Fort William UCI Mountain Bike World Cup
Speed, skill, nerve and control are the keywords at the Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup, a two-wheel heaven for bike lovers.
The 2006 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is coming back to Fort William and is bringing an unprecedented level of greased-up extreme sports excitement with it.
Over 18,000 fans came last year, and more are expected this year as 400 world class riders from over 35 countries descend upon the Highlands from Friday 26 May to Sunday 28. Aonach Mor, the Nevis Range and the Leanchan Forest form the beautiful arena which will see adrenaline and blood coursing over the hills.
As they prepare to host this mammoth event in the mountain biking world, the organisers have been awarded their fourth successive award as the best downhill and 4-cross events in the World Series for 2005. Consider then, that was only their fourth hosting; a 100% record of achievement. Fort William is a pit stop on the world tour which takes in Canada, Brazil, Germany and Spain among others.
This is the coming together of the best mountain bikers in the world, on one of the best, most exciting tracks in the world. The riders compete in three events: downhill, 4-cross and cross country, all screaming with speed, skill, nerve and control.
Downhill is the darling of the competition. Downhill all the way, funnily enough, the course drops 525 metres and requires balls of steel to complete 2.6km in four minutes. Last year saw a British 1st and 2nd and there will be some major British contenders again this year.
Cross country is the Olympic endurance feat. Travelling 42 kilometres over a rock strewn 8km loop in less than two hours the riders who succeed must be ridiculously fit with a mental attitude to boot.
4-Cross is a spectacle of speed over just 300 metres with four riders jostling together over massive jumps and wicked corners, one of the best spectator events by far, as collisions and aggression rear their heads.
As an added bonus, The Scottish One Day Trial is being held on that weekend, where impossible obstacles are blasted by flair riders in the fastest times possible.
The setting alone of the competition is enough to merit a visit. The area is ravaged by stunning scenery no matter what weather it's swathed in, and, at this time of year, the fine Scottish sunshine tends to lay warmly on the hills.
It's three hours on a bus and four on a train to Fort William, but a car is the best way to go for more freedom to roam. You can take a bike or hire one there, and you'll even be able to try out the courses for yourselves. Just remember to be really careful.
Fort William UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, 27-28 May 2006
For further details on the Fort William UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, to register for e-updates and to book tickets, visit the official website.