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Ballyhoura. I can’t tell my red from my brown.

August 13, 2011


On Sunday last I decided to take the new bike (still unnamed, I’m sure I’ll come up with something) up to Ballyhoura, the best mountain bike set of trails in Ireland.  Its a beautiful place on the Cork/Limerick border, a long ridge of mountains giving superb views over the Limerick plain out to Shannon to the north, over to Kerry to the west, and the uplands of north Cork to the south.  There are over 50 km of dedicated mountain bike trails in the area, all very well designed and maintained.  I’d done the shortest of the six main trails before on my singlepeed, I thought I’d step up to the medium (17km) trail since I had about 2 hours.  Unfortunately, after a long series of climbs I realised I had misread the markers.  Somehow, instead of following the ‘brown’ markers for the Mountrussell loop, I ended up following the red ones for the monster Castlepook Loop, all 51 km of it!  Although I cut off a section to get back to the carpark before dark, I still ended up doing well in excess of 40km.  Tough, but brilliant riding – but not a particularly smart thing to do as I didn’t bring much food or water with me.

The trail is very varied, lots of rocky singletrack linked by forest roads, but also long looping sections of rolling timber trails across marshes, and even some very dry sandy loops that are like desert riding (a weird experience on a wet Irish day!)

I managed of course to slip and fall (on the section above, moments after taking the picture).  They are very slippy, but also very beautiful when they wind through woodland, helping you soar over deep moss and marsh.

There were of course lots of windy, wet sections

Which meant I got wet and…. well, tired.

But, there were lovely views when I finally got back, four hours after setting off.

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