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From MBW Kona Racing  – March 22nd saw the second running of the The Battle on the Beach race at Pembrey Beach in South Wales in the U.K and we had Garry “Dr Wo” Davoren racing with us. Garry was racing on his custom 2014 Kona WO fat-bike for the 45km event and was competing in the open male and fat-bike championship races.

The race started with a field destroying 5km sprint up the beach towards the first section of single-track, Garry stayed as close to the front as possible so as to have good position when leaving the beach however this was easier said than done as the leaders were hauling at 40kmh across the sand into a headwind as they did battle for position but he hung on and entered the single-track with the majority of the 600 riders behind him. Now he would settle in to the 4 laps of the 10km course, take in his surroundings while always pushing forwards striving for the best possible finish.UntitledWith 600 other riders around you it is very hard to try and keep track of where you may be placed in the race, how many are in front of you? Were many of them on fat-bikes? So when Garry finished he reported that he had a good strong race but probably finished in the top 150 riders overall and inside the top 20 in the fat-bikes.

howies 03Much to his surprise he finished 75th overall and 4th in the fat-bike race, an extremely respectable result in a very tough race full of professional CX and road riders. This was the second running of the event and Garry’s first attempt at it, but I’d bet heavily that we will see Garry on the start line in 2016 for the 3rd running of BOTB.

The following weekend Neil set of for the inaugural 1st round of the Vitus first track Enduro cup in Castlewellan, Northern Ireland. It is to be a 4 round Enduro league with rounds in Castlewellan, Bigwood, Rostrevor and a final secret location. Rd 1 had 6 stages spread over a 25km loop with a 60% – 40% mix of natural to trail centre surface. Neil was entered in the hard tail category and he was using his fully rigid 2015 Kona WO fat bike, the only fat-bike entered as it happened.

Saturday practice consisted of a little riding but mainly chatting about the fat-bike with locals and riders alike, most saying that he was insane to be racing an Enduro on a fat-bike, that he would be incredibly slow and more than likely hold other riders up as he tried to navigate the course, nothing he said could convince people the he felt that he could be fast and set a respectable time, that the bike was perfectly suitable for the event, the extra wide tyres would swoop through the loamy, boggy sections of the upper natural sections and zoom over the trail centre parts. Not deterred, he finished practice safe in the knowledge the he and the bike would get on grand.howies 04Race day came and Neil set off at 11:16am ready to tackle the 6 stages which he cruised through without major incident passing at least 4 slower riders on each stage much to the amusement of their friends and spectators with many commenting “how is that possible, a fat-bike quicker than an Enduro specific bike”. But it was, and much to the amazement of Neil and all 250 other riders, he finished 3rd in hard tails and 68th overall. A very impressive result on a bike many felt could never be competitive, he is now looking  forward to racing the other three rounds and pushing harder and faster to try and improve on his 3rd place. This could get interesting.

howies 05Massive thanks to our sponsors – MBW bike shop in Moycullen, Galway, Ireland – Grrana energy Europe of their continued support of excellent energy tonics – Kona bicycle company for building the raddest bikes out there and to all the photographers who spend countless hours in all-weather conditions snapping up happily, if you see photos of yourself from an event taken by a pro please think of them and buy the shot. Thanks to Tommy Vennard for the super shot of Neil in full race flow.

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Next up is Round 4 of the Connacht Spring XC League in Sligo on April 5th where Neil and Joe are hoping for a good result to carry themselves into the last round later in the month.