Ulster Cycling News

Successful Leisure MTB day in the Sperrins

In June 2011 Harps Cycling Club ran the first of their mountain bike sportives over the Sperrin mountains offering two routes, a 20 km and a 40 km route. It attracted 74 riders who went away with great memories of the area and a promise to return.

On Sunday 17 June 2012 the club ran the event again putting on three routes, 35, 55 and 65 km, adding in more off-road sections and, of course, more climbs. Over 120 riders from as far afield as Dublin arrived at Moneymore Recreation Centre to sign on and take part demonstrating again the appetite for this style of organised leisure mountain biking in Ireland.

Once signed on the riders were free to form their own groups or go alone whenever they were ready. The routes were well marked on the roads and across the mountains. Many riders from the host club were taking part to ensure that the event ran smoothly. Thankfully the weather was kind, overcast but it remained largely dry all day. The recent heavy rain did leave many wet sections to negotiate but, as this wasn't a race, the riders were able to take their time to pick their way through.

As before the route took in lots of gravel climbs (some so steep the riders had to get off and push), heather and bog sections, clambering over stiles and wondering how deep the next puddle was. All this with great views from the top of the mountain and friendly chat with fellow riders.

The route was not all open mountain top as it took in some forest sections including Davagh Forest which will see a mountain bike race this Sunday hosted by Carn Wheelers. In the forest sections the local swarms of midges ensured the riders kept moving!!

Once back to the recreation centre the riders were able to tuck into a great spread including hot food, buns, cakes washed down with lots of tea and coffee. The centre had showers as well as a bike wash. All-in-all a super day out.

Many thanks to Paul Bloomer and Gary Maguire and the rest of the Harps CC squad for putting on this excellent event. There is a lot of work in the background seeking permissions, marking the route, getting gates open, providing food stops etc. Hopefully the event will keep attracting more and more participants each year.

Report and pictures by Martin Grimley

More pictures here

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