Mega Mission, not words I thought I would be saying in relation to a Feet First Friday post but here I am! Mega Mission is rated as an Orange grade extreme trail and is part of the Rostrevor trail network in Northern Ireland. We couldn’t have picked a nicer day for it and the sun blazed down for the whole day.
To begin there is a monster of a climb to reach the top of the trail. Unfortunately there is no way to use the available uplift service with an adaptive bike, I am happy to be corrected but I think it would be difficult. It was ok as my bike does have assistive drive and did I need it for the climb! It wasn’t too bad for the first parts as they are tarmac roads but the final section proves to be very loose under my wheels and I need to have a few attempts to get up the fire road.
Then there’s the drop in to Mega Mission. This is very very steep! It’s so steep in fact that I thought it would be too risky to roll into it. We were at the top now and there was no way we weren’t going to ride this trail. We decided the best thing to do would be for me to get off the bike and Robert and Filip to carry me and the bike separately down the first drop in where I would get back on the bike and away we go! Luckily it was around lunch time and there was no riders on the trail and the uplift guys were most likely on a break. It took a good 15 minutes to get down to a place on the trail where I could get back onto the bike!
Once on the bike I began rolling at first slowly down the first section of the trail. There is nearly no need to pedal on this trail such is the gradient. It’s all about controlling the speed. As this was the first time down this I was truly scared, really scared, especially given the steepness of the first drop, what was in store? The first section has a combo of small jumps with shorter straight sections between as well as some nice berms. It feels like a taster for the following 2 sections.
Safely down section one Robert and Filip were on lifting duties to get my bike over the rocks at the junction that slow riders down. These rocks are wide enough for a regular bike but impossible for an adaptive bike. The same was the story for the junction between section 2 and 3. While we managed it was less than ideal and made the going tough. We were also very aware and watching out for other riders coming down who would be moving at speed, another reason we elected to ride it at lunch time when no one else would be on the trail. You can see on this video how we negotiated the rock sections.
Section 2 I let the hammer fly! It is without doubt one of the most fun experiences I have ever had on my bike. It is just a jump line with a few corners thrown in for measure. I am not a huge fan of jumping but it is close to impossible to keep the wheels on the ground down this part of the trail. Each table top kicks the bike into the air with ample space to land before the process repeats. Absolutely crazy fun!
Section 3, is a series of enormous berms, biggest I have ridden, they are big enough that Robert could almost ride side by side into them with me. My first run on that section earlier I carried too much speed and ended up rolling when I went too high in the berms but after that little unplanned stop I had the measure of it and got through it with no drama. At the end of the trail there is a forest road which is blocked of by a set of rocks and a fence which is necessary to slow riders down. It was not easy to get around this on my hand bike and we had to resort to dragging it through.
Was this the first time a wheelchair user rode down Mega Mission? I asked the guys at the bike rental store at the car park. They said they’d never heard of anyone on an adaptive bike doing it, if so then this was a first which is pretty awesome although I am happy to be corrected on this.
Was the trail accessible? I would say that the actual trail itself the parts you ride fast are accessible. Where it is not is the first drop in and the junctions between sections. It is not possible to get through those parts with out a lot of assistance. A necessary part of the trails to help riders control speed is understandable but moving the obstacles left and right a few centimeters would make all the difference given the width of adaptive bikes or a separate chicane, nothing too difficult to construct would make the trail adaptive ready. Looking forward to talking to #MountainBikeNI to help figure out how these changes could be made.
Check out Mega Mission if you get to Rostrevor! If you can get down it and have some help, its totally worth the effort. You won’t be disappointed.