This weekend, the Bluegrass Enduro Tour came to Dublin for the fourth round of the 2014 European Series. After a successful event in the Ballyhoura mountains, Co.Limerick last year, the Bluegrass brigade returned once again to the emerald isle. This time round it was to the East coast of Ireland where mountain biking was born and where an abundance of Ireland's best mountain bike trails can be found. Riders were treated to six awesome stages, in three of the best biking areas the Dublin and Wicklow mountains have to offer - Ticknock, Ballinastoe and Djouce woods.
Here's how it all went....
There’s never a dull moment in my life and the last few weeks have been as busy as ever. With the race season in full swing, it’s been pretty full on since returning home from my six week trip racing in Europe. Since being back, I've managed to squeeze in a house move, the Irish Gravity Enduro National Champs, the Bluegrass Enduro, all while been back to work! With a weekend off in between the Champs and the Bluegrass, I was glad to have the time to rest up and sort out my bike, which, after all the racing, both bike and body were in need of some TLC!
With a complete strip down to the bare frame, an evening spent cleaning every single part of my bike, and a full re-build by Garry Davoren at MBW bike shop, my Kona Process 153 DL was in top condition for the weekend. I couldn’t believe the difference the rebuild made as the bike felt instantly more plush, with everything moving freely and smoothly and the suspension working to its full potential once again! With the bike now in perfect nick and me well rested, I was feeling fresh, ready and confident come race day. It's amazing how all these elements of race preparation can make all the difference to your performance.
The format of the race was very different to what I had been used to all summer and it was a refreshing change! Instead of the usual practice day before racing, all six stages were raced blind and all in the one day....tough going! The other big difference was both men and women raced on separate days, with the women on Saturday and the men on Sunday.
Stage One – Ticknock
The first of the six stages kicked off in Ticknock, Dublin. After a 40 minute drive from Powerscourt Waterfall we were straight into a climb up past the mast and on to stage one. This was a technical stage that started on the fast, flowing 'Metro' with a drop into the woods that tested your bike skills from the word go.
I went well on this stage, but was a bit sluggish as it was the first stage so hard to get that explosive power from the legs without a good warm up. Still, had a lot of fun on this stage and came first so really happy with that.
Stage Two - Ticknock
This was a more popular stage with the girls after the technical stage one. A fast, fun singletrack, with a few nice features to catch some air! My second stage win here, I was feeling good!
Stage Three - Ballinastoe
Back on the bus to Ballinastoe, home of Biking.ie, where we were about to be treated to two class stages. With the weather so mild and sunny, we had clear views of the Wicklow mountains during our transition across the mountain to stage three. I loved this stage! So fast, with lots of cool features to pop off and tight turns to really sink into. I was feeling really good here and the Process was in its element. A comfortable 32 second gap on the next rider gave me my third consecutive stage win.
Stage Four - Ballinastoe
Back over to the other side of the mountain and a short push up through the woods, we were ready for S4. This was the longest of all four stages so far and was another great stage. A real mix of woods, fireroad, open mountain tracks with a few cool jumps thrown in. I was 8 seconds off the winner on this stage, coming in second to Orla McClean.
We raced all the way down to the race village where it was time to chill and refuel with a great spread put on for us by LastLapCafe. Back on the bikes for a 5km road spin to Djouce woods.
Stage Five - Djouce
Djouce woods, renowned for its roots, had dried up nicely since the Champs a fortnight ago. S5 had us blast through the woods with some very cool steep sections, a kicker climb and nice flowy singletrack where you could really pick up speed. Back on form, I came away with my fourth stage win and had a great time taking photo's of the girls flying down. Everyone loved this stage!
Stage Six - Djouce
The final round, we were feeling the fatigue setting in at this point but it didn't stop us pinning it down! With a big climb to the top of Djouce, we were rewarded with an epic stage that had been stage 5 for the champs. We got to sample first hand the very cool brand new section of trail that cut out that awful, muddy section in the champs. I was flying through this stage, staying relaxed and powering over the rooty top section. The whole stage felt awesome, but a silly mistake down by a river crossing that had some slippy roots, sent me flying superman-style over the bars landing on my head! Sounding worse than it was, I was back on my bike in no time and flew to the finishline. Second in this stage to Orla McClean who had me by 8 seconds! Tight racing, love it!
Thanks to Bluegrass Enduro Tour and Biking.ie for such a great event. And to all the marshals, photographers and sponsors, thanks to you all!
To my sponsors MBW-Kona, Hedcamz, Grrana Energy Europe and Allmountainstyle
Photos by Keith Wallace and www.ActionPicturesIreland.com
Irish Female Enduro Racer Flow MTB Team Rider