Monthly archives: May, 2017

Exciting racing at Slade Valley for NPS XC Round 2

Slade Valley in County Wicklow may be well known for its golf courses but it was Saggart Woods which was the attraction for mountain bikers from across Ireland who headed along the narrow roads to where Round 2 of the Irish Cross-country Mountain Bike National Point Series was taking place. Host club IMBRC are regular users of the venue and have been busy developing and testing the trails in the forest.
Car parking had been provided in a nearby field with the starting area for the races just inside the forest at the bottom of the fire road. The finish line for almost all the races was up the top of the first rise in the fire road at a wide open area with great vistas of the valley below.

Pre-registrations for the event were down from previous years with less than 150 listed, perhaps due to the Enduro event happening in County Down, or the mixed weather forecast. In the end the riders did come with over 200 competing in the end. The weather was indeed mixed starting off with grey, heavy overcast conditions in the morning with light winds, changing to sharp gusts of wind which were testing the fastenings on the gazebos, During the early afternoon races we seen steady rain which created some mud around the course. At the end of the day the sun was breaking through the clouds and bathing the hard working volunteers in warm sunshine as they tore down the course and packed up the vans.

Racing got underway at 10 am with the Under 6s. This fun, introductory race had 15 riders signed on to try out some cross-country racing around a short course. The riders, some on strider bikes with no pedals, all made it round and received a medal at the end along with lots of applause from the spectators.

Next up were the Under 8s. They took off up the climb towards the finish line and then veering left and back down along the single track to the foot of the fireroad to start the climb all over again. Three laps in total. Killian McCoy (Lucan BMX) took the win in the boys race with Brian Crinion and Jude Tobin, both from the host club IMBRC, taking second and third respectively. Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) won the girls’ race with Anna Cobbe (IMBRC) second and Lucy McCarthy (MBCC) third.

The Under 10s used the same course as the Under 8s but had 5 laps to complete. Ava McCarthy took the win in the girls’ race with Hannah O’Keefe (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) second ahead of Cara Suckling (Maryland Wheelers). Oisin May was the first boy to cross the line with Darragh Saunders (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) second and Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) third.

A longer course greeted the Under 12s who headed up past the finish line to a gap in the trees to begin their loop back to the start line. They had 6 laps to complete. Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) and Luke Murphy (Killarney CC) provided what arguable was the battle of the day as they kept swapping places keeping within touching distance of each other for the 5 laps. On the final lap Travis just got ahead of Luke on the final exciting sprint finish, letting out a shout of joy as he crossed the line. Shane Scullion (Island Wheelers) wrapped up the podium for the boys. Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) and Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) were the only two entries in the girls race but were happy to chase down the boys. Aine took the win ahead of Hannah.

A break in the proceedings allows for the prize giving ceremony for the Under 8s, 10s and 12s announced by seasoned commentator Paul Joyce. The next races were for the Under 14s, Under 16s, Senior 4 men and Senior 2 women. The Under 14s had a short loop of the main course to complete 3 laps of. The other racers took in the majority of the main course, just skipping out the bomb hole.

Caoimhe May (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) put on another impressive performance to take the win in the Under 14 girls race finishing ahead of Erin Creighton (XMTB) with Annie Roche (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) third. Dean Harvey (Kinning Cycles) had a comfortable win in the Under 14 boys race finishing well clear of Donnacha Desmond (MBCC) and David McGarr (IMBRC). The Under 16 boys race was an exciting affair between Lee Harvey (Kinning Cycles) and Adam McGarr (Biking.ie) who were wheel to wheel for the first 3 laps with Adam pulling away on the final lap to take the win. Harry Byrne (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) finished third. The Under 16 girls race formed the usual close battle between Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) and Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) with Niamh finishing the stronger in this race. Amanda Draper (MBCC) completed the girls podium. The numbers in the Senior 4 men’s race were greatly reduced from normal entry levels but there was some great racing nonetheless. Mareks Andrejevs (IMBRC) came to the front on the three lap race and finished well clear of Pearse O’Hagan (Inspired Cycling) with Jason Griffin (IMBRC) third. In the women’s S2 race Niamh McGreen (MAD MTB) took her second win of the series as she finished ahead of Caroline McArdle and Caroline Murphy, both from EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles.

