Last weekend Gravel Grind West took place in the Wild Nephin National Park, Westport, Newport, Srahmore, and Letterkeen. The fast-growing adventure sport which is Gravel biking is new to Ireland but it's growing fast and judging by the numbers taking part last weekend it's only a matter of time before we see big numbers coming from the US, Europe, and Scandinavia to ride in the remote areas in the West of Ireland. "Komoot" the International adventure app sees the potential that the area has to offer and helped back the venture along with Faceface.ie who are no strangers to bringing new adventure events to Mayo.
On Friday evening participants tackled "The Skelp Blast", a 26k route using the off-road pilgrim trail, the Ownwee bog tracks with a steep finish on the ridge of Croagh Patrick which is known locally as Skelp. With conditions near perfect participants were finishing as the sun went down over Clewbay, one participant from the North of Ireland stated "it was magical"!
95% of the participants from the weekend's events came from outside of the Connacht area. In the years to come and with the right marketing we believe we can bring an international audience to West Mayo say’s the event organisers. Some of the best gravel around is just outside of Newport in the Letterkeen and Shramore areas of the Wild Nephin National park. This area is a hidden gem for all things adventure and last weekend the entrants got to ride the Holy Grail, that is The Wild Nephin.
There was an array of bikes on view, from the latest high-tech off-road machines available to your off-the-shelf basic hardtail but most participants used standard mountain bikes and hybrids. The routes were undulating with varying types of gravel paths to negotiate, skill level wasn’t a priority providing you took it easy but if you wanted to smash it, then that's a different matter!
Tommy Bourke was kind enough to host the Start/Finish area at the Towers bar and restaurant at the Quay Westport. He sponsored each participant a delicious gourmet Burger and a Mescan beer which is a recognised tradition for all Gravel finishers. Having Croagh Patrick looming in the background makes for quite a unique way to enjoy such pleasantries.
The organisers took a gamble promoting this event, with Covid restriction in the background. This being such a new concept to the area but their partners and sponsors were a great help bring events like these to the West Mayo region.
Thanks to the Towers Bar and Restaurant Westport, Komoot app, Nuasan body wipes, Del & Lee jewellery, Marrey Bikes, The Mariner Hotel Westport, Westport Bike Shop Ltd, Mayo.ie, Westport House, Great Western Greenway, Farmers and landowners around Newport, Wild Nephin National park, Coillte and Destination Westport.