What is Downhill Mountain Biking?
- Downhill mountain biking is one of the most technical and exciting of all of the offroad disciplines.
- Riders are timed down a single downhill track, and the fastest rider down the mountain wins. Races can be from 2 – 5 minutes long, depending on the length of the track.
- Each rider starts individually and is timed against the clock.
- Generally the races are held over two days, with the first day being open practice and the second involving a seeding and race run.
- Riders are given uplifts to the top of the mountain in custom built bike carriers (downhill bikes are not suited to riding uphill.)
- Tracks can have a variety of different technical features such as rock gardens, jumps, roots and berms. There are always alternative racing lines that for less-skilled riders to bypass jumps and still be competitive in their category.
- Riders who have competed in Enduro events would be capable of riding any of the Downhill tracks in Ireland.
- Ireland has a long history of successful female downhill mountain bikers, with multiple European and World Masters Champions coming from Ireland. More recently Tara O’Boyle has been successful in Ireland and the UK, and Sacha Bickerstaff competed in Junior and Senior World Cups.
What bike do I need?
- A downhill specific bike will have both front and rear suspension and are usually heavier than other bicycles.
- Wide, nobbly tires (between 2.25” and 2.5”) are used for gaining grip on tracks.
- There is a lot of debate surrounding pedals for mountain biking, with some riders using flat pedals, and others using clip-in style pedals.
- Disk brakes are a must for this type of riding, as they provide more braking power on steep downhills.
- Although downhill bikes can be expensive, there are lots of second hand bargains to be picked up on Facebook Buy and Sell pages, club websites, and word of mouth.
- Although most riders would use a Downhill bike, some riders would use Enduro style bikes also.
What gear do I need?
- A full face helmet is mandatory for downhill races.
- Riders would also sometimes wear knee and shin pads, elbow pads, body armour, neck braces and eye goggles.
- Skinsuits and lycra are not permitted in downhill races.
- Underage riders have mandatory regulations for protective gear.
- See the full list of gear needed for racing downhill here: http://www.irishdownhillseries.com/rules.html
Where can I start riding downhill?
Downhill is a racing discipline of mountain biking, and there are lots of places that you can ride around the country.
- Coillte Forests: Over the last decade or so many mountain bike trail networks have been developed in Coillte forests, which are way marked to ability and free to use. These often include facilities for bike rental and bike wash and a coffee shop.
- A list of Coillte MTB trails can be found here: http://www.coillte.ie/activities/mountain-biking/
- Similar trail centres exist in Northern Ireland: http://www.mountainbikeni.com/
- Commercial MTB Parks: There are a number of commercially run mountain bike parks with bike rental, uplifts, bike wash and coffee shop facilities:
- Glencullen Adventure Park (The GAP) in South Dublin: https://www.thegap.ie/
- Bike Park Ireland in Tipperary http://www.bikeparkireland.ie/
- East Coast Mountain Biking in Rostrevor: https://www.eastcoastadventure.com/rostrevor-mountain-bike-centre/
- The best advice to get started in this discipline would be to join one of the many mountain bike clubs around the country.
Which clubs specialize in downhill mountain biking?
How can I start racing downhill?
- To start racing you will need to purchase a racing license from Cycling Ireland. More information on licenses can be found here:http://www.cyclingireland.ie/page/membership/join-cycling-ireland
- The downhill race season usually runs from March to September with the IDMS being the main league in Ireland. Many riders would travel to the UK and further afield for more racing.
- Irish Downhill Mountain Bike Series (IDMS) http://www.irishdownhillseries.com/
Plan your races next year using this calendar
Find out more about downhill mountain biking by checking out some of these links.
- Offroad Cycling Commission http://www.offroadcyclingireland.ie/
- Dirt Magazine: https://dirtmountainbike.com/
- Pinkbike: pinkbike.com
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