This week’s Fort William World Cup will see the world’s best downhill racers, ahem, descend on Scotland for the biggest event in the UK mountain bike calendar.
But there’s more to a Fort William World Cup than some ladies and gents blasting down the side of Ben Nevis at ludicrous speeds.
Over the years this race has become known for its festival atmosphere and it attracts hordes of spectators not only for the amazing downhill race but the whole experience.
Tens of thousands of fans visit every year (Fort William has been on the UCI Downhill World Cup and Championships schedule since 2002) to meet their heroes, check out the latest tech from teams and exhibitors, and witness the various side-show events. Not to mention bathing in the endless Highlands sunshine.
For 2019 there will be just as much excitement as ever around the Fort William pits, so we’ve selected five unmissable things you should look out for over the weekend.
Downhill has always had an element of counter-culture about it, but we’re not talking about whacky hairstyles this time.
Mullet bikes — bikes with a 29-inch front wheel and 27.5-inch rear wheel — have spread through the downhill ranks in 2019, with the likes of Loic Bruni and Danny Hart racing to the top of results’ sheets at the opening World Cup race in Slovenia on the perfectly imperfect setups.
Who will win in the battle of the wheel sizes this time?
Legends of the Fort
Fort William World Cup has recorded some of mountain biking’s unforgettable moments — it’s a place the sport’s greatest heroes have all made their mark.
Tracy Moseley’s five emphatic wins were all greeted with deafening roars from the rowdiest crowd on the circuit. And who could forget Steve Peat’s 2005 victory — his only win here — and the image of the tall northerner with his Orange (his bike sponsor at the time) aloft?
Back to the future, and this weekend you’ll be able to hunt down the likes of Moseley and Peat as they work with the athletes of today on the Trek and Santa Cruz teams. Approach them for a photo or to ask them what it’s like to win in Fort William.
If you haven’t watched Danny MacAskill’s latest edit, stop what you are doing, check it out, and you’ll see what we’re on about (apparently the passenger doesn’t suffer from travel sickness).
There will be shows from Danny Mac’s touring trials show, the Drop and Roll Tour, on Saturday and Sunday at the Fort. Witness live gravity-defying tricks and stunts. And while you’re at it, please mind the children.
4X Pro Tour
When four-cross (4X) was a World Cup discipline, all the top downhillers would bundle onto Fort William’s impressive course to race elbow-to-elbow over its massive jumps and around its enormous berms.
Nowadays, the 4X Pro Tour puts on the big show on Saturday evening, with the specialists laying down blistering pace on the ageless track. If you’re in town for the whole weekend, don’t miss qualifying on the Friday evening.
Gee and Rachel Atherton got their first Fort William World Cup wins in 2010 and 2013 respectively, but will they be back at the top in 2019?
Both won their categories in the recent British Downhill Series race among stacked international fields. However, while downhill’s fastest siblings are clearly on top form, their new bikes could well steal all the attention.
The family team’s own-brand 3D-printed bikes are worth getting a look at up-close. Next-level technology for next-level performances.
Bonus: The midges
Actually, nothing to see here. Move along now. (Don’t forget the insect repellent.)
Get your Fort William World Cup tickets and information here.