Simon Bradley, founder of the Welsh MTB Meet Up, writes of his joy at watching a Twitter hashtag turn into something far greater...

Comment: Nurturing a new cycling event to health

Words By Simon Bradley. Images courtesy of Chris Davies.

It’s quite a feeling welcoming your first child into the world. That special moment when you forget the months of planning, the worrying, nerves, and doubts and enjoy the little bundle of joy you have created. That is until inevitably someone asks, “so, when are you having another?” 

It’s like asking taxi drivers what time they are due to finish and if they’ve had a busy night, people just can’t help themselves. The same has been true for #MTBMeetup. 

I’m really proud of being the creator of #MTBMeetup. What started as a conversation with a friend grew over discussion on twitter and took place in February 2014. This little event, attended by 40 riders from all over the country, a little less refined but nonetheless fun, was all mine and I loved it. Aside from meeting so many amazing people, the highlight of the day for me was reading the tweets that followed the event. Filling up my timeline, like congratulations cards in a maternity ward, the tweets were so positive I knew I was nurturing something special. 

When you have a baby, tradition dictates there is a ceremonial head wetting and for #MTBMeetup this came in the form of the media coverage. Never could I have imagined I’d be asked to write an article for BikeBiz, or get over 6,100 views of the event write-up and photos on Writing editorials was a whole new thing for me and just like changing a baby’s nappy, I couldn’t have got through it without a lot of help from some good friends! 

So, when are we going to have the next one? I get asked this a lot. I was truly astonished at the success of the first, but how do you repeat something as organic as the #MTBMeetup? There’s a lot more people interested now and I’m aware there’s a large expectation that it will be bigger and better next time. 

I’ve been contacted by various brands within the bike industry to offer support and sponsorship. People are asking me if we could use the event to demo bikes and gear. I’ve been asked to bolt it onto official events, other shows, even have a camping weekend. I’ve had suggestions of places to ride, people to involve, even people offering to organize it for me, but some things come at a cost and rather than nurturing a baby it was beginning to feel like I had created a monster! 

The #MTBMeetup was conceived to bring mountain biking friends together. It is a way of putting faces to avatars, riding in some great locations, but in a way that is completely free. These will always be the underlying principles of the #MTBMeetup. I’m grateful for any industry interest and happy to promote those who support the initiative; we will use products in a way that means we can raise money for charity and give a little back. 

You can read about the first #MTBMeetup here:

and see the pictures here:

Plans for the next #MTBMeetup are well underway and organisers have confirmed to BikeBiz that the 2015 event will take place on the 18th and 19th of April at Llandegla, Wales. You can keep up to date with things by following @MTBMeetupUK on twitter. 

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