Stolen: favourite local single track

I’ve not ridden for two weeks due to a combination of injury, commitments, holiday, and then illness. So today I was looking forward to a short rde to speed my recovery. I chose the Holy Roller and set off.

The Holy Roller is a Pashley Muni with a 26" Holy Roller tyre and 125mm cranks. A general purpose machine which has all the quirks and design features you would expect of a “Brit bike”. :roll_eyes:

So three quarters of a mile in, I reach the river bank, planning to turn right and follow one of my favourite local single tracks.

This path is great. It starts with a narrow ribbon of trodden earth with a wide band of grass at each side, then the trees and undergrowth close in until you are on a challenging narrow strip of mud between high and thick undergrowth.

In summer, it is usually baked hard, with small dips and bumps, and fossilised tyre tracks to trip the unwary. In winter those dips and bumps fill with water, and the mud turns to paste. For much of its distance, the track runs across the slope so that any loss of control leads to a sideslip and a wipeout - usually in the nettles.

In winter, it is a good ride on the Holy Roller or the KH 24, trudging through the mud. In spring, it can be ridden on a dry day on the Bacon Slicer, picking a route over and around the worst of the obstacles. On the 36, it is a special challenge with low boughs of willow hanging down to snag your Camelbak as you duck your head. With concentration I can ride it in one almost every time, but it is never a certainty.

To the right is a thick hedgerow, and chaffinches, greenfinches and sometimes red-splashed goldfinches flit across towards the willows that overhang the wide river to my left.

Through occasional gaps in the trees, you can see ducks, geese, sometimes swans, often herons, and in the small baylets where the water laps against the rushes electric blue dragonsflies hover and skim busily. The evening brings out the swallows swooping low over the water, whilst the martins soar high overhead feasting on the insects.

And all the time, the rider’s attention is drawn first this way then that: now to a tricky section of bumps, now to a sudden glimpse of wildlife across the river, now to a low branch, and now to the thick summer nettles and briars that reach and probe craftily for the patches of bare skin between leg guards and shorts.

This is a place where no one comes specifically to mountain bike, but people who own bikes enjoy a ride that offers some challenge. The few dog walkers are of the more solitary and inoffensive kind, and the anglers who come this far do so to get away from it all, content to angle away quietly with never a thought given to making a daft comment to a unicyclist.

This is unicycling paradise.

But today, to my horror, the path as been stolen.

In its place is a 1.5 metre wide strip of crushed ballast, safely constrained by two parallel wooden edges. To each side the grass and bushes have been cut back brutally.

As my wheel crunches disconsolately along a level featureless homogenous and uniform path, I see raw stumps where the overhanging willow branches have been sawn off.

This desolation extends for a kilometer or so, then the crushed grit stops. But the damage doesn’t end, for someone has used a mini digger to carve a wide scar across the river bank, and it is clear that within days, the whole length of the path will have been improved beyond recognition.

At the end of the completed bit, an edge of plastic sheeting protrudes a membrane to prevent any unhygienic vegetation from sprouting through and ruining the outdoor recreational amenity that will replace the near wilderness we used to enjoy.

On my way back, half an hour later, I reflect glumly that when they have finished, they will add a top dressing and use a roller to compact it - but they always do half a job, and the roller adds annoying corrugations to the surface - not enough to be a challenge, but too uneven to allow the unicyclist to relax completely.

I reach the end and decide to ride straight on towards the car, but what is this? “Footpath closed”! Well, bugger that, I’m not on foot.

I discover they are improving the path in this direction too. But what was wrong with this path? A well trodden single track on closely mown grass, overlooking riverboat moorings. Now it is half finished, and the half that is finished is rolled tarmac.

As I ride over the tarmac, my wheel rises and falls in the corrugations, making me feel just slightly seasick.

Seneca wrote that we should enjoy what we have, but be prepared for it to be taken away at any moment. Perhaps he was a unicyclist who lived in an area where the council had budget to waste.

I will be surprised if I see any significant number of people using the new track. If they do, it will be merely as a route to somewhere else. For me, it was a place to be.

I’m sorry for your loss Mike.

I liked your write up.

: (

That stinks, I would hate if they did that here with some of the trials. Sorry :angry:

I’m sorry man. Cities need to need to think a lot more before they “improve” things. Although I can see this as being seen as an improvement to a majority of the population.

