The Voice of Mountain Biking in Northern Ireland


  • 09 Dec 2013 12:55 PM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    NIMBA representatives attended a meeting held at Tollymore Mountain Centre earlier this week to participate in one of three consultation meetings being hosted by ORNI and SportNI about recreation development in the Mourne and neighbouring regions. 

    We took our chance to share views on recreation in the area from a mountain biking perspective of course, as well as discussing the challenges and opportunities of other activities with those present.  Refreshing to see mountain biking so high on the agenda in a positive way.

    Great to see a number of other NIMBA members present on the night, with more NIMBA members also attending the other two meetings at Castlewellan and Warrenpoint.

  • 04 Dec 2013 7:27 PM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    Today's Antrim Guardian reported progress in the quest to bring Tardree Forest back to life, after many years of decline.

    NIMBA first approached Antrim Borough Council officers in December 2012 with a presentation on the opportunities of mountainbiking, and was subsequently invited to present to the Development & Leisure Committee of the Council in late March 2013.  This presentation was received very positively, with councillors and officers enthused by the opportunity.

    There has been quite a bit of back and forth in the past few months about it, and there are lots of hurdles still to overcome, but the good news is that Council has now approved the first real tangible step, which is to free up some money towards the scoping exercise for trails and other stuff in the forest.

    Tardree is the closest forest of significant size and gradient to Belfast, and is easily accessible from much of the rest of the country, so if the trails ultimately delivered are what people actually want, then Tardree will be absolutely buzzing. 

    This is a council initiative, along with the consultants they appoint to deliver, but NIMBA will try to stay involved with a view to ensuring rider engagement at all parts of the process - note, when the time comes for feedback and consultation meetings, etc, we will need the active support of our members to ensure the mountainbiking voice is loud and clear.


  • 30 Nov 2013 2:20 PM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    The Friends of Cave Hill invited mountain bikers and walkers to get involved together in a tree planting event in the grounds of Belfast Castle on Saturday 30th November, helping to preserve Cave Hill for future generations.


    Mountain biker and Cave Hill regular Bern McClure led the charge as the lead representative of the mountain bikers present, and it was a good opportunity for NIMBA to meet again and work on a joint project with some of the folks we had last met at the Red Bull Fox Hunt MTB race on Cave Hill in October 2012, an event which attracted quite a bit of controversy and spiky comment at the time.  


    Bern told me that it was suggested in the planning that an event encouraging both walkers and bikers to get together in some joint activities would be a positive step in improving relationships and communication between everyone who uses Cave Hill for recreation, and so it turned out, with great chat and a job well done by all.


    The 15 participants planted around 1,000 native trees in a couple of hours in an area of Belfast Castle grounds, with mountain bikes and walking poles swapped out for the session with spades, and after a couple of hours being further replaced with bacon butties in Belfast Castle itself.


    A big thank you to the Cave Hill Conservation Group, Belfast City Council and Bern McClure of Cave Hill Mountain Bikers for making the event happen, as it was great to be involved, and we look forward to seeing the trees bud come springtime!

  • 25 Nov 2013 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    NIMBA has submitted a response to the unpublished draft of a new 10-year strategy for mountain biking in Northern Ireland.  Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI), the lead organisation behind, are coordinating the strategy document and have requested input from NIMBA and a number of other representative bodies.

    The document will be published by ORNI in due course, once all feedback has been collected and processed, and we may have an opportunity to review a further draft before publication.

  • 21 Nov 2013 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    NIMBA was requested to attend the first meeting of the Davagh Trails User Group Forum on 14 November 2013.  The purpose of the Forum is to ensure an open communication between Cookstown District Council and the various user groups of the forest.  Those present were invited to make proposals to Council following the meeting. 


    On 17 November, we emailed all NIMBA members asking for feedback on the Davagh Trails, including any suggestions for improvement.


    This was an open survey, meaning we didn't offer response options or guidance; we just asked people for their thoughts.  Some of the interesting stats from that survey are as follows: 

    • 75% said that what trails are there are brilliant
    • 63% called for a single-track climb on the climb known as Widowmaker
    • 54% wanted jumps of various levels of challenge
    • 50% wanted more trails, for all-day riding - currently too short
    • 42% thought they should develop some of the old natural trails
    • 25% called for more black/challenging features, drops, etc
    • 21% referenced a need for passing points on Davagh Road

    There was also quite a bit of feedback about having a car park at the Bell's Pit entrance to the forest (on the south-eastern side), and this was discussed with Council separately. 


