Bellurgan Park & Lumpers Forest
1/2nd April 2017
The winter is now behind us and the sweet smell of race season is in the air!!!!
An 18th century house set on 390 acres of woodland known as Bellurgan Park was the venue for round 1. Deep in the heart of Co Louth half way between Belfast and Dublin 280 riders made their way to a brand new course for Enduro racing. 2 of the 5 stages started from the top of Trumpet hill in Tippings wood just behind the Race village. The other 3 stages was a short ride to Lumpers Forest, a popular area for local downhill riders that held previous rounds of the Irish Downhill Mountainbike Series.
Riders did not know what to expect from Bellurgan on the build up to the race but the local trail builders knew everyone was in for a treat. The hard graft that was put into every spare minute of winter paid off. Every rider finishing had a huge grin on their faces as high 5’s and spraying Erdinger confirmed a top weekend.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though and as always the weather has a huge part to play. A few big downpours on Friday made conditions for the car parking more sketchy than the shoot on stage 5! The sun come out on Sunday morning making for some prime conditions and nice ruts for riders to get their tyres into.
So after a day off practicing 2 wheels drifts riders got fuelled up on Acti-Snack and hit the hills for some racing.
Younger bro and top trail builder Kyle showed race experience counts and took the win. Local legend Brendan Foley was chuffed with 2nd and Dublin man Paul xc Caldwell took an uncustomary 3rd.
Jason Garrett was spotted twisting the throttle at the end of stage 1 on his steel camel but could only manage 3rd place in the Seniors. Matthew Coulter took 2 stage wins and lost out by just 2 seconds to Nicholas Cotton. No stage wins for Nicholas but showing consistency counts in Enduro.
Future superstars in the juniors looked to be having great craic up on the mountain. The top lads even laying down some stage times that contested the Pro’s. Ronan Dunne took home a consistent 3rd. The Hill’s Mixtape caffeine monster Frazer Morrison won stage 3 and 2nd overall. Team mate Drew Armstrong got the better of the giraffe by 8 seconds, 4 stage wins and a gold medal to show for it.
Some big names showed up for the ladies category. Michelle Muldoon showed some early season form ahead of her EWS debut with a 3rd place. Local rider and trail builder Meave Baxter brought that big smile to the 2nd step on the podium, but no one could get close to the EWS under 21 winner Leah Maunsell. Showing up on Sunday morning and deliberately racing blind to get the mind focused on EWS racing was the order of the day.
That brings us to the Pro men! Winter rides, gym sessions and sweaty social media tantalizing posts was all on the line now for who really done the work. Vitus bikes/ Acti-Snack rider Colin Ross got fairly close to a stage win but 3rd overall would have to do him. Only 2 seconds separated 1st and 2nd at the end of the day! Vitus First Tracks Race Division rider Nathan the Lizard McComb won stage 2 & 3. Within sniffing distance Wideopen mag team rider was behind by 2 seconds with only stage 5 to go. The power house turned on his Johnny Bravo superhero skills and stomped a stage win by 4 seconds giving him the overall win.
A great weekends riding with friends was had and everyone went home with a taste for more racing. Round 2 of the Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup is at the infamous Donard Park in Newcastle, Co Down in the shadow of N.Irelands biggest mountain Slieve Donard. It’s the weekend before the Irish EWS so expect some big names to be there. See you all on the 20/21st May!! Registration is now open.
Massive thanks to all our sponsors:
First Tracks MTB
Denis Wilson of Glenavy
Niall Clarke Oils NCO
Fair and Square sports insurance
Rapid Racer Products