Up in the hills of mountain bike mecca Rostrevor Co. Down, the sold-out Red Bull Foxhunt set the scene for one of most thrilling mountain bike races this year. Twelve female mountain bikers took on this awesome challenge alongside 450 other racers.
Ireland has a long history of mass start mountain bike races. The Epic Blast in Wicklow was one of the earliest and most loved of these style of races, with riders whammying each other down a mucky hill. From these early beginnings came the Red Bull sponsored Foxhunt. Mass start downhill mountain bike races usually start with all riders lined up at the top of a mountain. Riders sprint off all at once, and the first to the bottom of a steep, twisty, and rocky trail wins. With so many riders on the course at the same time, getting ahead of the pack early on is key to a good race.
The Foxhunt is a slight twist on this format. 450 riders set off, and a few seconds later (the ‘foxes’) Gee Atherton (2008 & 2014 DH World Champion) Loïc Bruni (2015 & 2017 DH World Champion) and three time winner Colin Ross are released. The goal for each competitor is to beat the three foxes to the finish line.
One of Ireland’s speediest downhill racers, Tara O’Boyle, tells all about her experience
“First time to race with so many women this weekend at the foxhunt! All the girls seemed to really enjoy it even some of the girls who had no experience racing this before! Great atmosphere both days hopefully this will lead to some more girls taking part in the mountain bike races again in the future!”
If you are interested in taking part in mountain bike mass start races, unfortunately you’ll have to wait until next year. European races like the Mega Avalanche and the Mountain of Hell are on every mountain bikers bucket list, and are amazing experiences. Prepare for your next racing adventure by vising some of Ireland’s mountain bike trail centres, and bike parks over the winter.
Race day results here