Off-road Rep report
Taking the reins and guidance from my predecessor, Silvia Gallagher, I intended to carry on where she left off. As per my submitted budget application in late 2019, when I took up this role, I had planned for and requested funding to cover training sessions across the off-road disciplines. Specifically:
- BMX introductory session;
- General mountain biking skills day in Slieve Blooms – skills sessions followed by spin;
- Downhill skills session – intermediate level;
- Enduro skills session – intermediate level; and
- Cross-country training day in association with Lorna Reilly and Liz Roche.
Unfortunately, just one of the planned off-road training events took place before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Details are as follows:
BMX intro session
- BMX Ratoath BMX Club
- March 2020
- 15 attendees
- Three-hour training session
- Excellent coaching
- Very positive feedback received
- Interest expressed for a second training event in 2020
Other planned training events were, unfortunately, postponed initially due to Covid-19 and the lockdown/restrictions that ensued. I was planning to proceed with the Enduro and downhill skills sessions in August and September as the lockdown had lifted – in accordance with Covid-19 restrictions/Cycling Ireland guidance – and original training dates that I had earmarked were unaffected by the strict lockdown.
However, on request of the chairperson of the Women’s Commission, I held off on this training pending a review by Cycling Ireland of coaching services and related fees. I am awaiting an update on this.
Training plans for 2021
Training is key to both the development and promotion of off-road biking among the female biking community. Training builds confidence and skills, which will encourage more female participation in competition. In 2021, I would like to see Cycling Ireland and the Women’s Commission allocate adequate funding to facilitate meaningful training across the off-road disciplines.
Covid-19 has impacted the format of off-road competition, evidenced by the recent (and only) Vitus Gravity Enduro, which took place on Carrick Mountain. This new format is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future and may well be conducive to greater female participation. I would like to encourage this by partially synchronising the training calendar with the racing calendar in 2021.
According to the Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team (DWMRT), there has been a steady increase in mountain-biking-related incidents since 2010 as the sport becomes more popular. In 2019, 6 per cent of the 101 incidents that DWMRT attended involved mountain biking. To date, in 2020, 9 per cent of the 89 incidents the team has attended have been related to mountain biking.
Of the incidents attended in 2020, two involved children and six involved adults, and all of the mountain bikers involved were male. Six of the incidents involved serious injuries, one involved minor injury, and tragically, there was one fatality.
Anecdotally, it’s understood that mountain bikers will self-rescue from minor incidents. As a result, the mountain bikers that require rescue will have more serious injuries. The incidents that DWMRT have attended in 2020 have involved mountain bikers presenting with head, spinal, pelvic, and upper leg injuries.
Interest in off-road biking is growing, generally, and as we promote it and encourage females to partake, we also need to provide training to adequately equip them to deal with the challenging nature of some of the off-road disciplines and their environments.
A number of bursary applications were received in 2020:
- Hannah Mullin (application made by Kristian Mullin) – event taking place Sept 2020
- Jodie Lynch (application made by Geoff Lynch) – race report received
- Keira Drew (application made by Ricky Drew)
- Aine Doherty (application made by Charlene Quinn)
Due to Covid-19, two of these were not processed due to cancellation of events.
Aims for 2021
- Enhanced activity, and updating of the off-road section on the website.
- Publication of more race reports and photos.
- Greater advertising of the bursary opportunities available.
- Greater communication with the Off-road Commission.
Thanks are due to Silvia Gallagher for her advice, guidance and help as I stepped into her shoes. Thanks also to Brendan Whelan and other committee members who helped me throughout the year.