There’s a dark art to Mountain Biking. A hidden code. A secret language. When hovering on the outskirts of their conversations. They speak in tongues, dropping names like Foleys Folly, Babies Heads, Scullogue Gap, and scariest of them all “The Heinous Climb of the two gates!!”. Leaving you nervous and bewildered. If they were past pupils of Hogwarts they would be Slytherin. They talk of tales of falls and tumbles, of scars, scrapes, bumps, bruises and boast of fractures and dislocations with a sense of pride. There is nothing in their conversation that encourages you to come on side, cross over to the Dark side…..and risk being lost and stranded on a winters evening on the “Moor’s”.
And yet…..and yet! there is something seductive about the call of the Mountains. This weekend over 170 rugged souls, all shapes and sizes, battered and weather beaten rolled into the town of Bunclody for Racing 795s inaugural 45k mountain bike challange. As a mere roadie you couldnt but get caught up in the buzz of the occasion.
Watching them pull out of town, more at ease on their bikes and broken mountain trails then on the terra firma of a hotel car park. Full of chat and laughter, clicking down the gears before ramping up the pace onto a poor excuse of a broken mountain trail…disappearing on mass in to the forest and the long days haul around Mt Leinster and its unforgiving mountain trails.
What a day it turned out to be. 795 volunteers came out of the woodwork. The place alive with a sense of fun and slagging and goodwill, and that feel good factor of being part of something special.
The serious bikers thrashed the course, ripping in a restless 2hrs. But the joy was, throughout the day, a steady stream of competitors, competing only with them selves, just them and their bike,arriving at the finish line in the cooling shadow of the giant Oak and Ash of the forest..with big happy , sweaty, tired, battered and bruised heads on them. And that wonderful sense of achievement of a day well spent…Free wheeling down to the Mill Race Hotel for soup and sambos……..Leaving me wondering…”Jaysus, I have to add that to me bucket list, one of these days… “