As most of the group were beginners, we had arranged for a 3-hour session with Paul and Aine from trackandtrail.ie to show us the ropes. After 15 minutes warming up and getting used to the bikes, we were able to hit the trails. With a solid 20 minutes of climbing at the start, some of us were wondering when the fun would start. While the easier range of gears made light of the gradient, it was still sweet relief when the road levelled out and we finally got to point the bars down the hill. And this was when the fun really started.
While the uphill sections were wide, semi-paved roads, the downhill trails were all narrow, twisty single-tracks. Having dropped the bombshell that he’s been mountain biking regularly for the past year, Michael O’Sullivan was first man to tackle the trail, while the rest of us followed at 5 second intervals. Naturally this turned into a time trial, with each person trying to catch the man in front. In this spirit Martin McNamara put the hammer down and led the chase. Unfortunately this resulted in Martin inventing a new kind of mountain bike gymnastics, when he spectacularly launched himself over his handlebars on a rocky section. Shaken, but not stirred, he continued on. And his fall probably prevented a few more of us doing the same, as we all backed off a little after.
The terrain was a good mixture of fast straights and tight, twisty sections. Parts of the trails went through the forest, with trees all around us, and more was out in the open. There were also a couple of elevated wooden platforms to ride over. We did encounter one steep drop-off, which Jimmy Dunphy seemed very keen to try, but common sense prevailed.
All in all everyone had a great and tiring day. They say that 15km of mountain biking is equivalent to 50km on the road, and going by the aches in my legs today I’d say that’s about right. The downhill sections were a real adrenaline rush, and feeling the bike slipping and sliding over rocks and roots was very strange. However, I would encourage anyone to give it a go as the trails are not too steep or technical, and are very suitable for beginners.
We are hoping to make this a regular thing, particularly when the weather isn’t great over the winter. Another trip is being planned for early November, so keep an eye on the club facebook page for details. If anyone else is interested in doing a beginner course, fill out the form on the website and if there are sufficient numbers I will try to organise another one next month.