambly part of the coroner’s inquest
into the death.



This stuff is serious, impacting on us all. If you’re going to dig, think about what
you’re doing.

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