Trail Advocacy: The Story So Far - Pedal Progression
 

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3 October 2018

Trail Advocacy: The Story So Far

A lot has happened with our trail advocacy work this year. I’m pretty proud to say that we’ve definitely been ‘on it’ and it doesn’t feel like a day has gone by where we haven’t done something to further the process of improving the trails at Ashton Court. This is the story since we put out the ‘Our Big Plan‘ blog back in March.

Just before the end of March, we got a call from a contact at Bristol City Council. He said he could pull together £5K from the end of tax year budget which could be used to maintain sections of trail at Ashton Court. After many meetings and chats with him and others at the Council over the previous year, he had come through for us and we were stoked on this result – Thanks Steve!

At the same time, a contact at Better By Bike (a Bristol City Council department responsible for promoting travelling by bike, who we have also worked with quite a bit in the past on various promotional projects) made us aware that they had £3k to spend before the end of April. Tom was thinking that it would be good to improve signage and print some mountain bike route maps but after some chats and emails, we persuaded him to wait until the next tax year to get those done. Instead, he agreed to combine this money with the other £5K, so that we could use the total pot to resurface more of the trail. We felt that this was a much more pressing issue.

The combined £8k was spent and local trail contractors Architrail were booked in, quickly clearing space in their diary at short notice. After a track walk with Architrails head honcho Phil, we identified the red section in New Barn Wood and the first blue descent off the top of the golf course climb as the areas most in need of resurfacing work.

Architrail completed two weeks of work on the red (Super Nova) trail on the 10th of April, taking out some of the rocky features that had suffered serious erosion and stifled the flow of the top section, whilst improving the definition of features on the two downhill straights. We had some great feedback when this was opened and we were excited by the prospect of even more improved sections.

After a few busy months for Architrail working on other projects, they had time to come back and work on the blue section in June. With the £8k only going so far we realised that in order for the section to be improved beyond a simple resurface, with the worn out rollers and berms being built up better than they were originally, we were going to need more stone than was budgeted for.

We sprung in to action, seeing the upcoming BikeFest event in late June as an opportunity to raise money and awareness for what we were trying to do. We put out a request to our industry friends and suppliers for raffle prizes and were overwhelmed with the generosity of many of them, who donated some great prizes for the fundraiser. After a great event and loads of good chats with people buying raffle tickets, BikeFest organisers Paul and Mikey also put £200 into the pot and we found ourselves with almost £1200 to spend on stone! Big thanks to Matt from Bristol Trails Group for helping on the day of the raffle too.

A few weeks later we had another whip round, asking people to volunteer to move stone after Architrail had been in to start work. We had a very busy week in July when we ordered in and moved 36 tonnes of stone to really get the trail built up and flowing better than ever. It was an amazing week, with over 40 local trail riders volunteering their time over 3 days to move the stone using wheelbarrows borrowed from Bristol Trails Group.

With Matt and myself taking charge of the job of shaping the stone, we actually had so much extra help that we made a second order of stone (only 16 tonnes was ordered initially) and the time we saved Architrail, meant they could head over to redo the corners in the Sorcy Field as well – which I think we can all agree, are now some of the best turns around!

After this was all done we felt like we were riding the crest of a wave and Matt, Ollie and I were feeling really optimistic about what we’d set out to do and how things were going. Tim and the guys at Forever Pedaling organised a 2 day bike festival in August and raised another £438 for the cause which boosted morale crazy high. Massive thanks to everyone who got involved there too!

Up until now we’d just been taking donations as gifts directly through a specially set up PayPal account (actraildonations@pedalprogression.com), or selling raffle tickets for cash. We always knew that a dedicated page and donations gateway was needed though and this September we worked hard to set-up a page on our website to accept donations and also give a running total so people can see how much has been raised. Big thanks to trail user Seb for his help with setting that up. Since the page went live last week, we’ve seen an incredible £800 come in so it’s definitely working.

The stage is now set for more work to be penciled in before Christmas and we’re hoping to grow the pot of cash available. We will spread the word far and wide, so that when the time comes, we’ll have volunteers at the ready to push barrows of stone in (probably) some cold winter conditions!

We’ve been in touch with a few stone merchants and we are hoping that we can get some surfacing material donated, to allow the fund to go even further and are looking to create a small steering group of people to help us to plan and direct our efforts in the way that’s best for the whole community.

The Better By Bike trail maps that I mentioned further up the page have now also been completed so we’ll be offering those to customers at the shop for a voluntary donation that will all go straight back into the trail fund. It’s worth us mentioning that we don’t take a penny from the trail fund to pay us for our work. We do it for the love and the legacy of mountain biking in Bristol. We want our kids to ride these trails!

We want to say a massive thank you to all the people that have helped the trails get to where they are today and want everyone who has given (or is thinking about giving money) to the cause to know that we couldn’t have done it without you, so thank you!

If you’d like, you can donate to the trails here.

Here’s to better trails.

The Pedal Progression team.

Sam

Written by:

Sam