It's midnight, racing stopped some five hours ago and my ears are still ringing. While last year's turnout was amazing for this race, this year the fans turned it up to 11. There were more chainsaws, cowbells, horns and whistles than I've ever seen at an enduro race. Then there is the fancy dress, usually with some twist that means you wouldn't want your grandmother to see what was being worn on track. Like the Pope with a giant penis drawn on his leg... There are no fans quite like the Irish and I think most people in the circuit would be happy to bring them all with us to each stop. That kind of atmosphere changes a race. All the little niggles and imperfections fade into insignificance as it just lifts the whole event. So much so that riders with mechanicals were going to extraordinary lengths to get back to the pits to keep going just for the fans. More than a few of the top riders earned DNFs, missing stages after problems, but ended up going back up later in the day to put on a show for the fans. While Niall and the crew have undoubtedly put together a slick, professional event, it is the work they put into promoting it, and making sure that people come to watch it, that leaves so many of the riders and media going away thinking that this is one of the best races of the year.
And what a race the riders put on for those fans. In the women's field, Tracy Moseley returned to race for the fans and put on a masterclass in how to dominate an enduro race. In the men's race, well, where do you start? The lead chopped and changed throughout the day as riders' fortunes ebbed and waned. But as the day went on the unthinkable started to become real - local lad Greg Callaghan started to break through to the front of the pack... Hot on his heels were one of the greatest downhillers of our time, Sam Hill, and last year's series champion, Richie Rude, charging from misfortune to smash chunks out of the lead and come within a gnat's breath of upsetting the whole repeat fairytale. While last year's ride from Greg was stunning, he came in as an outside bet, few could dare to hope that he would bring it home. This year there was pressure, and there was an expectation. There were thousands of fans who in no small part came to see him win again. To deal with that in the way he did is astounding, and demonstrates a level of mental strength that few athletes possess. There are scarce few riders in the sport who have ever won at the highest level on their home soil - just ask riders like Steve Peat, Greg Minnaar or Fabien Barel how difficult and special it is to achieve once in a career. To achieve it twice is something even fewer have ever done. Greg is Ireland's first ever professional enduro mountain biker and as the man who brought the fairytale to life twice, his place in history for Irish mountain bikers is assured after today.
Some people here this weekend knew Stevie Smith well, others admired him from afar - from Sam Hill running a tribute on his toptube, to a fan dedicating his chainsaw, it's clear from the tributes this weekend that his passing is a loss felt across the sport and around the world.
What can we say about Greg Callaghan? Repeating the win on home soil is unbelievable.