Helmets on, everyone! The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is just around the bend, and once again the town of Fort William will play host to this incredible event, jam-packed with fierce competition, daredevil tricks and maybe a little bit of mud as well.
Mention Fort William in any mountain biking circles, and expect huge smiles of friendly acknowledgement. From 4 – 5 June, the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ will warmly welcome hundreds of the world’s best riders from over 25 nations, including some of the sport’s biggest stars, including 2015 champion Rachel Atherton and the legendary Steve Peat, who will retire from World Cup racing at the end of the year. Unfolding over some of the steepest slopes in the Highlands, the terrain at Fort William is notoriously extreme, making it one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the mountain biking calendar. And with plenty of new twists and turns added to this year’s event, 2016 looks set to be best edition yet.
FACT: Fort William’s UCI Mountain Bike World Cup has been named No.1 on a list of the top five bike events for spectators in 2016 by major mountain bike sponsor, Red Bull.
Want to be there too? Go to the official site to book tickets and start planning your trip to the Highlands now!
Nathan Rankin from New Zealand competing at Fort William © Ian MacNicol
Situated in the south-west corner of the Highlands, Fort ‘Bill’ is well connected to the main cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh with regular transport links by train and bus. There are shuttle buses to take you straight to the event and if you’re road-tripping, set off bright and early, so that you don’t miss any of the action.
Fort William hosts the second downhill stage of the Worlds and the second gold event on the BUFF® 4X Pro Tour, one of the most important events in the mountain biking calendar. You’ll feel the sheer speed of the track as riders navigate their way down the Aonach Mor slopes, over epic jumps, steep drops and rocky steps. Look out for British superstars such as Rachel Atherton, Gee Atherton and Ruaridh Cunningham, too.
The loud, enthusiastic crowd is a massive part of the event’s atmosphere, so keep cheering on your favourites! Watch the drama unfold on wide screens while tucking into delicious food and drink, or make your way down to the World Cup village for biking demonstrations, competitions and stalls selling the latest MTB goodies.
For experienced bikers, the World Cup track is open to the public in the weeks leading up to the event, so bring your elbow pads and tick it off your list. If you’re feeling inspired to try the sport, there is thrilling biking available for all abilities in the area, from the Nevis Range to the Witch’s Trails in Leanachan Forest.
When night falls, there are many ways to unwind after an exhilarating day on the mountain. Sample some delicious home cooking at the top of the course at the Snowgoose restaurant or head into town for a pint of traditional ale at the Grog & Gruel on Fort William’s main street. If you’re staying over, the local campsites are bound to be celebrating into the wee hours. When it’s finally time to put the brakes on, there are many other things to see and do, places to stay and attractions in Fort William and the surrounding area.
Nevis Range, Fort William
While you’re in town…
The amazing Highland landscape is bursting with tales of the past. If you have time, find out more about the ancient geological formations which surround you, from Scotland’s deepest loch to our tallest mountain at Lochaber Geoparks. Why not challenge yourself to climb ‘The Ben’? An energetic hike up Ben Nevis will reward you with some of the best views in the country.