Almost 200 wild men and women of the woods from all over Ireland turned up ready to shred at Bree Hill on 1 July for Round 4 of the Polygon Grassroots Enduro Series, supported by BikingDirty.com.
After weeks of dry weather the trails were running fast and increasingly dusty and loose as the day’s racing wore on. Not content with resting on their well-earned laurels from last year’s event, the trail builders at Bree brought in some seriously sweet new sections of trails for this year, while also using some of the familiar stuff.
A short transition climb of around 1.5km up a fire road left riders at the start of all three stages.
Stage 1 took in some familiar features from recent DH races at Bree, including the famous corkscrew, some really tight switchbacks and a couple of opportunities for those who wanted to “style it” a bit with a fast finish into the pump track before the line.
Stage 2 was almost entirely new with a really fast series of berms at the top dropping down into a short wooded section which claimed a few riders as they emerged onto the fire road. After a second new wooded section the stage joined more familiar trails, dropping in to finish alongside stage 1. Stage 2 was best tackled earlier in the day with the drought conditions and heavy traffic really cutting things up and making it even more interesting later in the day.
Their own big, dumb, happy grins were the main challenge for riders on stage 3! Starting at the top start ramp, riders swooped through a left hand berm, over (or around!) a small jump before a bit of a pump into a new section marked by a couple of jumps, a hard left, hard right, a short drop followed by a steep rocky section, over the fire road and into what is known locally as ‘sub-zero’.
Flat out through here, across a fire road, plunge back into the woods for some off-camber, rooty fun then fast left-hand berm back onto a fire road to drop in again for the final, eyeballs-out—on-stalks run to the line. A classic enduro trail which everyone seemed to love, this also finished beside stages 1 & 2, adding to the social vibe with plenty of friendly sledging.
Encouraged by the relatively short transition climb, most people took the opportunity to ride each trail at least twice, many doing in excess of ten runs in total – well over 1200 metres of total climbing on a hot and sticky day, kudos to them all.
The racing was seriously impressive across all categories – the top riders all showed an incredible mental capacity to absorb the details of all three stages and extract the maximum physically from themselves and their rigs.
We might not think about it too much when we’re on the bike but it is probably this need for harmony between the mental and physical aspects of the sport that make it so challenging, demanding and rewarding. All those who podium’ed are therefore Zen masters as well as bloody fast!
After the race runs and before the final results were announced, riders hung out, ogled each other’s bikes and chatted about where it all went right (or wrong!), how they could definitely hit that line if only they had one more go, and how things would be different next time.
The cold, non-alcoholic beers were a particularly welcome touch and, coupled with the sounds of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” on the PA, the ambiance was all that’s good about our sport – competitive, yes, but all about community, welcoming, friendly and open.
Big shout out to the trail builders – Mikey, Brendan and the Kavanagh boys (who matched each other’s times to the second), and to Cronan Guilmartin and his band of little helpers who made the day run so smoothly. As ever we also want to thank Brian Roban of BikingDirty.com and Polygon Bikes who are the overall series sponsor.
The results on the day were as follows:
JONATHAN MAUNSELL 372 /// IAN COATES 385 /// JAMES FLEMING 411 ///
RUTH DOORLEY 496 /// OLIVE MULQUEEN 579 /// BERNIE CUMMINSS 587 ///
PAUL MCLOUGHLIN 410 /// CRAIG GALLAWAY 415 /// JOHN LAMBERT 438 ///
COLM BRADLEY 400 /// ROB QUINN 406 /// AL MAXWELL 417 ///
KYLE LAWSON 407 /// DERMOT KAVANAGH 410 /// ALAN KAVANAGH 410 ///
SEAN PRICE 408 /// KAID ASKINS 424 /// NATHAN KELLY 449 ///
Full race results, photos and race series information can be found on their website and Facebook page.
With a break in the schedule, the fifth and final round of the series takes place in Cahir Tipperary on September 30th.