Road Trip 3: Fort William, Scotland – Willingen, Germany

After all the excitement of the World Cup, the long drive to Germany was looking like a mighty big hill to climb though luckily we had managed to pick up some stowaways in the back of Gladys in the form of George Brannigan and Veronique Sandler.  The two kiwi riders were looking for a ride to our next port of call in Willingen, Germany and the old girl was more than happy to oblige. Early on Monday morning we departed Scotland and left the endless midges and epic highlands behind us heading 972km back to Dover for the first leg of the journey.

Not something you see on the roads everyday!

Driving down the length of England, there isn’t a whole lot look at and seeing as Gladys’s stereo had been unceremoniously removed by the previous owner we had to look at alternative forms of entertainment with the initial stroke of inspiration coming from George. What we didn’t know was that this particular game would carry on for far too long and leave us mentally drained.

The last of the Scottish highlands.

At Fort William I was lucky enough to procure a cowbell for cheering on the riders and after finding it again we positioned it where the rear vision mirror should have been and proceeded to hit it every time we saw an Audi drive past. This sounds simple but every time you mis-called a car it resulted in a swift punch in the arm and after 700km and many, many missed calls your arm goes a different kind of numb not often experienced in everyday life.

Of course there was no actual point to this game other than to have the satisfaction of calling the correct car before the other two people (Me, Richard and George were in the front with Sarah and Vero in the back) .  Reading this back it sounds absurd that we even considered playing this game but it was a highly entertaining replacement for the stereo that still hasn’t been rewired.

Biiiig Bridge! just outside of London, not sure which bridge exactly but it was impressive!

Pulling into Dover at 9.30pm after being on the road for almost 11hours all we wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep until our ferry the next morning. What we didn’t know however is that Dover isn’t the most accommodating of places and after driving around town fruitlessly looking for a place to stay we decided to camp on the side of the road and went off to find ourselves a nice grassy area to put the tent up.

When we finally found our “hotel” we put the tent up on a wee walking track up on top of the Dover cliffs looking out over the English Channel hoping to get a nice sunrise in the morning. With Richard and George in the tent, Sarah and Vero in the back of the van and me across the front 3 seats the Gladys hotel was more than accommodating for the 3 of us, and despite Georges fears of waking up on the train tracks at the bottom of the cliff we all somehow made it through the night unscathed and moseyed on down to try and convince the customs officers that we didn’t deserve to be stuck in a cold, wet England.

Richard setting up the tent for our second night on the road.

Unlike the last time we tried to cross the channel this crossing went very smoothly and we didn’t even get our van inspected going onto the boat. An hour and a half later and we were now in wet, cold France(should have stayed in England, at least we can talk to the people!). Leaving Calais with full stomachs and half of my hair we plugged Willingen into the GPS and set off on another 700km of driving, hopefully towards some sun!

The white cliffs of dover, not the most flattering picture but we were in a rush for the boat!

Without much to see from the motorways, France and Belgium both came and went and before we knew it we were in Germany bearing down on Willingen, however when we arrived at 9pm it was clear that this little hamlet was in no fit shape to be holding any sort of event and I would be quite surprised if anybody there even knew what mountain biking was! Scratching our heads for a bit we had another look on the GPS and the inevitable happened,  we discovered that there are actually two Willingen’s in Germany and naturally we were at the wrong one and our actual destination was 200km away. Oh dear.

Goodbye England! you can keep your clouds =).

Re-routing the GPS to our actual destination we set off only to find a million roads closed and our journey being extended over some very foggy mountain passes that looked like a scene off “The hills have eyes” or something. It was a pretty surreal and almost creepy scene where you were expecting to come face to face with big-foot or something equally as nasty.  After running over a fox (didn’t hit it though, he somehow managed to squeeze in between Gladys wheels and disappear off into the night) we cruised into Willingen 2.0 at around midnight and set up camp for the night in what turned out to be the car park for the mini-putt course to rest up before seeing what lay in store for us at the Wheels of Speed!

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Fort William World Cup wrap up

When you drive into the event village at Fort William, the first thing you notice apart from the Midgies (more about them later) is the buzz surrounding the place, this world cup is unlike any other on the circuit. The World Cup has been coming here every year for the past 9 years and the locals love it. Even on Thursday registration and track walk, there were plenty of people wandering around the pits trying to get a glimpse of their favourite bike or rider.  Fort William is known for its great atmosphere and this year looked like it wasn’t going to be any different with 30,000 tickets being pre-sold for the weekend and the pie cart and sausage sizzle having been replaced by a food court that resembled something out of a shopping mall.

The main Fijord looking down towards Fort William

Jumping on the Gondola to go walk the track I was a bit surprised at how deceptive the hill looked. On a clear day you can very nearly see the start hut from the finishline but you don’t really get a sense of scale until you are actually going up the mountain and look back down to see the village getting smaller and smaller until the people become nothing more than ants and you still aren’t even at the top.