After another awards ceremony and a chance of a break for the marshals and timing team, the final races of the day took place at 2 pm. Lined up were the Senior 1 men, Senior 1 women, Juniors, Senior 2 men and Senior 3 men. On the front of the mass of riders were the Senior 1 men, a great turn out of 24 riders, waiting on the whistle to start their 5 lap race. Behind them were the three Junior men who had 4 laps to complete. Behind them were the Senior 2 men, a big group of 34 riders who also had 4 laps to complete. The Senior 3 men had the biggest turn out of the day with 37 riders competing across 3 laps. There were only 2 in the Senior 1 women’s race, missing Marlena Drozdziok who was competing in the World Cup in Nové Mesto, Czech Republic and injured Klaudia Bajolek, who was on site supporting her team mates.

Despite starting from the back of the field, Gareth McKee was soon at the front to take the expected win in the Senior 1 men’s race. Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) had to work hard to stay ahead of Gareth Hegarty (Scott Eurocycles.com) with Tomasz Michalski (McConvey Cycles) fourth, Paul Caldwell (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) fifth and Brian Steele (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club), making his return to XC racing taking sixth place. Erica Grant (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) won the Senior 1 women’s race as she finished ahead of Joanna Bula (Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar CC). The Junior men’s race saw Thomas Creighton (McConvey Cycles) lead in the early laps before John Quinn (Scott Eurocycles.com) took the lead and the chequered flag leaving Thomas with second place and Jack Murphy (Killarney Cycling Club) with third. In the Senior 2 men’s race Ben Breach (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) had to keep on the power to stay ahead of chasing Brian Meila (Team WORC) with host club rider Anthony Quinn getting a big shout out from the crowd as he finished third. Emil Tyszecki (MBCC) took the win in the Senior 3 men’s race with Paul Donnan (Team WORC) second and Milos Hajek, also from the host club, getting onto the final step of the podium.

The host club ended up with riders on podiums in the Under 8 boys and girls race, Under 14 boys race, Senior 4 men’s race, Senior 3 men’s race and Senior 2 men’s race. Home advantage which hopefully can be repeated for ‘away’ races.

Many thanks to the hard working volunteers at IMBRC, under race director Davey Dunne. Many hours work was put into the course in the weeks and months leading up to the event and lots of organising on the weekend.

The next round (Round 3) will take place in Ticknock on Sunday 4 June 2017. See details on www.irishxcnps.ie. Please register early.

Commissaires: Colm Mullen and Martin Grimley

Report by Martin Grimley

Results here

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Round 1 Tracton Woods – Race Report

Sunshine at Tracton Woods for Round 1 of the NPS XC series

by Martin Grimley

All headed south to the Irish Riviera for the first round of the 2017 Irish Cross-country National Point Series. MBCC hosted the event in Tracton Woods which is located around 25 km south of Cork City. The forecast for the weekend was for heavy rain and strong winds. Thankfully that weather front quickly passed through the site during the early hours of the morning and left us with a light breeze and warm sunny spells for the rest of the day. Despite the downpour, the track was in great condition and was running very fast. It was a challenging course as the wood is set along both sides of a steep river ravine. Lots of climbing and descending with some rooty sections and fast gravel. The start line was on the stony access road which lead up to the woods from the main road. Parking was provided in a field across the road. Refreshments were available all day beside the sign on tent and the music was playing which provided a bohemian, chilled out atmosphere around the finish line. This was in stark contrast to the exhersion being put out by the riders both young and old!!

The racing schedule kicked off with the Under 6s who had to complete a lap and a half of their course. All riders received a medal for participating in this fun, introductory race. The Under 8s lined up next. They used the same course as the Under 6s but had to complete 4 laps. Kevin Randall (Orwell Wheelers) took the win with Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) second and Ronan Gleeson (LMBC) third. The only female entrant was Lucy McCarthy from the host club.

The Under 10s had to race up to where the finish line gantry was located, make a sharp right hand run, come back down a rooty section beside the river, pop out at the bottom beside the stony lane and then race back up the hill again. They were given 3 laps to do, but could easily have done 4. Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) was chased to the line by Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) with
Darragh Saunders (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) taking third. In the girls’ race Ava McCarthy (MBCC) fended off Jess O’Keeffe (Cork BMX Club) to take first and second respectively.

