The big event returns to Fort Bill, and this time I’ll be there!
I’ve been trying to make it to the Fort William world cup for about 4 years now. The closest I’ve come so far was a year when I was returning to Edinburgh from Skye – driving home from a conference for work. I managed to nip by the world cup site on the way, stopping for about an hour on the Friday set-up day. There was no racing going on, but plenty of practise and I saw a few of the big guns coming down from their training runs, flying over the final drop-off as if it were a catapult. The drop must be about 2 metres but the guys sailed past it as if it were the 1ft drops common at my local trail. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand how freeriders and downhillers can take to the air for half a dozen heartbeats and not tip over on the way.
Initially I was a bit disappointed to be there on the training day rather than the big event, but as I wandered around it was pretty obvious that there were a few advantages to the early arrival. Watching the practise I got right up to the barrier as previous world champs came down – Sam Hill and Greg Minnar among them. Little chance I’d get such an awesome view on the Saturday!
Then, wandering around the tented area I turned a corner and bumped into a pretty tall guy in a racing jersey. Looking up to say sorry I stopped short – Steve Peat stared down at me, smiled and moved on. He walked into his Santa Cruz area and jumped on the warm-up bike, chatting to the mechanic beside him, no doubt about minute adjustments to his set-up – something that’d not make the slightest difference to me, but probably meant a tenth of a second and 2 or 3 places on the leadboard to him.
Another 10 steps and I stopped again – this time it was Dan Atherton on the warm-up bike, slugging away on some luminous coloured liquid, probably full of those mysterious electrolytes. It’s what your body craves. Apparently. Dan would have been warming up for the 4X that year – one of the few he’s not been injured in, or so it seems. I’ve no idea how he did I’m afraid!
I suppose I missed out on the atmosphere – there certainly wasn’t the noise and the chaos of the full race day, but I had a pretty good time for the hour or so I managed to visit the world cup. Pretty sure I wont bump into Peaty this weekend among the tens of thousands of others that attend on the finals day for example! I’m sure I’ll manage though, and maybe we’ll even see a UK victory, the great Steve Peat or the next to be great Gee Atherton.
The only question is, am I lazy enough to get a gondola pass or do I hoof it up the circuit? Gotta get high enough for a good view after all! Well, it is a Sunday, suspect a few beers might push me in the direction of the gondola… Maybe see you there!
Image: [email protected] – Flickr