The Voice of Mountain Biking in Northern Ireland

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  • 10 Apr 2013 10:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    Annual General Meeting – 28th March 2013
    The Shepherd’s Rest, Sixtowns, Draperstown

    Attendees

    Rick McKee, Dave Ross, Thomas Creighton, Alan Gilkinson, Mickey Regan, Davy Creighton, Gareth Skelly, Paul Whitten, Jenna Whitten, Colin Doyle, Chris Scott, Liam Baxter, Jonny Coates, Andy Yoong, Trevor Fisher, Stephen Law, Vincent Bradley, Cathal Doyle.


    Agenda:


    •1.    Introduction and Welcome
    •2.    Apologies
    •3.    Chairman's Report
    •4.    Treasurer's Report
    •5.    Constitution Amendments
    •6.    Election of Officer Bearers
    •7.    AOB
    •8.    Close
      
    1. Introduction and Welcome

    The Chairman welcomed everyone to the inaugural NIMBA AGM and thanked them for making the effort to attend despite the recent weather and travel disruptions.

    2. Apologies

    Apologies were received from the following NIMBA members: Tim Holmes, Brenda Rooney, Killian Byrne, Andrew Dunbar, Ruairdhri McIlroy, Craig Bell, Ian Bailey, Adrien Morrow, John King, Jan Colville, Seamus Murray, Colm Maguire, Martin Grimley, Glyn O’Brien, Phil Saxena, Findhan Strain.

    3. Chairman’s Report


    The Chairman (Rick McKee) presented his annual Chairman's Report (PDF, 1.29Mb) reflecting on the activities of NIMBA since its inception in early 2012, as well as a few challenges for the organisation going forward.

    Some discussion took place regarding the extensive work that has been, and continues to be, undertaken by NIMBA, and the need to communicate this more effectively to the membership and to the wider stakeholder community.

    4. Treasurer’s Report


    The Treasurer (Dave Ross) presented his financial report for the year (See last page of Chairman's Report, PDF 1.29Mb).  Over the year NIMBA recorded a loss of £119.17 (excluding travelling expenses for committee members, which were not claimed) which sparked a discussion as to how to raise funds to cover running expenses.  Ideas included encouraging Clubs to make an annual donation or asking Race Organisers to make a donation per race.  If the latter idea is approached, NIMBA should consider a presence at Race meetings to publicise the extent of the ongoing efforts of NIMBA to a wider audience.  The subject of introducing membership fees was discussed but it was felt this may preclude some members and NIMBA’s main strength lies on its large membership. 

    It was proposed by Davy Creighton and seconded by Dave Ross to maintain membership fees at £0.00 for all members for 2013 although members would be encouraged to make a small, voluntary donation.

    5. Constitution Amendments


    The following proposals for Constitution amendments were received via email from NIMBA member Bernard McClure.  Although not present at the AGM to formally propose the amendments, it was agreed to discuss and consider their adoption.

    Amendment proposal 1 - additional clause

    1.5 Contribute to public consultations in line with the objectives of the organisation.  Any and all proposed contributions to public consultations must emanate from the wider membership.  Composite submissions taking into consideration member’s views must be ratified by the Committee, on a majority vote basis, who will then ensure the final draft submission is circulated to the membership and publicised on the NIMBA web page

    There was no support at the meeting for the proposal as worded, as it was felt the timescales for such an approach would be difficult to align with the often-short response timeframes of public consultations, and that any such responses should be developed by the committee, as the appointed representatives of the organisation.  It was mentioned from the floor that one of NIMBA’s strengths was its agility and it was felt such as approach could act as a choke-chain for the Alliance. 

    The following amendment was proposed by Davy Creighton, seconded by Dave Ross and accepted by all present:

    1.5 Contribute to public consultations in line with the objectives of the organisation.  All submissions to public consultations will be circulated to the membership and publicised on the NIMBA web page.

    Amendment proposal 2

    3.12 Committee members (voted and seconded) may only hold office for a maximum of two successive years after which they must stand down for at least one year before they can be eligible to seek re-election.

    It was the opinion of those present the mechanism is already in place in the constitution to ensure a fresh and representative committee, through the AGM or indeed an SGM.  Further to that, it was felt that NIMBA is still in its infancy and currently too small to adopt this proposal at present.  Many of the contacts established with different organisations have been established at a personal level and these would be difficult to sustain through regular changes of Committee Members, unless sanctioned by the membership at AGM or SGM. 

    It was proposed by Dave Ross, seconded by Jonny Coates and agreed unanimously by all present not to adopt this proposed amendment.

    Amendment proposal 3

    3.13 The auditor may only hold office for a maximum of two years after which he/she must stand down for at least one year before being eligible to seek re-election.

