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Cry freedom

It's finally happening. There's a slow movement in the shadows, growing as the light moves across to catch the twinkling eyes of the participants. I daren't tell you in case you spill the beans; can I trust you? Okay, I'll tell you then, but in a roundabout way so that you almost guess it first, letting me off the hook.

I was speaking to a mountain bike legend this week. We were chewing the cud and sharing a coffee and bite to eat when the topic of cycling access cropped up. He reminded me of the mass trespass by ramblers at Kinder Scout in the Peak District National Park some 84 years ago. It opened the way for freedom to roam the hills for generations of walkers. However...and it's a very big however. Nick then told me that several dozen cyclists had also taken part in the trespass, carrying their bikes up the great hill and riding them down, flouting the law with glee and big grin as they descended no doubt. 

Ramblers and cyclists sharing a path - no! And willingly law-breaking in defiant unison. God damn it, if it happened today, I bet we'd get Jeremy Corbyn up there on a tandem, waving the red flag and yelling abuse at landowners like a crazed cycle courier. So the question is this I suppose: why the big issue with ramblers and cyclists over the years? Surely we're after the same thing - free access to the open tracks, to explore the wild and rugged moorlands and high hills that dot our beautifully sublime National Parks. 

We've all done it, or been tempted to at the very least. "Something for the weekend sir" as we share our secret 'under the counter' routes along footpaths. I personally know some absolute crackers in both the North Yorks Moors and the Dales; and as for the Lake District - heaven! You won't find them on our website though, because quite rightly we cannot and should not promote cycling along  footpaths. Even though mountain bikers cause less damage by riding through mud, when ramblers go around and erode the width of the track to motorway proportions. 

The national press finally caught up this week and published an article on the subject of a review of rights of way - or lack of rights as it ought to be called for cyclists. The BBC themselves looked at the issue and drew attention to the cause. 

In Scotland cyclists have whisky, the Forth Bridge, Edinburgh Castle and Festival, Graeme Obree, Billy Connolly and access to almost all tracks. It sounds to good to be true! All that and Billy Connolly! Let me put this into perspective for our global readers:

France: They have champagne, croissants, the Alps, and Bernard Hinault;

Spain: Cava, Paella, the Picos de Europe, and Alberto Contador;

America: Budweiser, the hamburger, California, and Greg LeMond (don't go there folks!);

This is how good Scotland is - Nirvana, the ultimate state of peace and happiness.

We on the other hand get walkers blocking paths and bridges, acting like the cycling police shouting "you can't ride here!" Time then for some meaningful debate I'd say. And if it's good enough for the BBC it's worth a discussion in any coffee house or bar. In comparison, we have access laws for cycling designed by the likes of Donald Trump.You can hopefully see the degree of common sense and  intelligence put into it.

The fact is I suppose is this; if the humble bicycle had been invented in medieval times, we'd have been crap at archery, never bothered with football, and every track across our wild and rugged landscape would be a bridleway. You don't have to agree with me, this is just a debate - but a worthy one I reckon. We'll never publish or officially condone cycling on footpaths on pedalnorth, but we will always back the democratic right to question things. It's your choice people. History has a habit of repeating itself, so maybe it's time to revisit things again - what do you think.