As the foot and mouth crisis gradually eases, the importance of our trails and access to them is the focus of everybody's thinking. Not the latest fork review, frame material, proposed pivot point and it's effect on axle paths, life the universe and everything, but on the fundamental question of where can we ride.
It's crucial that we don't let this focus slide as more trails open either. lets make this a wake up call that we don't just hit the snooze button on.
The CTC have fought tooth and nail to even get their director, Kevin Mayne onto the countryside user consultation groups and the crucial access panels of the DETR route re-opening. Without his hard lobbying the bridleways that only represent 11% of the total rights of way network would have been largely ignored as they were in the initial walker biased planning documents.
Local councils will now be reviewing re-opening on a case by case basis and reporting the results to the local CTC "right to ride representative" but there's a big problem highlighted by Kevin Mayne; "The issue we face now is having enough Right to Ride representatives to put co-ordinated pressure on local authorities. We urgently call on cyclists with an interest in re-opening rights of way and the long-term future of the offroad network to register with us."
"There has been a long standing shortage in the mountain biking community of people willing to come forward, now we have the opportunity to get to the heart of the process."
Alongside this we've got an excellent forum thread started by the trail building pioneers of the Singletrack Mind club in South Wales, who have expanded from requests to try and solve mud problems on a local bridleway to creating the stunning 9feet.com trail complete with commercial forestry and government support.
We've all been appalled at how our sport and support industries has been brushed aside by the farmers best interests, when a little input from us could have reduced the problem significantly without causing any more problems, so let's not let it happen again. Let's actually get ourselves on the political map and be heard rather than ignored.
Yes it does mean a little less time riding in the short term and more work with a shovel or writing to the council but in the long term it means the provision of continued and increased mountain bike access is guaranteed, and we become seen as a viable, mature and worthwhile user group in our own right. It won't happen overnight but if we don't start working now then it won't ever happen at all.