The EWS (Enduro World Series) train rolled through Ireland last weekend and we, as a team and a nation, truly jumped aboard and relished it’s choo chooing down the tracks.
So, the low-down on EWS if you don’t know what it is: The Enduro World series is a worldwide league of mountain bike enduro racing. 225 pre-qualified riders, 20 wildcards and 155 spots are open to anybody. In Ireland the course consisted of seven timed stages which are mainly downhill, you must also pedal between these stages covering a distance of 50km and 2000mts of climbing and all under a strict time limit.
Right, now you have it. We had 5 riders in our pits for the weekend. Leah and Jonathan Maunsell, Joseph Clancy, Neil Martin and Ryan Gardner. Ryan is a Kona super grassroots rider from America and we were delighted to be hosting him for the weekend. Garry Davoren was also present as our support mechanic and with full team-factory pits he made sure we were well taken care of. Leah and Joe were riding in Juniors, Neil, Ryan and Jonathan were in Pro men. Because it was such a challenging course practice was split into two days, Friday practice riders got to know stages 1-4 and Saturday we got a look around stages 5-7. Sunday it was all to be done in one six hour hit.
Sunday morning and the Sun was shining and as Joe set off at 08:45am you could tell it was going to be a magic day, already there was a constant stream of spectators arriving and it would be hours before the “pro’s” would be setting out, Ryan was next off starting his day at 09:15 shortly followed by Neil at 09:32 and Jonathan at 10:10am. Leah was last of our group out onto the mountain just after 11am and by then the crowds were mental, so crazy were the crowds that cycling up the fire roads for the competitors to the stages was becoming a stage in itself, weaving in and out, avoiding kids and dogs, but all in good fun. The hot food vendors even all sold out well before event was finished!
Anyway, stage one was a nice warm up, fast but not difficult, over in a blink and back on the pedals to stage two. Stage two and the temperature was ramped up a notch, the first 50mts was make or break, down a small ramp, pop up onto boulder and hop, bounce, skip or may be even slid across more rocks, boulders slabs till you could find the loam and then it was a mad dash down the dusty trail to the first proper pedalling section of the race and it was a real lung buster, give it everything and reach the end. Stage three started off very similar to stage two, up over through and down some very tech rocks to find the loam and then follow the flow as fast as you could, nice slab drop midway down, pedal through forest and tag out. The transition to stage four was the shortest all day and the stage was nice and relaxed as well, all leading nicely to lunch.
Stage five was like stage one, a warm up for what was to follow and what followed was pure bliss. Stage six shot us down the Carrick DH track with a few detours to keep the overall speed in check, loose, dusty and full of jumps, every rider finished that stage smiling no matter how spent their energy levels were. And on to the final stage of the race, stage seven. Newly built for the event “Emerald Express” as it was known, had a fierce start, the first 100ft was littered with rocks, roots and difficult drops, this combination also meant that this 100ft section was also three deep in supporters shouting and screaming as you passed. It was a make or break stage, you just had to be clean through it, if not your race was over and you had to deal with the heckles from the supporters. Pressure cooker of a stage but if you got it right it was pure perfect. Leah managed to get it right big style, this wonder kid got all the stages right bringing home the silver with the race win in U21 ladies, her first EWS race and a win, the perfect race result! Ryan fared very well also finishing in 64th place overall, and doing his best to match his sister Jonathan finished in 66th place, a very impressive race and sure to get some notice from the bigger teams. Joseph finished 22nd in U21, a very difficult category as it spans a 5year age gap making this result a great result, things can only get better for this young ripper. Finally Neil finished in 184th place, closer to 150th would have been nicer but just to finish was the aim of team game for this teams manager.
Greg Callaghan of Cube Factory team took the win overall and being that he is Irish the crowd went pure mental when he finished the race, the scene in the winner’s circle was just like a DH World Cup, madness everywhere you looked. This was Greg’s first win and we at MBW-Kona would like to say “massive well done and go bag more wins”.
Thanks to you proud Sponsor’s – MBW Bike shop in Moycullen, Galway. Kona bikes and GrRana Energy Europe. Huge thanks to Colin and Colin, you know who you are, without your help the weekend would not have run as smoothly as it did.