Biking Blog

Feet First Friday! Beeline : Glencullen Adventure Park (GAP)

This is the first video in a set of videos on the trails at the GAP which is short for Glencullen Adventure Park. The park is to my knowledge the only bike park in Ireland. There is a fee to get into the park and uplift is available for regular mountain bikes, no such luck for adaptive bikes yet. That said I was well able to manage on the pedal up as I do have assistive drive on my bike. Some of the trails are beautiful on the way up and you have the added bonus of getting to see other riders sending it!

The trail in this video is called Beeline. It is at the top of the park and is situated at the uplift stop beside the entrance to a couple of black graded trails and a red graded trail.

Beeline begins with a tight turn leading to a left turn with some camber. It’s really easy to overshoot this corner as the trees make it a bit darker here and the ground all looks the same, it’s also a tight left so you have to be aware when approaching it. You will most likely overshoot the first time down here. I did and still nearly do.

After that there’s a nice flowy section with a couple of small drops. It snakes its way to the first berm where you can just let the bike fly. this is followed by another couple of left, right berms that are relatively straight forward.

That first berm!

In the next section there are a few unsighted turns and drops that are difficult to navigate without prior knowledge. In the video I am getting past these quickly but thats because I have a decent idea of the trail now. When I first went down it I was very slow because I couldn’t see what was behind the corner or below the drops. Now I just send it!

These features are not visible when riding a hand bike. Take care until you know the trail!

The trail peters out towards the end as you approach the road. A few rock features that will kick a bike into the air a bit but nothing dramatic. Then its a couple of small berms into a winding section through some trees. The final feature to overcome on a handcycle is the rocks put on either side of the trail to warn and slow riders. Impossible to navigate on a handcycle.

Those rocks are impossible to get past! Better to go around!

I have managed to cross the ditch by going around the rocks on the right hand side and then take as straight a line across the trail and down into the ditch and finally onto the fire trail. A little scary but doesn’t ruin the fun of the trail!

I think this is one of my favorite trails as the berms allow you to carry massive speed and the features while they are not severe require just enough attention to keep you focused. Great fun! The only gripe is the rock placement at the end but I can completely understand why its there and can get around it.

Feet First Friday! Mega Mission : Rostrevor!

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.

Is this the first wheelchair user to ride Mega Mission?

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.

Mega Mission, you can’t miss it!

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!

Drop in to Mega Mission! Terrifying!

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.

Robert and Filip had to carry me and the bike separately down the first drop!

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!

Letting Mjolnir Fly!

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.

Enormous Bermz!

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.

How did this all look from Roberts view?

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.

Dragging and lifting over the rock gardens I couldn’t negotiate on my own.

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.

Feet First Friday! Twist and Shout!

Twist and Shout, an excellent trail situated on the Kinnitty trail network in the Slieve Blooms. This trail is on the red mountain top route. There’s approximately 3 km of climbing on fire-roads to get to this one but it is totally worth it. Check out the video for the full lowdown!

The trail starts out with a couple of tight berms that need a little care to get through on a handbike, then it opens out into larger berms where a decent amount of speed can be generated. There’s lots of small rollers in the straight sections between the berms and they can undulate left and right.

After the last section of berms on the open part of the trail theres triple that can get the bike into the air. It needs to be approached with a decent pace but not too fast or its gonna be trouble.

Then its onto the forest section. The trail snakes its way through trees with plenty of opportunity to get a bit of speed up! A bit of care though as theres a couple of tight turns and chicanes that if approached with too much speed you’re gonna go over the side of the trail.

There’s a short climb out of the forest onto the fire road which leads you to the next ascent on the loop. It’s a great flowy trail and rewards speed but can be sketchy if not ridden with care. Until next time, see you on the trails!

Feet First Friday! Terry’s Belly Bike Park Wales!

Back in August we took a trip to the UK to race at the Malverns classic. On that trip we made sure to include a visit to Bike Park Wales for a day.

We have seen the videos and heard the stories about Bike Park Wales. It was amazing to actually go there. After a monster of a climb as the uplift service wouldn’t be possible with my handbike we got to the trail head. Then it was time to drop in.

I started off slow as this was the first time down this trail. It took a bit of going to get to a decent speed. The flow started to come pretty easily after that. The trail itself was a mixture of lose gravel in places with some bumpy bits. My bike was barely fitting through some parts!

If you are an adaptive MTBer and are having some doubts about Terry’s Belly on your bike check out the video. It is possible and it is great fun!

Feet First Friday! Drop and Roll!

If there is a trail that scares me in the Slieve Blooms its this one. It doesn’t stop me going for it every single time though, just the stakes are higher on this one! For the majority of this trail there is absolutely no margin for error. I have ridden it maybe 15 times at this stage so I have a decent grasp of its characteristics and I have a little confidence when taking it on.

It is actually a connector trail between the trail networks of the Laois side of the Slieve Blooms and the Offaly side at Kinnitty. If you are coming from the Laois side after a short blast on tarmac this trail brings you onto the Offaly network. There is a trail that goes the opposite direction too that brings you from the Offaly side to the Laois side, video on that at a later date.

