The Victory Chimp Gravel Guide to the Sperrins
The Victory Chimp Service Course, our studio shop with bike benefits, sits at the foot of the Sperrins, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and largest mountain range in Ireland. In fact, the brown sign for the scenic route (named in National Geographic's Top 101 scenic drives in the world) points right into our shop window. However, I thoroughly recommend not ram-raiding us and seeing this stunning, unspoilt landscape on two wheels instead. Even better if those wheels are shod with tyres wide enough to traverse the spectrum of surfaces that make up the best of what we affectionately call roads.
For this reason, we've compiled all the forgotten lanes, rocky farm tracks, boggy uplands and forestry fire roads that constitute an Irish "gravel" ride and built up a collection of our favourite routes for you to enjoy. Since moving to this part of the world six years ago I've fallen in love with this beautiful area, taking much inspiration from its vast wild landscapes, killer climbs and breathtaking ice-carved valleys. Every time I post an image from adventures in the Sperrins I'm guaranteed multiple queries on where the road or trail is. While I can by no means call myself an expert, I hope to be able to share what I do know of this undiscovered gem. Sincerely some of the best cycling in the country, or elsewhere, and a rare experience of serene solitude which I feel fortunate to have on my doorstep.
Stop by the VC Service Course with your bike and we'll supply a .gpx route file to suit your needs and interests. We have a growing collection of mixed terrain/gravel loops of varying distance and elevation, some building in the Davagh trail centre if you want to get a bit more gnarly. With surfaces ranging from completely unpaved sheep trails to sharp gravel descents, CX/XC/Gravel bikes with 40c+ tyres are recommended to enjoy the best of the routes.
We haven't forgotten about road though, with a bunch of routes taking in some of the best and most brutal climbs the Sperrins have to offer whilst staying on tarmac. You can even include some megaliths if you fancy. These mountains are home to over 90 sets of stone circles and some of the oldest known human-made constructions in Europe are scattered throughout this landscape. Our Modern Antiquarian route takes in over twenty of the most significant standing stone sites over 120km. A big day of boulder bothering.
There's a great quote I read (which I frustratingly can't remember or find the source of right now) that said a single mountain range can provide sufficient exploration for a lifetime. We're still uncovering what these hills have to offer and our routes are intended as a constant work in progress, adding new roads and trails as they're found, opened up or passed on. If you see me enthusing about a fresh view on one of our pages, you can guarantee it'll be available on a map soon after. The routes will be launched properly with our first shop ride in November (date tbc) but are available to all visitors right now.
Find us at 2b Coleraine Road, Maghera, BT56 5BN. We are currently open 12-5pm Monday and Friday, 9am - 5pm Tuesday to Thursday. Saturday/Sunday by appointment only, get in touch via our contact page.