Size Isn't Everything

Posted on May 31, 2017 @ 6:30 PM in Mountainbiking

When thinking about where you’re going to spend those precious few hours on your bike during the week, there can be a temptation to go exclusively for the big names. Davagh Forest. Castlewellan MTB Trails. Rostrevor MTB Trails.

They are of course all outstanding trails and well worth a visit, but to keep to these three exclusively is to miss out on some of the other fantastic mountain bike experiences right at your doorstep in Northern Ireland.


Barnett Demesne

The idea that Barnett Demesne might not even be considered by some would be anathema to its many loyal riders. Located only four miles from the centre of Belfast, Barnett Demesne is located beside the Mary Peters track and boasts Ireland’s first official purpose-built jumps park! 

The trails

The trails themselves consist of 8.8km of green, blue and red lines, worked into a remarkably compact area. This lends to a quick course with sharp technical corners, some great boardwalks and rock sections, and a surprising number of climbs. All this is that bit more impressive when you consider that Barnett is tucked away in a relatively small bit of woodland, with walking trails on one side, sports pitches on the other and the river Lagan running through it.

 

What else is there to do?

Given the proximity to Belfast city centre, there’s no shortage of things to do in the area. In the immediate vicinity, that could mean taking the bike onto the towpath and cycling to a nearby cafes. Or you could head into town and visit any of the multitude of great restaurants, bars and music venues. 

 

Blessingbourne Estate

Blessingbourne is ideal for everyone, whether you’re a lone MTBer, going with the family or heading with a group of friends. In addition to the outstanding trails there, it has top class accommodation and plenty of resources on site to keep you entertained. In the last few months, it has won a multitude of awards including MountainBIkeNI’s “Best MTB Friendly Accommodation”, a “9.9” rating badge from Booking.com, and most recently, won the much coveted Accommodation of the Year award in the self catering section of the Tourism NI awards.

The Trails

Mountain bikers that ride Blessingbourne for the first time are usually surprised. In addition to the 12km of blue and red trails, it also packs a few orange features. Berms, log rides and rock drops abide and it makes for an incredibly pleasant mountain bike experience. In particular, Blessingbourne Mountain Bike Trails are ideal for the beginner. With bike hire available on site, the 12km gives a good test of endurance for the newer MTBer, with zero hill climbs. There is also a pump track on site.

What else is there to do?

We recommend renting one of the self catering cottages at Blessingbourne and making a trip out of it. Colleen and Nick who own the Estate are outstanding hosts and only too happy to help with anything during your stay. Enjoy the walking trails around the historic estate, bring the little ones to the play area, or head out and visit the nearby town of Fivemiletown.

Tollymore Skills Course

There have been loads of blogs about Tollymore Skills Course, but we thought it would be remiss to leave out here, largely because it’s so much fun! The guys at Tollymore accommodate for all levels, whether you're getting on your mountain bike for the first time - or a seasoned pro. Book a session with them on their website.

 

The Trails

The skills course at Tollymore has around 1.5km of singletrack trails, ideal for both complete beginners and those looking to brush up on their skills. With everything you could want to hone up on (rollers, table tops, rock sections, northshore etc), you can rest assured you’ll come away as a better mountain biker.

What else is there to do?

With both Castlewellan and Newcastle just a stone’s throw away, both towns are filled with loads of great activities and restaurants for visitors. Tollymore also runs courses on mountaineering, rock climbing and canoeing!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

'RideNorth' Offers in the Sperrins

Posted on April 24, 2017 @ 4:22 PM in Mountainbiking

If you’ve seen the recent below video of Irish Vitus Factory Team rider Killian Callaghan and WideOpen Mag rider Kelan Grant tearing up the trails in Northern Ireland, hopefully it has inspired you to come to the Sperrins on your next mountain bike trip!

Only 2.5 hours up the road from Dublin (and 1.5 hours from Donegal), Davagh Forest is easily accessible from all parts of Ireland. Often looked at as a 'hidden gem' for mountain bikers in Northern Ireland, Davagh makes the most of incredible natural trails. It is best known however, for it's famous rock slab drops. Be sure to ask the locals about Eagle's Rock and Boundary Rock.

To help encourage you that little bit more, we’re happy to share with you some of the many offers going for mountain bikers!