    It was proposed by Colin Doyle, seconded by Vincent Bradley and agreed unanimously by all present not to adopt this proposed amendment.

    6. Election of Office Bearers


    The outgoing Office Bearers resigned from their positions and the floor was open to receive proposals for each of the Officers in turn.

    Chairman – Rick McKee was proposed by Alan Gilkinson and seconded by Mickey Regan.  No other proposals were received and the attendees accepted Rick McKee as the Chairman for 2013.

    Secretary – Davy Creighton was proposed by Mickey Regan and seconded by Stephen Law. No other proposals were received and the attendees accepted Davy Creighton as the Secretary for 2013.

    Treasurer – Dave Ross was proposed by Alan Gilkinson and seconded by Vincent Bradley. No other proposals were received and the attendees accepted Dave Ross as the Treasurer for 2013.

    Communications Officer – no proposals were received and thus this post was not filled at the AGM.  Note – in accordance with the NIMBA Constitution, an individual can be seconded by the committee to this post during the year.

    Trail Technical Officer – Andy Yoong was proposed by Davy Creighton and seconded by Jonny Coates. No other proposals were received and the attendees accepted Andy Yoong as the Trail Technical Officer for 2013.

    7. Any Other Business


    The following issues were raised from the floor and discussed at length:

    •·         Could discounts be arranged for NIMBA members from local bike shops and/or from the likes of Ferry companies?  This could be used as a potential source of income to cover running expenses e.g. only paying members qualify for such discounts.  This will be considered by the Office bearers over the incoming year.

    •·         What is the main focus of NIMBA over the next 12months? 
    •·         The Office Bearers are keen to ensure local rider engagement/input to all future trail projects across the country and will be pushing for involvement at all stages of future projects (from agreement of frame of reference through design to construction).
    •·         NIMBA will seek to maximise the usage of the new trail projects through promotion locally and internationally to maximise the benefits for its membership including individual, club and business members.  Hosting Single Speed European Championship at Castlewellan in April 2014 is an example of this.  It was asked if NITB would support NIMBA to undertake future international promotions.
    •·         Further sanctioned trail development but within the construct of a national strategy – too many sanctioned trail centres could detract from the overall product.

    •·         Can “unsanctioned” trails be protected from being destroyed after sanctioned trails are opened in certain forests?  This is a difficult issue for land owners/managers to deal with but something that is being dealt with across the water.  This issue will be considered by the committee.

    •·         New trails need to push/challenge riders and appeal to advanced bikers.  This will require expert, progressive design and input from local bikers from an early stage.  The committee agrees 100% and feesl that beginner/family bikers are now well catered for.  NIMBA will push for more progressive trails to be written into the framework agreements for future trail developments and this will be the focus of the Trail Technical Officer.

    •·         Representatives from Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI) stated that they see NIMBA as a key contributor to the Mountain Bike Trails Strategy Paper currently being developed and input from a broad spectrum of the NIMBA membership is key to ensuring all views are represented.  ORNI reps also stated that a new challenge for NIMBA will be engaging with new bikers who are expected to emerge in significant numbers when the new trails open over the coming months.

    No further business was raised, and a sincere thanks was stated to Colin Doyle of The Shepherd’s Rest for his warm and generous hospitality in hosting the evening.


    Davy Creighton
    Secretary
    6th April 2013
  • 07 Mar 2013 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    There is currently great excitement throughout the Northern Ireland mountain biking community, not least from NIMBA and its membership.  After many years of hard work, with a number of new trail networks opening imminently at Castlewellan, Rostrevor, Barnett’s Demesne in Belfast, and at Davagh Forest, 2013 does indeed promise to be a big year for mountain biking in Northern Ireland. 

    Following a written submission to Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI) in February, in which NIMBA made a number of recommendations, NIMBA has been invited to assist on some of the trail projects underway.  This will take the form of the provision of advice and assistance on site from expert riders and coaches from within the NIMBA membership, whose experience and expertise will hopefully help the contractors to meet their objectives of delivering world-class product.

    Over the next two weeks, teams of NIMBA representatives will carry out a number of collaborative site surveys on a voluntary basis with an appointed contractor representative and a representative from ORNI, with a view to helping identify elements needing attention.  The focus will be on maximising the quality of the rider experience on the trails as delivered.
    The unswerving priority of NIMBA relating to these projects is on seeing the long-term success of mountain biking trail developments in Northern Ireland, for the benefit of local riders as well as for our local economy.
  • 27 Feb 2013 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    NIMBA was invited by Glenariff Improvement Group to participate in a stakeholder meeting on 26 February to discuss development within Glenariff forest, and to present on opportunities specifically relating to mountainbiking.

