Thursday, 14 June 2012

British Downhill Series, Fort William 13/05/2012

I'll pass you all back across to Nick here.....

Here's a bit of a low down from the weekend.

We rolled into Fort William for round two of the British Downhill Series.  Landed up there on Friday night after a long drive and the weather was, for a change, looking pretty damned good...well apart from the snow at the top of the mountain but hey, that means snowball fights, always a good thing!

I absolutely love Fort William, it is such a fun, fast, bone-shaking, scary-as-hell, balls-out awesome track!  Was a little disappointed that I didn't have time to fit my new X-Fusion shock due to being away with the day job and was kinda hoping my new FB10 frame would have landed.  The X-Fusion shock will be on for the next race.  The other addition was the upgraded forks courtesy of TF Tuned, they are amazing guys!  Got the new black stanchions fitted and had the fork converted to coils, it has made such an improvement to them.  Huge thanks going out to the TF tuned lads for their help, much appreciated. 

On the Saturday morning we were told the bad news that there was severe weather moving in so the schedule had been altered to accommodate for this. Therefore seeding was moved to the Saturday in case the event had to be called off on the Sunday. We were informed to make our seeding count. 

In a nutshell it meant a very limited practice time on a huge course which wasn't ideal for me as I was wishing to take practice steady taking into account my recent injury.  That said, I knew I would have to bang a few good runs out in the morning. 

Photo courtesy of Ian Linton

Saturday morning came and the weather was pretty good with just the odd passing shower.  The top of the track was pretty sloppy though, especially if you got caught off line as they had just put a load of gravel down in places.  Further down the course instead of going through the woods it stayed out in the open with a few corners which had a couple of line choices, pretty damned speedy.  Generally much of the course was the same from previous years, apart from the 'motorway' which they had been resurfacing as well as removing a few of the jumps.  Bigger ones have been planned for the bottom 'motorway' section with the coming UCi World Cup event there, however with the old jumps now removed and everything a work-in-progress for the World Cup it was a flat out sprint which was difficult in the now soft ground.  Hitting the 'Tissot jump' at the end with enough speed was really tough going.  In addition to this there was a nasty hole developing due to people braking too hard, in my second run I managed to hit it which put a nice crack in my rim!  Damn it!

Here's some GoPro footage:

A decision was made that the seeding runs were now race runs as the severe adverse weather was starting to come in.  On my way up on the gondola the wind was picking up buffeting the cable car with rain.  Unfortunately I wasn't seeded as had missed the first BDS round, I set off on my run and was beginning to regret not putting tear-offs on my goggles as fairly quickly I couldn't see anything due to heavy rain.  In these conditions it really doesn't help that the top of the course is extremely open, I could feel the wind blowing me all over, there were a few times I got blown off line and on to the loose gravel which was pretty scary in some of the big rock-strewn corners.

Photo courtesy of Ian Linton

Although some of the lines had become quite cut up generally the track was as it was in practice, to which I'm thankful.  Getting down onto the motorway section was a relief as you are in absolute agony from hanging on but you know you are near the end.  The hardest thing is that you know you have to pedal like hell from here on down, there's no way you can let up.  All in I had a good clean run, a little disappointed with losing some time being blown around all over up top, but I can't really complain.  

For the next round, the new X-Fusion shock will be fitted and the new wheels will be built, bring it on!

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