The Voice of Mountain Biking in Northern Ireland


  • 26 Nov 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    World Champion downhill racer Gee Atherton prepares to set off on the Red Bull Foxhunt from the summit of Cave Hill

    The Red Bull Foxhunt on Belfast’s Cave Hill on 24 and 25 November is the latest big endorsement of Northern Ireland as a world-class place to enjoy mountain biking.

    In only its second year, and its first in Northern Ireland, the concept of the race was for a pack of over 100 bikers to set off together down an enduro-style race course, pursued by mountain biking downhill world champion Gee Atherton, who set off a few seconds behind the pack.

    The weekend saw hundreds of bikers, walkers and spectators attracted to the Hill by the festival atmosphere, and event sponsors Red Bull had some of the world’s best action photographers on hand to record the action from the ground and from the air.

    An event of this nature attracts significant media interest, and NIMBA was delighted to get the opportunity to show its support in a number of radio and newspaper interviews in recent weeks.

    And who won?  Dublin’s Greg Callaghan crossed the line first, JUST in front of world champ Gee, with home grown champion the legendary Glyn O’Brien taking third, but the mood of the weekend amongst the assembled masses was that everybody won! 

    Congratulations and thanks for a fantastic weekend are due to Belfast City Council, race organisers Colin Finley and Stephen Davidson, sponsors Red Bull, the competitors, and of course the many volunteers who turned out in number to make this event a huge success for mountain-biking and for Belfast.

    Hopefully we'll see this unique and highly entertaining event back in Northern Ireland next year.
  • 21 Nov 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    One of the stunning views that will greet riders on the Rostrevor trails in the Mournes, opening in April 2013
    A couple of years ago, one could have been forgiven for considering the outlook for MTB facilities in Northern Ireland as bleak, but what a difference in that short time. A number of projects have already launched, and 2013 promises to be a great year for the sport. A quick overview and update of some of Northern Ireland's sanctioned trail locations is as follows:

    Rostrevor & Castlewellan, The Mournes
    Under construction, launching April 2013. Up to 40km of red and black grade cross-country and downhill trails, 25km at Rostrevor and 15km at Castlewellan. 

    Davagh Forest, near Cookstown
    Under construction, launching February 2013.  25km of green, blue and red trails. Includes 9km of new build x-country single track trails with technical features, and upgrade of 3kms of existing trails, with the additional 13km on existing forest roads.

    Barnett's Demesne, Belfast
    Awaiting final funding approval, launching April 2013. Green, blue and red grade trail system with braided sections of a higher grade to the main trail (i.e. black sections on a red trail etc), with further system of jumps.

    Divis & Black Mountain, Belfast
    Funding approved for 6km of off-road trail.  The Ridge Trail will lead from the Long Barn at Divis Lodge to Black Mountain and then along the ridge line of the hills. This trail will provide stunning views across Belfast.

    Craigavon Trails, Craigavon Lakes
    10km of singletrack MTB trails on the flat woodland terrain around Craigavon Lakes

    Blessingbourne Estate, Fivemiletown
    6km of green, blue and red grade singletrack trails and pump-track opened June 2011. Phase 2 application underway for a further 5km of trails.

    Castle Ward Trails, near Strangford
    40km of off-road trails, including 15km of singletrack through the fields and woodland of this beautiful estate in County Down.

    Of great encouragement are the current signs that the popularity of mountain biking is only set to continue to grow.  This is stimulated in part by the projects above, but also drives the need for more and more facilities across the country in the next few years, as parts of the country will still have very little provision.  Thanks and congratulations are due to all of the parties responsible for driving the projects above, as the efforts behind the scenes over many years have been enormous with very little public recognition, and we look forward to more such projects in the near future.

    More details on each of these projects in the coming months, but in the meantime thank you to all who have already shown support for NIMBA and its objectives.
  • 07 Nov 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    Do your bit to prevent the spread of plant disease within our woodlands.

