Stages four and five (the trip back to Ireland) - I don’t know which was
more tough! The final stage of the Beskidy MTB Trophy saw us go up and down
more steep climbs. Billed as being the most difficult stage, although the
climbing was tough I found the descending and technical riding to be easier
than the previous days (maybe I have finally left my roadie awkwardness
As the other days, at 9am we rolled out on a few gentle kilometres of
tarmac until we hit the real climbing. In the central part of the race they
packed in almost 3,000m of climb across 60km so it really was either steep
up or steep down. Like the previous day, on the first properly steep and
loose section Ben and Torsten gapped me but on the descents I would get
back closer. There were a few riders around me for the first hour or two
but after I fixed my puncture (the only one I had in the race - an
achievement on a hardtail (Thanks Stan’s Valor wheels and Schwalbe tires)!)
I started to make progress to the boys ahead.
At the base of the longest climb I was five minutes back but by the top I
had pulled it back to three - averaging a pretty constant 12% all the way
up it was more towards the steepness I liked. After the climb we were
treated to some of the most fun descending in the whole race, super fast
burmey single track - all the memories of how to pump the ground for free
speed came back and I was hop skipping over roots and rocks with them
barely touching my tires - I could have done this for ever.
Like the other days as I got closer to the end I was approaching the front
of the race - I got time checks of 1-2 minutes in the remaining kilometres
but ran out of road finishing 1:40 behind the two leaders. Enough for 3rd
on the stage and 2nd overall on GC (first in GC in my category).
I have raced many places around the world, and on most continents but I
have to admit that the last 5 days (including the day before riding around)
has been some of the most fun, challenging and beautiful racing I have
done. The unseasonably perfect (well, maybe TOO hot) weather just added to
I wanted to wait until I got back home to Ireland safely before I said
this, but from leaving on Tuesday to the race and returning on Sunday it
was an almost perfect 5-6 days. Everything from the race organisers, track,
general hospitality and our accommodation (http://www.japonica.pl/) could
barely be improved. As I sit back getting into a normal work day I really
do have stage race blues.
The riding made stage race newbie, Scott McCarron, want more!
Beskidy is one of the hardest races I have ever done. I have raced a few marathons and done a couple of long sportifs. This was my first stage stay race. The weather was great being in the high 20s every day. The area is very mountainous so there were a lot of tough, long climbs, but the views and descents more than made up for that. There was a group of competitors that I would end up riding with as we had a similar speed and ability, which made for some good competition and also some company on the climbs. The course varied between dry, rocky, fire roads and rooty singletrack. The descents were super steep and very challenging, if you were to fall it would hurt!
At the end of each stage I was knackered and worried about recovering for the next day, by morning though I was ready and looking forward to doing it all again. The 4 days went very quickly and I wish it was a bit longer, those tough challenging climbs and great views make me want to ride more and more. It's great fun and I would recommend it to anyone.