Last Sunday in a prelude to Ray’s stag night we decided to check out the new mountain biking centre in Ballyhoura . We have been hearing about it for the past twelve months now , so we were all curious to see just what it is like .
It was first due to open back in april but the official opening date seems to keeep being pushed forward all of the time . As can be seen on the official website www.ballyhouramtb.com it is now delayed until further notice , but most of the 16km trail is complete now so there is enough to give a flavour of what the completed project will be like . On another site www.ballyhouracountry.com it says that the opening has been delayed due to poor weather , which is something that I always find amusing in Ireland . It is like an arab saying that he cannot use his camel in the desert due to too much sunshine .
Over a million euros of The J.P.McManus fund has been spent on the development and the finished project will include 3 singletrack loops of 16 km , 27 km and 48 km . There will also be a cafe with bike washing and shower facilities which will all add to the experience .
We got there by turning right in Mitchelstown and the right again 10 km later in Kildorrery . Then about twelve km further on just before the village of Ardpatrick we turned left towards The green wood and 1 km later we turned right into a small car park in the wood .
It took us a few minutes in the wood to find the singletrack trails , but once there it was all guns blazing . The hardpacked singletrack weaving and winding between the trees really got the blood pumping and then the twisting wooden bridges managed to test the nerves . We regrouped at each fireroad crossing which was usually every 10 mins or so . Then we met another group of riders on the trail who informed us that the best section of all was behind a no entry sign . This caused about three seconds of hesitation before we proceeded .
This really was the best section of all , 20 minutes of swooping decents and hardpacked singletrack climbs with the highlight being 500 metres of a twisting rollercoaster wooden bridge within tightly packed trees . Mountain biking at its best .
The only crash of note was when Fitzy was pushing really hard following Johnny M and caught his bar end on a branch . He went from 40 kmph to zero in a split second and was airbourne without his bike . A quick landing on his helmet and a roll with a bounce and he was back up looking for his bike again . Only he could get away with it although the bike wasn’t quiet so fortunate . The forks were now at a 30 degree angle to the rest of the bike which made it quiet hard to ride .
After two hours we were back at the car park , all suitably mucky and ready for the night to follow . The overall verdict was that it is really good at present but when finished it will be excellent . When that will be I guess only the camels can tell .