  • 19 Aug 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    NIMBA worked alongside Craigavon Borough Council in recent months to help bring the Craigavon Lakes MTB trail back to its best, following some recent deterioration in a few places.  The Council delivered an excellent maintenance day on 21 July 2012, led by the world class trail designer Dafydd Davis, who also designed and is overseeing the building of the MTB trails underway at Rostrevor.

    The work party loosen up for a hard day's work
    Dafydd opened the session by briefing the 20 folks there to assist, which included a committed team from the Council, an enthusiastic team on a Council work programme, and a number of experienced volunteers from the biking community.  Armed with strong backs, shovels, wheelbarrows and a wide array of other implements, the team set to work on a short section of the trail requiring most assistance, guided by Dafydd.  A quick break for lunch, and the team were back at it, working through to about 4pm.  Much still to do, but a lot was achieved in a small space of time by a hard-working group.

    NIMBA assisted with a number of aspects of the day, including highlighting the specific issues to Council, advising on a model to rectify the problems, and promoting the maintenance day amongst its members to recruit the work party, as well as getting stuck in to some hard labour with the rest!

    Our thanks to Craigavon Borough Council for being so enthusiastic and keen to preserve and improve this excellent facility in the Borough, and we look forward to assisting with future events of this nature.  There’s one already provisionally in the diary for late October, so watch this space.
  • 02 May 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    NIMBA, in partnership with Outdoor Recreation NI (formerly CAAN), and supported by NITB and Down District Council, has secured Northern Ireland as the host nation of the Single Speed European Championship (SSEC) in 2014.

    Attracting up to 400 competitors from across Europe and the globe, the event centres on a 40 km mountain bike race on bikes with no gears, over several laps of a marked course.  Importantly, it has the wider appeal of a festival weekend and the sharing of fun, friendship and culture, regardless of nationality, skill, age or fitness level; something we do well in Northern Ireland.  Many of the 2012 competitors brought families and friends with them to Floressas, France to enjoy the atmosphere, games, cycling and other activities that form the overall SSEC event.

    A NIMBA delegation attended SSEC 2012 in April to make proposals for hosting one of the future events.  Following a multi-faceted bid process involving a number of European nations and the 2012 hosts, the host nations for 2013 and 2014 were selected.  Next year’s event will be in Catalonia, and Northern Ireland will take up the mantle in Spring 2014.

    It is proposed that the 2014 race will utilise the new world-class mountain bike trails at Castlewellan, which are part of the wider Mournes MTB trail network currently under construction; work on the Mournes project started on 30 April, with the development expected to take around 12 months, so the trails should be nicely bedded in for SSEC 2014.

    This is a significant event for mountain biking in Northern Ireland, and is an ideal opportunity to showcase our mountain biking credentials to many nations across Europe and indeed further afield.  SSEC 2014 will be an important building block in marketing Northern Ireland ultimately as a leading destination for mountain biking and NIMBA looks forward to contributing to its success.
  • 05 Apr 2012 10:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)

    Rick and Davy from NIMBA discuss the latest developments on the Maghermorne Quarry mountainbiking project with CAAN and representatives from the quarry owners Lafarge Cement UK, on 29 March.
  • 03 Apr 2012 10:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    We were kindly afforded an opportunity to update attendees about the aims, objectives, discussions and progress of NIMBA at a Cycling Ulster Off-Road Commission meeting on 2 April in Lisburn's Premier Inn.  Great to see such a vibrant XC and DH race scene, a desire for a more coordinated approach to communications with each other as cyclists and clubs and with Forest Service in particular, and also to hear some nice ideas around how best we might use the Northern Ireland forest estate for club and youth development.  Lots to follow up on, and our thanks to meeting chairman Martin Grimley and all the other folks for welcoming us along.

