Tuesday, 30 April 2013

BUMPY - The kids are alright!

Bumpy beginnings


In the second of our features on motorcycle projects that work with and involve young people, Wemoto News moved north to visit BUMPY, a full on set up that has developed from small-scale beginnings in 1989 to (probably) the UK's best example of what can be achieved.

BUMPY ride

BUMPY is the acronym for Birstall Urban Motorcycle Project for Youth ; but I don't think anyone uses that rather lengthy title any more. And where is Birstall your geographical mind might be asking? It's part of a crowded urban conglomeration that sits to the north of the M62 between Bradford and Leeds in West Yorkshire.

Picking up skills already

They are fortunate to be located at the rear of an industrial estate, where their activities are separated from any encroachment onto residential areas; and where they are particularly favoured is having access to ten acres of land that has been converted into off road trails and trials sections – this is Yorkshire, big trials country. They will soon be acquiring another adjoining parcel of land that will incorporate steeper hill sections. 

Outdoor classroom
Trials training, riding, and the organisation of competitions is one of three main areas of activity the team at BUMPY, led by manager Carolyne Kenzitt, are engaged in. The two other elements are On Road rider training, and mechanical vocational training for young people from 14yrs up who choose this as part of their school curriculum, plus 19 – 22 year olds who are studying at college.

A site for sore eyes

The site is impressive with a tarmac training area, offices, workshop and classroom space, and changing rooms; in a series of Portacabins which have been added over the past four years to cope with a development programme that is set to continue.  


BUMPY is a registered charity but they are entirely self funding from fees received from those taking part in on road training. They take riders who have never ridden a motorcycle before to complete their CBT, and can train riders to tackle the new range of driving tests and further, to more specialised and advanced rider training such as motorway riding and being confident in carrying a pillion.

Other BUMPY income is derived from trials riders who join as members and pay per session to use the facilities for practice: they advertise this aspect of the project widely, and its continuing popularity testifies to the national limited access to land for practising trials and off road skills. Schools and colleges pay for their students to participate and qualify through vocational courses, and the police and youth offending teams use the experienced staff there to help them run courses for young people who have been involved in anti-social riding behaviour.

Safe and sound for just two pounds


Mud, glorious mud

In the summer months they operate a youth club facility the 'young riders club'. This provides an opportunity for local young people to attend for three hour sessions to learn basic riding skills, and then progress to the off road park. Starting in May they host around twenty kids each session, and all are kitted out with riding gear, thus emphasising at an early stage, the importance of keeping yourself safe and injury free.
 All this for just £2 per session!

Two four wheel drive buggies are used for youngsters with disabilities, so that they too can be included in the excitement of exploring the parks trails and tracks.
More mud mmm!

It's the trials activity that provides the main focus in the BUMPY programme, and Julian Ford the team member who hosted my visit seemed (rightly) proud of what they achieve. He is an ACU accredited trainer along with his colleague Dan Thorpe. Dan has produced a trials skills DVD which has turned out to be a 'best seller', and the project rolls up to the NEC national bike show in Birmingham each year with a 'try it yourself' trials arena in conjunction with the ACU. The aim is introducing more people to the sport.

We are the champions

This year BUMPY will be sponsoring three young people (two boys and one girl) in competitive trials with the aim of getting them to a level where they can compete in the Yorkshire championship series.

Tiny but already skillful

From their beginnings in a near derelict building, and as an initiative of a woman police constable, Julia Morris, based in the local area, who had to deal with the consequences of young people riding bikes illegally and on land where they made a nuisance of themselves. It took four years from 1984, to gather political support and funding to set the project in motion. 

The fact that it is a thriving example of how to involve young people and others in the sheer enjoyment and confidence of motorcycle riding and handling is a perfect testimony to the founders and those who have carried on the work.

John Newman
for Wemoto News

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