What an event this was, wild is the word for this great event hosted by www.raceface.ie that really show cases Mayo’s rugged beauty. I only found out I could go at the last minute and checked could I get into the 200K race. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible but there was a deferred entry for the 300K race which I snapped up. I had done the event previously in 2021 on a calm July day and decided to do on my TT bike this time.
After a quick efficient sign in a the Mariner Hotel and bike check Friday evening I checked into the Westport Coast Hotel. My start time was 7.21 Saturday morning so after a quick bit to eat it was an early night for me. Next morning I had a nice short warm up to the start of the race. (Even the town is hilly) After the bag drop and a quick starting line interview it was race time.
I was quite confident I knew the way after navigating successfully the last time so was a little too relaxed on getting the navigation set up. 100meters from the start of the race I was lost and trying to figure out where to go. Finally took a guess and the navigation finally kicked in and of I went.
The start was a nice new smooth road with a helpful tail wind. From here though it was into the furnace on twisty country roads with moderate to steep inclines. I had a number of chain drops to deal with in this section due to some finer adjustment still needed on the double chain ring I had just fitted for the event.
To have some idea of how I was getting on during the race and to pass the time I asked a friend to text me updates to let me know how I was getting on and I would see them on the Garmin.
I got to see the first 3 updates that let me know I was over a minute off the lead but my Garmin stopped showing me these after that for some reason so I had no idea of how I was doing against the strong field of competition.
After ~180K the warm up was over and it was time for Achill where the race really starts to bite.
This was the location of the bag drop so was able to top up the 2 bottles I had left on the bike. (1 got lost somewhere) The winds really picked up in Achill especially with elevation. The roads here and for most of the route where extremely quiet apart from the hundredths of sheep with big curly horns.
Next up was the dreaded Minaun, which must be one of if not the toughest climb in Ireland with 20% gradients. Even the cars struggle to go up and down but somehow I got up it on the TT bike without getting off. However coming down was a real challenge, I never felt cross winds like it. I fought with the deep section wheel and disc all the way down. By the bottom the front brake disc was glowing with the heat. On the way down I was meeting fellow competitors and trying to judge if they were ahead or behind based on their start times however I still had no idea.
Onto the Keem beech from here. The road here was just resurfaced so the climb in and out felt much easier than in 2021. I think I had paced the race much better too as I knew what lay ahead this year. I was expecting a head wind all the way home from here and was ready for it but somehow I picked up a cross/tail wind all the way back to Westpost on smooth fast roads much to my delight at this stage in the race. This was the stuff the TT bike was made for. While the TT bike probably cost me sometime in the early parts of the race it helped pull back time here.
I crossed the finish line in first place in a time of 10hours and 12 minutes. At this time it was too early to know if this was enough for the win however shortly after I could breath a sigh of relief and celebrate the victory with my fellow competitors in the post race celebrations.
Although only 5 watts on up on last time I was over 15 minutes faster in what must have been slower conditions with the wind. It helped this time I carried more fuel and hydration so was only 6 minutes off the bike in total even with the multiple chain drops.
Another DBCC club member Mickey Hall completed the 650K and got second place. Hats off to him and his crew (Killian & Colm) At over double the distance and sleep deprivation it is a whole other level. For anyone who would like a challenge in a beautiful part of Ireland the Wild Mayo Ultra Race is for you and your bucket list with distances for everyone.