red bull foxhunt
Dark grey clouds hung over Rostrevor Forest Park, only interrupted by even darker and more threatening clouds. The tree’s green leaves were dying and fading to yellow and brown before falling to the forest floor. Rostrevor Forest Park, in Northern Ireland, was the location again for the Red Bull Foxhunt. The event involves five hundred and fifty mountain bikers (the hounds) simultaneously racing down the mountain, being chased by two time Downhill World Champion Gee Atherton, current Downhill World Cup winner Loic Bruni, and the fan’s favourite Greg Callaghan who currently sits in sixth place in the World Enduro Series.
Cycling is one of those sports where there is a lot of interaction between fans and the best in the world. Mountain biking is no different. Pro riders were casually strolling around posing for selfies and chatting with spectators and fellow racers. The people of Ireland, both North and South, are passionate fans, and the large turnout, despite the weather, proves that. The strong Northern Irish accents were the only noticeable contrast to most Red Bull videos seen online.
Creeping up the slope and through the forest, to get the best view possible, there was a noticeable difference between the mucky path to the forest and the dry trail under the thick and dense tree cover. If the sun ever does return, I’m not sure it will be able to find its way through to the forest floor.
As the wind whurred through the trees and the leading riders emerged, the usual tweeting of birds and rustling of footsteps was replaced with the crowd erupting in an explosion of noise with cowbells, chainsaws, and cheers. As the smoke bombs cleared and the neon bikes disappeared through the trees, the sheer variety of the riders could be seen. Young men ploughing downhill on carbon steeds, women sleekly slashing berms and older men on eye-wateringly expensive and beautiful bikes. At one point, even a rigid fat-bike rolled by.
Once all the smoke disappeared and the cowbells put away, it emerged that local man Colin ‘Rosco’ Ross was the fastest hound on show for the fourth time. Kilian Bron and Glyn O’Brien managed to evade the pros and finish second and third respectively. Gee was the fastest of the pros while Greg wrestled second place from Loic.