The Giro d’Italia saw some of the world’s most famous cyclists grace the roads of Northern Ireland including Marcel Kittel and Nicholas Roche and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) is encouraging people to keep getting on their bikes to enjoy the variety of action packed cycling and mountain bike trails that are on offer.
Marie-Therese O’Neill, NITB’s PR Officer (NI) said: “An increasing number of people are taking up mountain biking as a great way to get fit outdoors. Northern Ireland boasts stunning landscapes and a fantastic selection of action packed trails which would be sure to get any biking enthusiast’s adrenaline pumping, so there has never been a better time to get on a mountain bike and try one out.
“Recent years has seen the launch of 4 new trail centres and over 100km of official purpose-built bike trails, and there is no shortage of challenges to try out. With the success of our Giro D’Italia web video which featured Andrei Burton, one of the world’s top trials bike athletes, display his finest cycling tricks there is definite interest for getting on a bike!” added Marie-Therese.
Cycling is the perfect activity for some family fun and the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails in Co. Down is perfect for this. The trail is situated within the Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is suitable for all cycling abilities including beginners, intermediate and advanced. It hosts one of Northern Ireland’s most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, incredible panoramic views and flowing singletrack; all just minutes from the lively village of Castlewellan.
The Blessingbourne Mountain Bike Trails, near Fivemiletown, lie in the heart of the Clogher Valley and is also just right for a family day out. Packed full of technical trail features, the trails at Blessingbourne Estate cater for all ages and abilities and always provides an exciting day of activity. The existing mountain bike trails were extended in 2013 and now offer 12km of trails on the 550 acre private country estate which has luxury self-catering accommodation, several walking trails and coarse fishing on site also. This working farm provides a unique setting for a family break or a couple’s getaway.
The Davagh Forest Trails offer 31km of exciting cross-country mountain bike trails designed by Phil Saxena of Architrail, who also designed the Olympic Mountain Bike course in Beijing 2008, and are suitable for a wide range of levels including families, beginners, intermediate and advanced.
Davagh Forest is located just outside Cookstown in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains, an untouched rural landscape of rolling hills and sweeping forests. The trail offers exciting cross-country mountain biking trails with a number of hair-raising rock features thrown in for good measure.
Families and beginners can start off on Davagh’s gentle green mountain bike trail or enjoy the faster flowing blue trail which includes some more technical options for those with a bit more confidence. The red trail at Davagh Forest starts with a long steady climb before opening up fabulous views, exhilarating descents and some extreme slab features
The Barnett Demesne Trails consist of 12km of purpose built mountain bike trails just 10-15 minutes drive from Belfast city centre and are suitable for beginners and intermediate mountain bikes. This includes a shared use 3.4km green trail and an 3.9km blue trail with 3 red loop options (1.5km). The 3.4km green trail (1.7km each way) linear mountain biking and walking trail is accessible from the trailhead and Shaw’s Bridge Car Park. The trail itself runs parallel to the meandering River Lagan and is wide with gentle inclines, making it ideal for young families and those giving mountain biking a go for the very first time.
On the shores of Carlingford Lough, the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails is the only downhill course in Ireland and Kilbroney Park offer some challenging mountain biking where efforts are rewarded with incredible coastal views and exhilarating singletrack descents. With a mouth watering 27km red trail and an electrifying 19km black trail, Rostrevor is believed by many to be the top spot for mountain biking in Ireland. When you add not just one but two purpose-built downhill trails to the mix, there’s no denying that Rostrevor is a mountain bikers’ haven!
For further information on mountain biking breaks in Northern Ireland, click on www.discovernorthernireland.com/mountainbiking. To watch Andrei Burton one of the world’s top trials bike athletes, display his finest cycling tricks at the start of the Giro d’Italia in Northern Ireland go to http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/giro2014/.