Mountain Bike World Cup
With the legendary Mountain Bike World Cup talking place in Fort William this June, we give you a sneaky preview of what’s in store for the 2009 championships.
Death defying jumps at breakneck speeds are all in a day’s work for the competitors at this year’s UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. The event is one of a series of 12 world-class mountain biking competitions which take place across Europe, Canada, South Africa and Australia.
Nestled on the slopes of Aonach Mor near Fort William, the Nevis Range expects to attract more than 400 competitors and up to 20,000 spectators to the event, voted the ‘Best Mountain Bike Event in the World’ three years running. Battling it out over the weekend, global biking stars will put their skill, determination, bottle (and frankly, underwear) to the test as they charge down the UK’s ninth highest mountain with only two wheels for company.
The focal point for the event is the World Cup Village, which opens to spectators on June 6th and is the best place to spot the stars and soak up the atmosphere. As well as being the ‘Finish’ arena for all events, there are also trade stands offering the latest mountain bike goodies, demonstrations, competitions, food and drink, support and unusual entertainment. There is also the World Cup Bike Test area with the latest bikes for testing... and drooling over.
The British Trial event takes place in the village over both days and showcases the amazing skill and technique of the talented chaps who can make their bikes do ridiculous things in, over and around some unusual obstacles. Look out for pant-wetting displays of control and athleticism on rocks, logs, pipes, barrels and vehicles. If you value your front teeth and dignity, don’t try it at home.
Out on the championship course, the ‘4 Cross’ competition promises to be a thriller. Four brave riders start together and hoof it down a custom built course of bends and jumps, with the two fastest riders proceeding to the next round. This knock-out competition culminates with the World Cup winner being crowned on Saturday night before the mother of all parties in Fort William (see website for details).
‘The Cross Country Sprint’ event sees the UK’s best super-fit endurance riders battling over a one kilometre loop in front of the gathering crowds before the penultimate ‘Downhill’ event commences.
Those brave enough will descend 555 metres over a 2.8 kilometre course and, if the descent isn’t enough to deal with, riders have rock gardens, rock slabs and enormous jumps to negotiate en-route. Riders need physical strength, quick reflexes, superb bike control and an eye for the right line as they hurl themselves down the mountain.
There will be ‘big air’ a-plenty so get there early, bag a good spot and prepare to be amazed... and probably a tiny bit scared.
2009 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, 6-7 June, Fort William. For tickets and a full programme of events visit www.fortwilliamworldcup.co.uk
On the Right Track
In honour of the Mountain Bike World Cup, we check out some of the top bike tracks around Scotland
Laggan Wolftrax is a new addition to the Forestry Commissions Off Road cycle tracks and is based in the scenic Strathmashie Forest in Laggan. If you’re looking for a gentle ride then the Wolftrax Green Route is a perfect lazy-arse amble through the forest. It zig-zags through tall pine trees and has basic single-track and trail features, making it ideal for beginners. And once you’ve mastered it, you might be ready to play with the big boys on the Red Route, which features ‘Fang Corner’ and ‘Wolf Run’.
Laggan Wolftrax, Strathmashie Forest, Laggan, Newtonmore, 01528 544 786, www.basecampmtb.com
The Clatteringshaws Loch Trail isn’t linked to a main cycle park, but is a lovely do-it-yourself mountain bike route around the loch-side. It is mostly on flat forest road, but there are some steep climbs and descents towards the end of the route to give those thighs a bit of a work out. It’s set in a scenic rural area that crosses paths with the Wild Goat Park. But you’re advised to keep on the look-out for feral goats, which if disturbed will let out an explosive hiss. Just smile sweetly and pick up speed. And remember that the four-legged were here before the two-wheeled and helmeted.
Clatteringshaws, Galloway Forest Park, New Galloway. Visit www.cycling.visitiscotland.com for more information on the route.
The Shredder is the new downhill free-ride trail at the Ae cycle park. It features table-top jumps, fast berms and rocky descents through tight trees. A downhill run is a good way to learn the disciplines of mountain biking, as control and restraint are key - if you don’t have them you’ll likely end up in a muddy heap. And every obstacle on the Shredder has an easier alternative, so if you feel something looks too intimidating then simply find another way - or get off your bike and walk around it.
Ae Forest 7 Stanes Centre, Ae Village, Parkgate, Dumfries and Galloway, 01387 860 541, www.ae7.co.uk
Approach With Caution
OK, so you reckon you’re ready for the big stuff? Well, you might think again once you’ve taken a look at the Glentress Black Route. Highlights (if you can call them that) include a six-hundred metre climb to Dunslair Heights, rock-lined chutes and burn crossings. That said, it is an extremely interesting ride and the final descent is breathtaking - a 40 metre drop over 300 metres, which is extremely steep. No wonder this bike park has the nickname ‘Glenstress’, we’re sweating just thinking about it.
Glentress, Glentress Forest, Peebles, 01721 721 736, www.thehubintheforest.co.uk