A new sports organisation came into being on 8th February 2012 to promote mountain biking in particular and biking generally in the Trossachs. Called Bike Trossachs, the group represents not only bike interests but also tourism and young people. The view of the group is that the quality, variety and total length of the available trails, together with the proximity to the central belt cities makes the Trossachs a natural centre for the activity which is rapidly growing in popularity.
Sandy Slater, of Aberfoyle-based Wild Biking Scotland, is one of the group, which is a not-for-profit, voluntary organisation. He says “Visitscotland reckons that one person in every five owns a mountain bike. In the Trossachs the proportion is probably even higher, yet mountain biking doesn’t get the development focus it deserves. There should be better mapping of trails that should be suitable for different abilities, local skills areas so youngsters can play in designed spaces rather than car parks, events to encourage local people to take part and activities to keep young people interested in a positive healthy sport. There is also a great opportunity to use mountain biking to provide a range of career opportunities for young people.”
Bike Trossachs will hold a public meeting in due course to ask the local community what it would like to see in the way of mountain bike development. A set of objectives would then be agreed which, in partnership with the appropriate agencies, will push the sport forward. Some of the ideas already put forward include maps of the existing informal trails that are suitable for bikes; local bike skills areas that would be suitable for all ages; promoting the mountain biking proficiency scheme, Go MTB!; working with Callander Sport and Adventure Project to provide events; working with Callander Youth Project to provide training and career opportunities for young people.
There is wider economic potential, according to Sandy. “Any improvements in mountain biking in the Trossachs makes the area a more attractive place to visit. Mountain bike tourism is set to grow by 30% over the next five years, an opportunity we can’t afford to ignore – is there any other industry sector that offers so much potential? Scotland was voted a “Global Superstar” by the International Mountain Bike Association and the fantastic environment of the Trossachs should be part of that international recognition.”
The group has established a Facebook page to keep supporters informed of progress while they go about setting up a website and starting work on their objectives.
Visit their Facebook page for more information - www.facebook.com/biketrossachs
image credit/copyright: Andy McCandlish