Last week I rode Balloura Trail Centre for the first time in nearly a year with a couple of friends. The last time I visited was for the Munster Enduro held there.
While I intended to ride some of the enduro trails that didn't happen unfortunately. We did manage to complete the full brown trail including the two Tech loops. I'd previously ridden Tech Loop 1, but never managed to get to the second one. Both loops are great fun, and bring a little more technicality into the riding at Ballyhoura with berms and rollers, and Tech 2 adding in some unforgiving rock sections.
The first downhill section on the Brown trail - also called the Mountrussell loop - is very quick single track and good fun through the forest. You have to keep paying attention as the track snakes through the trees and its very easy to get caught out.
What I find a little disappointing about the tech trails is the distance they are from the trailhead. There is an alternative car park from which you can access them easier, but never having used it I don't know where it is. From the trail head its a fairly long ride, almost to the furthest point of the brown loop, just to get to the start of Tech 1, and most of it involves climbing - not my favourite. Even worse is once you have completed the, admittedly very fun, tech loops is the climb back out. It is a very long drawn out climb up a mix of fire roads, single track and board walks, with very few downhill sections before you rejoin the green trail and the final long descent back to the trailhead and main car park.
This last descent, while not excessively technical, is good fun and can be very fast. I especially enjoy the tree stump chicanes about halfway down and the very last section into the car park that contains a few small jumps and berms. Beware though, some of the gaps between trees are very minimal, and as i found out to my detriment, can easily catch your handle bars.
All in all, I always enjoy a visit to Ballyhoura, but when I attempt the brown loop, I invariably end up feeling like I spent a lot of time climbing for no very much descending - especially as the long final descent is included in the green trail which can easily be repeated several times in the time it takes (me) to work round the brown.
I suspect that on my next visit - hopefully much sooner than a year - I will try a customised circuit to tie in some of the enduro trails as well as the best bits of the green and brown loops, but unfortunately not including the tech loops.