I’ve been pretty much obsessed with mountain biking ever since the days of dragging and carrying my five gear Emmelle across boggy Exmoor searching for elusive stretches of trail, way back in the late Eighties.

Since then it has dominated my life and taken me to some amazing and beautiful places, from the steep rainforests of Northern Thailand to the prehistoric woodlands of New Zealand via the mountainside hugging trails of the Alps.

I’ve guided, raced and adventured my way around the globe on a variety of mountain bikes and when I was given the opportunity to start instructing in the outdoors it was only natural that I’d ultimately specialise in bike coaching.  Many years of training, assessment and verification later I am now Northern Ireland’s only MBLA Tutor allowing me to deliver the internationally recognised qualifications in guiding and leading for Cycling Ireland.

I’ve also used my decades of experience to write the top-level Cycling Ireland and Sport Ireland Coaching leadership and coaching courses as well as providing consultation services to many organisations on many MTB related issues.

I’m a serial tinkerer and Velotech Platinum qualified mechanic and find complete joy in the dirtier side of the sport, cleaning and maintaining bikes to guarantee smooth running and justifying the fortunes spent on kit.

Coaching is my biggest passion, helping people improve the way they ride bikes, faster, smoother and safer.  Everyone learns differently and so my work is all about unlocking the potential of riders by designing sessions that allow them to progress most effectively.  I’ve always hated repetition and adore having a job where no two days are the same.

I’ll always retain a contagious enthusiasm for all things biking and love introducing people to the sport and showing them that they can avoid all my painful mistakes and become a better rider with just a small amount of guidance.

If coaching is my passion then coach development is definitely my calling, helping other coaches to improve their own techniques.  I’ve been central to the development of an increasingly vibrant MTB coaching scene in Ireland.  I’m the coach who taught all the other coaches!

As well as living and breathing biking I also write about it.  I’ve been a feature writer for Singletrack Magazine, Cranked Magazine and GritCX as well as various biking websites. My blog features articles on many different themes and has a very dedicated following.

I’m delighted to be sponsored by Stanton Bikes, a UK based rider-owned company who share my outlook and passion for biking and top quality machinery.  I ride POC protective equipment and am supported by POC UK.

What is an MBLA Tutor?

The MBLA scheme is the original and best UK and Ireland based mountain bike leadership qualification.  Developed in Scotland in 1997 it has become the benchmark by which all other schemes have subsequently been measured.  Adopted and then licensed by Cycling Ireland it is now the all-Ireland qualification for guides and instructors which retains International respect and recognition.  To become an MBLA tutor Ian had to initially complete all levels of the scheme to prove his guiding abilities before undertaking an intensive three-year tutorship programme.  He has been delivering the Trail Cycle Leader, Mountain Bike Leader and Night Ride Leader awards for several years and was central to the updating and re-writing of all three qualifications to keep them at the forefront of current awards.

Ian has also been heavily involved in the ongoing development of Cycling Ireland’s coaching qualifications providing input, observation and feedback that has been fundamental to the burgeoning schemes.

Get In Touch

Paul Swail


Mountain Biking
Ian Bailey