You read it correctly people: just one month to go until the biggest show in mountain biking hits Fort William on the 8th and 9th June.
Since the first World Cup was held here in 2002, momentum has grown and grown and the event is now widely held to be the best on the entire MTB circuit. With passionate crowds bellowing for the riders from the start to finish, the atmosphere is electric whether you’re a die-hard mountain biker or simply looking for a fun day out with the family. Just check out this video to get a flavour for it:
Interested? Of course you are! Get all the info you need over at the official site. In the meantime, here are some personal tips of mine for first time spectators:
1. Staying over? Get your accommodation sorted early: this is a popular event, and places to stay fill up fast. Here’s our guide to accommodation in Fort William to get you started.
2. Try to get there fairly early – the atmosphere doesn’t just start with the racing. The party mood kicks off early on Saturday morning and continues over the weekend into Sunday evening, so get there early to make the most of things.
3. Enjoy hassle-free parking: Use one of the many free shuttle bus services in and around Fort William to keep things simple – they’re frequent, fast and free.
4. Track(side) walk! Get the Gondola to the top of Aonach Mor where the race begins and take in the majestic views down the mountain from the Snowgoose restaurant (where you can even enjoy a cheeky dram should the notion take you!). Then make your way slowly down the side of the track to cheer on the racers as they fly by. If you’ve never seen it before, you’ll be stunned at how fast these guys and girls can go over the rock-infested terrain. Likewise, don’t miss the 4x racing that takes place on the Saturday evening at the bottom of the mountain, where riders race four abreast in eliminator rounds until one person wins.
5. On race day, time your arrival at the finish to coincide with the last few racers – this is when excitement hits fever pitch and the arena explodes. Not to be missed!
6. Finally, you will be outdoors and up a mountain, so prepare accordingly! As with most outdoor activities, layers of clothing are a good idea, and this should include a warm jacket for the top of the mountain. Stout walking shoes are also recommended, as is midge repellent!
7. Get involved!: Whilst the World Cup track is open to anyone in the weeks leading up to and after the race, riding it is no mean feat and best left to the experienced. But there are great trails more suitable for those newer to the sport, from family friendly greens to red-graded cross country tracks. There’s even a red-graded downhill trail from the top of the mountain that the gondola will take you to. Learn more about the trails and bike hire here.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets now and look forward to one of the most exciting weekends of the summer!
In the meantime, we leave you with a little taste of what it’s like to ride the track yourself courtesy of one of the World’s top riders Greg Minaar (warning – not as easy as he makes it look!):
Photos courtesy of Duncan Murchison.