Kyoto is well known around the world for its deep rich history and amazing beauty, from cherry blossoms in the spring and vibrant colors in the fall… helmet-clad riders on mountain bikes ripping around the grounds of a Japanese Buddhist temple is about the last thing you’d expect to see. The Red Bull Holy Ride, in its fourth year, is a downhill bike race that took place at Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine in Kyoto. So excited that Red Bull could pull off this event at another great location, especially in the middle of the fall colors… well done!!
Despite the rainy drizzling start, 3,000 spectators came out to cheer on the riders that came to take the prize for the Red Bull Holy Ride 2014. It’s got tight corners, slick rocks and a hell of a lot of steps… an ancient stone stairway wandering around the temple’s grounds and make their way through several tight turns. The race was held in the beautiful location that was bathed in tradition and history.
The format of the race was open class only, which means no separation of elite, sex, etc., just one big class. Riders were only allowed one practice run, then into the qualifier. The practice run was pretty scary first time to ride the stairs and test the traction. The competition ran 113 riders one at a time for time to make the cut into the best 24, then they ran four at a time all the way through into the finals.
Rainy and misty weather over night and into the morning made it a bit tricky to keep traction, especially on all the rock pavement. The stairs were really slippery and really difficult not to crash coming off the starting gate, taking the quick first turn onto the first big set of stairs. Riders could get a better rhythm when they leaned far back on the rear tire and just power through the stairs. The straightaway leading up to the canyon jump looked like it was really fun, but the corners were a different story… super slow and super cautious.