Get prepared for all the elements that are supposed to be involved in a traditional fox hunt – red uniforms, a wild ride, excitement trembling in the air, a spectacular chase, hunters, and the characteristic humidity of a mid-October weather. Only one crucial detail is fortunately missing: the real fox. Instead of it, shortly after the mass start of 450 riders, there are three professional bikers released whose task is to beat the rest of the competitors on one track.
Software developer Tomas Sorejs, living alternately in Innsbruck and Prague, has been thinking about participating in a Fox Hunt for a couple of years, yet he’s never applied for the registration. However, this fall Tomas set out to Northern Ireland to experience a great biking adventure. We sat him down and didn’t stop asking until he told us everything about it.
Tomas, where did you get familiar with Red Bull Fox Hunt?
My friend Kamil Hnyk has been living in Ireland for more than ten years now. We hike and bike in the mountains a lot and we talked about this race many times as Kamil participated even before Red Bull and their athlete Gee Atherton got involved and made this event famous. I promised Kamil that I would visit him and attend the race with him. He was riding with me this summer and when we were beer-talking after a nice day spent in the bike seat, we returned to the idea and made a gentleman’s agreement that this year, I’ll show up. Since my girlfriend Veronika gave me a flight ticket to Ireland as a Christmas gift, it was much easier to make my decision.
What was the hardest part of the race?
I already came to Ireland with a serious sore throat and felt really poor. Another challenge was to deal with a tide of Guinness beers. Somewhere I learned that the Irish don’t drink when racing but, after the recent experience, I’m not sure about the credibility of this saying. Weather is also an important factor. The race took place at Rostrevor Bike Center, which lies right by the sea with the chill wind blowing ceaselessly. During the Saturday training session, someone disconnected a cable of the timer and the start was postponed by an hour, so everyone was terribly cold.
How did you tackle the track?
I underestimated several things. Firstly, I did not check the part coming just after the starting line. It’s an important step because if you don’t get the right position just after the start, you would completely lose a chance for a good placing. This was my mistake and I want to come back and try to make a better result in the future.
Do you have any tips for readers who would like to take part?
I recommend watching videos from previous years. The key how to succeed is a well-planned tactic. The track is not wide enough to accommodate all the participants at once and so it’s definitely worthwhile to secure your pole position by achieving a viable result from the qualifications that are held on Saturday. This way you’d be included in the first wave with better chances to get down before some of the three “foxes” catch you. There’s a narrow wooden bridge shortly after the start where people get stuck. You must reach the bridge among the first to go through because then a single track follows with no possibility of overtaking again.
How would you rate the event overall?
Actually, Red Bull Fox Hunt is not about the results. It’s not even a serious race. There’s a great atmosphere and all people are super friendly. The countryside of Northern Ireland is simply beautiful. It was a major concern for me that I finally visited my buddy as I promised him and I had a good time with riding. The lower part of the race is led through a perfect bike park, which is a lot of fun itself. I recommend arriving a couple of days earlier because the location lures for perfect bike trips. And then there is the Guinness beer!
What kind of bike would be the most suitable for Fox Hunt?
Everyone I saw had an Enduro bike, which was fair enough for the local conditions. No downhill bikes are needed at all. I was totally happy with my Author EVO.
Do you think that even amateurs could enrol?
As the event was founded by non-professionals, the amateurs will always be present. There are many older fellows riding the bikes with rigid frames. The most entertaining part of the Fox Hunt is that it’s all about the fun. Everyone can take part and enjoy the great atmosphere.
About Tomas (28): With the first cycling experience at the age of three, he took part in the first downhill race in 2004. Since then, he participated in several series of the Czech 3DH Cup and scored a couple of significant slopestyle competitions. He lives in Innsbruck, Austria, with his Slovak girlfriend Veronika.