Last weekend I was up North racing the second round of the Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup in Bigwood, Newry. This was another excuse to spend a weekend camping in the van, getting away from it all and winding down after a very busy two week at work. Oh and of course, piloting my Vitus SommetPRO as fast as I could through the woods and having the craic with everyone!
Bigwood, set in the grounds of the beautiful Narrow Water Castle estate near Warrenpoint, is always a favourite of mine and many others for its 100% natural stages, that flow nicely through the woods, suppling a healthy portion of jumps and berms that are linked together with easy transitions. The organisation at these events by Glyn and Cato O'Brian are always top notch with six really fun stages, a full evening of entertainment, down to Last Lap Cafe on site and on the hill to keep everyone happy : )
The race consisted of 6 stages, which were cleverly put together so that the local riders (and the snakes :P ) would be totally confused! The new ‘ridgeline’ on Stage 2 was a new section that was like 'kodak corner' for the camera guys to snap the stylers in action.
I arrived at the race village early afternoon and the arrival of the butterfly feeling in my tummy I get when I arrive at a race village was a reminder of what was to come. The open green fields had a scattering of vans, cars, tents and campers, all set with stunning views of the Mourne Mountains. I set myself up down beside the rest of the vans, right beside a gorgeous tree for shelter, this time from the sun and not rain!
With the bike set up and ready to go, I headed up to registration and got my race plate, number ……Myself and a friend of mine, Will Powderly from www.Xtreme.ie, headed on up to ride each stage and do some recording on the OLFI Action Camera. After doing every stage once, Will made his way back to Dublin for the night and I went back to the van for some grub. Feeling fresh and wanting more, I headed up to practice Stage 1 and Stage 6 with young flier, Leah Maunsell. It was about 6 o’clock in the evening at this point but was still warm and sunny out so really felt like summer.
That evening, we headed over to the Castle for the Movie Night Competition that was showcasing local talented riders and their video edits. I found this brilliant as it definitely gave me some inspiration into doing my own edits this summer and what take to put on them. Some of these guys had spent months putting their edits together and so the standard was extremely high. My top choice was Vitus First Tracks team riders Alistair Baron and James Mac Ferrans ‘Where Wood Ye Get It?’ video on Bigwood, kept me laughing and ‘wowing’! After catching up with some of my old Connemara MTB club mates, I headed back to the van for a good nights kip.
Rising early and opening my van door to the gorgeous Mourne Mountains was just magic. I stepped out onto the grass and began my morning barefoot stretching routine to wake up my whole body and loosen out the joints. I'm finding this morning routine that I learned from the Beyond the Current workshop I attended a few weeks back which was run by Barry Murray from OptimumNutrition4Sport and Svein Tuft, has really helped with keeping injury free and my joints mobile as well as developing the all important core muscles.
10.20am was my start time so I had a few hours to organise the van, have a good breakfast and chat to people around the campsite. Everyone was in great form, and excited about racing.
I had a good stage 1 and 2 but I wasn't feeling as fresh and fit as I had two weeks prior for the Emerald Enduro. I had an extremely busy two weeks in work after the EWS and my diet and training definitely slipped. I really felt the effects of this on race day as I wasn't feeling on form and just didn't have that extra power in the legs to drive through the pedally stages of stages 3 and 4. I had a bit of a crash on Stage 3 and hipped a tree, which lost me a few seconds. Stage 5 and 6 were more downhill orientated, which I loved but not feeling on form, I finished both a bit disappointed in my performance.
I finished with a time of 16:38 in 2nd place, 14 seconds off 1st. In the overall, I placed 63rd out of 246 riders which wasn't too bad considering my sluggishness!
It was another brilliant weekend by Glyn and Cato O’Brian and the First Tracks crew whose passion for this sport is clearly exposed in these super events.
Big thanks to Vitus Bikes and the Chain Reaction Cycles for their support this weekend.
OLFI Action Camera
Irish Female Enduro Racer Flow MTB Team Rider