A stone’s throw from the city (this could depend on one’s throwing arm), there’s something extreme going on. Tyres hitting gravel and muck at speed. That’s all we’ll say for the moment, we’ll let Niall Davis from Biking.ie do the talking. Quick note: a “spin” for the uninitiated, like ourselves, is going out on your mountain bike.
Dublin.ie: Tell us a bit about Biking.ie?
Niall: We’ve two locations, one in the Dublin mountains [Ticknock] and one in the Wicklow mountains [Ballinastoe]. From both those hubs we run bike rentals, lessons, tours, and we act as an information or meeting point for people starting their spins. We do teas and coffees and all that sort of stuff. So it’s basically to set up a little foothold in the hills and give mountain bikers a good place to meet.
Dublin.ie: And how did it start?
Niall: We grew up on the other side of the Dublin mountains, on the way to Glencullen [Co. Dublin]. And as a family we were always crazy into bikes and going up to the mountains. But there was never really anywhere to go. I guess when we started building the trail, we saw an opportunity to go up and set up something really good for bikers.
Dublin.ie: It’s really incredible having the Dublin and Wicklow mountains so close to us…
Niall: It’s just on Dublin’s doorstep. So it’s really nice to have. It’s pretty unique in the world to have nice facilities just there and to have a set-up with so much potential. I guess it might not be fully there yet, but we’re getting there.
Dublin.ie: How long have you been mountain biking?
Niall: I guess since I could ride a bike I went up the hill. Maybe aged 5? I just got into bikes because my Dad was into motorbikes. So I guess I’ve always been biking it. But as a proper sport, I could have been aged 12.
Dublin.ie: Sounds like love.
Niall: It was always my number one passion and something I obsessed about. So I’m lucky enough that I don’t consider I’ve ever had to work a day in my life. It’s been great to do that.
Dublin.ie: For those of us who haven’t been up, what’s it like going for a spin in the mountains?
Niall: In Wicklow there are some pretty amazing places. You know you start in Ticknock and you ride towards the backside of the mountain. Then you’ve got two views. In front it hasn’t got a house in it. It’s straight into the Wicklow mountains. Then, you turn around and you’ve got the city right behind you. That’s pretty special. There’s no end to nice spots up there.
Niall Davis (back left) and the Biking.ie team. Credit: Adrian van der Lee Photography
Dublin.ie: If you had to chose, Ticknock or Ballinastoe?
Niall: At the moment, with the conditions of the trails, definitely Ballinastoe is more beginner friendly. It’s got a lot more flow and it’s a much nicer place to ride. But Ticknock is in its early phase of development.
Dublin.ie: And the best times of year?
Niall: It doesn’t really matter. We’ve had more rain this Summer than we’ve probably had this Autumn and the trails are all weathered. We’re lucky in Ireland. A lot of big resorts, like Whistler [Canada] and the French ones like Morzine have to close down for a bit, but Ireland is alright all year round. The hills aren’t massive, so you don’t need chairlifts. You can pedal everywhere.
Dublin.ie: So what does the future hold for Biking.ie?
Niall: Our motto is, if you’re going to do something, do it well. I guess we just want to continue to do the right thing and do it well. We are so lucky to have people who are motivated first and foremost by doing the right thing. That’s pretty cool. So it’s just to continue living the dream, getting people into the sport and trying to be as good as we can.
Dublin.ie: We’re ready for a spin!