Wednesday, November 04, 2009

2009 Ballyhoura Screamer MTB Stage Race

This may have been my 'off-season' but I have still ended up racing some sort of event every weekend. My training between events (more exercise actually) was just the Tuesday night cross training sessions and maybe another 1 or 2 MTB rides - nothing that resembled a structured plan.

Anyway, I heard about the Ballyhoura Screamer a few weeks back. It is basically a two stage MTB race held on Ireland's largest trail center (Ballyhoura) on Halloween night. They promised a carnival atmosphere and that is exactly what we got.

The first stage was a 32km cross country loop utilizing many of the purpose built trails (mostly the brown loop). Things were going well until about 10km to go when I had a slight crash, my first racing in a long while, and punctured my front tire. Luckily, despite a lot of stopping to re-pump the wheel and the use of a few CO2 (thanks Mick Jordon) cans I was able to scrape around to take the race lead.

After a chicken curry with rice (well, more like a veg curry – they were stingy on the chicken) with the other MAD racers and we were back for the night time-trial. All the kids that were present for the family events congregated around the start ramp creating a great atmosphere. As I was in the lead, I started last (to a smaller crowd) but had great fun bombing around the 9.2km singletrack loop setting the quickest time and claiming the overall.

The racing etc... was great, but the main thing about this event was that it was a relatively low key introduction to racing. I had not seen 90% of the people down there before at races – baggie shorts, flat pedals and lots of nerves where the order of the day. I hope that this event has snagged a few more riders with the racers bug I caught a few years ago.

Thanks to everyone for putting on such an inclusive event – there was something for everyone there from the people who raced the event in a little over two hours to the folks that took over four.

Results are up here, and a selection of photos here.

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