Members are the TRF and without them TRF would not exist

 
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Motorcyclists, they are either young rebels or old farts aren't they? Women? You've got to be joking.

We all know the stereotypes, but what does the reality look like? The TRF's new Membership Director Gill Mitchell doesn't exactly fit any of those descriptions. Here she explains what attracted her to the TRF and how she hopes to help members get the most out of their club.

 

TRF:

Hi Gill. It's great to have you on board as one of our new Directors. I was hoping you might be able to tell our members a little more about ourself and what your vision is for the club in this coming year and beyond. Perhaps we could start with a little about your background? You're a long time motorcyclist but new to trail riding, is that correct?

Gill:

Thank you. It's a privilege to have been voted in as a Director by the members.

I got my first bike in 1981 - a red Suzuki B120 'commuter' bike called Rosie. Most of my male college friends had bikes as it was a cheap and fun way of getting around. I went 'off tarmac' a couple of times on a friend's Yamaha DT 175 and loved it. I came off it too… the DT gears were 1 down 4 up and my B120 was 1 up 4 down so instead of going from 3rd to 2nd I hit 4th! Strangely he wouldn't let me ride it after that. I then qualified as a nurse, got married and had three children. No spare money for a bike or the time to ride one… fast forward to 2014, lots of things had changed in my life including moving up to North Yorkshire. I'd always said one day I would get a motorbike and take my test. I took my CBT in Feb 2014 and I bought a Zontes Tiger 125cc called Jezebel. I got lots of practice in took my theory test in May 2014, Mod 1 in November 2014 and Mod 2 January 2015. All passed first time. And here we are. I ride a lowered ER6n called Esmerelda on the road and have just picked up my first trail bike, a Yamaha Serow.

TRF:

So what attracted you to the TRF? What is your local group like?

Gill:

To be honest I'd never heard of the TRF 2 years ago. I happened to mention to a friend that I'd done some 'off roading' as it used to be called, and he suggested coming along to the local TRF group. I thought yeah why not.


It's a way of meeting new people and hopefully getting some ride outs. My local group, Teeside & North Yorkshire TRF, are great - I know I have to say that - but it's true.


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Gill enjoying the summer trails

The first meeting was a bit daunting but without exception everybody has made me feel very welcome and I very quickly felt part of the group.

I was in the market for a low seated trail bike and was inundated with helpful advice and hints and offers of someone to come and look at bikes with me. It's great to finally have my Serow.

TRF:

It's a bit of a step up from being a member to being a Director. I think a lot of our members are very appreciative of the work that is done on their behalf, but not everyone is in a position to take up a Directors role. Why did you put yourself forwards?

Gill:

I'm my own worst enemy in that I volunteer for everything. I got co-opted onto the committee in my local group nominally as membership secretary although in reality we all muck in together to get things done. I went to the Rights of Road Conference in Beaulieu and thought i'd like to get more involved nationally but as a new member I didn't think Id be experienced enough. When I was approached by the Directors and asked if I'd consider standing as a Director I thought 'Why not?' So I put myself forward and here I am!

TRF:

You are the TRF Membership Director. What does that actually mean? What are you planning on achieving over the next year and what's your vision for the TRF longer term?

Gill:


I see my role as looking after the members interests in terms of what they get for their £45 a year. The members are the TRF and without them the TRF would not exist.


However until I know what the members think of THEIR TRF and what it means to them to be a member/what they get out of being members/is currently lacking I don't really know what if anything needs fixing. I will also be contacting lapsed/ex members to find out what their reasons for leaving are and whether we can persuade them to rejoin.

In order to do this I will be sending out a questionnaire in the near future and I hope all of the members will take a few minutes to fill theirs in and send it back to me. It will be a simple 3 question format so shouldn't take too long I can't promise I can solve everybody's issues but I will do my best.

The other challenge revolves around making joining and renewals easier. Without members the TRF can't exist and so it needs to be a much easier process to join up and then to renew membership.

TRF:

Are there any challenges that you see on the horizon? How can our members get behind you and help?

Gill:

As an organisation we need to get rid of the negativity which surrounds the pastime we all love - namely Trail Riding.

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Gill and the family, not what some people expect trail riders to look like!


Bikers generally get a poor press but Trail Riders are often perceived as hooligans. We need to change this at local as well as National level. All of our members can do this by promoting a positive image every time they go out and spreading the word about Green Road conservation and keeping the countryside open for the benefit of all.


I know that the majority of our members do this already but it's about getting involved and doing your bit for YOUR club. And of course encourage people to join the TRF.

TRF:

Trail riding has a reputation for being largely male orientated, but I'm sure you wouldn't necessarily agree with that?

Gill:

I would agree with that. Trail riding is very male orientated but then the reality is that biking generally is very male orientated so it's not entirely surprising.


Id love to see more women join the TRF and maybe that should be one of my goals as Membership Director…


Finding bikes and kit for shorter riders is a challenge and there's no doubt it is quite daunting walking on your own into a room full of men but to any ladies reading this and wondering whether to give trail riding a go I say YES!!! There are no bars to participating. I'm nearly 5'3" tall and 51 years old. If I can do it anyone can!

TRF:

Thanks for you time Gill.


Do you have ideas about how members can get the most out of the TRF? We will be launching a survey soon, in the meantime you can contact Gill directly at membership@trf.org.uk