The Under 12s started their race beside the finish line gantry. They had to race up the long hill, drop off a steep shute to the right, race along the river’s edge right down to the bottom of the stony lane and then face the long slog up the hill again. Four laps was just about perfect in terms of overall length of race for this age category. Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) was leading for the first 3 laps until diaster struck and his chain broke. Luke Murphy (Killarney Cycling Club) went on to take the win with Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers) second and Travis bravely running the remainder of the course to take third spot. In the girls’ race Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) was first over the line (5th overall) with Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) second.

After a short break for the podium presentations, and allowing for some course practice time, the next races kicked off at noon. Lined up at the start line were, in this order, Under 16 boys, Under 14 boys, Senior 4 men, Senior 2 women, Under 16 girls and a single entry (Erin Creighton (XMTB)) in the Under 14 girls category. The Under 16 boys had 4 laps to complete of the “Reduced Course”, the Senior 4 men – 3 laps, the Under 14s and Women 2 laps. The “Reduced Course” took out some of the steeper sections of the main course. The Under 16 boys were showing off their strength especially at the top end of the race. Adam McGarr (Biking.ie) took the win ahead of Drew Armstrong (Team Mechmonkey Mixtape) with Harry Byrne (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) third. The Under 16 girls race was shorter than normal but allowed for some exciting racing with Amanda Draper from the host club taking the win ahead of Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) who was chasing hard to close the gap with Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) third. The podium for the Under 14 boys race was filled with riders from the host club MBCC. Donnacha Desmond took the top step with Fionn Desmond to his right and David McCarthy to his left (1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively). In the women’s race Niamh McGreen (MAD MTB) conquered the tricky course to take the win ahead of junior rider Orla Conroy (Bray Wheelers) with Lisa Millar (Dromara Cycling Club) third.

After another break for refreshments, podiums and practice the final races of the day took place at 2 pm. Lined up at the bottom of the stony lane was a large group (20) of Senior 1 men, behind them the Junior men and Senior 1 women, then the Senior 2 men and finally the Senior 3 men. The number of laps corresponding to this starting line up were 5, 4, 4, 4 and 3. Well out in front of the Senior 1 men’s race, and thoroughly enjoying himself, was David Conroy (Scott Eurocycles.com) who was not put under pressure and comfortably took the win. Behind him was a different story with Gareth Hegarty (Scott Eurocycles.com) and Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) battling it out for second place. Gareth managed to pull away on the final lap to leave Graham with third spot. Tomasz Michalski (McConvey Cycles) had a good race to take fourth with series co-ordinator, Maciej Staroniewicz (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles), delighted with his fifth place. Marlena Drozdziok (Scott Eurocycles.com) comfortably won the Senior 1 women’s race ahead of team mate, junior rider, Klaudia Bajolek (Scott Eurocycles.com) with Erica Grant (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) taking third. In the Junior men’s race Jack Murphy (Killarney Cycling Club) powered around to take the chequered flag ahead of Thomas Creighton (McConvey Cycles) who finished well clear of twin brother Ethan Creighton (XMTB). The only other Junior rider was David Culloty (Killarney Cycling Club) who took a nasty tumble on the “TNT” drop. In the Senior 2 men’s race Ben Breach (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) finished well ahead of Niall Somers (Team WORC) with Clive Caldwell (VTT) taking third spot. In the Senior 3 men’s race David Meredith (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) crossed the line ahead of Emil Tyszecki (MBCC) with Colin Leahy (Killarney Cycling Club) third.

After the races the riders could tuck in to a great spread of sandwiches and cakes laid on by the club. A huge thanks to all the hard working volunteers at MBCC for the hosting the event. Many thanks to the sponsors for this year’s series – Kelly’s Bike Company, Spin 11 and Elite Timing.

The day before we had heard that the representative from Elite Timing had been involved in an accident on his way down to the event. Chris sustained a broken wrist and collar bone. He was bringing down the race numbers for the event which were then not accessible to the race organisers. A quick phone call and a back up plan was put in place thanks to the Cycling Ulster Off-road Commission. Best wishes for a full recovery to Chris.

This was Round 1 of the 5 round series with the next round taking place on 21 May at Slade Valley, hosted by IMBRC. This was also the first of the NPS rounds since the passing of Richie Byrne who died in September last year. A legend among mountain bikers the sounds of his abuse/encouragement ringing around the forest was sorely missed today.

Commissaire: Martin Grimley

Full results here