TRF:Hi Stephen. It looks like the riding season has officially started and Central Bristol TRF are out in full force. What was the event you just attended?
Stephen:We set up a TRF Display Stand at Mercian Dirt Riders practice day at the Wickwar Enduro Track in South Gloucesteshire. A fantastic venue that we have run an actual event at previously. We were armed with our club pop up gazebo, some great artwork, banners and leaflets and a few key members to man the stand.
TRF:Some people might be confused by the TRF taking part in a ‘race’ event. Do you think there’s conflict there?
Stephen:It was a Practice Day, not a race, there is of course a conflict between the mind-set of a racer and Green-Roader indeed the venue has been used as a Sprint Enduro track which is great but its just too stressful all-round so the decision was made to only do practice days. Initially we guessed we’d get the more hardcore riders, and that doesn’t always mix well, they can be hard on your tail blipping the throttle as a warning that they want to get by, but that’s where we tried to make the difference, by pitching it at TRF and Green Road users in general rather than the racers, (many of those guys will come anyway) everyone is welcome, but we made it clear it is meant to be a relaxed day… there is plenty of space and safe overtaking so it really wasn’t an issue. To be fair a lot of the people I ride with in the TRF have been riding for many years and come from an MX, enduro and even trials background, so their influence and experience has helped shape the track layout massively, and these guys are out on track on the day too as travelling marshals, very much with a courteous and respectful attitude that you would expect from the TRF. I posted a vid on the Wickwar Enduro Track FB page that has a clever Dashware overlay showing your position on the track and a speedometer amongst other features (prior to track changes). Because of the track layout you can’t reach crazy speeds that much, so it has a lot in common with getting out on the lanes. Obviously the TRF code includes a sensible speed limit and respect for other road users, so what the practice day offers is a chance to hone your skills and let your hair down a bit as it were, and ride perhaps a little ‘in the spirit of competition’ but we really impress upon everyone that ‘its not a race’ and to be respectful and give your fellow riders plenty of space, after all, you get 5 hours on track!
TRF:Do you think events like this are a good way of reaching a wider group of trail riders?
Stephen:Yes, absolutely. The event was advertised far and wide into the trail riding communities with a big fat TRF logo on it alongside the Mercian Dirt Riders Logo and we had an overwhelming response. I’ve often chatted with some really experienced riders at enduro events and practice days about Green Roads and what the TRF does and what it means to me. I’m really surprised how little people know about the organisation and the untold fun to be had ‘out there on the Green Roads’ with a bunch of fellow ‘like-minded’ motorcycle enthusiasts, and when they hear some of our stories it encourages them to join up and get off that ‘hamster wheel’ occasionally!
TRF:I guess there’s always going to be a bit of unease around the way racing is perceived in relation to trail riding. What is the message that Central Bristol is trying to promote?
Stephen:If anything we are showing riders from both camps that they both have much to learn from each others disciplines, after all we’ve done our best to promote the venue as an ‘inclusive anybody and everybody welcome’ practice day, but we also wanted to impress upon people the importance of riding safely and considerately. It is important that TRF riders up their skill levels to allow them to more ride safely and confidently but equally important that those joining the TRF from racing understand the code conduct of enjoying the Green Roads and countryside responsibly! Keep the racing on the race track! With this in mind key member and senior ride leader Andy Howes and Chris Baker organised an escort service out on the track taking ‘newbie riders’ round and giving them some help and support where needed to hopefully give them the confidence to get stuck in… after all, we’ve all been there, a bit wobbly, perhaps feeling slightly intimidated by the faster and more confident riders. We joked that we could get hi-vis with 'L' signs on, and later we actually thought, its not a bad idea. We are planning some training days that would give newer riders the opportunity improve confidence greatly.