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Teaming up with industry experts to manage the impact of Mountain Biking on the Surrey Hills

2ukThe Surrey Hills Mountain Bike Working Group has teamed up with industry giant Specialized Bikes to help maintain mountain bike trails on Leith Hill. This new partnership will see designated trails maintained for the long-term by a team of experts and volunteers.

Cyclists are having a major impact on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). To proactively manage the impact and ensure that all user groups are able to enjoy the Surrey Hills without spoiling it for each other, the Surrey Hills AONB Board co-ordinated the creation of Mountain Bike trails on Leith Hill.  The ‘Barry knows best’, ‘Yoghurt pots’ and ‘Summer Lightning’ trails were launched a few years ago and offer bikers segregated routes on which to enjoy Mountain Biking whilst helping to reduce the conflict with other users and protecting the wildlife of the commons.

These trails have proved tremendously popular amongst novice and experienced riders and require regular maintenance in order to meet safe and high quality standards.  Local staff from Specialized Bikes, one of the largest bicycle brands in the world will undertake training sessions over the coming months where they will learn vital skills to maintain the trails. Training will be led by Abinger based firm B1ke who specialise in professional trail building, repair and design as well as Mountain Bike Skills Instruction.

Richard Kelly, B1ke comments; “Volunteer contribution plays a big part in any managed trail network and it is great that a global brand can support the local effort. B1KE’s Trail Care accreditations empower volunteers through structured training ensuring that there is an available pool of volunteers all operating to best practise. Through the support of trained volunteers we now have the capacity to roll out the managed approach adopted on Summer Lightning to other sanctioned trails across the wider area, working to support landowners where required. Providing visitors with trails that run well regardless of the weather or the volumes of riders, in turn helps reduce any potential conflict between the various user groups, landowners, etc  and helps protect this unique and treasured landscape.”

Steve Cole Market Leader Specialized UK, comment; “ Our UK office is a stones throw from the Surrey Hills and its where you can find most of us riding in the evening, weekends and sometimes, before work! We have recently taken on the challenge of volunteering with maintenance of some of the trails in the popular Leith Hill part of the Surrey Hills. Giving something back to the local riding community is something that we feel strongly about and maintaining the trails we ride is something that we have wanted to get involved in for a while. Thanks to our friends at B1ke.com, we managed to arrange a day of trail maintenance training, showing us the do’s and don’t’s whilst simultaneously fixing up one of the most popular riding trails in the area. Far from being a one-off, we are excited to be continuing to work with the B1ke.com team to train up even more of our staff so that we can continue to help keep the trails running smoothly.

Chairman of the Mountain Bike Working Group, David Mir comments;
“The Surrey Hills has become one of the most popular areas for mountain biking in England with thousands of cyclists every weekend riding in the area. By encouraging cyclists onto specific routes we are helping to control the proliferation of new trails and the use of footpaths and bridleways. These dedicated routes help to reduce conflict and allow the Surrey Hills to be enjoyed by all”.

The Surrey Hills Mountain Bike Working Group was created by the Surrey Hills Board to look at the impact that Mountain Biking was having on the Surrey Hills. The group consists of representatives from the National Trust, The Forestry Commission, Surrey County Council, Mole Valley District Council, Surrey Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Hurtwood,  Wotton Estate, Capel Parish Council,  Local landowners, CTC and representatives from local bike companies; B1ke, All Biked Up, Cycleworks and Head for the Hills. The Mountain Bike Working Group encourage cyclists to ride with care and to take responsibility for the way in which they use the trails: ensuring that they are in control of their bike at all times, and to give way to walkers and horse riders, particularly when the trail crosses bridleways and footpaths.

To find out more about the work of the Surrey Hills Mountain Bike Working Group visit https://www.surreyhills.org/board/mountain-biking/