Team Wideopenmag’s Chris Hutchens hopped on the ferry to experience the best of Northern Ireland’s mountain bike trails.
The short crossing offers a variety of trail centres within 90 minutes’ drive of getting wheels on terra firma.
In Part 2, Hutch joins forces with Irish mountain bike legend Glyn O’Brien to explore the gravity hub that is Rostrevor.
Words by Chris Hutchens | Photos by Martin Kennedy.
As a youngster growing up in the early 2000’s top-level riders had a huge influence on me; and none more so than Irish mountain biking legend Glyn O’Brien. He was always one of the top UK riders and killing it on the World Cup scene as well.
His Red Bull Rampage success was legendary and ensured Glyn was an incredible role model for any young rider with an imagination. He is ingrained in the Irish riding scene heading up First Tracks MTB and running the Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup so it was a joy to have him set aside some time to show us the trails in Rostrevor in the Mourne Mountains.
Up and coming talent Chris Cumming also joined us for the day. He’s super familiar with the tracks given his family connections with East Coast Adventure who operate the uplift and facilities at the trail centre. As a family, they’re a massive part of the Northern Ireland mountain biking scene.
Rostrevor Key Stats:
- 27km of red trail
- 19km of black trail
- 2 purpose built DH trails
- Uplifts for weekends and bank holidays
- 7 days a week bike hire via East Coast Adventure
“Hurry up you ballbag!”
Rostrevor is located near Warranpoint only 46 miles from Belfast and the same from Dublin ,sits on the North Side of Carlingford Lough in Country Down. Being Scottish this is an odd spelling but apparently correct in these parts.
After driving across from Blessingbourne we were running a little late. Lunch got the better of us and after a message from Glyn, “Hurry up you ballbag!” I knew we were on for a tough ride.
The trails traverse along the side of Rostrevor Forest, home of the Red Bull fox Hunt looking out over the Lough (it still doesn’t feel right typing that). A long climb takes you up to #KodakCorner where Chris and Glyn share the history of the 3 year old trail centre and the past few Fox Hunts.
With so many trails on offer Glyn made sure we squeezed in as much as possible. In hindsight a few days here at least would have given us time to get the most from the centre. That’s just an excuse for another trip to Northern Ireland. It’s easily done.
Stop, another stunning view!
Around every corner a vista across the Mourne Mountains and glens and over to Warrenpoint and Cooley Mountains had us stopping for another Kodak moment. Along the Yellow Brick Road and hitting outcrops of rock provided challenging terrain to play on. Superbly built single track along Bat out of Hell took us to the furthest point from the trailhead.
There was a sense of remoteness along the route, something we didn’t get at the other centres and made for a fantastic loop. Could we be seeing more international events here in future? I think it shows potential that’s for sure.
Kick back and take the lift!
A trip to Rostrevor wasn’t going to be complete without a few laps of the downhill trails. The guys at East Coast Adventure made us really welcome, providing uplifts for us with young Nukeproof Rider Chris Cummings showing Martin and I the main downhill trails. Uplifts were on!
First up was Mega Mission, a jump trail with rows of table tops stacking up like oil rigs in the North Sea. Chris knows these well and has some awesome style, schooling me over every jump with a tweak and showing the transfer lines dotted down the trail. We played about following each other through different sections.
Chris Cummins is a rising star of Irish mountain biking and races downhill for Nukeproof. He’s currently in Youth and has scored some top results already. We’re looking forward to seeing more of him.
While Mega Mission was mainly jumps a quick run down Pulse trail, used for part of the Fox Run was tighter and more akin to a DH run. Inside lines were closed off from where Gee Atherton more than likely jumped multiple riders only a few weeks before. The man got past 399 of the 400 riders on the hill! I was struggling to get down some of the sections, let alone go elbow-to-elbow to someone.
With laps of the pedaly trails and plenty of uplifts done we were more than happy to call it a day. We could easily have spent a few more days at Rostrevor and gone home happy … but a roadtrip is a road trip and we had to head on to our next destination. Thanks to Glyn, Chris and everyone at East Coast for a cracking day out!
Join us next week for Part 3 as we head to Castlewellen and Barnett Demesne for more Irish adventure.
Getting to Northern Ireland
For all the information about the mountain bike trail centres in Northern Ireland visit – mountainbikeni.com
Thanks to P&O for making the trip possible.
Discovering Northern Ireland
From chic, city boutique hotels to rustic rural retreats and from self-catering apartments to outdoor glamping, Northern Ireland has a wonderful variety of accommodation for all tastes & budgets. To book a short break or to find out about Northern Ireland’s visitor attractions, accommodation and things to do, visit discovernorthernireland.com.