Posts Tagged ‘Race Around Ireland’

Epic Blast 2010

November 4, 2010

This can only be described as Ireland’s answer to the Megavalanche. The event has been held in Ballinastoe Woods every year in September since 2005. Organised by Richie Byrne the Godfather of Irish mountain biking from Club EpicMTB, Ireland’s premier dedicated mountain bike club, this has to be the event of all events in the Irish mountain bike calendar, to decide the the title of “Deadliest Mountain Biker in Ireland”. It turned out to be a soft Irish day, ensuring that those who thought they had made a mistake by skipping a day at the spa to get mud facials, were in fact well catered for in the healthy mud bath that ensued.

The past three years saw Niall Davis of notch up an impressive hat-trick of wins and was one of the hotly tipped favourites once again. Among other notables who turned up, were none other than DH/Freeride legend Glyn O’Brien of First Tracks, podium finisher in the 2003 legendary Red Bull Rampage freeride competition, certainly also a top rider never to be discounted.

Niall Davis (front right) and Glyn O'Brien (centre) happy with the day's racing.

Niall Davis (front right) and Glyn O’Brien (centre) happy with the day’s racing.

Racing was held in two separate formats. The morning saw heats of no more than 10 riders race each race each other with the afternoon dedicated to the main event, the mass start Epic Blast. The initial heat was to seed the racers into groups of similar ability, with all the winners racing each other in the second set of heats, all second placed riders against each other and so on. A poor start meant I had to battle my way up through the field. A collision with another rider on an overtaking manoeuvre didn’t help, but I was up as quickly as I had gone down and one by one I picked off the riders in my heat to emerge in the lead about 2/3 of the way down. A poorly marked junction led to me taking a wrong turn and off course and with that any chance of placing well in my heat. I was not the only one to do so, as on my return to the same junction, I crossed at least a dozen other riders coming against me one by one. I eventually made it down to finish in 7th in my heat. The bright side was I would have an easier second heat.

The second heat went well compared to the first one and I made a point of pulling what most people described as a spectacular crowd pleasing no-hander off one of the drop-offs, ending in a safely controlled dismount from the bike. In the end Niall Davis won the ‘winners’ heat, followed by Glyn O’Brien in second and Conor Campbell in third, but the real Blast was still to come.


After the exertions of nearly 4 days on the road with only a few hours sleep during the Race Around Ireland during the week, I was simply too exhausted to participate in the main “Blast” event, preferring instead to watch the action from the track side. In the end it was Greg Callaghan who battled his way down the slippery course to take a deserved win for the title of Ireland’s “Deadliest Mountain Biker”! Niall Davis followed by Glyn O’Brien claimed the two remaining podium spots.

Greg Callaghan getting the winner's mud special deluxe therapy to make the title of Ireland’s Deadliest Mountain Biker official!

Greg Callaghan getting the winner’s mud special deluxe therapy to make the title of Ireland’s Deadliest Mountain Biker official!

Race Around Ireland 2010 – Team Wheelworx/

November 3, 2010

rai logoThe second edition of the Race Around Ireland took place in the second week of September 2010. It is part of the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA) World Cup series which includes other huge endurance races such as RAAM. The task was straightforward enough, yet certainly not easy: A non-stop 2100km ultra distance marked route anti-clockwise lap of Ireland. Solo riders and 2 man teams departed Navan on Sunday 12 september and had 132 hours to complete the race, with 4 man and 8 man teams leaving on Tuesday 14 September and having only 96 hours for the same task.

I had been asked only weeks before, if I would like to join Team Wheelworx/ as a support crew member. I accepted the challenge without a moments hesitation. Along with a couple of riders from Swords CC, brothers Aidan and Peter Doyle, one from Orwell Wheelers CC, Tom Blennerhassett and Kevin Leavy (unattached), a total of 6 crew members joined the adventure. Click here for facebook page.

Chasing Peter down a seemingly endless road

Chasing Peter down a seemingly endless road

The full team assembled in Navan late Tuesday morning for sign on and race safety debriefing. Everything was ready to go and riders readied for the 20:00 start. In the early stages the Team settled into 2nd position on the road and would not relinquish this for the duration of the race. Things got interesting in the early hours travelling along the north coast of Ireland as the wind picked up considerably. By the time the riders reached Malin Head, the winds were blowing at gale force strength making progress difficult. The next challenge encountered was in Clifden around about midnight where an unintended delay during a change-over saw the 3rd placed team make significant gains and come within minutes of us. Thankfully this was the last they would sniff of our trail, as all the riders really put the hammer down and by the end of the night the team had pulled out an even bigger time gap than ever before.

I will not attempt to recount every detail of the adventure, yet one thing that has stayed with me since the trip is the the incredible scenery I witnessed along the way, as the route travelled through some of the most beautiful landscapes Ireland has to offer, so much of which I had never seen before.

Racing through the night

One of the biggest psychological hurdles was overcome as we reached the point where the journey turn in a northerly direction from Kilmore Quay and back up towards Navan. Although very tired from nearly three days of straight riding, this seemed to give the riders the necessary boost for one last drive towards the finish line. The Wicklow Mountains provided the ultimate test of the journey, but seemed to have little effect on the cyclists as they continued to deliver what can only be described as super human efforts.

Just before the arrival into Navan, all four riders saddled up to ride in unison and after 3days 5hrs 20mins crossed the finish line together, as a symbol of what had allowed them to achieve an incredible 2nd place overall: Ex unitate vires.

An exhausted, yet elated Team Wheelworx/ after finishing 2nd overall.

An exhausted, yet elated Team Wheelworx/ after finishing 2nd overall.