On Location | Davagh Trails, Northern Ireland
Day seven of our Irish adventure, it was to be our last day of riding on the Emerald Isle. We had had a wicked time traveling around and visiting all the different riding spots Ireland had to offer. Our final trail ride was to be just over an hour’s drive over to the very quiet area of Davagh trails, stopping prior to that at the HQ of the world-renowned Chain Reaction Cycles on-route. ‘Pop in for a brew’ Simon Cordner (Vitus Brand Manager) had messaged me one-day prior, so we figured we’d make a story out of our visit too.
We had the address, a number and a road name; simple you would think. Only in Ireland would you have two different places within a few miles from each other with the same road name and number! We un-knowingly turned up at the wrong address, a large house with very secure looking electric gates. As all we knew was we were going to the offices of CRC, we thought it may just be a real low-key place, we sat in the van scratching our heads. The gates were open as someone left, so we just casually drove in; as they closed behind us we all very quickly realized the errors of our actions!!
One hour later, after jumping over fences, trying to get information off clueless neighbors and ending up having to phone the police, who (thinking it was hilarious) rang the owner of the house, we were finally let out by a very disgruntled household owner on his forced early return. You really couldn’t make that shit up could you! Once we got away, we (especially Doc) all saw the funny side, as did CRC’s, Simon as we arrived at the very obvious commercial offices of CRC!
CRC is seriously impressive, consisting of the commercial premises we visited first and two distribution centres, it really is a massive operation, but I won’t blab on about it, as Trev has covered this here in his previous article – We decided we needed an article piece whilst we were there, so came up with the idea (or maybe Trev did!) to follow a package from order to dispatch and all it’s various processes, watch this space for Coop’s future article on this. It was real interesting to be shown around the different CRC sites, including the bike workshops and very interesting software the guys use to check future bike’s designs.
Time was getting on, we were thankful of the previous weekend’s time change, giving us an extra hour of light to play with, as we said our goodbyes and headed off up into the very remote sticks to find Davagh trails. This took us out of the busy city and town’s urban sprawl into the countryside again, the local views really reminding me of the desolate landscapes of mid-Wales. We arrived at the extremely quiet trailhead, with (as seemed to be the norm in Ireland) no other riders present, these places seem just to be wasted with their lack of riders, proper hidden gems. We unpacked and built the bikes back up for the seventh and final time, with the dank, cold air and drizzle plus putting on the kit that never really seemed dry, this was now seeming a bit of a chore; should have bought a bigger van!
We chose the full red loop, 16k in length, with two different options of DH sections to choose from half way around the trail, plus there is a 7.5k blue trail which incorporates into the red trail. Maximum elevation of the trail is 350m, so there are no massive climbs, the toughest of which is the first tarmac road, really testing our eight day riding muscles out, as Doc just plodded along with ease on the E-bike.
The forest sections were tight and real dark, the thick pine forest of moss covered trees and undergrowth giving the place a feel of magic and adventure. We chose the DH trail called Big Wig Jig, this fast stone trail flowed well from corner to corner, as we carefully chose our lines over the small rock sections; it was so much fun! There was a new section called Steamway, not on the map, really recently built and still sporting canvass sides to stop the fresh stone eroding into the stream running along side it. This section was smooth and jumpy and yet again, built well enough to keep a good fast flow and create big smiles. Most of the trails really did have an awesome feeling of being in Alice in Wonderland territory, giving a certain mystique only Ireland seems to offer.
We soon finished up the trail and gave the little pump track a quick blast, seeing how many times we could go round without pedaling before the legs were screaming ‘enough’! That was it, we packed the van for the last time and got changed in the great timber changing facility, which more trail centres should consider. We all had a fantastic feeling of having achieved our eight days of riding around Ireland, with nearly 200 k’s of fun and no bone-hurting offs. All bikes had stayed intact, apart from a quick BB change on mine thanks to CRC, we had all got on and had a blast together. Best of all we had not once been disappointed by the very impeccable hospitality of the mega-friendly Irish. For a riding holiday it had been so good and I would highly recommend it to any self-respecting trail rider. The only price letting the trip down is the hefty cost of the ferry crossing, but with a few people sharing a van, that won’t break the bank too much, visit Ireland folks, I guarantee you wont be disappointed!
Massive thanks to all involved in making our trip fantastic
For more info on riding in Northern Ireland check out – mountainbikeni.com.
Words: Jim Buchanan Pics: Doc Ward