Famous mountainbiker Matti Lehikoinen visits Kildare's Curragh plains

Loves the Guinness and Kildare's unique history

Conor McHugh

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Conor McHugh

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conor@leinsterleader.ie

Famous mountainbiker Matti Lehikoinen visits Kildare's Curragh plains

Matti Lehikoinen pictured on Braveheart Hill on the Curragh. Photo: Jimmy Doyle.

The Curragh had a famous visitor to the plains on Thursday - although he probably went unnoticed by most.

Matti Lehikoinen, from Finland, is one of the world’s top Enduro Mountain cyclists and is in Ireland to take part in the Emerald Enduro competition which is happening all weekend in Glenealy, Wicklow.

For the uninitiated, Enduro is a type of mountain bike racing where riders are timed in stages that are primarily downhill, with neutral transfer stages in between. The transfer stages usually must be completed within a time-limit, but are not part of the accumulated time.

The rider the lowest accumulated time once all stages are complete is the winner. It involves high levels of athleticism and bike handling skills - and very expensive bicycles.

Matti is a friend of Newbridge man Jimmy Doyle who livings in Finland. Jimmy brought him to see the highlights of his local area.

“I brought him for a good history lesson and he was so amazed that in Ireland there is so much unique history,” Jimmy explained.

“He really enjoyed his time in Kildare because when he goes to races he never gets time to just hang out and see the sites.

“And he can't believe how good Guinness tastes so good here.”

Matti pays his respects to Dan Donnelly.

Matti Lehikoinen, 33, is Finland's leading downhill cyclist. His previous achievements include 2001 junior European championship and top-ten placings in numerous downhill World Cups.

His career, while quite successful, has been blighted by a number of serious injuries, including  fracturing or breaking several vertebrae, both of his wrists, his collarbone and his pelvis.

For more on mountain bikes in Kildare, watch this!