There is a saying ‘that as one door closes, another one opens’ I had just arrived back home to Ireland, straight from KONA Megalaunch held at Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis Bikepark. I was prepping my bike in the garage for a ride, at the same time reflecting on the amazing opportunity I had experienced thanks to the Kona team, when another one popped right into my inbox.
It was a message from Savvas and Akis, the owner’s of the Pro-Rider Bikeshop in Cyprus. I had met Savvas and Akis during the Megalaunch. I had taken the boys out riding in the park in Austria, they were super cool guys and we shared many high fives that morning. They invited me to come to Cyprus, to race in the final round of the Cyprus Downhill Cup on the 5th of October!
Keen to get racing abroad and build my experience before next season, I eagerly accepted and quickly got a good trip planned. I found that the final round of the European Enduro Series was on in Germany, the weekend before Cyprus. Perfect.
This was only my second time getting the opportunity to travel with my race bike so I was very excited. Earlier this year I raced for my first time outside of Ireland, it was just over the water, for the Scottish round of the Enduro World Series.
So I got my bag and my Kona Process 153DL packed and headed of to the final round of the EES, which was held in Treuchtlingen, Germany. I had a really good time there, I learned so much in one race!
I was racing the Pro Men category, and I finished in 22nd place. I was hoping to come top 20 but a few crashes and mistakes pushed me just outside it. Still cant complain considering it was my first race in Europe.The highlight for me was placing 14th on stage 4 just 10 seconds behind race winner Nico Lau. This I feel reflects the pace I will be capable of with more experience gained.
After enjoying a few days of Oktoberfest in Munich after the race, it was back to business as I packed up and headed for the very sunny island of Cyprus!
I arrived on a Wednesday, so I had a few days to practise the track. It was such a climate change for me, being Irish I was not used to riding in 35degree heat all day! It also took me a few days to adjust to the extremely dusty, loose and blown out race track.
There was a lot of pressure on me to win there, as I was perceived as a ‘Pro’ rider, and as I was the first foreign racer to come to one of their races, this was something I had not experienced before. I found my pace though and I was feeling confident coming into the race.
Race day rolled around pretty quickly. The format for the days racing was 1 timed qually run followed by 2 timed race runs, the fastest of which would count.
I qualified into second place, with a safe run that felt really fast with no mistakes! I was really feeling the pressure now. I knew what I had to do on the track though to make it to the top step, take chances and push hard!
I layed it all down in my first run, and I took the win by 2.1secs. Which was just as well because I blew my tire on a big huck in my second run!
I was so stoked to pull it of and so were Savvas and Akis to have a process 153dl win the race! Mission succesful.
After the dust had settled from the race, I stayed in Cyprus for two weeks getting to travel and ride many of what the island has to offer.
The main driving force behind the DH scene there is a dude called Andreas Moustachas. He so far has designed and built with help from volunteers all the tracks used in the series. So it was awesome for me to help him design the track for their upcoming National Champs Downhill race.
There are a small team of Kona riders, sponsored by the Pro Rider Bikeshop. Here is a picture of us together after the race. The team riders and their bikes are Michales Akes process153, Minas Mines carbon Operator, and Stavros Jordanou rides a carbon Operator and also he took the overall series win, pictured above on the far right! Kona domination!
Before I left I also ran coaching and skills lessons with all the young junior pinners and also taught some old dogs, new tricks !
I’d like to say a massive thank you to guys from the Pro Rider Bikeshop and the Kona Bicycle Co. for giving me this opportunity, it was such good times. I definitely hope to be back to Cyprus at some stage in 2015, maybe for a enduro race next time.
Irish Kona Grassroots Rider