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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blokes On Bikes

I've just returned from the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup races at Fort William, and what a top weekend it was. Lets start at the beginning.

The road from the central belt of Scotland up into the Highlands and on to Fort William itself passes through some of the most incredible landscape in the UK, possibly even the world. If you're passing through here, bring a camera.

We arrived at the Nevis Bank Hotel in Fort William on Saturday afternoon, and from the outside it looks like the respectable, family run, two star hotel that the website claims. Well that would be true if your family were all Polish, and the two star rating was optimistic at best!
Anyway, it had a bed, which was all we really wanted.
Inevitably, the beers started flowing around 6ish in the afternoon and that's where everything started to go Pete Tong. Some fucking bright spark, I'll not say who it was but he is rather freckly, decided that we should try some of the local beers, including one flavoured with Elderflower. It was like drinking fabric softener. To cut a long story short, we found ourselves at a caleigh dance in the town hall along with several hundred other heavily intoxicated mountain bikers. All was going well until two of my friends, I won't name them but one is a 'relationship manager' and the other looks like The Edge from U2, sat on one of the tables scattered around the hall, promptly snapping the leg off of it, and depositing them and everyone's drinks all over the floor. The rest of the night is a bit fuzzy, but as it drew to a close we found ourselves wandering back along the main road to our hotel past a house that had a trampoline in the front garden. You don't have to be Mystic Meg to work out what happened next. Some of the group, I won't reveal who it was but one is freckly, one is a 'relationship manager', one looks like The Edge, and one has a lot of product in his hair, decided that the lure of said trampoline was too much to resist and invaded the garden of the house . . . just as a police car was driving past. It was around this point that I was doubled over, laughing SO hard that it was actually painful. I should point out that we're all approaching 40!

Time passes.
I woke up on the Sunday with a monumental hangover, and even the thought of any kind of cooked breakfast was enough to have me heading for the toilet, and I wasn't the only one.
It took some time, and a few venison burgers, before some semblance of normality was resumed.

The racing.
The downhill course at Fort William has to be seen to be believed. Huge speed, big air, and that's just the women! Some parts of the course scare the hell out of me, but the competitors seem to have no regard for life or limb and throw themselves and their machinery down the hill with seemingly reckless abandon. Having said that, they are mostly a lot younger than me.
The event itself is run much like downhill skiing. A timed semi-final has an eventual group of the fastest riders, 21 for the women, 70 for the men, who then make their run at 1 minute intervals, slowest riders first. This makes for a great finish, with the fastest runs coming towards the end of each event.

The womens event was a very popular home win for Britain's Tracy Moseley, who fired herself and her KONA down the course in a time that would have beaten more than a few of the male competitors!

The mens race was a belter, with the lead being swapped between at least 8 or 9 riders. Crowd favourite Steve Peat looked like he was going to take home the silverware for a time, but eventually South Africa's Greg Minaar defied gravity and physics long enough on his Santa Cruz to win.
'Exciting' doesn't even begin to describe the downhill event. I thought it was incredible, and I'm damn sure I'll be back next year.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Fort William has a trampoline?! And beer?! Am booking the summer hols right now...