That was the last gasp of 2011 the other day. It just sort of limped out. It was the year that ability based categories were brought in to XC.
Ticknock opened up to the hordes waiting to ride legally for the first time in 25 years on 3 Rock. It works quite well except the bottom half is a way better climb than it is a descent.
The top section is pretty good near the end of it but completely pointless until you get to the turn off to 2 Rock. Still its a milestone or is it a millstone, time will tell, shredders.
It was also the year that me and my friends brought a World champion over to have a go against our best. Plus a helicopter. Of course controversy has grovelled after us since then but I have no regrets. The Blast is the Blast, an Arena that allowed newbies, goobers and pros all compete on a level playing field.
Robin won the XC Nationals again, Gerard Wolfe won the DH Nationals and was then left out of the ” permission list ” for the World Champs.
The European Masters failed to come to Ireland.
Despite a huge increase in the popularity and standard of Cyclocross, nobody got to represent the country in it.
Young Ben Kennedy was the overall winner in his class at the BDS in the UK in 2o11. A mighty achievment.
However a bigger fuss was made about Niall Davis beating off assorted transvestites and vegetarians to become singlespeed world champion..
Thats Iorlan for you. Isn’t it deadly to win the odd, the peculiar but sure we could never win a serious race…could we?
I think we could. The problem is in our leaders. Way too conservative, too timid and unfaithless.
Anyway, it was a mixed bag , we gained a Mountainbike Ghetto but lost a wild, out of control day out on the Mountains.
Decide for yourselves which is the better .
So back to January..it was cold, we still rode our bikes but by the end of it the snow was all gone and we were back to living under a blanket of clag and battling puddles and slimy roots and pointy rocks. It was deadly though, well worth it drinking coffee afterwards and taking the piss out of your mates.
Its this time of year that you get driven mental cleaning your bike, its a whole bloody new routine when what you really want to do is sit on your arse drinking Coffee and looking at Murder She Wrote on the Sky box. Theres loads of pink stuff and wee coloured stuff and brushes and stuff that removes filth and grime but you cannot beat some good old fashioned child labour, here Ryan , it didn’t take long to convince him that there was no Oso if he didnt clean the bike. Start them young I say.
Then March came along and as usual a promise of Spring, longer days and a well earned break from early seaason training with a trip up a big Mountain. Big mountains are the crucibles of Mountainbikers, you will know if they will survive the years of hiding bikes from their wives and chatting around the espresso machine about the Gnar and the hucks of the weekend . Up a big mountain, one that makes your balls swell and your hair grow back, well theres no hiding, its be slick or be dead.
This year I had yet another go at enticing the fairer sex into the sport. Always a tough one,there are plenty of great women out there keen on shredding the gnar and wearing the lycra. Some of the ladies I know are the most improved riders ever. They listen and they they think about how to get better and they are way better at helping other than males. They dont fall around the place laughing if someone splits themselves on a Ticknock trail anchor, they whip out their home surgery kit and calm everybody down. I like women, i like looking at them and I like seeing them improve, nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing them master trails some of my fellow knuckle draggers can’t cope with !
This was a good year for the EPIC ladies and 2o12 will be even better !
So June and the height of the racing season, with the Nationals just over the horizon and the NPS winding up, everybody was doing their best to get those extra muscle fibres grown and trim the old race face ! Loads of riders stood out this year for me but none more so than Ronan Hopkins, a supernaturally talented bike show off, he can do no handed wheelies, reverse half nelsons and manual for 3 days in a row. His enthusiasm for just being in the chaingang whether it was XC or DH impressed me, always a gentleman and inspiring, even if he is a Yoga Blackbelt…
July…hmmm the height of Summer or the Irish Monsoon season..loads of spins, an NPs and two National Championships. 1 in Carrick for the DHers by all accounts a fantastic success , Ger Wolfe won in style but I was more concerned with the XC Nationals as we had way more riders taking part in that. Robin Tiberius Seymour won that once again showing that even though he has been at the top for 2o years that he is in no hurry to retire. But none of these events would even get off the ground if it wasn’t for the self sacrifice of volunteers. The true champions of competitive Mountainbiking is the volunteers, people like Aine Conneffe from MAD who does bottles for everybody and wipes the noses of the defeated. Lucky for us theres always somebody to mind us when we go outside the lines and really want our mammies.
August and bright evenings and kids on bikes. It seems to be that I spend most of my time kicking adults up the arse and shout at them to get moving, stop crying and moaning and if you’re not first you’re last. I spent 4 months in 2011 coaching kids from 3 to 13 every friday evening, with the help of their parents, their aunts and uncles and Carol. My god some of them were unbelievable. I mean they opened my eyes to peoples abilities. Unfortunately we had to stop in September due to weather and lack of daylight. I wish there was two of me who could do the shouting at the adults on Sundays and another me who could do the same with the small ones at the same time. I feel bad ( unusual I know) that I am not involved in this every weekend but I just love riding my own bike way too much !
The Blast..I’ve already said too much about it so heres a photo instead….not the one everybody expects but one of a Superstar and Gee Atherton!
October night riding season gets going, we are blessed that we have the mountains so near where we live. Twice a week we get to charge around the woods in sight of Dublin. The first few weeks involves as much crashing and falling off as actually riding but evetually everybody gets in to the swing of things and it becomes second nature.
November and its deep in Cyclocross Territory. If you havent raced Cyclocross then you haven’t learned all thereis to know about riding a bike. Leave behind all the skills you might have picked up riding road, BMX , XC or DH. Its nothing like any of them and its nothing like what I used to think, that it was the worst of all cycling sports combined. Its the opposite. You need the strategy of a roadie, the power of a DHer, the skill of a BMXer and the speed of an XC racer. So don’t knock it till you try it. Once again its a juggernaut driven by one man, this man …how he manages to throw his leg over his bike after doing all in the background before the race and still win amazes me.
So there you are…a very loose retrosprective from a biased viewpoint. The last photo of 2011 is of my club and one or 2 guests. I know a lot of the time its all about racing, but its really all about the people. I dont do it because of the exercise or the trouble I get in to ,to amuse myself with, I do it because of the craic. You have not experienced the fun of getting outdoors and narrowly missing killing yourself, bankrupting yourself to buy and maintain an expensive machine as you do in EPIC.