ACCOMMODATION OFFERS

Cobblers Cottage

 

Offer: 3 Nights for the Price of 2

Bio: One of the closest accommodation sites to Davagh Forest Trails, Cobblers Cottage is a renovated 200 year old home away from home. In addition to plentiful secure bike storage space, there is a bike wash, laundry facilities and the idyllic wood/turf burning stove. Equally however, you’ll still get 4G coverage (with 02) and WiFi!

An Creagan Cottages 


Offer: 3 Nights for the Price of 2

Bio: With 8 cottages at An Creagán (ranging between one bedroom and three bedrooms) you and a squad of friends can stay in comfort only a 10 minute drive from the trails. An Creagán itself has plenty to enjoy while you’re there including a forest trail of its own, the option to hire bikes and a restaurant on site. It also provides free Wi-Fi and plenty of parking.

FOOD AND DRINK OFFERS

The Auction Room

Offer: 10% Off

Bio: The Auction Room is one of the most popular new cafés in Northern Ireland. Winner of the Fréd Award for NI Cycle Café of the Year 16 / 17, spend a few minutes inside and it’s easy to see why. In addition to incredibly friendly staff, their eclectic interior and delicious food, they love to see mountain bikers and cyclists coming through their door. 

Shepherd’s Rest 

 

Bio: A family run pub and campsite, the Shepherd’s Rest is well known to all of the local mountain bikers and has been consistently voted as one of the most popular venues in the “Recommended Apres-Ride Pint” category in the MountainBikeNI Awards. With the upcoming Davagh Enduro sure to mean it will once again be jammed with visiting mountain bikers, the Shepherd’s Pub is a great shout the year round.

To avail of all of these offers, use the code "RideNorth" when booking or purchasing.

To plan your mountain bike road trip to the Sperrins visit MountainBikeNI to see travel times, suggested itineraries and more recommendations on where to eat, drink and stay. 

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

RideNorth Offers in the Mournes

Posted on March 20, 2017 @ 4:17 PM in Mountainbiking

If you’ve seen the recent below video of Irish Vitus Factory Team rider Killian Callaghan and WideOpen Mag rider Kelan Grant tearing up the trails in Northern Ireland, hopefully it has inspired you to come to the Mournes on your next mountain bike trip!

Only 1 hour 15 mins up the road from Dublin, and easily accessible from all parts of Ireland.

To help encourage you that little bit more, we’re happy to share with you some of the many offers going for mountain bikers booking between now and the end of April!

Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails

Accommodation as a mountain biker can be tricky. We’re usually covered in mud and looking for somewhere to safely store the bike. Here are some local recommendations for where to stay close to the mountain bike trails that are offering discounts to mountain bikers using the code “RideNorth”.

ACCOMMODATION OFFERS

The Mourne Lodge 

Offer: £40 per night for a single room, £60 for a double room, £90 for a quad room. Quote “RideNorth”!

Bio: Sitting just a minute drive from the mountain bike trails at Rostrevor, the Mourne Lodge is a long-time friend of the MountainBikeNI team. Featuring a variety of bedroom sizes, ensuite bathrooms, a bike wash, secure bike storage, drying facilities, take away lunches and more!

Mountains of Mourne – Hanna’s Close

Offer: 3 Nights for the Price of 2, with the code “RideNorth”

Bio: Hanna’s Close is another well-established destination with mountain bikers. They what makes life easy for us; tiled floors in the kitchen, a full laundry service, a hose for washing your bike at each of their traditional cottages. Add in the free Wi-Fi and secure bike storage, and you’ll understand why mountain bikers love Hanna’s Close.

CAFÉ AND RESTAURANT OFFERS

Kilbroney Park Café

Offer: 10% Off Breakfast Before 11am on Weekdays

Bio: Having recently won the MountainBikeNI 2016 Award for ‘Best MTB-Friendly Café’ sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles, the Kilbroney Park Café is ideally situated for visitors to the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails. Right at the trailhead, this family run business probably receives more mountain bikers than any café in the country. As such, they don’t care in the slightest if you’re walking in covered in much and soaked to the skin – they’ll have a tea, coffee and some great food handy for you. Just as an extra, they keep a bike pump and repair kit for mountain bikers; just in case. 