    Convened to explore the various development opportunities in an open discussion between user groups, the meeting attendees included Moyle District Council, Glenariff Improvement Group, Forest Service NI, Outdoor Recreation NI, as well as a range of special interest and activity stakeholders, such as bikers, runners, education and heritage groups.

    All attendees agreed that the potential opportunity is massive, and that what is already a globally unique natural paradise would be further enhanced by significant investment to bring out the best of the area and make it more accessible.
  • 09 Feb 2013 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    Following on from the mid-December site meeting organised by NIMBA in Garvagh Forest, a further meeting at Coleraine Borough Council offices on 8 February focused on the specifics of developing trails in the forest.


    Representatives from NIMBA, Carn Wheelers Cycling Club, Outdoor Recreation NI and Coleraine Council discussed a frame of reference for the project, the process to be followed, funding sources and next steps.

    The meeting was extremely positive, and all we can announce at this stage is that all parties left the meeting with clear actions, and all came away greatly looking forward to the months ahead.
  • 23 Jan 2013 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    A photocall on 17 January marked the launch of a new joint communications initiative between the Dept of Agriculture and Rural Development (within which Forest Service sits) and NIMBA, designed to inform our thousands of mountainbikers how to prevent the spread of tree disease across Northern Ireland forests.

    Show a clean pair of wheels - Minister Michelle O'Neill launches the new poster aimed at mountain bikers in Northern Ireland's Forests.
    A subsequent meeting, at the Loughry College campus outside Cookstown, gave NIMBA an opportunity to update Minister Michelle O’Neill in detail on progress with mountain biking in Northern Ireland, since our last meeting at Stormont in January 2012.  Matters discussed included:

    1. The establishment and rapid growth of NIMBA since last meeting, including a précis of NIMBA objectives and how it can assist government and other stakeholders in facilitating trail facilities and communicating with audiences
    2. Acknowledgment of the improvement in communication and subsequent relations between, in particular, Forest Service and the mountain biking community, and encouragement to continue dialogue and joint working
    3. Congratulations to DARD and Forest Service in working successfully with the other relevant stakeholders to see new trails opening in 2013 at Davagh, Rostrevor and Castlewellan
    4. NIMBA’s successful bid in April 2012 to host the Single Speed European Championships at Castlewellan Forest Park in 2014 - the Minister assured us of her department’s full support and early engagement in helping to facilitate the event, making it a showcase for Northern Ireland
    5. Informing the Minister of the wider goal of a Mountain Biking Strategy for NI document currently being developed by Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI) in conjunction with NIMBA, including some of the locations under review and the associated challenges to be overcome
    6. A discussion on the need to examine the current process and levy for those wishing to organise events within the Northern Ireland forest estate, with a view to then considering NIMBA recommendations for improvement

    We are most grateful to the Minister for allocating such a significant part of her day to meeting with us, and we look forward to future meetings being as positive and productive.
     
  • 24 Dec 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    2012 has been a fantastic year for mountain biking in Northern Ireland, with a number of new projects really getting some legs after years of hard work by many people.  The Northern Ireland Mountain Biking Alliance (NIMBA) set up in January 2012 to try and provide a strong cohesive voice for the sport, now that mountain biking is undergoing significant growth.

    2013 will be a massive year for our sport across the country, with the opening of new trails at Davagh Forest, Castlewellan, Rostrevor and Barnett's Demesne in Belfast. 

    Add to that, the recent news that Blessingbourne Estate has had funding approved to double the length of their trails and add trail-head facilities, and also that many of our councils are exploring opportunities for mountain biking trails in our boroughs, really adds to the excitement and points to a bright future for mountain biking in Northern Ireland.

    We'd like to thank you for your support for NIMBA in 2012 as we have tried to create a strong cohesive representative voice for the sport.  We wish all of our members and supporters a great Christmas, a very happy New Year, and every success for what promises to be a tremendous mountain biking 2013!

    Best wishes,

    Rick McKee, on behalf of the Northern Ireland Mountain Biking Alliance.
  • 19 Dec 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    Representatives from NIMBA met with officers from Antrim Borough Council on 18 December to present and discuss the merits of developing sustainable mountain biking trails within Tardree Forest. 

    Already one of Northern Ireland’s most popular forests for mountain biking, Tardree’s topography and location make it an attractive forest for trails for all levels of mountain bikers.  If developed appropriately, NIMBA believe Tardree could meet both a local need and attract visitors to the region, especially as part of the wider Northern Ireland mountain biking product that is rapidly becoming a reality on the ground.

