Natural trail thriller closes Irish Enduro series – Arguably regarded as the spiritual home of Irish Mountain biking, with a vast network of natural trails developed over the number of years. Djouce Woods hosted the first ever Irish Gravity Enduro event last year and was the chosen venue for the series closer this weekend.
For the finale, this year’s competitors were treated to six special stages over a 30km route in the picturesque shadow of Djouce mountain with inspiring views down the Dargle valley to the Irish sea, across to the Powerscourt Waterfall and to the Sugar Loaf (Murderhorne to the locals).
The stages had a little of everything thrown in, from fast flowy bermed single track, rooty off camber wooded sections, steep loamy technical descents, pedally kickers, jumps, bombholes and even a watersplash so there was something for everyone. Best of all apart from the SS6 sprint finish, all the stages were on natural trails – Mountain Biking at it’s purest!
In the run up to the event, the weather had been more than kind with long dry summer having rendered the trail conditions resembling Northern California more than the East Coast Ireland. Although it had rained on Saturday for practise, the precipitation rendered the loamy soil tacky rather than shlompy and Sunday remained dry for the event. Damp roots and grass still had to be treated with care though and many of the riders I spoke with were recounting tales of being the victim of sniper roots while pushing on in the stages.
With the conditions unchanging throughout the day the racing was close with mere seconds separating many of the competitors and many tying for time on the stages. The battle of the front runners saw Greg Callaghan swap a couple of stage wins with Robin Seymour and Gavin Carroll over the course of the event, however a monster 20 second win by Callaghan on stage 4 was unanswered and he went on to claim the victory with 40 seconds to spare.
Strong stages by the winners in the amateur categories saw a healthy representation from the 14-18, 19-29, 30-34 & 35-39 age groups all featuring in the top 10, with a special mention to MADMTB’s Scott Wallace in the 14-18s turning in a fine race to finish sixth overall.
Also fresh from her victory in the Irish Enduro Champs, another strong performance from Scotland’s Katy Winton saw her claim the Pro Womens category, closely followed by Leah Maunsell.
As the event was the last of the Enduro Series, there were overall positions to be settled also and although fate played a hand through injury and retirements to affect the final overall positions, there weren’t too many surprises as those riders who stood on the podiums had featured strongly throughout the series.
Overall standings and results are available Here
As well as the main prizes, series organisers Biking.ie presented Carl Young with a trophy for embodying the spirit of the enduro. Series sponsors Trek supplied a Trek Slash 7 which was raffled among the contestants and won by a delighted Anthon McLoone and Mad Elk Cycles provided a BOS suspension fork which was won by Steeve Marianne.
So then a thrilling end to an amazing series, with one sold out event after another firmly cementing Gravity Enduro’s place in the Irish mountainbiking scene. Riders (and this scribbler) are already looking forward to next years series, with Biking.ie set to release the 2014 schedule in due course.
Although this particular series is now at a close, afficianados can get one final enduro fix on the 21st and 22nd of September when the Bluegrass Enduro Tour visits Ballyhoura.
Words: Alan Duffy | Photos: Alan & Marta Duffy