Kilbroney Bar and Restaurant

Bio: Another victor in the MountainBikeNI Awards, the Kilbroney Bar and Restaurant is ideal for visiting both before and after riding the trails at Rostrevor. They provide take away lunches and bike storage and are great for a quick hi-carb bite before the long climb up to #KodakCorner. It excels however with the return journey, where you and your friends can phone an order in for a quick turn around and wash down their great food with a pint in a great atmosphere.

Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails

ACCOMMODATION OFFERS

Meelmore Lodge

Offer: Receive 10% off your food bill at their café with the code “RideNorth”

Bio: Meelmore Lodge are a jack of all trades, providing the ability to have a ‘rough and ready’ camping holiday with bed and breakfast; or offer a luxurious retreat in their popular holiday cottage. In addition to doing the all-important early breakfasts, you’re assured of laundry services, free Wi-Fi, and good quality showers.

Gracey’s Barn

Offer: Book 3 Nights for the Price of 2 with the code “RideNorth”

Bio: Having recently been refurbished, Gracey’s Barn is a 2-bedroom barn that provides the perfect accommodation for mountain bikers that enjoy a little more comfort during their stay. It is self-catering and provides plenty of car parking, a full garden, a separate wet room for your gear and is only a 15 minute drive from the trails at Castlewellan. They also provide a bike wash and storage, as well as Wi-Fi. 

CAFÉ AND RESTAURANT OFFERS

Urban Coffee

Offer: 10 Discount Off!

Bio: Another one of those locations that mountain bikers know and love, Urban is only about a two-minute drive from the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails. They regularly have their “Muddy Feet Welcome Here” sign outside to entice mountain bikers, who once inside, are treated to an incredibly relaxed open café that places a slight emphasis on health food and – most of all – good coffee. They also provide gluten free and vegetarian options.

Maginns of Castlewellan

Bio: Dating back to 1919, Maginns makes the most of being situated so close to the trails. The provide mountain bikers with a bike wash, secure bike storage while you enjoy yourself inside, and free Wi-Fi. A family owned establishment, you can be guaranteed of a warm welcome and an optional low down on the history of the town.

To plan your mountain bike road trip to the Mournes visit MountainBikeNI to see travel times, suggested itineraries and more recommendations on where to eat, drink and stay. 

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

MountainBikeNI's Top Five Events of 2017

Posted on February 28, 2017 @ 3:49 PM in Mountainbiking

From about February onwards, the mountain biker's calendar doesn't let up. Below are just a handful of the big events coming to the trail centres around Northern Ireland this year.

Ulster XC Series

With Round 1 kicking of this year's Ulster XC Series at Tollymore Forest on 19th March, it will progress until the height of summer. Round 3 will be happening on the 7th May at Davagh Forest and Round 4 at Castlewellan mountain bike trails. The Ulster Championships will also happen at Castlewellan, on 30th July.

For more information on the XC Series and registration, visit their website here.

Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup


If this picture from Glyn doesn't make you want to sign up for the Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup, we don't know what will. Consistently voted as one of the favourite local events of the year, the Vitus FT Enduro is back again for another 4 Rounds for the intermediate and advanced riders. While Round 1 is happening at the start of April, Round 4 will be taking place at Castlewellan on the 16th and 17th September.

Expect this to test your skill, fitness and mental resiliance. We can't recommend signing up enough. To do so, visit the Vitus First Tracks website here.  

Davagh Enduro and Davagh Youth Enduro 


 A blind event this year, the Davagh Enduro will take place (unsurprisingly, at Davagh Forest) on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th June. The adults race will be happening on the Saturday, and the much loved Youth Enduro on the Sunday. More information on this event will be released as the date gets nearer, but in the meantime if you have any questions about it, then please email Michael Regan

10 In the Glen


10 in the Glen will take place on Saturday 22nd July this year.  This leg crushing challenge isn't for the faint of heart. Bring plenty of jaffa cakes and gels as you tackle Rostrevor mountain bike trails as many times as you can in a ten hour period. Give it a go on your own (we salute you) or as part of a team of 2 or 4 (we still salute you). Organised by the guys at 26 Extreme, this is definitely one to go along to if you have the day free. For more information on registration, visit the 26 Extreme website.

