With the first round of the all new Enduro world series taking place as we speak this weekend in Italy, Dirt Norco Enduro Team rider Greg Callaghan describes his lead up to this event. Greg’s 2013 Enduro season started with the first Irish Gravity enduro race and he has been on the road ever since. After a strong start to the season and a 9th place finish at Metabief last weekend against some big names, Greg has shown he has good pace. Greg is a hard worker and a top guy so we are all rooting for him this weekend.
“For me it’s 6 races in 6 weeks throughout April and May to start the season, with the new team, bikes and everything else I have been pretty eager to get racing. With it being the first year I have fully committed to Enduro I was coming into it relatively blind as to where I would fit into the results, just have to give it the beans and hope we’d come out in a good position.
I got the Range Killer B built up the week before these races and got out on it a few times to get the hang of it. It’s a 650B bike which I feel is definitely the way to go for enduro. It just carries speed so well yet it doesn’t feel any bigger or harder to move around. It’s a no brainer really that these bikes will be all over the enduro scene in no time. It’s the best of both worlds between big noodle 29ers and oldskool 26ers.
It started with the first Irish Gravity Enduro in Carrick where I had a pretty good day with some mistakes to put me in 2nd, a solid start to the year. The craic was had and the trails and organisation were awesome, it’s pretty cool to have one of the most respected enduro race series in Europe being run so close to home, pretty much all the races are within an hour of Dublin, where I live which is pretty handy.
So after a week of panic and stress to get everything ready, it was onto the first stop for the Transit, the UK Gravity Enduro in Innerleithen. I arrived on Friday evening to snow and hail… great, it was going to be another one of those wet and muddy weekends, as you’d expect to see in May… sure it’s only meant to be summer!
I got a practice lap in on the Saturday followed by seeding late Saturday afternoon on stage 5.I got pretty smoked on this one which put me in a bad starting place for Sunday. Thankfully the guys seeded ahead of me were really good at letting me by whenever I did manage to catch them on a stage, so fair play to them for that. A few of my stage times from the day turned out to be good ones, with a couple of them cracking well into the top 5 I was happy. The seeding stage was repeated on the Sunday again, with a crash and not a great run it didn’t help my result. I finished up in 8th overall for the weekend but was really happy with my stage times which showed I had the speed to run with the top boys.
After a spin around the Golf Course trails in Innerleithen on Monday with Scotty Laugh-land and a lap of Glentress on Tuesday it was time to start trucking South to the Alps. I picked up Jimmy Mac (2007 British pitbike champ, yeah, kind of a big deal) in Milan and off we went to Riva Del Garda for a round of the German Specialised/Sram series, where we met a load of other Irish riders.
What a place Garda is, unbelievable views, gnarly as hell trails and brutal climbs. The transitions for this race were huge with over an hour of pushing hard in first gear to the first stage and 1600m of vertical climb in 31km, although it was worth it for the reward of the fast and rough stages. The bike was loving the rough stuff and the moderately big wheels were just bounced through the rock gardens. It’s always good to come to a race like this and know that you have the right bike for the job, that was definitely the case here and there were plenty of other Norcos around the place too.
The event itself was pretty relaxed, with no start times for the stages it meant that there was plenty of time for hanging out with friends and enjoying the views.
Having arrived at the race a bit late, I only got to ride 5 of the 6 stages once. Stage 4 was the stage that I raced blind, and funnily enough it was my best stage of the day. Stage 5 was probably the wildest run I have ever had on a bike. Not knowing it too well meant that by the time I had realised I needed to slow down for a section, it was too late and all I could do was hang on for dear life! This caused me to have a crash and lose some time, but with the tracks being as rough as they were, a few mistakes were inevitable. Nearly 6 hours in the saddle meant that we were well spent by the end of it all, it was easy to spot the Irish lads at the finish, we were the gang with our tops off looking pasty white with a beer to celebrate the days craic.
There were only a handful of riders missing this weekend from those will be at the first round of the Enduro World Series in a couple of weeks, so the results were a good indication of how people are shaping up for that one.
Once everyone finished we got the results and I had finished in 13th place, only 1:30 off the win which was taken by Fabien Barel. That was pretty much as good as I could have hoped for with the lack of practice I had compared to others who had been shuttling the stages for a few days prior to the race. I know now where I lost out and what to work on for Punta Ala.
The race was on a Saturday which meant we had the rest of the weekend to chill out and recover which was pretty sweet. Although we did get some rain which wasn’t ideal, the sun came out at times so we could enjoy the scenery.
After a quick stop in Chamonix for some instagraming, wifi and a bike ride, it’s onto Metabief in France for the Kali open enduro, with Punta Ala the following week and Hamsterly UK Gravity Enduro on the way home for a few weeks break.
Hopefully the sun shows up as it’s currently bucketing it down and I’ve got a tan to work on!
Check back in a couple of weeks to see how the other races go for me and keep your eyes out for the Dirt Norco pits at the races, don’t be afraid to come over for a cuppa tea, you might even get one!
In the meantime, keep up to date with me on Instagram and Tweetbook @MTBGC or @DirtNorco for the team updates. Also, give Dirt Norco Race Team a like on the old Facey B.”