The harbour beside Fort William.

From the start we were greeted by a beast that had a super fast top section with heaps of flow and quick corners before some nice little jumps that helped you to get into the swing of things. This was followed by a couple of long wooden bridges that gave you a brief respite before hurling you into one of the vicious rock gardens that the Fort is well known for.  After pinballing your way through the next two minutes of what seemed like a washing machine on spin, we were confronted by a  rock slab where you picked up massive amounts of speed before dropping around a few more corners and into the tree section of the track. While this section is only 30 seconds long the roots in there were slicker than ice and riding down them was going to prove difficult even in the dry.

Rocks rocks and more rocks!

After a road gap and plenty of rocks later we made it to the last big pedal of the track affectionately coined the M82 motorway. This section has been notoriously known for its 40 second long pedal before dropping you into the finish arena,  but the organisers had other plans this year transforming the previously flat pedal into a dirtj-jump section with 2 stepdowns and two 40 foot table-top jumps to try and make it over before dropping into the finish arena.  Anybody that knows my riding style knows that I love jumps so to say I was excited for this was an understatement!

Remote controlled Helicopter camera, pretty awesome!

After Val di Sole was a bit of a disaster I decided to try and mix up a few things for this weekend and one of them was changing how the suspension on my bike felt. While having a nice soft bike is good for soaking up the small bumps and indeed for most of the tracks in New Zealand, over here my bike felt like it was wallowing in the big compressions and not skipping across the bumps leaving a feeling that I was hitting more bumps than needed so I figured that something had to be done.  I was lucky enough to get a harder rear spring from the guys at Fox racing for free and after installing this and winding up the compression dials on my forks to almost the max my bike felt a lot “racier” and more on edge Following this and some high performance carpark bouncing I felt that I had them how I liked and put my bike away ready for the onslaught the next day.

Road gap halfway down the course.

Waking up to rain is never ideal however with the weather forecast to improve throughout the day I jumped on the gondola ready to begin my qualifying campaign. First run down was spent checking out how the course rode and whether my lines from the previous day would be doable. Getting to the bottom with a big smile on your face you know it was fun track and this one definitely didn’t disappoint! The track at Fort William is mostly manmade and the loose gravel covering on top of the majority of the course makes for a surface that actually rides a lot better in the wet than it does in the dry. This meant that the track conditions of the morning/early afternoon in the rain were awesome and it was easy to get up to pace with spades of grip on offer. As practice continued , the weather improved and I got more into the track with it’s rough, high speed nature suiting how I like to ride.  With only one small crash I was very happy with proceedings and was looking forward to qualifying the next day.

Jumps Jumps Jumps!!

Waking up on qualifying day to a sunny affair I finished up my last practice runs before beginning the long 5 hour wait till my run.  After moseying around the pits for a while chatting to all the kiwis and other mates I  cruised back to the van for some food and a nap and then it was time to get on the gondola.

Warming up at the top of the hill I couldn’t wait to start my run, after all my practice and feeling like I had some good lines down the track I just wanted to get into it but I had come up quite early for my run and the queue was pretty long leaving me with a 30 minute wait before my start time.  After doing all sorts of stretches and warm-up exercises I got called over to the start hut and got in place behind the start line ready to give it death.

The final run into the finish arena. come sunday, 20,000 people were packed in here yelling and screaming at you!

Beep…beep…beep…beep…beep….biiiiiiiip. The sound of the countdown is always a bit nerve wracking, especially if you are not sure if you will make the cut or not. Pedalling out of the start-gate and along the first straight, I felt strong and ready to put together a solid run. Along the boardwalks and a quick rest before spotting my line through the first rock garden. Bang….bang, bang… ping …. ping,  the sound of my rims hitting the rocks is a pretty unmistakable sound, the only thing left for me to do is hope that none of the hits were vicious enough to rupture my tube and leave me up a creek without a paddle stranded up on Anoach Mor.

After surviving being put through the tumble drier I came into one of the drop-off’s far too hot and promptly overshot it , completely missing the landing by about 3 feet and forcing myself to brake way too much to make it round the next corner forcing me to stall out and lose all momentum. Furious with myself I pinned around the next corner straight into the next rock-garden going far too fast and promptly got all sorts of buck wild leaving me once again with no momentum and going backwards position-wise.

After these two moments I refocused and concentrated on riding to my limits and carrying as much momentum through each section of track to better my chances of rising back through the ranks towards that magical top 80 barrier. The next 3 minutes were a mix of head-shaking fast and rough rock slabs with a few roots chucked in just for good measure before I arrived at the M82 motorway.  I was pretty tired by this stage but gave it my all and pedalled in as hard as I could to get myself over the big jumps.  After getting a good landing on the first jump I knew I had the speed for the second one and so while going up the jump I decided to turn my handlebars to the left, twist my hips and let fly with a big ol’ whip. Flying through the air with the back end of your bike beside you is always a good feeling, however when the entire aim of the game is to go as fast as you can it’s probably not the best idea to let loose a 26 inch sail out beside of you.  First jump landed and off the second big table top, follow same process as before and next minit sideways again (oh dear), oh well at least I look good!

