NPS Round 1 (2017) 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 ( 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 who was not put under pressure and comfortably took the win. Behind him was a different story with Gareth Hegarty (Scott 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 comfortably won the Senior 1 women’s race ahead of team mate, junior rider, Klaudia Bajolek (Scott 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