GORTIN Mountain Bike Club chairman Stephen Collins believes the newly opened trails in Gortin Glens Forest Park won’t only become a gateway to the enjoyment of the local landscape but they will also open the door to the sport for many.
It has taken almost 30 years of hard work behind the scenes for local mountain bikers’ dreams of proper trails being constructed in the Glens to become a reality.
The first trail development in the Glens was carried out by local enthusiasts around 27 years ago, but the development of official trails in Gortin didn’t begin in earnest until 2013. However, due to various challenges and complexities this project had stalled and looked in danger of never being completed.
Then, in December 2017 there was a meeting that changed everything!
After that gathering, Gortin MTB was initially formed as a committee to liase with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and drive the development of an official trail centre in Gortin.
This led to the official establishment of Gortin Mountain Bike Club in 2018 and from there it has gone from strength to strength by developing a strong membership along with a close relationship with local Council.
In just two years, the club has enjoyed plenty of success with Kelan Grant – who has one of the trails, Kelan’s Chase, named in his honour – winning an Irish title alongside his performances as a professional on the World Enduro Series with Team Chain Reaction Mavic, and two younger members have also caught the eye. Callum Morris and Hannah Mullin are the reigning boy and girl Irish Enduro champions.
“It developed from that original committee to become a club affiliated with Cycling Ireland,” explained Collins, who is keen to attract more people to the sport.
“Since then we have developed a youth side of it. There is a pile of young ones in it, we have the Irish Enduro boys and girls champions.
“The youth is buzzing and Kelan is going to start coaching with those guys when the Covid regulations allow, so hopefully we’ll have another couple of Irish champs bred, even EWS champs!
“We have between 40 and 50 active members from all over the country, all ages and there’s a strong ladies contingent.
“It’s a sport you have to try – people see all these mad videos of boys jumping over cars and things but it’s just about being out in the fresh air, enjoying the scenery around the Gortin Glens, there’s something about it, something special.
“It’s nice to be out in nature, but my advice would be to go try it. It’s inclusive and the mountain bike community as a whole is great – if you meet someone on a trail with a puncture, people will always stop and help – there’s a real friendly buzz bout it.”
FULL STORY IN LAST WEEK’S STRABANE CHRONICLE