The Trails and Tribulations of a 1st Time Mountain Biker


Posted on August 29, 2019 @ three:03 PM in Mountainbiking

Disclaimer: No personnel have been harmed in the generating of this weblog. Do attempt the stunts (not at property) but at a trail centre close to you.

As a new member to the group at MountainBikeNI, it was only a matter of time prior to I would have to get out and expertise mountain biking for myself. Boldly claiming “I’ll give it a go! Why not?”, my colleague Ethan and I set out to test the trails, and my nerves, at Blessingbourne Estate.

What to anticipate when you have no clue what to anticipate?

Blessingbourne was the very first official MTB trail centre in Northern Ireland, dating back to 2013. It is excellent for all level of riders and ages, boasting a pump track, 4km of blue trails and 8km of red trails, generating it an excellent place for these beginning out on the blues or difficult the far more knowledgeable riders on the tougher red trails. It was an apparent selection for my very first time.

I acquired a bike and a helmet to full the appear and familiarised myself with exactly where almost everything was on the bike, mostly, the breaks, as I was told that stabilisers have been not an selection. I adjusted the bike so that I could place my foot down in the most likely case that I would need to have to emergency cease or slow down in a speed wobble and just after a fast test run about the drive I was confident adequate the hit the trails – or so I told myself!

I had an image of mountain biking constructed up in my head, incredibly gnarly, lots of jumps and speed demons chasing the trails in epic style. So how was I going to match up to that as a total novice? As it turns out, it does not have to be all massive airs and break neck speeds.

We began out on Blessingbourne’s pump track, which was excellent for acquiring utilized to the steeper mounds with drops and turns and acquiring normally utilized to getting on a bike once more. The most important three issues I was encouraged to recall:


  1. Head up – Eyes forward and appear ahead
  2. &#13

  3. Preserve your feet neutral when not cycling
  4. &#13

  5. Bum back when going down a steep bit or drop
  6. &#13

As soon as I had these etched into my brain, I was prepared to take on the trails.

If you have by no means mountain biked prior to, it is very best to go with a person who has, and get them to lead the way. That way you are not hit by an unsuspecting rock garden that you are not prepared for and you will not veer off the trail you are on or finish up on a trail that is as well challenging. I discovered it genuinely useful when Ethan would shout “narrow bit coming up” or “keep right” and that way I was at least mentally ready for what I was about to strategy.

As soon as you have discovered a buddy to join you, it is essential to feel about your choice of trails. Blessingbourne has more than 12km of trails with a excellent mix of red and blue. The loop permits riders the selection of heading property or continuing with far more of the trail devoid of taking you out of your way.

As soon as I had gotten the hang of cycling round the trails with some turns and steeper slopes, I wanted to prove myself on some of the tougher stuff – for me that meant conquering a rock drop of about 20cm. If you are like me and appreciate a excellent dose of adrenaline, this is a excellent spot to start off. Similarly to going about the trails, I discovered it useful to watch Ethan go very first so that I could see which lines to select, how to very best strategy obstacles and what way to position myself on the bike. As soon as I had watched and discovered, it was time to give it a go. I got into position, lined up the rock and gave myself a fast pep speak prior to peddling off towards the jump. I hit the line, grabbed a couple of inches of air and landed gracefully on the other side, feeling like the queen of the planet. “Let’s do it once more!”.

A single of the very best issues I discovered about mountain biking was that the smallest jump felt like a huge leap to me, so even although seeking back now it appears much less impressive, at the time I was more than the moon and felt pumped to attempt even far more. You can be a very first timer and really feel like a pro.


Use Your Brain.

As soon as I had gone more than the jump a couple of occasions, I felt confident and prepared for any other obstacles I may have to tackle. It is essential to recall that it is nevertheless unfamiliar territory and if you do not feel you are going to be capable to do a thing, there’s no shame in either taking the chicken run or coming off the bike and walking it across.

I was capable to ride some rock gardens and a boardwalk (gradually) but when it came to strategy Blessingbourne’s popular ‘Crocodile’s Back’, I knew I wasn’t prepared for such a narrow process with its steep drops on either side. It is like saving a present for your self in the future, today’s not the day, tomorrow does not appear excellent either, but someday I will do it.

Take a Breather

It is a rush of green and brown as you whip by way of the trails but it is effortless to neglect to cease and take in the surroundings. Even if just for a fast breather, a photograph or video set up, it is excellent to cease along the way and genuinely appreciate the scenery about you. If we didn’t cease it would all really feel like a blur and the trails would have merged into 1. It can also assistance you get your bearings and figure out exactly where you are headed to subsequent. Blessingbourne is a gorgeous place and when you cease along the forest it feels like you are in a fairy-tale setting, the lush green canopy overhead and the tall trees that hug the trails make for a excellent contrast to each day life.

Homeward Bound

Soon after 90 minutes of blue and red trails I was genuinely feeling the session, my legs have been beginning to tire, and my hands have been stuck in handlebar grip position it was time to head back.  As we have been cycling, I was pondering about how I had managed to go about each blue and red trails obtaining by no means mountain biked prior to (not even getting on a bike in five years) I had managed to figure out the fundamentals and attempt some tougher components all through and even created it about devoid of falling off or hurting myself (minus a couple of scratches and bruises). If I can do that, then any one can do it, and it is completely worth providing it a go!

If you are reading this and are now pondering you’d like to attempt mountain biking, Blessingbourne is effortless to obtain, situated on a private estate just 1 mile outdoors of Fivemiletown. It expenses £3 to ride the trails or £5 if making use of the car or truck park.


For far more data on Blessingbourne Estate, Davagh Forest or any of Northern Ireland’s official mountain bike trails, please visit

Kerry Kirkpatrick


Latest posts