Enduro World Series - Ireland: Crazy crowds and sniper rocks

Round three of the Enduro World Series in Wicklow is one of my favourites on the race calendar and it is not hard to question why. The Irish culture shines through this race and you really feel like you get a decent taste of Ireland. From the typical luscious green scenery, to the guinness, the sexy accents and the masses of spectators who brought the crazy, jolly and party atmosphere with costumes, music, bells, horns and cheers that could be heard in Dublin. The venue itself could not have been more different from the stunning Patagonia, and the dry and dusty race conditions during the first two rounds in South America. Carrick Mountain only stands at 350m above sea level, although lacking in elevation the well crafted trails made perfect use of the hill’s gradient to provide enough technical sections and flow. Then after riding 7 laps of the hill it was definitely physical enough.

The race village and start/ finish area amidst luscious green fields. Photo: Philip Ellis

The race village and start/ finish area amidst luscious green fields. Photo: Philip Ellis

After such a successful race last year the event organisers had big shoes to fill and high expectations. Somehow they did it and exceeded all expectations. More crowds, improvements in the tracks, and faultless organising. Additionally the weather turned it on yet again. The weather switched just in time for practice days and the race from continuous cold rain to blue skies. I don’t know how they do it, there must be a lot of good karma happening in Wicklow. 

A green number plate to appropriately match Ireland’s colours. Photo: Philip Ellis

A green number plate to appropriately match Ireland’s colours. Photo: Philip Ellis

Practice went well. All of our team opted for just one practice run of each trail to save energy for the race. The trails started out slippery but come race day the mud had dried, the puddles became empty and the track turned wildly fast. It was great having the support and company from the local Lapierre dealer ‘Cycle Super Store’ who provided a comfortable base for us in the pits and even organised a team signing opportunity for fans. 

A small hike-a-bike to the top of stage 2. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

A small hike-a-bike to the top of stage 2. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Contemplating the line choices at the top of stage 2. Many options with a difficult trials-like technical section right at the start. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Contemplating the line choices at the top of stage 2. Many options with a difficult trials-like technical section right at the start. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Nico showing us how it is done during practice on stage 3. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Nico showing us how it is done during practice on stage 3. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Adrien riding fast and smooth even with a broken hand amidst the pretty flowers.  Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Adrien riding fast and smooth even with a broken hand amidst the pretty flowers.  Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Team Lapierre signings after practice.  Photo: Philip Ellis

Team Lapierre signings after practice.  Photo: Philip Ellis

Race came and the crowds were out on force. I had a lot of fun on the tracks and soaking in the atmosphere the spectators brought the the event. 

Log jump at the top of stage 5. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Log jump at the top of stage 5. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

The rocky top of stage 6. It was a long walk for spectators but still so many people were out supporting. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

The rocky top of stage 6. It was a long walk for spectators but still so many people were out supporting. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Disaster hit many riders during the race. There were so many punctures on sharp sniper rocks that unfortunately put many of the top riders out of contention. Riders including Richie Rude, Martin Maes, Josh Carlson, Toni Ferreiro, Anneke Beerten, and sadly my two team mates Nico Vouilloz and Adrien Dailly.

Adrien was a hero this weekend, riding with a broken hand to still be in contention for the series overall. Unfortunately a puncture forced him to withdraw early from the race. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Adrien was a hero this weekend, riding with a broken hand to still be in contention for the series overall. Unfortunately a puncture forced him to withdraw early from the race. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Nico also was forced to withdraw on stage two. Although he was allowed to joined in on the fun and unofficially raced the final three stages in front of the crowds. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Nico also was forced to withdraw on stage two. Although he was allowed to joined in on the fun and unofficially raced the final three stages in front of the crowds. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

I enjoyed the race but found it hard physically. I felt good on the bike, but my legs and strength weren’t there on the day. Despite the disappointing results, the overall Ireland experience was amazing and one I will remember fondly for the rest of my life. Stunning scenery, perfect weather, crazy crowds in mass form, chainsaws, a pope in a tree on stage five, and another well deserved win for local hero Greg Callagan and in the women a win for the legend Tracy Mosley out of retirement.

Heading towards the finish on stage 7, the last stage of the day. The noise from horns, bells, music, claps and cheers made from the spectators was wonderfully deafening. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Heading towards the finish on stage 7, the last stage of the day. The noise from horns, bells, music, claps and cheers made from the spectators was wonderfully deafening. Photo: Lapierre- Jeremy Reuiller

Next stop on the circuit is La Thuille, Italy in July, but first some training and racing the French Enduro Series.

Huge thanks to all my family, friends, supporters and Lapierre bikes, Sixsixone protection, Rockshox, Ride 100%, Michelin tyres, One industries, SRAM, and Camelbak