So the long awaited home World Cup has arrived, and this year (so far) things are looking very different up at the ever rugged and highly anticipated Fort William Downhill race. As us Brits love to do, let’s begin with the very obvious – the weather. Holy heck! Given the conditions of recent years (mostly rain with the occasional dry day), blistering sunshine and a hell of a lot of dust is set to provide riders with a whole new set of challenges.
Hitting the boardwalk in the top section is the only place you’ll find guaranteed grip, especially if the weather stays as it has been today.
We took Thursday afternoon to walk down the track, with a bunch of riders and teams from all categories and classifications. This is all about the riders getting to grips with what they can expect from the track. With a load of new layouts this year, and certain sections of trails being groomed and altered, we can certainly expect proceedings to be interesting. As the ‘vision quest’ goes on and the air handlebars come out, the backlog of riders looking at each corner and section of trail grows. Through the thick of mass pointing, chin scratching and mumbling, one thing was pretty damn clear: this year looks like it could be a quick one.
Line choice is going to be super important this year, with the loose dusty track providing even more of a greasy riding surface than if it were wet.
Get it wrong and the gravel rash will go on for days, get it right however and you’re in for a belting run. Let the pointing, umming and ahhing begin.
Making sure the style for each corner is up to scratch and perfected is key.
High line? Low line? Mid line? I think we’d all just take a ‘get out of it still on the bike’ kind of line, right?
Each section of trail gets a good look through. Voiced opinions from different riders makes sure all aspects of the trail are thrown into the pot.
When a quiet moment appears, it’s time to visualise the track. Close those eyes. Get that ‘python hand’ out, and go through the motions. Compressing every line and gapping every rock section you can possibly imagine. We imagine this might be different when these riders are hurtling towards each technical section (with arms pumped to the limit).
Exit is just as important as entry when it comes to the technical sections at the top of Fort Bill; making sure the bike is ready and positioned for the next corner or rock garden is vital. Bad lines make bad times.
A lot of hands on hips action, along with the muttering of ‘like riding on dust covered marbles’ from the young guns.
New sections in the woods make for pretty interesting viewing (while walking). Let’s see what the pros make of it all, come the weekend. Making it look easy, we would assume.
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