Team Wideopenmag return triumphant from a very successful Coillte Emerald Enduro with Chris and Kelan coming in top 30 and 40 respectively.
Home turf for Kelan and a short ferry crossing for Hutch delivered our boys’ best results of the year, giving them a boost leading into the remainder of the year. Hutch wrote us this race report from the Emerald Isle.
Words by Chris Hutchens | Photos by Trev Worsey.
The EWS returned for a third time to Carrick Mountain in Wicklow. It’s now a well-established venue; a rider and a crowd-pleaser. Once again the race day was blessed by fine weather, however for the first time in it’s three year history the trails were a little less dusty than normal.
Heavy rain during practice on Saturday made for a physical and challenging race with lines changing or non-existent from practice. This was a different beast to previous years.
With the huge amount of press coverage on the run up to the event the hill, come Sunday, was alive with thousands of spectators. The six stages were lined almost top to bottom with excited fans and I’m sure many having an enduro first at the event.
The climb to the stages was a stream of high fives as you pedaled the arduous fireroad leading to five of the six stages. By the final stage I was cramping, almost in tears. The day was tough, intense and physical from start to finish with every rider being pushed to the limit.
The race was very different to Madeira, the 3rd round of the Enduro World Series with two days of practice and a single race day. There was little room for error come Sunday but the wet conditions on Saturday slowly dried throughout the race providing a variety of surfaces throughout the stages.
In the open some of the mud dried and rode with an increasing level of grip, some pockets of slow claggy sections remained and in the woods the damp conditions prevailed. Slick and unpredictable this really challenged riders’ ability.
For Kelan and I it was a successful weekend. While nether of us had clean runs, few did, we put in solid times around 20 seconds apart. Times were tight, with those 20 seconds split over ten riders.
While I opted for a full Conti Mud King tyre up front and a cut Mud King on the rear Kelan choose the Baron front and rear options. Both aggressive and both of us were thankful for this choice. It was a difficult decision to make before the race. Without really knowing what the track conditions would be like it was a gamble.
The trails could have remained wet but grippy underneath or the mud could dry leaving a skittery surface and mud to clog the tyres. The latter was what happened and spikes proved to be a great decision. Those who stuck to less aggressive tyres suffered a little with grip, although maybe didn’t struggle so much up the fireroads. With 45 km on the clock it was a big day to drag spikes around.
Kelan posted a solid 38th place on the day showing he’s riding strong just now. After just finishing uni the week before I suspect his pace is going to increase with some serious effect over the summer.
I posted my best EWS result to date backing up my 30th in Rotorua with a 26th place amongst a packed field of full time riders. That pulls me up the series a little, sitting in the top 40 overall.
We now get a well-deserved weekend off from racing before heading to the Tweedlove International in two weekends time. It’s due to be a packed out event, let’s hope for some better weather than we have just now!