Ethan Loughrey Mountain Bike Officer
Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.
March 20, 2017
March 9, 2017
March 7, 2017
February 28, 2017
February 21, 2017
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!
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”.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Offer: Receive a free bottle or can with any food bought worth over £6.95
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
Top tips for your winter mountain biking
Mountain biking is hard enough on bike parts and your wallet at the best of times. If riding year round, in our usually damp winter, then there are a few parts that usually get it a bit tougher and some preventative maintenance can definitely help get you out the other side.
Most mountain bikes now have disc brakes. These allow much better braking in all conditions but there are a few changes you can make to tailor them to winter. Most brakes come with an organic brake pad, which tend to be a bit softer and offer more instantaneous bite which can help ward off pad glazing in dry conditions. They do however wear quicker and this is especially noticeable in muddy conditions. The answer is a sintered pad, which contain small particles of metal that offer a much longer pad life as well as offering more consistent braking in wet and muddy conditions.
Chains being worn past the point where they should be changed account for more expensive repair bills than anything else here at Mech Monkey. A chain will wear and stretch, and this is measured over a percentage of the chains length and with a chain checker that many bicycle tool companies offer for sale. The problem with continuing to run a worn chain is that the cassette, chainrings and even the jockey wheels on the rear derailleur all wear to the profile of the excessively stretched chain. This means when you eventually fit a new chain the old worn cogs don't want to mesh causing the chain to skip under power.
Keeping a chain free from dirt and excess oil will help prolong your chains life.
Checking your chain wear regularly and replacing at the recommended point (0.75%) will definitely save you money in the long run, getting perhaps 4 or 5 chains on one cassette rather than getting slightly longer out of a chain only to have to replace most of the drivetrain.
Bikes have a lot of bearings in them and even though these days they are mostly sealed cartridge bearings you can still go some way to help them last a bit longer. A good waterproof grease used on the surfaces that are facing the elements will act as a sacrificial layer when riding in harsh conditions or when being washed.
Although pressure washing is handy and quick and now available at most of the trail centres it is the main cause of bearing failure on bikes. The rubber seals can only keep out so much and the high pressure water will usually pass the seal, washing out any grease inside and allowing corrosion to start. If using a pressure washer try not to get up close to anywhere that has a bearing.
Your suspension fork and rear shock are probably two of the most costly components of the bike and also work non stop during a ride. They are sealed but like the bearings they can’t possibly keep everything out. Regular suspension servicing will definitely prolong the life of the part and also being careful if washing with high pressure water around the seals so as to not wash out any grease.
Dirt left in the seals can wear at your fork stanchions over time making a costly replacement the only solution.
Some fork lubes are available such as Brunox Deo and Juice Lubes Fork Juice that can be applied to the stanchion of the fork to help keep the seals lubricated and stop them drying out and cracking between services.
Top Winter Product Picks
Brunox Deo fork lube - keep your forks working at their best between services - £5
Exposure Diablo Light - Don't let darkness keep you on the sofa! Ride the trails like its daytime with this top quality light £199.95
Park Tool CC-2 Chain Checker
Mech Monkey Bicycle Maintenance Course
Suspension Servicing from as little as £45
All and more available at Mech Monkey, Lisburn Road Belfast.
Mountain biking and volunteering are not necessarily something that you might immediately think go hand in hand. Yet in the last month alone we've had several stories of the positive impact that it has had in the mountain bike world.
What some may consider to be a fairly simple act of volunteering makes a real difference. John Howard, the trail ranger for Davagh Forest recently explained the importance that trail volunteers make.
"There is a great trail network in Davagh, with a lot of kilometres of riding... so to maintain trails, it's very important to get volunteers on board, especially on the red trails where it’s more remote and harder to get the materials in.
John went on to say that because of the volunteers that helped on Davagh Dig Day, they were able to shift "Up to 13 tonne" of dust and stones onto trails, to help repair them. There's no doubt that it's hard work, but the payoff that all mountain bikers get is enormous.
The pictures below from the recent Castlewellan Maintainence Day show our most recent batch of volunteers. You’ll notice two of them look a little younger than usual; Jack and Oliver had a great time and – despite falling foul of a wasp nest – are eager to come back to help out at the next session.
Another significant story comes from something which you might have seen on our social media.
Cross Country for Cavan was an event set up initially by Michael Crone, to help raise money for a potentially life changing operation for Cavan O'Neill; the three-year-old son of a friend of his, who was born with a type of cerebral palsy.
Michael set about riding every trail in Ireland, north and south, and asked other riders to do the same while raising funds for Cavan. With the help of Michael, and everyone who joined him, Cavan met his target and is now awaiting his operation.
You can follow his journey here.
Mountain biking in Northern Ireland has come a long way in the past few years. In part because there was already a strong network of people working together early on. Our volunteers help to keep our trails well maintained and the presence on them strong. They support good causes and help each other out.
To join the team, visit the MountainBikeNI website.