    This initial meeting explored the benefits of trails in Tardree as well as discussing some of the potential challenges of bringing such a project into reality.  Further meetings will be arranged in the New Year with Council Officers and Councillors and it is hoped that eventually a structured proposal may result which could lead to trails on the ground at some stage in the future.  More information will be provided in due course.
  • 15 Dec 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    Coleraine Council, Carn Wheelers, ORNI and NIMBA take a quick break from the Garvagh Forest trail tour
    In a meeting on 15 December organised by NIMBA, senior officers from Coleraine Borough Council were given an in-depth tour of the existing trail and forest road network within Garvagh Forest by representatives from Carn Wheelers Cycling Club, accompanied by NIMBA and Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland. 

    This was a good opportunity to discuss at first hand the existing recreational activity within this compact but feature-rich forest, as well as to consider the potential for further development of trails that would cater for a wide range of riders, from kids and families right up to experts and racers.

    Led by our excellent guides for over 2 hours of riding, we weren’t on the same trail twice, with every inch of the forest explored, demonstrating the potential for extensive trails even within a relatively small forest.  Despite terrible weather on the day, everyone finished with a smile on their face, and a further meeting to progress things is planned for early in the New Year.
  • 05 Dec 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    NIMBA was invited by Cookstown Borough Council to contribute to the latest Davagh Trails update meeting at Broughderg Community Centre on 3rd December.  This very encouraging meeting had an attendance of nearly 50 people, with various stakeholder groups represented including mountain bikers, bike clubs, bike shops, local businesses, rally club and deer interest group.

    One of the new sections of trails in Davagh.

    Presentations from Cookstown Council, Architrail, NIMBA and Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland updated the assembly on the trail progress at Davagh, Davagh’s place within the wider mountain biking product being developed in Northern Ireland, some of the challenges and opportunities ahead, and opinions on how the riding experienced will be received by the mountain biking community from near and far.

    Broughderg Community Centre was bristling with folks interested in the Davagh Trails project.

    Content overview

    Architrail
    • FP McCann and Architrail are working well together and making good progress
    • Green and Blue trails complete but need time to bed in so stay off until project is open.
    • Red trail well underway with significant number of exciting looking features being incorporated - looks like it's going to be a great trail.
    • All base stone in place by Christmas with shaping complete by early February. 
    • Signage and other ancillaries complete around mid February (weather dependant)
    • If you are in Davagh riding the existing trails, please be mindful it's a construction site and take extra care.

    Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland
    • PR and marketing for the local trail centres (Belfast, Mournes, Davagh) being branded collectively under MountainBikeNI - significant effort being invested to raise profile of the NI Mountain Biking product Nationally and Internationally.
    • Interest from some National MTB publications to visit NI for trail reviews in 2013
    • Volunteer Ranger scheme to be expanded to cover all the trails (need min 10 Rangers per site)
    • Trail Ambassadors being encouraged - good trail etiquette, warm welcome to visitors etc etc - key to success of the friendly trails
    • Seminars being organised in the new year to help local businesses prepare to better cater for MTBers - NIMBA will be inputting to this

    NIMBA
    • Overview of NIMBA
    • Based on what we have seen, these trails are going to be fantastic and will offer a great experience for all levels of bikers, and will also be an ideal venue for events of various types
    • Flowing trails, berms, technical trails, features, skills development options, big climbs and long descents will attract bikers from near and far
    • Success of the overall Davagh project in the long term will depend on partnership working between Council, Community, Businesses, Clubs and Bikers

    Cookstown Council
    • Delighted with how the project is developing and have firmly grasped the vision
    • Applying for additional funding for pumptrack and skills loop at trail head - interested in input of ideas from mountain bikers
    • Council realise it's an ongoing project and will attract large numbers of visitors to the area
    • Planning a big opening event - specific date unknown, but encouraged by NIMBA and others to open as soon as possible
    • Opportunities for mobile businesses - bike wash, catering, bike hire, guiding etc.
    • All will be tendered in due course but approach Council if interested or have ideas
    • Actively encouraging/welcoming the use of the trails for other events - emphasised by NIMBA

    Great to see this project about to launch after a lot of hard work from all parties, and we look forward to enjoying the trails!
  • 28 Nov 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    Officers from Coleraine Borough Council and Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (formerly CAAN) met with NIMBA on Monday 26 November at Coleraine Council offices, to discuss options for trail development in Coleraine Borough and beyond.


    Convened and facilitated by NIMBA, the meeting discussions focused both on projects with strategic tourism significance in the North West, as well as on smaller community-supported local initiatives.

    The north west and causeway coast includes some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, so there’s lots to look forward to if viable trail projects emerge.
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