Mountain Bike Volunteers Put Something Back Into The Hurtwood

An article about the work of Hurtwood Trails appeared in the Spring edition of the Friends of the Hurtwood.  The article is reproduced below or you can read a PDF of the original article.

Hurtwood trails volunteers

In 2007, the Friends of the Hurtwood challengedvmountain bikers to prove that well made and wellvmaintained trails would draw bikers away from pathsvused by walkers and horse riders, thereby reducing conflict.

The numbers of bikers recorded by electronic monitoring devices using BKB, the popular downhill zigzag from the Holmbury reservoir down to Ewhurst Road, answered that conclusively. Now the bikers’ challenge is to create a trail maintenance volunteer group that will develop the necessary skills and last.

A new recruit for the Friends

The volunteers on Sunday were members of a core mountain bike trails group of Friends, set up last year to run open maintenance working days.

Guided by experienced trail curators David Lees and Mark Hammond, they tackled problem stretches of BKB. The aim was to show them how to engineer and maintain bike trails so that they are both interesting and durable.

David Lees and Mark Hammond originally got involved in trail maintenance on Leith Hill with a group called Redland Trails. In 2005 they were invited by the Friends to advise on the Hurtwood trails. Last year Peter Copping asked them to start a new group, recruiting people who have an interest in maintaining the trails and putting something back into the Hurtwood.

They now have a database of some 160 interested mountain bikers, and have launched a website – www.hurtwoodtrails.co.uk. The aim now is to recruit more people to join the core group willing to learn the skills needed to supervise volunteer days. Additionally, the group is keen to promote awareness of the Hurtwood and Friends membership. They took part in a bike demonstration day organised by the Head for the Hills Cycle Shop and gave out leaflets. Shop owner Dan Webb asked for donations and raised around £350 for the Friends. Other demonstration days involving different local bike shops are planned.

“It’s about sharing the Hurtwood,” said Mark Hammond, “Giving something back. These hills are for everyone and the idea of these trails is to keep the different user groups apart as much as possible.”

Riding the improved line

David Lees said “The important thing is to establish trails that are durable and sustainable, using techniques developed by the International Mountain Biking Association and explained in a short series of videos www.hurtwoodtrails.co.uk/trail-building-methodology. The Hurtwood is accessible to all, so the emphasis here is on all-user trails, not downhill or jump tracks. Trails must be fun to ride to successfully draw riders to use the existing trail network rather than try to build new trails. Trail maintenance creates opportunities to increase enjoyment while diverting trails away from areas of conflict.”

Anyone interested in the joining the trail volunteers should go to the website www.hurtwoodtrails.co.uk or contact ranger Mark Beaumont on 01306 730100.

A special Thank You to Jane Garrett for this article and the pictures!