Bit of a race report from the BDS at the weekend...
There are no other tracks like Fort William, well not the ones we race on anyway. It's twice as long as nearly everything else & you just can't train for, or practice the punishment it dishes out.
On the way up on Friday night we had a look through the start list. In the Grand Vets Binnsy has 2 guys who have a combined 11 World Championship wins. Current elite World Champ Loic Bruni's dad, Jean-Pierre being one & local boy Alastair Maclennan being the other, so he's probably fighting for 3rd, & having looked through the Vet field there are 16 riders & realistically the best I can probably do is 11th. It's a national, the standards are high. The elite field is insane. 50+ riders & apart from Gwin, Brosnan, Bryceland & Minnaar, everyone's here practising for the World Cup next month.
Saturday was a bit of a weird one. Going up in that first gondola we both had that "why do we do this?" feeling, "the fear" I suppose you'd call it. We've both had big crashes here in the past. Binnsy knocked himself out & broke some ribs practising a couple of years ago & I broke my collarbone here in 2013. As soon as you start getting too confident it bites you.
We did a couple of runs to get going & then decided we'd add a different feature on every run. We started with the World Cup hip which was fine but I crashed on the next run trying a new line on a rocky berm on the top section & gave myself a dead arm. It didn't stop me riding but I was struggling to pull up or twist & push the bike into the corners. So frustrating, as by the end of the day Binnsy has everything nailed.
Waking up on Sunday, I haven't done a full run yet but I have everything dialled until the woods 2/3 of the way down. Arm feels much better so I decided to do a run to warm up & then just blast out a full one & hit everything. Did that, nailed the woods & was on a great run until the rear mech came loose & I couldn't pedal into the river jump.
Qually comes round & Binnsy seeds 3rd as expected. I seed 11th with a crash in the woods. We're not clearing the 40ft jumps on the Motorway but we're trying & everything else is on.
We head up for race runs & there's a big delay. We sit in the cafe at the top to keep warm & by the time we leave it's been over 4 hours since our qually runs. Binnsy takes 3rd with a 6:27 including a brief detour off track on the top section. He's 3rd :)
I have no real idea what happened really. I felt really tired sat in the cafe; reckon the crazy hours I'd worked this week, the drive up from London on Friday, riding all day Saturday & the crash in qually had taken it's toll. I remember being surprised that I was putting a good run together & then I just stopped concentrating, crashing hard & winding myself. It was a good minute before I'd even sat up & so my race was over. I let all the other Vets go & then rolled down in the 3 minute gap between categories. Somehow I've ended up 11th. Over the course of the weekend 3 vets have dropped out & then 2 other riders crashed even harder in their race runs & DNF'd. Bit gutted as looking at the times I could've got 9th. Shoulda, woulda, coulda & all that...
So we're on our way home & everything is normal. Binnsy's got a medal & I've got some gravel rash. Looking forward to getting home & getting some proper rest before I do it all again at Llangollen next weekend oh & then Bala the weekend after that.
Thanks to all the spectators & the marshals & the BDS team for organising & of course all the gang at Revolution Bike Park & our team mates on the Revolution DH Team. And a personal thanks to all the Vets. Despite being on their race runs they pretty much all shouted to check I was OK when I was laid at the side of the track :)