Barbed wire deliberately placed in a forest area.
By Evan Short
A sinister campaign against Irish mountain bikers that has seen barbed wire, boulders, logs and fishing wire put across trails could lead to deaths campaigners have warned.
In the last two decades mountain biking has experienced an explosion in popularity across the Island, and the parks and hills around Belfast have become a hotbed of the sport with hundreds taking to the trails on evenings and weekends.
But in the last month unknown saboteurs have set out to try and injure bikers in a campaign that the PSNI say they are extremely concerned about and have launched an operation.
An incident was reported in County Down at an international grade downhill trail.
Rocks and branches had been strewn across a track hours before a race was due to take place. After clearing the track, marshals also found wood twine had been strung between trees at head height.
That followed the report of an incident in Wicklow where barbed wire was strung across a trail. This was repeated last week in Belfast with barbed wire again used to try and injure bikers on trails.
Another major mountain biking location – Belfast’s Cave Hill – had fishing wire strung across tracks.
Biker Bernard McClure, who runs an online forum, told the Irish Echo they were concerned someone could lose their lives.
“Barbed wire is an escalation we have never seen before and with the speeds bikers travel, you are talking about possible loss of life.
“Someone tried to do the same thing at Rostrevor but it was discovered just before a race took place thankfully. That might have given this person ideas.
“The trails we use aren’t the gravel walking paths. We use mud paths through the forest we have created so the person who is doing this is going out of their way to injure us.
“We come down those trails very quickly and if you hit one of the obstacles you would be in serious trouble.
Belfast City Council park wardens have increased patrols in the area and PSNI Inspector Roy Burnside appealed for information.
“This was an unbelievably dangerous thing to do. Whoever was responsible could have caused serious injury, or worse, to anyone using the track had this wire not been found by a member of the public, who I commend for his vigilance.
“This area is open to the public, and I would appeal to anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area at any time, or who can provide any information as to whoever carried out this reckless act, to contact police.”