    These survey results, whilst only a snapshot gathered over a 2-day period last week, are consistent with the noises we hear anecdotally from riders of Davagh.  It's always good to have hard statistics, as these are required when it comes to seeking funding, resource or priority over other things, so thank you to those of you who took part.


    The Davagh Trails project has been a tremendous success so far, and we get lots of positive feedback on it.  Cookstown District Council are to be congratulated on all the hard work so far, and we look forward to Davagh just getting better and better over time.

    We have passed on all the above and the other feedback received to the Council in detail, and they've said they will be in touch in due course.

  • 12 Nov 2013 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    Trail designers Architrail, ORNI and Coleraine Council all made short presentations to a packed room tonight at the Jim Watt leisure centre in Garvagh, focusing on a draft design for a new mountain bike trail network within Garvagh Forest.  All funding-dependent, of course.

    Phil Saxena from Architrail made the main presentation of the proposed trails, which don't actually follow the existing trails (apart from circa 800 metres), with feedback, questions and discussion then sought from all present.  If you don't know Garvagh Forest, it's a fantastic hidden gem, and the new proposals and Phil's outline of how he sees the trails going on to be developed sounded fantastic and seemed to excite all present.

    Great to see this project getting some real legs, as it was a NIMBA approach to Coleraine Council that kicked it off originally through contacts with Carn Wheelers, NIMBA's largest club member - a real bottom-up effort!  The Carn Wheelers are vital to this project, and the Council has said they will work closely with the club to ensure these trails are a success.

    Outdoor Recreation are now managing the delivery of the project, and a timeframe of circa 12 months from now was discussed as a viable time frame to get trails on the ground.  Again, all funding dependent, and the search for funds is ongoing.
  • 08 Nov 2013 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    NIMBA is pleased to have been able to write a letter of support for a proposed second phase of trail developments at Castlewellan Forest Park, where extensive trails already exist.  This is at an early stage of scoping the initial funding and project viability, so there is no information yet in terms of trail types, grades or length.  Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland are leading the project.
  • 09 Sep 2013 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    NIMBA has been assisting Antrim Borough Council with next steps regarding potential trail development projects within Antrim Borough.  These project, should they come off, would be located primarily within Forest Service land, and the areas to be explored are Tardree Forest, Randalstown Forest and Rea's Wood (at the Lough Shore).

    A vital part of progress is a licence agreement between the Council and Forest Service, and discussions are underway between the relevant people in both organisations. 

    It's a long way from trails on the ground, but it looks like things are happening in the right order, and we look forward to progress in due course.
  • 24 Apr 2013 11:00 PM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    As reported in the Antrim Guardian two weeks ago...

    PROPOSALS for 10 km of state-of-the-art mountain biking trails at Tardree Forest ramped up a gear last week when Council's Development and Leisure Committee enjoyed a presentation from the Northern Ireland Mountain Biking Alliance (NIMBA).

    The organisation was represented by chairman Rick McKee.  Outlining NIMBA's vision for Tardree, Mr McKee told the chamber: "We believe it has massive potential and could be a really special place for mountain biking trails and other activities.  It is already popular with mountain bikers, has fantastic terrain and already has the key infrastructure in place."
    He told the members that 2013 is the year that mountain biking is going to 'explode' into the mainstream with four dedicated centres opening across Northern Ireland.
  • 17 Apr 2013 10:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    Many NIMBA members attended a public meeting at Belfast Activity Centre on Wednesday 17 April, where Belfast City Council and Outdoor Recreation NI outlined the background and rationale for the new mountain biking trails and dirt jumps in Barnetts Demesne, which are set to launch on 26 April.

    Belfast City Council, represented by Anne Reid and Stephen Walker, were open about the project being the start of what is very much a new type of initiative for the Council, and one where ongoing engagement with bikers (and indeed other users of the park) would be of crucial importance to maximise the potential.

    The session concluded with an open question and answer session, and NIMBA welcomes this type of public meeting.  The only disappointment on the evening was that more bikers were not able to attend.

    Belfast City Council will be establishing some kind of feedback forum going forward, and NIMBA will play a role in that if it is deemed worthwhile by Council and other stakeholders.
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