Podcasting with Freifahrt – a personal look at lobbying for cycling

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We all have a bit more time to try different ways of communicating at the moment, so this week I was really pleased to join Freifahrt podcast host Sebastian Hofer for a chat about what is happening in cycling lobbying at the moment.

The longer form of the podcast allows for a more reflective tone than some of the speeches and webinars I normally make, so it was really nice to be able to talk more informally with Sebastian around some of my wider thoughts on the subject and to answer his questions about my cycling roots. My Mum and Dad should be pleased, they even get a mention!

Readers of my blog may be familiar with my unofficial ramblings, but here’s an opportunity to share it in “chat show” style. Thanks very much to Sebastian for the invitation.

Note – most of the Freifaht (Free travel) podcasts are in German and Sebastian’s intro is in German – but you have got the right link, my bit is in English!

The mountain bike recovery starts at home – sharing a message from IMBA Europe #trailsclosetohome

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In many countries cycling is showing signs of going from bust to boom in several short weeks as populations seemingly burst out of confinement and head for the streets.

That’s very easy to see in the urban environment because the numbers are easy to spot and many cities are responding with new cycling infrastructure captured from streets made quiet by lockdowns.

However in the countryside and especially the mountain bike sector that’s much harder to see and to imagine. Some people may be riding for health and to maintain social distancing, but the mountain bike sector has always had a much stronger affiliation with certain landscapes or trail centres than other forms of cycling. so the MTB economy depends a lot more on people travelling to hot spots, and that isn’t going to happen quite so soon as urban reopening.

That’s where the #trailsclosetohome movement comes in. There is a growing understanding in the MTB movement that riding cannot be all about travelling to ride. It’s not terribly sustainable for one thing, but perhaps more importantly its a big deterrent for people without cars, or cars with great big bike racks, such as young people and people from poorer sections of society.

So much better if there is an alternative on the doorstep. Maybe not designed like a trail centre, maybe not as adventurous as the mountains, but right there when someone thinks “that looks fun, where can I go round here?” That’s how I started mountain biking nearly 30 years ago – as an extension to cycle touring that allowed me to ride to places nearby that I couldn’t ride by road bike, and today that hasn’t changed.

And now we do need #trailsclosetohome every day, not just for the new entrants but even for ourselves. If we are to build a mountain biking recovery we need people to do what the urban riders have done – keep up the habit and introduce new people while movements are restricted, then we have a much bigger potential rider base than before the lockdown.

That’s why the board members of IMBA Europe (of which I am one) decided to to put together a little video of our own thoughts about opening up riding where we live. All credit to Thomas, Edoardo and Ray, they are the sort of riders who actually go out and maintain trails where they live as a way of sharing. My contribution is rather to praise the route makers and guides who have already created and published the routes I ride because their contribution is what enables people like me to actually find the local places to ride.

But I must admit I can think of a few of the tracks round here where there are a few branches that could do with a trim, so I am also inspired to do more!

Enjoy your riding.

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As everybody we at IMBA Europe have felt the impact of Covid-19 on our own organization: we had to postpone our Take Care Of Your Trails campaign, cancel several international meetings and, with great sadness, cancel our Summit in Poland as well. We know many people, countries and organizations have been hit hard and we wanted, in these strange pandemic times, to send out our greetings and spread a little joy. The pandemic has shown how important Trails Close To Home are for all of us, and there are a lot of new users out on their local trails enjoying nature. Hope you enjoy both our greetings and our advice to give back a little to the trails and your community if you are able. Stay safe, have fun and support your local trails! 💚 #imba #imbaeurope #covid19 #traillove

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Cycling close to home – voyages of discovery and rediscovery

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There is no doubt that some of my friends and family who might be considered “serious cyclists” are getting pretty frustrated by their local rules which impose cycling close to home. The loss of a right to roam is taking … Continue reading

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike on New Year’s Day”

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This gallery contains 5 photos.

Many people must have said it, but due to his celebrity JFK is attributed with the cycling quote “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike”. After a few weeks off the bike due to illness the symbolism … Continue reading

2010-2019 – some ride!

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This gallery contains 9 photos.

Lots of other people are doing it, so I have been tempted by the Christmas holidays to to try and find at least one photo per year from the last decade that made me smile, or brought back a memory. … Continue reading

What is the point of a cycle touring route if no one knows it is there?

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Is the cycling equivalent of the Buddhist philosophical conundrum “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” This is the question I have been asking myself for a while, a mental discussion triggered by the relatively recent discovery that I … Continue reading

A moment of sporting greatness and I can say “I know, because I was there”

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Yesterday the Dutch cyclist Annemiek Van Vleuten completed a 104km solo breakaway to win the Women’s World Cycling Championship here in Harrogate, Yorkshire. As far as any of the commentators could tell this was the longest solo breakaway to win … Continue reading