Social media, a bit like the news or politicians gets a bad press – usually I think because we seem for some strange reason to be drawn to the negative in many things. So social media when it hits the headlines is usually because of people using it to do bad things, rarely do you hear it as a force for good but that in my experience is very much what it is. It enables you to spread ideas, entertain, inform, bring people together and coalesce them around an interest or idea. That bringing together can be done virtually but it can also be a physical thing. On the weekend Si Bradley (@_Si-Bradley) used that very concept and a simple hashtag to bring mountain bikers from around the country together, not to race or be competitive but to share, to meet, to socialise, to eat, to drink and to enjoy the simple pleasure that riding a bike off road can bring, irrespective of your skill or experience.
Myself, Rob (@chasinsheepMTB) and Brian (@oldstuntmonkey) left Leeds very early and got down to Llandegla for 9am to find scores of mountain bikers of every hue milling about and chatting doing that awkward thing of trying to introduce yourself to someone who may only know you via a twitter name …. i.e. hello I’m yetiridingdragon or whatever. Amazingly the sun was out (I know it’s always sunny in Wales isn’t it) and with charity raffle tickets bought and a brew drunk with the mornings riding began.
Si had organised a great range of options for people to do if they wanted to or they could just do their own thing and people had kindly given up their time to pass on skills or lead rides. Groups of riders headed out to ride the Blue, Red or Black runs, Craig (@P9ADV) ran a kids ride, Trail Takeover led a women’s ride, Chris (@CMJDavies) led an adventure photography workshop and I went on a skills session delivered by Steve from (@chasingtrails). All of these people kindly gave up their time and skills for free. Talking of free after the morning session the fab guys from Kirby Lonsdale brewery were handing out their specially produced Berm Basher beer. Happy days indeed.
In the afternoon I headed out with Rob and Bri to have a crack at the red run and see if I could put my new found skills into action. I was a tad nervous as I always am but I got round in a reasonably ok fashion I think. Slowly my projectsnail confidence and skills are improving. The beautiful day was finished with tea and cake provided by (@puremountains) and of course a bit more beer.
Could a day get any better ? What I really liked about it was that there was none of the macho radness that can sometimes infect the MTB world, an attitude I detest. The atmosphere was really chilled people rode, passed on skills, shared the trails and the tales and a good time was had by all. Huge thanks must go to Si and all the helpers and sponsors for making it such a great day. Si had even organised us a great campsite (Llyn Rhys Campsite) so we stayed over and rode the trails again on the Sunday before heading wearily and happily home.
So anyone who knocks twitter again – ignore the naysayers there are good people out there using social media to bring people together to share good times.