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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Let the pictures do the talking – mountain biking Slovenia

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This gallery contains 3 photos.

This time last Sunday I had just completed a wonderful mountain bike ride with the participants at the annual European summit for the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA Europe), I mean it is all very well to stand around discussing … Continue reading

Cold beauty for the 2017 New Year’s Day ride

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This gallery contains 6 photos.

Each year my New Year’s Day ride has a slightly different character and this year it was the result of three days of freezing fogs in the Brabant Wallon countryside in the centre of Belgium. No doubt that the mountain … Continue reading

A spring cycling day in Lasne – Journée du vélo à Lasne

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Some of the fun things about Belgium country life are the local festivals, markets, walks and indeed bike rides that are put on by community groups and local councils. There is always something happening in Lasne and at least twice … Continue reading

Reasons to be cheerful 2016 – cycling in North Cyprus

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In the middle of gloomy news and predictions for 2016 two of the media organisations I follow carried very similar stories of a small ray of sunshine in Europe. 2016 might be the end of a 42 year old conflict … Continue reading

Still waiting for winter in Belgium

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This gallery contains 3 photos.

After the warmest December on record in Belgium it is suggested that winter may just be coming. But it is taking it’s time. The news, web sites and social media shows snow reaching Scotland and minus 14 temperatures in Scandinavia, … Continue reading

Favourite cycling photos of 2015

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This gallery contains 11 photos.

To complement the small selection of nice travel and home photos that I published two days ago I now compiled a similar selection of 2015 cycling shots. Many of the travel shots were also taken on bike rides around the … Continue reading

When life gives you lemons – make lemonade. When life gives you wind and rain and mud and a bike trail just round the corner …… go offroad.

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Great days out – more fantastic mountain biking in Belgium

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This gallery contains 18 photos.

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How embarrassing, a New Year’s Day bike fail. I had to get the rescue squad out! 2015 can only get better.

New Years Day in Wallonia

I was thoroughly enjoying my icebreaker ride for the year. Nothing was stirring on the club message board and there was still a lot of ice and snow about so I set off for a solo ride using my mountain bike again.

Bright sunshine over Wallonia on New Years Day

It was a lovely day. Where the sunshine had reached the soil we had warming conditions with melting snow turning to mud while elsewhere the bitter cold was keeping a firm grip.

Icy trails in Lasne Mountain biking

Chapelle du Try au Chenes New Years day 2015

All was going nicely until my rear derailleur disintegrated 10km from home. That shouldn’t be a problem, I just shortened the chain to ride home on a single gear. Except that the chain splitter decided to snap too, leaving me without a working bike.

New Years Day Bike fail 2015

Some cursing may have taken place.

Then I ate humble pie and phoned home.

Maybe I have got my bad luck out of the way for the year already. Hope so.