Ten-year strategy aims for five new 'National' trail centres, three 'Regional' centres and six long-distance rides by 2024
Outdoor Recreation NI, one of the leading organisations behind development of mountain bike trails across Northern Ireland, has announced ambitious plans for the next ten years.
The plans include opening five new ‘National’ trail centres, three new ‘Regional’ centres and six long-distance rides, alongside further developments at existing facilities in Rostrevor, Castlewellan and Davagh Forest.
It is hoped that the National trail centres will be situated at Glenariff Forest and Binevanagh/Ballycarton/Cam/Springwell in the the Causeway Coast & Glens, Lough Navar in the Fermanagh Lakelands, Tollymore Forest in the Mourne Mountains and Gortin Glen Forest in Tyrone & Sperrins.
Each National development will offer cross-country and gravity-focused trails, as well as car parking, toilets, bike hire, bike wash and refreshments in peak periods.
The new Regional centres, which will offer 10km+ cross-country trails, will be based at Tardree Forest and Garvagh Forest in the Causeway Coast and Florence Court in the Fermanagh Lakelands.
The first long-distance rides, which are expected to open by 2019, may include Clogher Valley, the Causeway Coast & Glens and Fermanagh Lakelands.
As well as attracting recreational riders, Outdoor Recreation NI also aims to bring major competitions to Northern Ireland. Chris Scott, manager of Outdoor Recreation NI’s consumer brand, MountainBikeNI.com, says: “With international standard trail centres comes the opportunity to host international standard events. This is obviously an excellent way to drive out-of-state visitor numbers — however, events such as the UCI World Cup also offer significant PR opportunities which will help to positively raise the profile of Northern Ireland across the world.”
Scott adds, “We make no secret of our ambitions to bring national and international standard mountain biking events to Northern Ireland and we certainly feel that our trails centres are worthy of hosting the world’s best riders.”
The strategy aims to generate £25m to the local economy per year as a direct result of mountain biking by 2024.
For more details, visit MountainBikeNI.com.
Have you ridden any of the existing trail centre developments in Northern Ireland? What did you think — and what do you think of the new ten-year plan? Let us know in the comments section below…