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