Noel Sofley: Downhill Mountain Biker

Noel Sofley is a downhill mountain biker from Northern Ireland. He recently contacted us with a view to raising both his profile and that of his sponsor, KOBC. Here at CheapTents we like to give some exposure to up and coming outdoor athletes, so we asked Noel to tell us about his passion for mountain biking, his achievements and his goals in his favourite sport…

Downhill Mountain Biker Noel Sofley
Noel Sofley with his MTB
Noel got his first inspiration for mountain biking at the age of 9, when he picked up a copy of Mountain Biking UK magazine in his local newsagents.

I felt a buzz and felt amazing! I just wanted to try it, which I did and it stuck with me ever since.

Noel’s granddad used to walk the dogs up at the Leadmines, which was where Noel started riding mountain bikes. That was 12 years ago, now Noel is sponsored by KOBC and rides trails all over Ireland. Although his favourite trails are still to be found at the Leadmines, between Newtownards and Bangor in northern Ireland, Noel also like riding in the Mourne Mountains.

When I’m off work I’m always riding my bike, I also do weight training and running. I’ve run in the Belfast marathon twice in order to raise money for two missionaries who recently went to Mozambique. My best time for the marathon was 4 hours 15 minutes.

MTB Competitions

He is currently working towards becoming a pro-downhill racer and aims to race in the world cup. You can look out for Noel at the following mountain biking competitions this year:

  • Winter League (soon to be Ulster League) – all races
  • Irish NPS – all races
  • Irish Championships – one day event
  • Alpe de Huez – Mega Avalanche

With a total descent of 2600 m, part of which is on snow and ice, the Alpe de Huez Mega Avalanche is one of the hardest and most famous downhill races in the Alps. It takes place in the last week in July over a weekend, although riders will normally go over a week in advance to get practice on the middle and bottom sections. The top section is only run on race day because it’s extremely steep with snow and ice, which makes for a tough and exciting course. We asked Noel about his choice of bike for the race:

Although I think it would be best done on an all purpose mountain bike, I want to do it on my downhill bike with both shocks hardened up, which will help on the sections where I need to pedal.

Noel’s favourite race of the year is the Irish DH Championships, but unfortunately he didn’t race last year due to snapping the back end of his Scott high Octane Team race bike a few days before the event!

As an member of the RAF cycling club, Noel rides in their downhill competitions and intends to organise an urban downhill race in aid of Help for Heroes.

Noel Sofley riding his downhill mountain bike
Look out for Noel Sofley in the Irish DH NPS!

Whilst Noel has had many crashes throughout the years, his worst one would have to be when he crashed onto rocks and broke his baby finger. That was in the Leadmines on a rock drop that went in to a narly rocky chute. Whilst he was recovering he had to give the downhill biking a miss, but fortunately was still able to ride his cross country bike.

Noel Sofley’s MTB Favourites

Noel rides a Zumbi f-44. It has a Rock Shox vivid 5.1 rear shock and a pair of Marzocchi 888wc forks.

My favourite feature of the Zumbi f-44 bike is the floating pivot system which has a real progressive feel when I am pinning it down the trails. My favourite mountain bike kit is my full face helmet and gogles with knee/shin guards as they minimise the risk of injury if I crash!

Noel’s favourite mountain bike rider is the legendary Steve Peat.

Steve is my favourite rider because of the aggressiveness and technique he has over the ground on a bike and also, he said he was going to win the world cup and although it took him a few years to succeed he did it. I admire his motivation and dedication to the sport.

As well as downhill mountain biking, Noel is into pike fishing, camping and walking.

I go camping at Annaginny campsite and Park Farm at Tullymore, just off the Mourne Mountains, which ties in nicely with the downhill events!

If you would like to contact Noel Sofley regarding sponsorship please e-mail us,, and we will pass on any messages.

Are you an up and coming athlete and want to increase your profile? It doesn’t matter which outdoor pursuit you take part in: biking, climbing, fell running; get yourself noticed on the blog! Simply post a comment or send us an e-mail.


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