The Red Bull Foxhunt is the biggest and maddest event on the Irish mountain bike calendar, here’s our guide to getting down the Rostrevor mountain in one piece…
Now a mainstay on the Irish MTB calendar, the annual Red Bull Foxhunt has become a must-do, end of season blast for hundreds.
This year it’s set to be even bigger than ever. Entries sold out in minutes, with 550 like-minded ‘hounds’ signing up to go head-to-head in Rostrevor. Organisers are also throwing three foxes into the mix too in the form of world-class talent Gee Atherthon, newly crowned world champ Loic Bruni and Ireland’s very own Greg Callaghan.
If you’re in it to win it, then this guide is probably of no use to you, but if your sphincter has already developed a nervous twitch and you simply want to survive the weekend with maximum craic had (while staying in one piece for work on Monday morning) then read on…
How The Weekend Works
Split over two days, Saturday is registration, practice and a qualification run. On Sunday there is an opportunity for morning practice, if you wish, before heading up top to assemble for the mass start blast back down the mountain.
Arrive & Register
Registration is simple. Put your signature beside your name on the entry sheet, pay £18 for a one-event licence if you don’t already have a Cycling Ireland one and receive your number board for the weekend. The Foxhunt race shirts are handed out Sunday before the race.
The track itself is in two parts, you have the shortened version for Saturday and Sunday morning practice that begins above the entrance to Rostrevor’s ‘On The Pulse’ run and then joins into that trail. This is what you will practice on and do your time trial qualification run on. The open mountain and single track trail section is only used during the actual Foxhunt blast, which then links into the qualifying track – so don’t worry about it too much.
Go Full Face, So Ya Should
It’s not mandatory (I think) but it’s definitely worth wearing a full face helmet this weekend. At some point Rossy is gonna bite and you’ll be glad of the extra protection.
Lighten The Load
It’s not an all-day enduro, so you don’t need to carry a full backpack of gear with you on the bike. Keep it light and simple. I carried a tube and pump in case of a puncture, cloth to clean goggles, couple of snacks, water bottle and a phone. Everything else I left in my van, which you can easily return to between runs.
The Rossy Weather Changes Fast
The weather in Rostrevor is changeable and with a bit of hanging about at the top of the hill for your qualifying run and the Foxhunt race, it’s easy to get cold quick. If you got space, stick a light windbreaker rain jacket into your pocket to wear – it’ll help keep you warm when you’re waiting and then stuff it back in your pocket when you get the green light to go.
Uplifts Are Free
For Foxhunt competitors, there is a free uplift service (based on 2017), so don’t worry about having to cycle back up. Extra trucks are laid on to keep the length of the queue to a minimum but expect a 10 minute wait or more during busy periods. The uplift picks up beside the finish line and then drops you to entrance of Mega Mission, above the top car park. Unfortunately you’ve still got another 10 minutes of steep pushing to get up to where the qualifying run starts from. Not gonna lie, it’s a bugger of a push!
Use Practice As Practice
As they say, you can’t win practice so use it to learn where you’re going. There are lots of line choices on track from easy to hard option – hard being faster – so figure out which one works best for you. Stop at a tricky section, suss it out, watch how people are riding it and dial it in to suit your ability. The majority of jumps can be rolled too if jumping ain’t your thing and those that can’t be jumped have a safer but slower detour.
Last year the qualifying/seeding run was used to determine which row you started on for the Foxhunt. From memory, the fastest 50 were row 1, 50-200 were row 2 and then everyone else after that. When everyone was lined up on Sunday, the dividing tape was removed five minutes before the start and with everyone bunching up, three rows became one. Unless you really want your nose in front and are trying to win, being on row 1 isn’t a massive advantage – so don’t stress quali.
There’s A Siege Of A Push
One sucky thing about the race was that push from the uplift drop off point to the very top of the mountain on Sunday. Steep as be-jaysus and at least 20 minutes of hard graft, you’ll be sweating rivers by the time you reach the top. With that in mind give yourself plenty of time to get there so you don’t have to rush it. Remember it’s all down hill from the top!
Ambition Versus Ability
Finally, there’s two types of people that race Red Bull Foxhunt – those who want to win and those who know they’ve got work Monday morning. If you’re like me, you fall in the latter. I’m not gonna win nor pretend that I could get anywhere near it, I’m just in it to have a good time. And that’s what it’s about at the end of the day – getting down the mountain in one piece with a big grin on your chops. Avoid getting ambition and ability mixed up and you’ll have one of the best weekends of the year on your bike.
Red Bull Foxhunt Schedule
Open practice: 9:30 am – 2:30 pm
Individual timed run (Single stage chip timing): 3 pm – 5 pm –
Open practice: 9-11am
Red Bull Foxhunt 2018: 1pm
Red Bull Foxhunt Competitor Information