June 30, 2022
Outstanding Local Trail Crew (runners up)- Biketrails Valencia
The Take Care of Your Trails campaign highlighted the fantastic voluntary contribution of the many groups and volunteers across Europe make towards their own local trails. It is great to see that trail maintenance events are no longer one-off actions but activities that are embedded in the local mountain bike scene throughout the course of the year. The TCoYT campaign is a really great opportunity to attract new volunteers and/or to generate positive local publicity.
One of our favourite parts about TCoYT is rewarding the crews and individuals who are creating the biggest impact in their local communities and are contributing to positive change in their communities. Aside from getting the most boots on the ground, the ‘Outstanding Local Trail Crew’ award takes into consideration the crews that are creating positive change in their community through…
- Being inclusive in their volunteer recruitment
- Organising regular trail maintenance days throughout the year
- Communicating and engaging well with their local community & local stakeholders
This year we are pleased to announce the runner up for the ‘ Outstanding Local Trail Crew’- Biketrails Valencia. The crew will receive a supporting grant thanks to our sponsors Specialized bicycles, which will be used to help with future trail maintenance events.
The story behind Biketrails Valencia
Biketrails Valencia started as an idea to promote for tourism the small town of Higueruelas, located about 50 km from Valencia. From there, a group of few people who are cycling enthusiasts and who know the great potential of the area for mountain biking decided to get involved in the project and we set to work collaborating with the city council in a disinterested way.
Can you explain the importance of volunteer recruitment and trail maintenance in your area?
The mountain trails are one of the main attractions of the area for active tourism, so their recovery and maintenance is essential to revitalize the economy of an inland area like ours. On the other hand, the municipality of Higueruelas is very small (less than 500 inhabitants) and has very limited financial and personal resources. For this reason, the creation of a social mass of volunteers who collaborate with their work in the maintenance of the trails is essential to develop our project.
How do you recruit new volunteers?
The vast majority of volunteers come from a cycling club, which we have created to bring together all those who want to collaborate with the development of our project. We are currently about 100 members in the club and we try to attract new members by carrying out activities that are attractive for people to get involved, such as MTB technique training courses, group MTB routes, work days in the mountains, etc. We also invite all those who want to help us mainly through our social networks and our website.
Explain why recovering and restoring ancient trails is important?
The area in which we are located has a very important ancient trail network, due to the fact that there are small villages, farms and farming areas that were formerly interconnected by trails through the mountains. And many of those trails are being lost because they are no longer used today for agriculture or livestock. We have to try to keep the trails that our ancestors created long time ago in good condition so that our children or grandchildren can enjoy them in the future. So, we focus our action on the recovery of those ancient heritage, giving a new life to the old trails, adapting them to the new uses of the mountain, which are related to active tourism and nature sports, such as mountain biking.
You mentioned that you get volunteers to feel restored trails are a part of them… can you explain this a bit more (in more detail)
We have verified that people in general take care of and enjoy the trails much more when they have worked on their recovery and maintenance, because in this way, the trails become something of yours, something in which you have put your personal effort. It is not the same to ride your bike along a trail that was already there because someone fixed it, than along a trail you have worked on. When you ride your bike there, you know the cost of the recovery of this trail, you know that many branches had to be cut, you know that many stones had to be moved, and in short, you are aware of the great work done to be able to enjoy it later. It’s about getting people to feel that there is something of them on those trails. That makes you feel proud of your work and makes you enjoy your riding experience much more.
Why are Take Care of Your Trails important to the local MTB community?
Take Care of Your Trails help to make the cyclist collective aware that we have to forget about comfort and passivity and take action. If we want to enjoy our trails, we have to take care of them. It’s a fundamental job for us as cyclists and trail users, but also a help for other users, and certainly a help for our successors.
What are the biggest challenges you are facing as a community?
Our main challenges right now are to get recognition and help from government bodies, and to obtain funding. We carry out all this work through groups of volunteers who dedicate our time and resources to the maintenance and care of the trails in a selfless way. We need local governments to recognize our work and help us administratively and financially so that this project is viable in the long term. We also need mountain bike brands to get involved and financially help initiatives like ours, because without trails, there is no mountain bike.