Be a trail blazer

Fancy some­thing off the tar­mac? Join the TRF to find a hid­den net­work of ad­ven­tures

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Char­lie Lester

We have just over 2000 miles of mo­tor­ways in the UK. In com­par­i­son, there are more than 6000 miles of green lanes and trails that are le­gal to ride mo­tor­bikes on.

Hang on. Read those num­bers again, and take a sec­ond for them to reg­is­ter. There are around three times as many un­sur­faced road miles as mo­tor­way. That’s a whole world that many of us barely knew ex­isted. And the Trail Rid­ers Fel­low­ship has been work­ing for nearly 50 years to keep those trails open for mo­tor­cy­clists.

It started, as many great things do, in a pub in Hert­ford­shire in 1970. Lo­cal trail rid­ers came to­gether, con­cerned that their routes were be­ing lost, re­claimed by na­ture and for­got­ten. They started work­ing to re­open them; forc­ing Lan­drovers through to clear space then send­ing bikes to fol­low. They were joined by others na­tion­wide un­til groups opened up all over Eng­land and Wales (the dif­fer­ence in Scot­land’s reg­u­la­tions un­for­tu­nately keep them sep­a­rate). There are now over 4500 mem­bers; but don’t use the term ‘off-road­ers’ – these trails are roads, they’re just not sur­faced.

“Peo­ple join for many rea­sons,” says TRF Di­rec­tor Mario Costa-sa. “Some peo­ple want to dis­cover some­thing dif­fer­ent, some want to learn skills off the tar­mac that will im­prove their road rid­ing, some enjoy rid­ing alone but need the TRF to pro­tect and de­fend the green roads – but most want to join groups of like-minded peo­ple who enjoy rid­ing as a group and enjoy the coun­try­side.

“We’re all about sav­ing lanes and keep­ing them open for ev­ery­one to enjoy. We are in con­stant dis­cus­sion with lo­cal coun­cils about ac­cess and con­di­tion of lanes, and if they are un­der threat of be­ing closed to mo­tor ve­hi­cles we can move to court ac­tion – one land­mark case ended up in the supreme court last year.

“We were on track to have saved around 50 routes by the end of 2016. And on a ba­sic level that starts with en­thu­si­as­tic mo­tor­cy­clists who wear the TRF logo to iden­tify them­selves as re­spon­si­ble trail rid­ers.”

So while the weather is lousy and those measly miles of mo­tor­ways

un­der­pop­u­lated with bik­ers, just over £40 buys a year’s mem­ber­ship in a club that’s ‘as busy in win­ter as in sum­mer’, and will in­tro­duce you to hid­den trails all over the coun­try – ap­par­ently there are twice as many as you can see on an OS map!

Ex­plore a whole new world of bik­ing

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