When I was first asked to go mountain biking at Davagh Forest, I jumped at the chance to do something different.
However, as it go closer and closer to the day, the doubts started. ‘What if I fall off?’ ‘What if I’ve forgotten how to ride a bike?’ So when my colleague, Patsy and myself arrived at Davagh Forest, I was quite nervous.
Once there, we met John Howard who would be our guide around Davagh. John is a mine of information, he told us about the plans the council have for Davagh and information on mountain biking.
First off, John took me to the Skills Park and Pump Track, which gave me a taste of what to expect on the trails. On the training area, there is a series of bumps and curves (known as rollers and berms) similar to the trails.
After a number of goes around the track, I gained some confidence going over the bumps so we moved onto the Skills Park, which is a mini trail, filled with steep inclines, small jumps and tight corners.
As a total beginner I decided it would be safer not to try out the jumps, but John who describes himself as ‘intermediate’ showed us how it was done. John also showed us what way the difficulty gradient of jumps work. One dot for easy/beginner and three dots for difficult/expert jumps.
After the Skills Park and Pump Track, we moved onto the green trail which is the beginner trail. This trail, which is for both walkers and mountain bikers is mostly flatter ground with some twists and steep climbs.
We set off on a forest road then the trail verges off to the left, through the forest. For a beginner this was definitely more exciting than on the road, filled with a mild turns and inclines through dense forest.
As I was scared of losing concentration and falling off, I only glimpsed the scenery, what I did see was absolutely beautiful. After we came out of the forest part of the trail, we cycled down past the river, which was a breathtaking sight.
After the green trail, John decided to take me around the beginning of the blue trail which is intermediate. This one is more like the Skill Park, with rollers and berms, a thinner pathway and steeper climbs.
After the start of the blue trail, John decided we should do a loop to give me a proper taste of what mountain biking is.
This one is a lot harder, much more steeper with twists and turns but it was also so much more exciting. I can see the attraction to mountain biking, the challenge itself is tough, but the health benefits are amazing. Certainly more exciting than half an hour on the treadmill!
Apart from having sore hands for 2 days afterwards, from hitting the brakes so often, I really enjoyed my experience (and burned over 500 calories in 70 minutes), I will most definitely be back!