Digging

I’ve just finished a wee trail I’ve called “Jump Street”. It’s not the most fun trail I’ve built but it has the most jumps. Something I’ve never really built before or really ridden, so I wanted a wee short trail with lots of jumps to play about on. It has a great variety, senders, kickers and jumps to berms.  With my coaching head on its great. Such variety means you can teach different techniques and you can build up to the bigger ones. 

    

  

This got me thinking about digging in general. So it seems to me there are two main types of Mountainbikers, those who like to build and maintain trails & those who have no notion of it. I fall into the first category. I get as much fun out of building a new trail as riding a new trail.  From near enough the day I started taking biking seriously me and mates starting digging. The beginning was just fixing up existing trails, we weren’t experienced enough to pick our own lines. A mention for myself and my good friend Richy in Dirt mag for helping fix up the trail for the national champs in Rostrevor in 07 made us feel like heroes.

Then we started digging our own stuff. To begin with it wasn’t great, some brilliant sections but there just wasn’t that flow in between. Many years later and we finished a wee beaut in Rostrevor, originally named Supernatural it was soon nicknamed dh3. To see your own trail feature in promotional videos and loads of headcams just makes me want to Build more. 

To me trail building lets you give something back to the sport. Many people won’t appreciate that and I totally accept that. But mtb is growing and the way it is now isn’t sustainable in my opinion. Trails are seeing far more traffic than ever. Maybe we should set up a local trail building crew where we can get the local mtbers together to give a few hours back to help fix up the trails. 

A few top tips if you fancy some digging: 

  • A mattock is your friend 
  • Pick a start point or end point and work from there. Don’t try and join a start and finish point.
  • 90° bends add to the flow
  • Don’t make the entrance or exit obvious 
  • Take a mental note of what works well on trails you like and how it’s been built 
  • Get your mates involved. Saves a lot of time and effort and adds in different ideas. 

Just got out there and give it a go!

Strava Warriors

I’m as guilty as the next person for going out for a bit of strava bashing, but lately I’ve got sick of the whole idea of going for a ride just to beat some random guy I don’t even know! Back in the day me and the lads used to go up the trails and time each other, like a mini race series. The times were recorded and even compared times for different ground conditions. There was no doubt this was making us better riders and helping our race speed. Strava however isn’t always being used like that. People just want to be at the top no matter what. Corners are getting straight lined more and more and sometimes new lines are being cleared just for getting a better time.

But how accurate is it? I doubt it’s bang on the money so the times are more of an estimate than an accurate representation, especially over the shorter segments. It also removes some of the social aspect of a day on the trails. It used to be at every fire road crossing you’d stop for a chat about the last section, get your breath back and maybe even push back up ’cause you messed up a section. Now were just hurtling to the bottom with not much craic in between and very little sessioning to help our riding progress!

Ultimately it could result in a bad name for bikers. A lot of our access and trails is in areas that there are a lot of walkers and horse riders. Many of our trails cross fire roads frequented by these users. If you know you’re on for a good strava time, you aren’t going to take that split second glance to see who’s coming along the road, I’m guilty myself. With no end in sight to the whole strava debate maybe we need to start to alter our building habits and change how we meet fire roads, instead of the straight drop in line we should have a corner before it to slow users and open up riders field of vision to the road. It’s just a thought.

So what does the future hold? In my opinion, if used correctly strava can be a great training aid, but I think it’s going to end up causing issues between users. Bring back the stopwatch and walkie talkies!

So theres my short and probably pointless opininon on the matter.

Wicklow Weekend 

So over the Easter weekend we decided to take a trip to Wicklow with the bikes to see what all the fuss was about for the Emerald Enduro! The plan was loosely to go to Ballinastoe, Djouce, Carrick and possibly Ticknock. We packed the wee fabia to the rafters and off we set!

bikes
Riding low

It took a bit longer than anticipated with the car sitting so low but we got to Ballinastoe not long after lunch. A quick chat with the guys at Biking.ie and a “savage” day was promised. Off we went round the trail centre loop. I have to say I pleasently surprised. The centre has lots of flow. Something I feel our local centres lack. A great spin was had although it was a tad moist! A wee bit of tlc wouldn’t go amiss to fill some of the holes that have formed.

On the way back to the car we planned to just cycle up the road to Djouce for a spin round it too. However, the car beside us had been broken into so we decided to get the flock out of there.

Enough kit?

Off we went to Glendalough for a nosey. Would have been rude not to call in. Such a nice spot. Some dinner was made in the car park and we managed to get all our kit dried on a makeshift line. Happy days!

Chef Lynas

Day two we decided to check out Carrick. The home of the EWS when it comes to town in June! There was a lot of hype about the place and we weren’t disappointed. We parked up at the GAA club in Glenealy and pedalled the kilometre or so up to the forest. It was the strangest forest I’ve been in. Full of eucalyptus and the stickiest mud I’ve experienced. The previous weeks rain didn’t help matters! We had a map that the hawk had drawn up for us and this was bang on the money! We started out with a run down the dh run and quickly fell in love with the place! The trails are just so much fun!  we spent the day cruising about the trails and having a blast!
Day 3 and we decided to just spend the day in Carrick again. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! We decided to find one of the new trails for the EWS. A local described it as “amaze balls, some of the gnarliest stuff I’ve ridden” so we had high expectations! He wasn’t far wrong. The top section was extremely steep, rocky and technical. The fresh nature of the track meant it was hugely slippy. This was the hardest bit of trail I think I’ve ridden, but so much fun. The bottom sections followed a gully. This gully  was about ten metres wide and had berms, drops and jumps in and out. Such good flowy fun! A final run down the dh trail ended our trip. Andy hit the drop off on his hardtail. Fair play to the wee man considering he only started mountain biking in September! Time for home and the clean up operation. Took and age to get that mud off the bikes!

Fair play to Niall Davis and the guys at biking.ie. They’ve sorted out some amazing trails for the worlds best to check out. If there is any hint of rain, its gonna be manic! Get the spikes at the ready.

So is Wicklow worth a trip? 100%. Get down there and ride it. You won’t be disappointed. Just don’t leave any valuables on show in your car and you’ll be sweet!