  • 28 Mar 2012 10:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    Clubs interested in seeing the further development of world-class mountain biking trails in Northern Ireland continue to join NIMBA, with long-established clubs Dromara CC, VC Glendale, Causeway Coast Adventure Racing, Team Madigan, and the newly formed Mourne and Cooley MTB Club (Team MoCo) joining those already in the fold since last update: Carn Wheelers, Roe Valley Cycles, Donegal MTB Club, BOMB NI, Trailbadger, Phoenix CC and NTSR. 

    The more clubs and individuals joining, the stronger the representative voice of Northern Ireland mountain biking as we lobby public, private and charity sectors for new trails and improved access across the country. 

    Any clubs wishing to know more, please review this site and/or contact us on
  • 17 Mar 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    Bikers, clubs businesses...

    NIMBA is currently working on a strategy for mountain biking trails in Northern Ireland.  This will include an analysis of current activity, proposals for development of trails across the country, and an action plan. 

    The strategy will be presented to relevant organisations such as Forest Service, NI Tourist Board, Sport NI, CAAN, local authorities and others. 

    Our membership data is key to informing the strategy, so join NIMBA now to make sure that YOUR views are considered. 

    Spread the word by Facebook, Twitter, email, and even soap-box in the street!
  • 15 Mar 2012 9:00 AM | Rick McKee (Administrator)
    The Northern Ireland Mountain Biking Alliance (NIMBA) attended a stakeholder update meeting and workshop event at Greenmount College Campus on 14 March.  This was the fourth such event held since the first outbreaks of the plant disease Phytophthora (Fight Off Thora!) in Japanese larch woodlands in 2010. 

    The session focused primarily on the strand of the disease called P. ramorum, best known under its USA name Sudden Oak Death, which has devastated large areas of California, and is now causing grief over here! 

    Attendance was circa 40 people from different government, industry and user groups; NIMBA was given a rip-roaring welcome by many in the room, with all saying it was great to have mountain biking represented at such an event.  It was a great chance to get the background from a scientific perspective, as there has been a lot of misinformation flying around about it all in recent months.

    The meeting was organised by DARD’s Quality Assurance Branch, with FERA’s David Slawson, the UK’s leading expert on this disease, delivering an excellent presentation before we got into the discussion workshops.  We discussed and developed ideas around the following:

    • Disease control – how to stop it coming into the country, and how to stop it spreading around
    • Communication – how to reach the various disparate audiences (like mountain-bikers, for example) with the right messages about it
    • Monitoring – how to ensure that the eyes and ears for tell-tale signs are maximised
    Many Northern Ireland mountain bikers will have felt the effects of this disease already, with a number of our forests designated even MORE out of bounds than usual.  The clearing of Moneyscalp Forest, along with clearing operations in Glenarm, Glenariff, Tievenadarragh, Woodburn and Ballyboley Forests in recent months, has been met with some dismay and scepticism in biking circles.

    Up until 2009, P. ramorum in the UK had been confined mostly to ornamental plants such as rhododendron, in trade and in historic gardens, and with only around 100 trees, mostly beech, affected. However in August of that year confirmation of the first infections in Japanese larch here changed the nature of the disease and the situations in which it occurred. In 2010, six public forests and three private sites were affected, resulting in the felling of over 300 hectares of trees.  This disease also affects bilberry, an important plant of heathland, as well as 'commercial' species like larch, so one can appreciate the alarm amongst the scientists.  The challenge here is communicating with us, the great unwashed, in what we need to do or not do in response!

    Lots of other facts, figures, statistics and photographs were presented by David Slawson, too many for this post, but this was a worthwhile event to attend and we came away assured that there is definitely merit in mountain biking being represented at events like this.

    Once the session was wrapped, it was good to have an opportunity to talk at some length with Forest Service senior executives Malcolm Beattie, Ian Irwin and John Joe O’Boyle, and to renew acquaintance with former Chief Executive and current DARD Deputy Secretary David Small, all of whom have been involved in discussions regarding the further development of mountain biking and other recreation in our forests.

    See the notes at the bottom of this press release from August 2010 for more background info on P. Ramorum.

    P. ramorum in Japanese larch
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