“Must have one of these all-mountain rigs,” my teenage son announced.

I’m always in a dilemma at times like this. Do I lose the final thin strand of credibility I have left with this alien generation and admit I don’t know what on earth he’s talking about? Even if I do something typically parenty and ask ‘How much does it cost? I’m opening myself up to ridicule, for not ‘even’ knowing that. If I sound enthusiastic then there’s a chance I’m building up the lad’s hopes unnecessarily.

I stall by saying “Oh aye?” He’s reading a glossy biking magazine in which nothing is cheap and everything is hyped up. In my day Dads used to be able to fix everything on the family’s bikes – all you needed was an adjustable spanner and you became an instant hero. Now you require a degree in engineering plus a spare month and an interpreter to read the instruction manual.
Fortunately, even my son has a line over which he won’t cross when it comes to asking for things I can’t afford, and this particular all-mountain rig, a bike to you and me, costing over £3500, is something that can’t even be seen through a telescope from that line.

“Had you going for a minute, Dad.”

This conversation comes in a week when a reader wrote to me expressing her annoyance about her regular walk being hijacked by ‘several aggressive mountain bikers’. The bikers were doing nothing illegal I should add, just enjoying their challenging day out on the moors, but I dare say that seeing a twelve stone luminous-green-licra-clad, masked and helmeted rider hurtling down a hill towards you on a an ‘all-mountain rig’ could seem a little intimidating.

The vast majority of bikers I’ve encountered around the Dales and Moors have been courteous and usually offered a breathless ‘Hi’ on passing. Maybe I’ve been lucky. Anyone else had problems? Or any bikers had difficulties with grumpy, obstinate walkers?

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5 Comments

  1. Paul Booth

    Personally the whole ethos of mountain biking is against that of the walker and naturalist. They ride fast, often in groups, and really are more interested in fitness than nature. Their presence on a mountain or dale suggests hustle and bustle and not tranquility. Quite often I have seen them cycling in places they are prohibited from. In short, they are detrimental to the countryside and should be restricted wherever possible. Nowadays, I find myself looking for walks where bikers cannot access because of walls, difficult terrain or stiles placed to prevent their access. In short, they spoil the atmosphere of a country walk. The two are not compatible.

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  2. Susan

    We just finished a 7 day cycling tour through the Dales. I’m from the States and was very impressed with all of the cycling and walking opportunities in the Dales. The vistas were incredible and were only matched by the warm hospitality of the locals. I can understand why the agressive mountain biker would disrupt the countryside. Isn’t there room for designated areas/parks for the mountain bikers?

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  3. Paul Booth

    Yes there is room for bikers. But it does not mean they will stick to designated areas. It’s almost as if it is a challenge to have a crack at footpaths designed for walkers only. In the past we have had problems with off-road vehicles and then motor bikes. Now it is the legions mountain bikers.

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  4. Malcolm Renshaw

    Interesting, in 1959 before MTB,s were thought of I made a circuit of 3 Peaks which interested your former Editor Bill Mitchell who has remained a friend ever since. An annual event has been organised since and is now 47 years old,having introduced riders from all over the UK and many countries inc. USA. Riders have returned to tour the Dales & the publicity gained for the area in the media over this period has been considerable. Speaking now as a walker I consider any minor inconvenience caused by a cyclist or in fact a group as being of little consequence.

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  5. Paul Booth

    All the work done in this country to open up private country areas has been done by those in the walking and hiking community. Long before mountain bikes were thought of the walkers of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire held public invasions of excellent walking country to ensure that future generations could escape their urban environment and enjoy peace and relaxation in our northern countryside. Mountain biking exists because of commercial interests initially and a desire to test themselves physically. That can be done on country roads. Dales walks exist for a very different reason than just physical exercise which is why they are banned from many accredited country walks. In fact, their usage could encourage land owners and farmers to close footpaths because or erosion and other irritations caused by hoardes of bikers.

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