Drop and Roll has a Squirrel catcher at the top that catches my bike every single time, this is due to the length of the bike and isn’t something new. Not much can be done about this so if you are on a handbike be aware! After the squirrel catcher there is a relatively flat section that begins to throw a few gentle corners at you, theres a few rock patches and small drops before the faster descending begins. The first challenging corners are reasonably flowy but need to be taken with a bit of caution.

Squirrel catcher on Drop and Roll

Next up is a longer rock section that narrows with a tree stump or two to keep you alert, this is quickly followed by a series of drops that lead into a flatter section.

After this you head into the first fast section with plenty of rock patches and corners that flow nicely, its easy to build speed but do so with caution, the next section has some drops and lips that will have your wheels off the ground. Anticipating where you might land is important as going off the trail here will be easy, getting back on would be very hard!

Wheels off the ground!

Following this is a series of switchbacks that are manageable with handbike steering. The corners feature some rocks offering a bit more grip and berms to prevent you going off the edge. The last of these switchbacks, you need to control your speed well as there is a ravine that would be very difficult to get back out of if this corner is misjudged.

Ravine to the left on this corner.

Having got past the switchbacks you enter a set of flowy left right wider corners interspersed with rock gardens. The trail straightens out with a decent stretch that speed can be built on with a few drops throughout. It’s very tempting to push hard but the rocks could have you bouncing off the trail and with ditches either side you could find yourself in trouble if you do! The last corner has a more severe rock patch and then its plain sailing to the bottom and onto the fire road. This trail is really great fun! If you go quick it is hard on the bike. In fact this trail is where I snapped a rear axle and was very fortunate to get all the way down without being in a lot of trouble.

Last and Fast section.

I would advise having suspension set to soft on this and to apply brakes liberally! It’s not for the faint hearted!

Feet First Friday! Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong is a nice little blast that runs through a section of woods which connects the Drop and Roll trail and the Nature Valley trail. It is located on the Kinnitty trail Network on the Offaly side of the Slieve Blooms. It has plenty of undulations which when first attempted on a handbike slow you down a bit. getting a few runs at it helps you to understand the cadence of them and then be able to use them to speed up! There is also a few decent sized drops that will catch the bottom of your frame. The trick is to approach them with decent speed which will keep the front wheel in the air long enough to pass over the edge without incident. You have to be careful though as the trail falls away a lot to the right with a few ravines and holes waiting if you get it wrong. Nailing this trail is very rewarding on a handbike as it requires a bit of technical capability to navigate the drops. Happy Biking everyone! Stay Safe!

Tetris full speed run!

One of the coolest trails in the Baunreagh network has to be Tetris. This little section is just shy of a kilometer long and only drops 50 meters of altitude over that distance. Don’t let that fool you into thinking its not fast. It’s a blue flow trail with some small jumps and plenty of berms to keep you moving quickly. It starts at the fire road at the end of the Return of the Jedi trail and immediately is a challenge for a handbike. The trail is narrow with an embankment to your right and trees on the left. It takes a bit of precision to get the handbike through but then it opens up with some berms and rollers that help build momentum. Then you enter a wooded section where the trail snakes around trees with longer corners and berms. This part of the trail is my favorite as it has two small jumps that immediately run into left hand turns, the trick is to be able to slow enough on landing to rail those instead of going over the top of them.

The trail continues down through some young forest with more berms and you can get a good speed up before it tails out at the end running onto the fire road leading back to the trailhead. Average time for going down this trail according to Trailforks is 2.23. I think we got close to that! Not bad for a handbike!

It’s definitely not the most technical or difficult trail but it is super fast and will have you grinning by the end! Awesome.

Feet First Friday! Space Jam : 3

The third and final section of the infamous Space Jam! In this last section there are lots of rock drops, rock gardens and just for good measure a few more rocks! It’s not hard to get the wheels off the ground through here. There’s a few bomb holes that feel like being on a roller coaster when ridden on a hand-bike, then the trail drops into a pine forest with a few straight sections where you can build up a bit of speed. Finally the trail winds down to the outbound loop which leads back to the car park and trail head at Kinnitty. At this point its been over 14 minutes of almost all downhill on a hand-bike! Hopefully faster in future!

Feet First Friday! Space Jam : 2

Checkout part 2 of Space Jam, it starts with this crazy rocky section that has you second guessing where to put the front wheel! Plenty of undulations to add to the chaos and a couple of root patches just to keep you on your toes. It has a really amazing section in the middle that has you weaving left and right while picking a line with plenty of small drops. Finally the rocks become less frequent and there’s a nice flowy section before we hit the fire road junction. Arms burning at this point!

Feet First Friday! Space Jam : 1

I have been posting quite a lot of shorter videos to social media, I thought it was about time I start putting longer videos on Youtube to give a fuller picture of the trails here in Ireland to adaptive riders. This is the first in the series of Feet First Friday trail videos. This one is the first section of Space Jam, a recently opened trail on the Kinnitty network of trails in the Slieve Bloom mountains here in Ireland. The trail is awesome fun and good challenge. This is the first of 3 videos as the trail itself is a decent length! Check it out!