Tell Us How The Land Lies

THE news that the Off Road Vehicles Registration Bill has been scrapped comes as good news for the world in which we have an interest, for whilst it had some merits, less government involvement in subjects that have happily administered themselves for donkey’s years has got to be welcomed.

As far as the merit of the proposed bill is concerned, because it would have put every off-road vehicle onto a national register, it could have reduced the number of bike thefts that plague the country.

But apart from that, there was no other merit to the bill, so it’s a good job it has been chopped. Graham Stringer, the MP that proposed the legislation, now has other far weightier matters on his mind as he is the MP most affected by the government’s effective scrappping of the proposed Supercasino in the Manchester area. Good job too many will say, money is difficult enough to earn as it is without throwing it away on a gambling table. But I digress!!

Regarding bike thefts as mentioned above, you will have read last week that I went to Ireland for a road race meeting, and I was surprised to learn that bike thefts were a major problem there as well. Rather naively I supposed that everything was hunky dory in the world of speed, but apparently not and when we left our six bikes parked up on practice evening, we chained them all together, whilst on race day we parked them up in somebody’s back garden and left our helmets in the lady’s front room (along with 50 or so others!)

However, others were not so lucky and we saw at least two other unfortunate bikers riding without crash helmets that had presumably been pilfered. Sad isn’t it?

The big event this coming weekend is of course the Reeth Three Day Trial next Friday, Saturday and Sunday which has attracted an entry of 217 riders. The entry list is a strong one and features a whole host of very good (and some not so good) clubman riders from all over the country. Of course not everybody is interested or indeed able to tackle three big days of riding, but everything is promising and as I understand it will again feature three very full days of 40 sections each day over courses that are up to 50 miles per day, Really cracking and those entered are looking forward to it immensely.

Fortunately Richmond seem able to obtain permission from dozens of landowners to allow the passage of the trial across the land they farm, but elsewhere in the UK permission to use land is becoming ever more difficult to obtain.

In some areas, and my own area of north west Lancashire is one of them, DEFRA is eager to encourage farmers to put land into Higher Management or to set aside land for Ground Nesting Birds amongst other projects, both of which put heavy restrictions on using the land for any of the environmentally sensitive activities in which we indulge.

You can’t blame farmers putting a stop to trials riding when they are risking perhaps an £8k subsidy for a few hundred quid from a cash strapped trials club. I don’t know if many trials riding farmers read this column, but if there are any, it would be very interesting to learn from them exactly how they see the use of land for trials in the next year or so.

No doubt I could plough through the DEFRA website and find it all out for myself, but time constraints etc simply don’t allow that. So can I take the easy way out and ask you to post your thoughts? I know that all posts are in your user names and we certainly don’t wish you to divulge your identity, but it would be handy to know in which area you farm and how you see the short term future.

The column is a touch shorter this week and the column next week MAY be a touch later than normal. I’m riding at Reeth (hope the knee holds up!!) and plan to write the column on Sunday evening upon my return. Then the news, whatever it may be, will be bang up to date.

See those of you riding at Reeth and let’s hope for weather a bit better than it’s been this week, but not as hot as last year at Reeth. Fussy, aren’t I?