The longest wait for the shortest season, but boy did we need that! The Vitus Bikes Gravity Enduro Ireland series finally kicked off on Carrick Mountain in Wicklow on the 5th and 6th of September. The event was split over two days to ensure compliance with government restrictions, which allowed 150 riders a day to compete. The sense of excitement and joy from the mountain bike community was clear to see, we all needed this event in our lives!!
The popular Mash-Up format was used for a change, to keep the focus on fun with 3 stages to be completed in any order, as many runs as you like within the allotted 4-hour time. Each run was timed and the fastest stage times were automatically calculated. Saturday saw Youth 12-13, Junior 14-16, Veteran, Super Veteran, hardtail categories, while Sunday was reserved for U21, Senior, Master A, Master B, Women 14+, E-bikes! Carrick Mountain has a special place in the Irish mountain bike community and is of course well known for hosting three epic Enduro World Series events from 2015 to 2018. The stages from the weekend were borrowed from that event, though somewhat shortened to allow riders to repeat them easily.
Stage 1 was ‘Full Gas’, also known as Sam Hill, as he called it out as his favourite stage! Tight and techy would be the way to describe it, all in the trees and not a straight piece of trail in sight. Stage 2 was the Emerald Enduro, a true test of rider and machine. Rocks, roots, banks, drops, you name it and this trail has it. It would be a rider’s favourite, if it wasn’t for the leg-burning kicker climb right at the end!! Finally, Stage 3 was the classic downhill track with the alternative ‘Jungle’ section at the bottom. The trail twists and turns its way down narrow singletrack and over bridges beneath the 100ft tall Eucalyptus trees, certainly not a sight you’d expect to see in north Wicklow!
Though the focus was on fun, everyone was giving it their best and relished their time between the tapes. The fastest time in the Women’s Event went to Cork’s Leah Maunsell while world cup downhill rider Jacob Dickson made it look easy with a comfortable win in the men’s.
The team at Vitus Gravity Enduro series extend a massive thanks to Coillte for permitting access for the event, to Cycling Ireland for their guidance on Covid19 regulations, and finally to all the Biking.ie team and marshals who did an amazing job of making everyone feel welcome and safe as we navigate our way through the future of mountain bike events!
Photography Credit - Adrian van der Lee @avdlphoto