Another example of trying to fix what isn’t broken and, by doing so, breaking it.

Lame. :frowning:

:slight_smile: I had to look it up:

disconsolate - inconsolable: sad beyond comforting; incapable of being consoled; “inconsolable when her son died”

disconsolate - blue: causing dejection; “a blue day”; “the dark days of the war”; “a week of rainy depressing weather”; “a disconsolate winter landscape”; “the first dismal dispiriting days of November”; “a dark gloomy day”; “grim rainy weather”

Perhaps the majority that does not actually use the trails.

Consolations for your loss. :frowning:

I can so relate, Mike. My favorite local “trip around the lake” trail got this same “improved” treatment, adding 3" deep gravel everywhere instead of well-compacted dirt that existed before, ensuring it is now virtually unridable for the little kids that used to like to circle the lake. For the moms pushing baby transports, it’s now a major workout, as they must lean it at a good angle to drive the vehicles through the deep gravel.

At the heart of it, as you noted, was money to waste. I can’t believe they spent my homeowner’s dues on this abomination. Makes me want to run for the homeowner’s council just to shake things up.

Down by the Trent up past Nottingham? Or the one near Clifton Bridge?

If so, they’ve done that to a lot of the Trent paths (like the ones round near Attenborough) - I think it is aiming to make it accessible all the way along. It is a bummer for people who enjoyed it already, but if you look at the bits between Trent Lock & Attenborough where they did this 2 years back, there are tons more people on them in winter now you don’t get muddy feet. I guess from the council’s point of view, the Trent and it’s paths are a real missed opportunity, we have this massive river, right near the town, yet apart from where the football ground is, and round the back of Attenborough hardly anyone walks / cycles along it, and it doesn’t link up nicely all the way along, so they’re trying to fix that.


Bummer. I can sort of see the point of opening up the path to more people (like Joe said), but it’s still a shame to lose the singletrack. The main bridlepaths across the moor near me were recently spruced up with tons of stones and coarse gravel. They do it every few years, which is fair enough really as the tracks to get a lot of use and do start to erode. But for a few weeks afterwards it does make them very different to ride. They start off ridiculously loose and gravelly, then get a bit boring as the stones pack down a bit, then after a few heavy rainstorms they’re pretty much back to how they always were. Not quite the same as tarmacing(?) over though.


several years ago my favorite path was ‘improved’. nature reclaimed it in short order. now it is as rooted and fun as it was. patience.

It’s the section on the left bank of the river from the railway bridge near Colwick Insdustrial Estate to the locks just upstream from the Ferry at Stoke Bardolph.

Not the longest or most challenging track, but local to me, very pleasant, and fun to ride. A hidden gem.

Thing is they keep doing this. Sherwood Pines, where once Robin Hood slept rough, hunted wild deer, and entertained Maid Marion with three blasts of his horn a day, is now a maze of pale yellow scars, overpopulated by swarming antpeople on overdesigned moutainbikes. Keep to the yellow brick road, Dorothy, and don’t touch the dirty trees. The great outdoors is being sanitised and commodified.

Anyone else remember that episode of The Goodies where they concreted over everywhere, except one patch of green on the map - then did that bit too, and couldn’t open their own door to get out?

That’s pathetic, Mike.

There is a park close to me in which I have walked whatever dogs we owned at the time for the last 30 years. When I first discovered the hidden trail system it was just that…hidden. The trails existed wherever kids had run through the woods or high-schoolers had hacked out a space for a kegger and the trail heads were buried in brush and difficult to find. When walking a barely recognizable trail one would occasionally lose it and have to stop and look around to see where it picked up again. There were miles of these trails through the north and south halves of this park separated by a creek in a deep ravine.

Over the years these trails have been “improved” in a manner similar to what you describe. Where once traversing these paths meant some bushwhacking would be involved now they are all practically wheelchair accessible. In the winter one used to see no other trail users. Now, I’m waiting for the day that the city puts a heated bus stop along one of the trails.

I have a warped and unrealistic sense of ownership having used these trails and seen them anti-deteriorate over the years and lifespans of my walking companions. Now I encounter other “trail users” aghast at the sight of an unleashed dog where before I met no one. It is ridiculous to think that I have any more right to this real estate than any other citizen has. It just annoys me to have watched it “evolve” in this way.