After an eight week Summer hiatus, Gravity Enduro made it’s return to the Irish competition calendar this weekend at Ballinastoe Mountain Bike Trails, near Roundwood, Co. Wicklow for the 2013 National Enduro Championships.
With such a lengthy break between competitions, the continuing spell of fine weather and teh prospects for national glory up for grabs, 350 eager protagonists were chomping at the bit by start time at 10 o’clock on Sunday morning.
Many had taken advantage of the fine weather over the previous couple of weeks to scour the forest in search of fresh signs of trail building by the biking.ie team in the hope of finding any clue of what surprises Niall and his guys had in store for them.
What was on offer were five Special Stages over an approximately 25km route, mixing fast flowing singletrack descents, wide loamy, rooty forest sections, flat out downhill firebreaks with jumps and thrills aplenty in them. Three of the timed trails finished in the race village with Special Stage 5 crossing over Special Stage 3 in a first for this series “Bridge of Doom”.
This added to the atmosphere of the event with a constant buzz in the race village with competitors coming and going throughout the event. Transitions were mostly easy fire road ascents with a couple of cross hill singletrack and hike a bike sections between the trees , all conducive to an excellent day out on the bikes.
The front runners, many of whom had been competing in European events on the mainland during the 2 month break, brought this experience to bear and set a blistering pace from the start. The top three were pretty much unassailable from the off and apart from a minor slip By Norco’s Greg Callaghan on Special Stage 3 they dominated these positions all throughout the event. Bespoke cycles Dan wolfe claimed a decisive victory with five of the five stages to his name 35 seconds ahead of biking.ie’s Gavin Carroll, with Callaghan claiming the third step of the podium.
The pro women’s podium comprised Pivot Marvello Enduro Racing’s Katy Winton on the top step, biking.ie’s Tarja Owens in second spot and Cait Elliot in third. Winton was as peerless in her victory as her male counterpart and also claimed victory all five stages and a commanding 55 second lead at the finish.
With a full entry of 350 riders it was inevitable that there would be close battles in the amateur categories, so close in fact that a mere second would separate first and second place for Conor Lavelle and Stephen McCormac in the 14-18 age group and Damien Mulchrone in the 35- 39s
Full results are available at www.sportident.co.uk/results/2013/gravityenduro.ie-Ballinastoe/
The sold out entry for the race and number of people who remained on for the podium presentations are evident that the Gravity Enduro format is arguably the most exciting development in mountain biking in Ireland. The format certainly works and we’ll be looking forward to more of the same in Djouce in a month’s time for the Final round of the current Irish series and the Bluegrass European Tour Event in Ballyhoura on the 21st of September also.