By Michael Noonan
I have been planning this one for quite a while and finally the weekend arrived. I am more familiar with MTB biking in Ballinsatoe Co Wicklow, another Coillite development.
‘Bally how r aa ‘ from Wexford is about a 2 hr drive out to Mictchesltown, then about another 20 minutes out to Bally landers and onto Bally houra
I didnt know which way to pronounce; however the locals say ‘ballyhow r aa’ .
The night before was spent in a Shibeen called Sliabh Ria in a village called Glen brohane !!: Apparantly no official closing time there . I stayed locally on Saturday night with cycling buddy Tomas Noonan ,. headed over to the start for about midday on Sunday; . neither of us ever there before on MTB. Tom was familiar with the terrain from Cross country running.
Toms first time on MTB : we picked the white circuit: 25 miles, listed as moderate on the large maps at the entrance to the tracks. Typical mountain bike terrain, through forests, open forest areas, fire tracks. Constant climbing at the start.
Boards and planks were dotted throughout the circuit with marshy boggy area beside the planks, safe enough, no rocks. 20 foot ravines had board bridges over them, again just boggy at the base, rather than rocks. Locals had regards Michael modifed the bridges with more lats to increase grip on the cambered sloping bridges. The bridges were tricky; damp and wet at this time of year, and typical first times walked over these bridged sections. Boarded sections were emphasised with slopes goin up to a shrp peak on the boards and descending again , giving a rollercoaster ride on the boarded sections. Lots of shale in parts and tonnes of sand in other parts, wide tracks , well worn, no surprises. MTB;s did take quite a hammering.
Very busy tracks overall , fairly technical bits, but I felt Ballinsatoe was more technical in parts. Ballinsatoe has larger rocks in the technical sections, that are harder to negotiate.I would certainly be stopping more on the Ballinsatoe circuit than I needed to stop on the ‘Bally how r aa’ white trail. Brown and red circuits of ‘Bally how r aa’ are meant to be more difficult.
What struck me was that the tracks in bally how r aa were much more worn and wider than Ballinsatoe, so the easy parts were easier, but it did feel like bally how r aa went on forever.
The weather was closing in and getting damper as the day worn on, one stage we were climbing in a valley with the trees and mist coming in over us, that is where it began to feel wintery, cold and damp on the side of the mountain. Great smell of pine everywhere.
Climbed to about 1300 feet, felt I had enough after about 23 odd miles of the 25 mile circuit, and 3 hours on the bike. Spent a lot of time at the 1100 to 1300 feet part of the trail
Looking at map bally howr y aa appears to be 3 or 4 times bigger than ballinastoe. We only did 1 of 4 circuits in the 3 hours.
Competitive circuit,and a good few first timers out also, a few Scott MTB were out.
Great facilities: hot showers available hot beverages available afterwards. piped music to the car park, power wash for the MTB’s , paid carparks to help pay for the excellent facilities.
Already booking next outing again before christmas. Worked well as lower intensity exercise.
Shure u have to do all the circuits !!! because they are there.
Anyone interested in going ,let me know : firstname.lastname@example.org