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A new trail center for the South East
#1
A few of us have been discussing the possibility of looking at how to set up a decent trail center in the South East.  Just from the responses about the Berms at Blean thread it would appear that there is a fair amount of support for this in principle.

So far we have the idea that we might approach a private land owner in the area to see about the possibility of setting something up.

The biggest potential problem so far seems to be the issue of insurance if this trail center was to be anything more organised than a few mates in the woods with the land owners permission.  I only say 'trail center' because we might be able to get some form of funding, but I would have thought anyone interested in funding such a scheme would require it be made accessable to the public.

This all seems too formal to me but I can only imagine that somewhere like Blean but with properly built features like berms, north shore and drops etc... would become very very popular, and very soon require offical organisation as in a trail center.

If it could be kept low key, more a sort of private club with permission from the land owner, and some kind of signed waiver in case of damage to person or property so that the land owner was protected, might that be a goer?

Anyone had experience of setting something like this up?

I would certainly be interested in playing a part in getting something like this going, but do not have much experience in building trails and features, always willing to learn though.
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#2
There are quite a few private woods round here that are just used for coppicing. Those sort of owners may tolerate the use of the woods for mountain biking, few things spring to mind

Would need to form a club or at the very least a list of riders, make up individual cards which would be required at all times, pay a nominal fee say £5 for the year which goes to the land owner. They could then outline areas that you could ride in, agree rules together ie no north shore, height of jumps etc. It should be clear that at any time the landowner can knock down bits for the purpose of their coppicing etc and riders should no go anywhere near current work.

A few problems would be governing the amount of people in there ie the owner probably wouldnt want tons in there, could allow a couple of guests per time if riding with members but danger is public get wind and go in there or ramblers thinking its open to them but maybe not if still signed as private. Theres still the issue of insurance and the owner potentially being responsible should a rider injure themselves on their land and to get round that an official club would have to be formed and then get the relevant insurance, perhaps the CTC stuff already part covers this if its to be a Sketchy thing?
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#3
Buckmore Park, I large area privately owned by an organisation who actively encourage youths being outside & active...The Scouts.
Currently any cheeky trails around there are fairly poor, that said, its a large area with what must be loads of potential.

On the positives..   it must have some of the best road access available, is out of the way from any resident complaints & has a hugh carpark.

Edit
On the negatives..  I would dread to think how much public insurance would be, you would need to insurance against everything & everyone, given the potentila dangerous nature of this sport that would be expensive. You can't insure just those who officially belong to a club & exclude those that dont. If a non-member hurt himself on anything that was man-built & was easily accessible to the general public, whether he was supposed to be there or not, he can sue & there is nothing that can official stop him. Even if you form a club I cant see how you would stop the public from using it & how you would police those that did.
Dont get me wrong, I would love to see a local Trail Centre but it would be a very brave man that put his name to anything official. In my humble opinion I believe we are living in a dream world if we think anyone can do something like this on a shoe string budget. I would certainly help in any way I can, but putting my name on anything...not a chance


Myself & Tincs have been kicked off there before by some Scout leader soooo far us his own rectum it was untrue... its was midnight at the time !
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#4
That all sounds possible, bit of shame to be restricted in what we build, but I understand the risk of injury or death is quite high, especially with larger stuff.

Is there no way a list of riders who have signed a waiver, written up by a solicitor, to absolve the land owner of any liability might work?  You know the sort of thing you sign when you go paintballing or karting, I know these organisations have their own insurance as well, but what is the point of a liability waiver if you have insurance as well?

I agree that the rest of the arrangment is a matter of negotiation between the owner and us, perhaps a bit harder to get going on coppice land because of the working machinery/chainsaws etc...  but would it be easier to get going on a private estate? I am only talking in priciple at the moment, as I understand the whole issue of numbers of riders, parking, access times etc... would be a whole other kettle of fish.
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#5
Check out the CTC Info for some pointers.
when I get home, I'll have a look what I can find.
I've mailed Canterbury Council, inquiring (without specifics) if there are any plans for the area, and if not, how to get things rolling Wink
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#6
Quote "Buckmore Park, I large area privately owned by an organisation who actively encourage youths being outside & active...The Scouts."

The Scouts is something I was thinking about too, I know the district head of Scouting in Kent, and he lives and works on a large farm near Howletts Zoo, it might be worth approaching him with the idea, and trying to spin it that anything we build/organise would obviously be open to the Scouts too???

Again I fear the biggest problem will be bloody insurance.  Personally if I injure myself riding then that's my lookout, I choose where I ride and how fast, so it's my fault if I mess it up.  Without the pressure of needing to insure for every eventuality this would be so much easier to get off the ground.
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#7
Just a thought

Before you "reinvent the wheel" is there any mileage in trying to improve on what's already there in the South east at a site already happy to welcome mountain bikers, i.e. Bedgebury ?

Any move to provide for mountain bikers in the South East is going to get people who've never ridden a bike in their adult life saying "But you already have Bedgebury, it's hugely successful and very popular with Mountain Bikers"  We all have a good moan about the trail there but it strikes me that there's enough land there to have at least double what's currently in place.  A second, better planned, better built red route ?  Could it be done, would they allow it ?  Has anyone approached the  "Boars on bikes" to see if they are open to fresh blood/new ideas ?

Might be easier to accheive than starting completely from scratch.  Even if nothing new/different can be done there, I suspect the people who manage the Bedgebury Red route (Who for all the criticism aimed at them have IMO improved what was there on day one by about 300%) could at the very least offer a wealth of experience in dealing with landowners/FC/Local councils etc.
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#8
If a burgular trespassed on my land, cut himself on a big lump of metal I had left sticking up in the air he can sue me..
If a burgular scaled a factory building & fell thro the roof, he can sue the company who owns the building...
If a mountain biker who's just crashed his bike & forgot to check his front wheel was still secure, then chose to ride a trail you would think twice about walking, then during such an attempt his front wheel came out & he broke his back he would sue the Fork manufacturer saying it was their fault..

The excuse of "You wasnt supposed to be there, you knew it was dangerous & so was your fault" is no longer a valid reason for people not to sue & wouldnt be a defence in any court.. A sad fact of life...        DAWG08 speaks sense, Im sure Bedgebury would welcome a body of knowledgeable riders sitting in on their meetings.
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#9
Nice comments dawg08 you are of course absolutely spot on, we should be helping out with existing trail centers, and in fact there is a call out on the Bedgebury website asking for help on a building day...

Parhaps the title of the thread is slightly over the top, I really meant more along the lines of something smaller & far less public & closer for all of us who live nearer to the Canterbury area.  There is a reason we ride Blean on Wednesday evenings not Bedgebury.  I was trying to get a feeling for the possiblity of setting up something like Blean but with MTB specific trails and features being allowed and encouraged.

I think the closest I have heard to what I had in mind was the idea of a club or list of allowed riders in a wooded area under a single private ownership.  We could then manage it without fear of having all the hard work on berms and other building being torn down.

The only reason I got thinking about this was the large amount of discussion regarding getting something official going at Blean, which to me seems like banging my helmeted head against the brick wall of officialdom.
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#10
This is a great idea if it comes off.

Mereworth near Maidstone has potential. See my ride destination thread...

1. A large area of varied terrain
2. Privately owned but completely open to the public
3. No apparant objections to the existing biking activities
4. Close to the M20/M25

and I have the address of the landowners.

Insurance is obviously not a major issue as projects like this are ongoing all over the country.
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