But I'm not the only one who thinks this way and I guess that's part of the fun. The most striking thing about mountain biking on a proper mountain biking trail is that somewhere out there in the depths of the forest trails beyond, are other mountain bikers. You don't see them (all the trails go in one direction only) but you keep hearing them. 'Ugghh' and 'woooahh' and 'ayyyy' echo in the air. Someone somewhere is about to fall, has just evaded a fall or has just crashed and burned. Most of the time, the noises just come from facing a new obstacle at speed and managing to negotiate it. This tends, in my case at least, to result in something in the belly jumping up through my body and out of my throat causing the yelp. I think they call it fear. And that's the way it goes. If you don't push it too hard, you won't injure yourself at all. Similarly, if you go too slow, you won't get anywhere. Alot of the tracks are easier to manage when you pick up a bit of speed. So, the advice is, don't belt down the mountain on your first go but don't go too slow either.
The Ballinastoe trail varies in difficulty. You've got what the regulars call 'single-track' - effectively narrow forest paths that will only fit one bike at a time, and these are the most challenging sections but they don't go on for too long so if they are stressing you out and you can always hop on to larger more open tracks which are dead easy. The trails are also well marked out and are specifically for mountain bikers so you shouldn't run into any hill walkers in this part of the woods. You don't need to be super fit at all but a general level of fitness will do. A couple of hours will probably be more than enough for the first time though no matter how fit you are. If you like the out of doors at all, then mountain biking is certainly worth a shot. I'm now going to start exploring the opportunities in Sweden after having a taste of it on the hills at Ballinastoe. The other fantastic thing with the Ballinastoe trail was that there's a lad who hires out mountain bikes close to the trail. You need to call him in advance. I got his number via the Forum here on this website so check it out and give the guy a call if you want to give mountain biking a try. By - Colm