Area 51. Somewhere in Shropshire…

The start to the 2015 season hasn’t been entirely joyous. Last week I received a phone call from a nice man working for Natural England. He explained they’d received complaints about an image and its caption on my website. The image referred to a place of outstanding natural beauty which , for the sake of a peaceful life, we’ll call Area 51. If nothing else naming it area 51 will bring lots of extra traffic to the blog from Googlers looking for UFOs or Roswell related snippets. The picture showed some riders on road legal trail bikes, riding an unsurfaced Unclassified Country Road [ie a legal highway open to all traffic] in Area 51. So, I hear you ask, what’s the problem?  Well, apparently some riders have been seen  riding illegally [allegedly] in Area 51 and the person[s] who complained to Natural England blamed my website for inciting this lawlessness . It would be lovely to believe my website was so inspirational but I think both you and I know it isn’t. If we extrapolate the theory that showing images of people enjoying themselves incites people to break the law then I suppose you could say Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear co -presenters are jointly and severally liable for anyone who breaks the speed limit on the M1. In other words, it’s complete and utter tosh. I also suspect the complaint isn’t genuine. Let’s face it, if Joe Rambler spots some lads out on ‘crossers riding illegally I very much doubt  the first thing he does when he gets home is Google “trail riding in Shropshire”. If he did he’d very likely be pointed towards equestrian or mountain biking websites before he came across mine. No, I think what’s happened here is an anti-vehicle campaigner has been having a browse through my site, spotted the reference and decided to have a tickle at my expense. On occasion, I have been known to say less than flattering things about the anti vehicle lobby and in particular the GLEAM organisation – those self-appointed guardians of the English countryside. Now GLEAM would have you believe Constable’s haywain was clear evidence of vehicles abusing green lanes and trail riders are begat from the spawn of the Devil. In short, they hate us and the iron horse we rode in on.   Natural England do good work and so in the interests of keeping the peace and relieving them of the need to deal with these vexatious complaints I’ve reluctantly pulled the caption. Alien life spotted in Area 51. Edwards Air base is just out of shot on the right. Si Lest you think I’m being a bit paranoid about the anti vehicle movement and their despicable tactics allow me to share this brief anecdote. Last year an elderly trail rider suffered a heart attack and died whilst riding his bike during an equestrian event. The rider was a popular man who had helped at this particular event for many years. Motorcycle trail riders often assist with laying out course markers and other tasks during these events. It’s a symbiotic relationship enabling the riders to ride in area they wouldn’t normally have access to and it saves the event organisers from a tedious and time-consuming task. Bikes are ideal for the job. Following the tragedy you would have thought even the most hardened anti vehicle campaigner would show respect but no, these people will try to make capital out of any circumstance. Following the incident a report was published in an ‘anti’ newsletter which triumphantly [and incorrectly] announced trail riders had now been banned from equestrian meetings following the death of a trail rider who was attempting to ride over the obstacles during a horse trial.. No mention was made of the rider’s long term connection with the event , nor of his volunteer status helping out the organisers or the very important detail that he had suffered a heart attack. The inference in the newsletter was a reckless trail rider who was messing about during a horse event had come to self-inflicted grief. A hysterical rant followed berating trail riders in general and the TRF in particular. It was a particularly horrible and dishonest way to score a few below-the-belt punches against motorcyclists. It’s also rather sinister. We might expect misinformation to be broadcast by government departments and such like but this is a just about green lanes and motorcycles fer Chrisake. You know, come to think of it I might just reinstate that caption.

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