Staying true with Rod Jackson

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It doesn't matter if you passed your bike test yesterday or thirty years ago, the TRF welcomes every single trail rider that cares about the future of Green Roads in the UK.

Many of our members just want to ride, some want to lead and some want to give a little more to the club that means so much to them. West Yorkshire TRF member Rod Jackson has given more than most over the years, leading adventurous groups around the north of England during the day and holding club Directors to account during the evening. Ever present on the TRF Forum, he explains why trail riding means so much to him and the importance of making sure that the club is up to standard both in public and behind the scenes.

 

TRF:

Hi Rod. The TRF weekend rides that you lead are fast becoming stuff of legend. The ride reports on the TRF Forum look great. Could you let us know a little more about them?

Rod:

The origin of these rides goes back a lot of years, when my son and myself read an article in Trail Bike Mag (doing the rounds) featuring a ride in Northumberland. We both thought it would be a good idea to do a weekend recce, riding our TTR250's a RAID and OE open enduro, in a round trip from Leeds with the view to asking a few riding pals to join us a couple of weeks later. We learnt a lot from that recce, mainly that doing 380 miles in 2 days was a bit too much for us, so the 3 day trip came about.

Most of my trips are based around a pub B&B in Weardale near Stanhope but other trips use B&B's in Alnwick or Jedburgh. I plan all the routes, when my own group WYTRF go on a trip, it fills up within a day, it's so popular, that's 24 riders three groups of 8 so we have two routes, one is ridden by 2 groups but in different direction (clockwise and anticlockwise) the other group has a separate route.

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Rod and the team enjoying a well earned tea break

The pub B&B I use most is £30 pp/pn with good food and hot showers, so put your petrol cost and lunch / evening meal on top and that's it. A particularly good deal I get when doing a 4 day mid week trip is 3 nights B&B and EVENING MEAL for under £100 pp.

The success of these trips, first with riding pals, then WYTRF made me realise just how much fun and pleasure everyone seemed to get out of this and the time spent together helped getting to know people better. This year I have taken members of at least eight different TRF groups on 9 multi day trips and covered almost 8,000 miles.

It can be stressful sometimes, taking complete strangers on such a trip, watching the road… GPS… not lost anyone… food/petrol stops… breakdowns… etc, but what makes it all worth while are the smiling faces and genuine appreciation shown when we get safely home, plus the fact that some of those complete strangers are now new friends.

TRF:

With respect, you are one of the TRF's more senior members. You must have seen the club, and trail riding in general evolve over the years. For some of our less experienced members, could you describe what trail riding in the UK was like 'back in the day'?

Rod:

I did trail ride a little in the early 70's but did not really take to it.

I may have just been unfortunate with the first guys I rode with, they found it amusing to point the newbies at the deepest widest bogs and tricky fords and see them struggle.

That had a profound effect on me and to this day I warn riders, if I advise you to take a certain line or you do not follow mine, don't blame me for the consequences.

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Teach a man how to fish and he will be fed for a lifetime. The true could be said for fixing punctures...

I was not a member of the TRF at that time, some of my mates were and they often rode lanes to see if a through route existed, were there obstructions etc, and do a written report for the West Yorkshire RoW officer. Now I look back on that time, I would probably refer to myself as a bit of a parasite, just following on rides, taking advantage of the work put in by others.

There was a break from trail bikes, family commitments and road bike interests were more important to me, then about 20 years ago, got the bug again. This new found enthusiasm came from wanting to plan my own routes and lead rides, then NERC was another important time for me in the TRF.

Up to NERC I rarely rode outside Yorkshire as there was so much available, so in a way it did me a favour and encouraged me to ride other areas, so wanting to make sure the trails I would be riding were legal, gave me the interest in RoW.

At that time Brian Thomson (now sadly departed and sorely missed) was the RoW officer of West Yorkshire TRF and I was very fortunate to benefit from his help and advice at that time.

TRF:

It seems that you are out on the bike a huge amount these days putting your retirement to good use. You must have ridden all over the country. Are there any spots that you are particularly fond of?

Rod:

My riding is done anywhere from the Peak District to just over the Scottish Borders and North Wales is good too. I get most pleasure these days, when riding in small groups (3 or 4) mid week at a leisurely pace in quiet remote areas, but still enjoy the craic and banter when say 24 WYTRF guys have their annual pilgrimage to the "sheep show".

We usually choose the last weekend in May as our antics are not as noticeable amongst the drunken revellers for the annual sheep show, but believe it or not, the busiest weekend of the year for that pub is in February, when they judge a contest for the "best bale of hay" I kid you not.

Anyway back to the WYTRF trip...

On one occasion my room mate retired early to bed whilst I, not wanting to be a party pooper, stayed a while longer. Needless to say he was rather embarrassed the next morning at breakfast, when I said ,in a very loud voice, this place is just like home, I staggered into the bedroom, someone sits up in bed, arms folded saying "and what time do you call this then?"

Another ride with WYTRF, it was the first memorial ride we did for Brian Thomson, there were several groups doing different routes and we all met in Reeth for lunch. It was a lovely sunny day and as we sat there, I think it was Richard Hirst an ex-chairman of WYTRF who nudged me and said " I bet Brian's looking down on us now and having a right laugh". "Why?" said I. "Just look round, not one KTM amongst all these bikes, how often do you see that?" For anyone who did not know Brian Thomson he was not a fan of KTM and never shy of speaking his mind, seeing KTM's as competition bikes and not a good image (in his opinion) of the TRF. All water under the bridge now and a different era.

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Feeling blue? Not a KTM in sight...

TRF:

Anyone that knows you from the Forum and AGM's will know that you don't shy away from speaking up and letting your opinion be known. One of the strengths of the TRF is the ability for members to put across their views. Not everyone participates in the debate as much as yourself. Why is it important to you that you are so vocal?

Rod:

If I see something I am not happy with or disapprove of, something being misrepresented whether intentionally or not, I would feel I'm not being true to my own values and beliefs if I did not speak up. I do have trust and respect in certain TRF members who have fought for our cause and led by example.

TRF:

Finally, how do you think the TRF can help shape the future of Green Roads?

Rod:

It's all moving too fast for me, I can't keep up or understand most of the strategy or the language it's conveyed to us in now, so i'm just enjoying my riding whilst I still can.

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Rod ride's into the Yorkshire sunset. Will you join him?

 

Find out more about West Yorkshire TRF on their new website.

If you would like to get in touch with Rod and take part in one of his ride outs you can find him on the TRF Forum.