This year, the EWS circuit is more exiting than ever. After the first three races, the battle for the top spot is heading to Ireland this weekend.
As Bluegrass is a partner of the EWS #4 in Wicklow, it was the right time to ask few questions to Niall Davis, the Event Director, to find out a bit more about the event and its characteristics.
– Hi Niall, could you introduce yourself quickly?
I run Biking.ie. We run 10 mountain bike events in Ireland each year as well as operating two bike rental stations in Dublin and Wicklow. I used to race a lot but I’m now more interested in riding for fun!
– We are now just a few days from the start of the 2017 EWS Wicklow. Is everything ready?
Yes, all is set, the trails are marked and the promotion is going well. We’re preparing for big crowds this year!
– Did you make any changes to the trails compared to last year?
We made a lot of small changes to the trails compared to previous years, as well as adding a brand new stage. But to be honest, Carrick is a small hill, so we can’t reinvent the wheel there. It has worked well for two years, so why change too much?
– Bluegrass has been a Biking.ie partner for a long time and we’ve sponsored a stage for a couple of years. Could you tell us a bit more about that? What does that mean?
Bluegrass has been partnered with the Irish National Enduro Series Gravity Enduro Ireland (www.gravityenduro.ie) from the very beginning in 2011. Since then, the sport in Ireland has gone from strength to strength and Enduro is by far the most popular form of MTB here, thanks in no small way to the support from Bluegrass.
– We are used to seeing EWS races take place over two days. In Wicklow, you’re used to racing only on the Sunday. Why is that? Does it have any effect on the spirit of the EWS?
That is quite a good point. We don’t have big alpine mountains so rather than being a weakness, we turned it into our strength. We purposefully packed all the stages into one small hill, so it’s easy for spectators and media to follow. We are taking Enduro to the general public, which can only be a good thing for everyone involved.
– Wicklow is famous for its crazy number of fans and its awesome atmosphere. How do you explain that?
Simple, we have an enthusiastic MTB scene that’s booming in Ireland and there’s a lot of passion. Enduro is our thing and we have some incredible talent here. Plus, our team do a super job!
– Now Greg Callaghan is leading the overall EWS standings. Do you think the crowd here will be even crazier than previous years?
The crowd will be insane! We have extra parking, and actually spent as much time making spectator routes as bike routes, ha! We’re looking forward to the noise and colour and fun on the hill.
– Wicklow is also different because you can race in an open face helmet. Why this choice?
I guess it’s what most people ride in Ireland. The trails aren’t super steep, long or crazy so it’s more comfortable to ride, and especially climb, in an open face helmet.
– Are you personally more an open face or full face guy? Bluegrass Golden Eyes or Bluegrass Brave?
Definitely open face, the Golden Eyes all the way. It’s light but still has good coverage and some clever features like the goggle strap.
– We’ve seen that the EWS provides a big boost for the places where the events take place. Have you noticed the same boost in mountain bike tourism here in Wicklow?
We are definitely seeing more overseas visitors mountain biking here since the EWS. The awareness of Ireland as a mountain biking destination is certainly there now.
– What about the Irish MTB scene? Are there lots of new riders coming up?
We have a lot of young guns coming up now. A lot of guys have decided to focus on Enduro racing and it’s showing in the results. There are a lot of youth riders in the top 15 overall now.
– Speaking about the future, do you have any projects coming up in the area following the EWS Wicklow?
Right now, we’re just focusing on doing a super job at the weekend, and looking forward to having a few beers on Sunday night!
– And regarding Bluegrass’ partnership?
We have a few ideas up our sleeve, but for the moment we simply couldn’t run our events and develop the sport in Ireland without our partnership. I am sure that people see the support and effort that Bluegrass put into the grass roots aspect of the sport. It goes a long way.
– Last words?
Big shout out to the amazing Biking.ie Team who strive to be outstanding providers for the biking scene in Ireland every day. And be sure to tune into #EWSIreland this weekend!