Helmets on, everyone! The UCI Mountain Bike World CupÂ 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 hundredsÂ of the worldâs best riders from over 25 nations, including some of the sportâs 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 overÂ some of the steepest slopes in the Highlands,Â Â the terrain at Fort William is notoriously extreme, making it one of the mostÂ eagerly anticipated events in theÂ mountain biking calendar. And with plenty of new twists and turns added to this year’s event,Â 2016 looks set to be best edition yet.
FACT:Â Fort Williamâs 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 Â© Ian MacNicol
Situated in the south-west corner of the Highlands, Fort âBillâ 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 youâre road-tripping, set off bright and early, so that you donât miss any of the action.
Fort William hostsÂ theÂ second downhill stage of the WorldsÂ and theÂ secondÂ gold event on the BUFFÂź 4X Pro Tour, one of the most important events in the mountain biking calendar. Youâll 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 andÂ Ruaridh Cunningham, too.
The loud, enthusiastic crowd is a massive part of the eventâs atmosphere, so keep cheering on your favourites!Â 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 youâre 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 Williamâs main street. If youâre staying over, the local campsites are bound to be celebrating into the wee hours. When itâs 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 youâre in townâŠ
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 Scotlandâs deepest loch to our tallest mountain at Lochaber Geoparks. Why not challenge yourself to climb âThe Benâ? An energetic hike up Ben Nevis will reward you with some of the best views in the country.
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