Every October a touch of madness reaches the mountains of Ireland. They turn the conventions of the traditional passtime of fox hunting on its head. Instead of foxes and hounds, it's mountain bikers; the fox chases the hound and to make things even tougher, the fox is two-times DH World Champion, Gee Atherton. This isn't a gentle PR event either, talk to the locals and it's clear that they aren't shy on course, and neither is Gee. It's a mass-start, full-contact battle from the top of the mountain all the way down to the town below.
Morning sign-in for practice.
The riders were ferried up to the top in adapted farm trailers.
People did enjoy this event, honest, but early mornings are early mornings.
The shuttles couldn't get riders quite all the way up to the top - there was still a pretty good push/pedal above the drop-off point.
The track starts at the top of the mountain and in around six minutes (on the full Sunday track), descends to the town below.
Practice started Friday. Photo - Sebastian Marko
The clouds rolled around the mountains all weekend, making a misty backdrop to the action.
In practice Gee was getting some time in, slicing through the field.
The top of the course is a purpose-built course through the clear-cut upper slopes of the mountain.
Effortless style from the 2x DH World Champ. Photo - Sebastian Marko
With this many riders on track, you need to be creative looking for your lines, to go where the others aren't.
Gee was evaluating a new GoPro prototype...
Come Sunday afternoon, riders pushed up to the very summit of the mountain for the big show. Photo - Sebastian Marko
The skies were ominious as riders lined up, but the weather played nice. Photo - Sebastian Marko
Gee gets view of his quarry. Photo - Sebastian Marko
The bugle blows to start the hunt... Photo - Sebastian Marko
Chaos ensues. Photo - Sebastian Marko
There was a line there somewhere... Photo - Sebastian Marko
From the top of the mountain there was a more traverse-y section into the race track.
Carnage is the only word for it.
Once riders left the top of the mountain, they rejoined Saturday's course and it was all-out carnage as riders sped down the wide, fast track.
There was no time to take in the view once the race started.
Colin Ross beat Gee for the third time in a row - holding a ten second lead across the finish line.
Eyes on the prize for Gee. The speed he tore through the field at was terrtifying and really highlighted how much faster the top WC boys are than us mere mortals.
Apparently brakes were an optional extra, you could simply pinball your way down off the other riders.
Some riders went completely off-piste, riding metres clear of the track.
There was plenty of celebration for Colin's victory.
This was not an uncommon site.
The smile of a survivor. Despite the carnage and the tough track, there were almost unanaimous smiles at the bottom.
Your top three men - Colin Ross, Gee Atherton and Dave Egan.
Gee was getting the laps in in practice. Photo - Sebastian Marko