This is a report from my second visit to Fort William’s World Championship in DH.
Initially we spent some time around Scotland and punished ourselves by walking to the summit of Ben Nevis on Saturday. 2h:07m is certainly not the best time in the world, but I overtook most of the people going up and managed to do it without one single stop – it is shame I can’t pedal up hills with the same enthusiasm. Then we celebrated our existence with a couple of litres of vodka, gin, vine and others….
Sunday – the big day!
Arriving at World Cup village at around 11am, we started cruising around the exhibition stands.
One thing that has caught my eye – an all mountain bike frame machined out of single block of alloy – no welds! (see picture A). The complete bike is around 14kg and the price of the frame is around £2500. The guy told me that it takes 25 hours of machining to make the main part of the frame – what a job!
This year I decided to do it opposite way – walk up the hill and take the gondola down for the descent (saving painful knees from the day before). Good idea it was – no queueing for gondola at the bottom and no sliding down on extremely messy and muddy paths around the course.
Immediately after the race started I realized that racing times were longer (+15secs) than the last year and I wondered why….
The course went through few changes just before the World Cup and those changes made it quite brutal. Seeing the course last year and being riding for the whole year, I was under impression I might be able to do it, but…
NO mate! NO way!
There are a few additions at the second half of the course like a 2m high ramp going over a fire road with 45 degree steep landing immediately followed by two crazy berms (all on gravel surface, pict.B) and a few other drops going straight into steep, very rooty and rocky sections (pict. C) This helped to change my opinion very quickly – no Fort William course for Martin this year!
The top section of the course is where real rock garden is and that’s where bikes strength comes to the test (pict. D, E)! The sounds coming out of these racing machines when riders flew through there were quite – hmm..scary I would say..
There were some light crashes this year – 3 or 4 in exactly the same place, but nothing serious – all riders always picked themselves up and finish the run.
At the top we saw a few of the top riders warming up and preparing for the final. The view from gondola cabin on the way down gave us once again a good overview of the whole course and after 10 minutes we joined a massive crowd at the village just in time to see the ten best riders bombing down (on the big screen too).
Fantastic atmosphere! Lots of noise and some really nice girls and yeah – Greg Minnaar nailed it! Flying through the course like a mad dragon he took 1st. place.
To sum it all up, it was one of the best events this year me and my friends attended and we will be definitely going back next year.
When I got back home and still full of enthusiasm from the event I jumped on my blue Orange yesterday afternoon and didn’t realize that I am just me (old, heavy and slow Martin). Jumped, flew, crashed! Got hit to the bottom three ribs and stomach. Couldn’t breath all night…hopefully will see you in couple of weeks folks!