Red Bull Foxhunt


Usually taking place the second weekend in October, the Red Bull Foxhunt has become one of the largest sporting events in the calendar year. Drawing thousands of people to Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails every year, 2017 promises to be even more spectacular. Following three successive wins by Rosco, the organisers have added elevated him to 'Fox' status, along with World DH Champion Gee Atherton, and effectively are unleashing double the pandomonium as the guys go 'elbows out' with 400+ mountain bikers. Keep an eye on MountainBikeNI's Facebook page for updates on this bad boy.

To keep up to date with all the mountain bike events taking place this year, follow the Events section on MountainBikeNI.com!

Latest comment posted by Kawser Ahmed on April 10, 2017 @ 11:14 AM

All the big events together. Thanks, Ethan! Founder http://www.apexbikes.com/ Read more >

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

The Best of Mountain Biking in Northern Ireland!

Posted on January 30, 2017 @ 11:23 AM in Mountainbiking

After almost two months of voting, we’re delighted to now be able to announce the winners of the MountainBikeNI Awards 2016, sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles. Find out how your favourite trail centre did in one of the closest years yet!

 

Favourite Trail Centre: Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails

Our reigning champion, Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails have done it again! Gathering their fourth consecutive title, there can be no denying Rostrevor’s power house status in the world of mountain biking. It could be their two incredibly fun downhill courses; or possibly the challenge of a seriously steep climb followed by some incredible views. Whatever the reasons, Rostrevor continues to draw mountain bikers from every part of the UK and Ireland.

 

Favourite Trail Section: Home Run, Rostrevor

This proved to be our closest category with only a singular vote pipping it for Home Run at Rostrevor. Even our second and third places only had a handful of votes between them, which we take to be a pretty good sign that so many of the trail sections across Northern Ireland have their respective fan bases. As it is, Home Run proved victorious! It may be helped that many riders are glad for their legs’ sake to be almost at the end of the marathon trail.

 

Favourite MTB View: Kodak Corner

Taking 58% of the vote in this category, it’s no surprise that Kodak Corner reigns supreme again for mountain bikers favourite view in Northern Ireland. On a quiet day in the office, it’s one of our favourite past times to search #KodakCorner on Instagram, and bask in the stunning pictures you all send us from there. Be sure to keep them coming!

 

Favourite Trailhead Provider: East Coast Adventure

Another close category with a difference of only around 3%, East Coast Adventure have retained their title as the favourite trailhead provider. Home to mountain bike hire, Mark, Peter and the team are also continuing to grow a range of other activities that mountain bikers are taking advantage of, including their highly successful East Coast Glamping.

 

Favourite MTB-Friendly Café: Kilbroney Park Café

With almost double the percentage of votes, Kilbroney Park Café strongly won the MTB-Friendly Café vote. Based right beside the trail head, and with plenty of cake and sugar to pick you up after a hard day’s riding we completely understand the café’s popularity. The view of one of most stunning mountain ranges in Northern Ireland doesn’t hurt either!

 

Favourite Apres Ride Pint: Kilbroney Bar & Restaurant

Rostrevor’s winning streak continues, as the Kilbroney Bar and Restaurant wins in the after ride pint category. This has proved to be one of the most closely contested categories, with a different winner in each of the past three years. Busy year round, the Kilbroney Bar & Restaurant is in it’s prime during the increasingly popular Fiddler’s Green Festival.

 

Best MTB Event of 2016: Red Bull Foxhunt, Rostrevor

One of the biggest mountain bike events in the UK or Ireland, the Red Bull Foxhunt is a renowned favourite of weekend warriors and seasoned folk alike. This year seen Colin Ross retain his title, despite the best efforts of Gee Atherton. The Red Bull team have already promised some exciting changes for 2017, so we can’t wait to see the carnage returning to Rostrevor! In the meantime, check out some of our pictures from the event on the MountainBikeNI Facebook page.

 

Favourite MTB-Friendly Accommodation: Blessingbourne Estate

And at the very end, we have a non Rostrevor victor! Blessingbourne Estate, home to centuries of history and Northern Ireland’s first purpose built MTB track, proves to be incredibly popular with mountain bikers, families and couples alike. Check out their recent promotional video showing off their trails and accommodation alike.

 

MountainBikeNI Awards Competition Winner:

Congratulations to the winner of our MountainBikeNI Awards competition, Tim McQuade, who received a Garmin Edge Bundle from Award sponsors Chain Reaction Cycles.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

older articles >
Northern Ireland's Outdoor Adventure Blog outdoorni.com walkni.com cycleni.com canoeni.com