THE Mountain Bike Event of the Year.
This would be our fourth visit to Fort Wiliam for the UCI DH MTB World Cup (having made our first pilgrimage north in 2011) and this time things would be slightly different…
No camping for starters – due to holidays and lack of cash most of the team were unable to attend (sell outs!) so it was me and the Mrs making the now annual trip to The Bill. We wouldn’t be camping on Lochy either. We have stayed on the awesome Lochy campsite the past 3 years and I can highly recommend it, a great World Cup weekend atmosphere and a handy location, you can stroll to the shuttle bus from here and grab breakfast (and even your tea) from the legendary Highland Chef on site.
This year we had upgraded to a caravan on Linnhe Lochside, spare room courtesy of me ‘old man’ and his fairer half, cheers pops! Last year we checked out this campsite and were well impressed by the facilities and the view, there were also a few privateers and small teams staying here so you really do feel part of the whole circus.
Although further out of town, Linnhe Lochside Campsite had a feeder bus which dropped you off at the now abandoned Tesco Park and Ride – it’s much easier than driving up to the site (unless of course you are the mechanic for one of the riders – in which case you are golden – big shout to Alex Bennett who was in the enviable position of wrenching for Jack Reading and the One Vision team over the weekend – access all areas!).
From 2011-2014 we had great weather, mostly dry and sunny, although we didn’t completely escape the rain it was shorts and t-shirts on the hill a couple of times. This year was a bit different – we departed Manchester at the start of a well forecast heat wave, arriving in Fort William 7 hours later to find the locals had endured 2 weeks of heavy rain and strong winds. “That’s the rain out of the way then” we hoped, sadly it wasn’t to be, with heavy rain showers and strong winds ever present throughout Friday and Saturday. With the teasing glimpses of sunshine which came with every break in the clouds, we stayed positive and said a little prayer to @mtb_Jesus.
By the time we were out of bed on the Saturday qualifying had been postponed until Sunday and it was still pissing it down. We headed for the shuttle bus anyway and we weren’t alone, clearly the rain wasn’t going to deter the fans. The site was packed and weather worn with people taking shelter where they could. The 4X had also been moved forward to keep the fans from tearing up the pits looking for free stickers. It cleared up a bit for the 4X race in the afternoon and it was all action as usual – saves, slides and sniper lines in abundance, the crowd was moist but their spirits far from dampened. The racing was tight with BOOM BOOM Beaumont getting pipped by Joost ‘The Boost’ Wichman on the final corner (what a move that was).
Part 2 coming soon,