Hot summer punctures progress Laois mountain bike trail

Setback: Delay in finishing first stage of Slieve Bloom trail

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

Hot summer punctures progress Laois mountain bike trail

The drought conditions of Summer 2018 have caused a setback on the opening of the Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trails, according to Coillte.

The state forestry body updated the Leinster Express with progress on the trails.

Construction of the €5 million project began last April, after an official launch at Monicknew on the Laois side of the Slieve Blooms by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.

The first phase was due to open this October. However Coillte has confirmed a delay.

“Construction work is progressing well on the new mountain bike trails, but it will be a number of months before the trails are ready to be opened to the public.

“The combination of a very long, dry summer period (impossible to consolidate the construction materials) and challenging ground conditions in some sections (poor soil structures) resulting in a longer completion date than initially anticipated,” a spokesperson for Coillte has stated.

They emphasise that the bike trail when it is built will be of a high standard.

“Tthe trails are being built to a very high standard and will provide excellent and enjoyable riding when completed,” Coillte say.

Any enthusiastic cyclists hoping to get a sneak preview of the trails have been urged to keep clear.

“The public are strongly encouraged not to use trail sections until they are officially opened to the public later in the year,” Coillte said.

The company say using the unfinished trail could damage it.

“Early use, before trails have time to bed-in causes damage to surfaces and extends the period to their opening,” Coillte said.

Metro Construction is building the trails.

The first phase will have 26kms of single track trails, some of it starting from Baunreagh in Monicknew, and some of it starting from the Offaly base at Kinnitty.

There will eventually be facilties for bike hire, bike wash, toilets and cafe for 100 km of bike trails of varying difficulty, with the Offaly and Laois trails joining on the mountains.

Coillte said for now they are concentrating on getting the trails ready.

“This phase concentrates funding on trail and car-park construction rather than visitor services. It is hoped that visitor services, such as bike hire, etc. will be developed in the surrounding areas over the coming months and years,” the forestry company said.

The amenity is promised to attract 80,000 international biking tourists a year, bringing millions in revenue to local businesses in Laois and Offaly.

Coillte is building the trail in partnership with Offaly and Laois County Councils, who have given funding of over €200 each towards phase 1. Government funding of €1m is also granted for the first phase. and another €195,500under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.

Further phases of the Slieve Bloom Bike Trails will depend on more funding.