Me during my seeding run, close but no cigar!

Jumps over and pedalling down into the finish line to stop the clock at 5.08.588 meant that I slotted into an unfortunate 99th place, a measly 3.5 seconds off qualifying. This left me pretty pissed off. Not only did I throw some whips when I should have kept he bike straight and fast, but the two major mistakes at the top alone would have cost me that 3.5 seconds so to miss out by so little was a major bummer.

I hate watching. All it makes you do is wish that you were riding, however today it was not to be and rolling up to the event village to the hosing rain we were in for a long day on the hill. After cutting a lap in the gondola and deciding that getting out at the top was not ideal because of the weather we cruised around the pits for most of the day scoring free stuff and checking out the various competitions that were being run by the stall holders.

Posing for the camera!

Finals time and the question on everyone’s mind was whether Aaron Gwin would pull out a repeat and smash everybody by another huge margin although a crash in the Qualification run put him down in 29thposition. Riders came and went but then Gwin began his run and things got gnarly, 9.994 seconds up at the finish line and comfortably on the hot seat with 28 of the world’s best to try and unseat him from the throne.

Rider after rider came down and all failed to beat Gwin’s time and then Great Britons Danny Hart left the start line, down at split one and we were looking  at another whitewash but then coming through split two Danny had done the impossible and taken a massive chunk of time out of Aaron in the middle section to be up at split two, this made the patriotic crowd go nuts as Danny pedalled into the finish arena and it was still anybody’s  race until he crossed the line to finish in a time of 4.49.256. Danny was a mere .8 of a second down on Aaron and the king remained atop his throne for a little longer, Danny would prove the final challenger as no matter how hard the rest of the field tried they were unable to top Aarons time and he once again took top honours, though only by the slimmest of margins and maybe, just maybe he is more human than we thought….

Road Trip 2: Val di Sole, Italy – Fort William, Scotland.

Road trip 2 – Val di sole, Italy – Fort William, Scotand.

View out the front of Gladys, this was a common sight .

At the conclusion of the race in Val di Sole we were faced with the prospect of a 2300km drive up to Scotland with only 3 days to do it in.  With both Richard and I being quite tired and not really keen  to do too much driving we decided just to dive for a few hours and then call it a night on the side the road somewhere and continue on in the morning and so I went to sleep in the back of Gladys for a little bit to try and get some shuteye before driving for a little bit.  A couple of hours  later and I woke up to find the distance having dropped from 1250km (the distance to Calais and our ferry to England)  to 940km and Richard looking particularly tired, I swapped over with him and seeing as the weather we had stopped was particularly miserable I decided to start driving and so began one a very long and very boring stretch of driving in which I covered almost 400km in 4 hours and swapped out with Richard with the distance now reading 550km. I got a couple of hours sleep and then swapped again at the 360km mark and from there just pinned it straight up to Calais for a total travel time thus far of 16 hours straight from Val di Sole,  arriving in the McDonalds in Calais feeling slightly ruined and ready for some serious food. While I wouldn’t class McDonalds as good food by any means, it was exactly what I felt like after such an epic trip and god dam a McChicken/Double cheeseburger have never tasted so good!

Big hills here, be needin a kilt to climb ’em!

At this point I must apologise for the lack of photos, as this whole part of the journey was completed in the dark/me being asleep I didn’t get a chance to take any but when we come back through France on the way to Morzine I will try and take a few if I see something interesting.

After such a huge effort getting to Calais overnight we were a day early for our ferry and so asked the check in lady if we would be able to change our tickets for a boat that was leaving that day. We were eventually told to go through a set of gates and enquire at the ticketing office. Now I’m not quite sure how this next bit happened but in between getting the van searched 3 times clearing customs and then trying to ask Frenchmen for directions we took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up outside of the ferry complex driving back into France wondering how on earth we had managed to mess this up.

One of the pubs we past along the way.

After a quick U-turn somewhere down the line this  actually turned to be a really good idea because once weaselling our way back through customs for the second time in 20 minutes we were told to wait for a half hour and we could change our tickets and check into a boat that was going to leave in a couple of hours.  Ok we said and went off to the little parking bay to wait, however we quickly started having a chat with this old boy from the ferry company who tells Richard to go with him and then 5 minutes later Richard comes walking back with the changed tickets in his hand and no Euros out of pocket! This was an awesome score because to change the tickets was going to rob us a hefty 75 Euros that none of us wanted to pay.

Harbor just down from where we are staying.

The rest of the boat trip with Captain Archibald (that was his actual name, I’m not even kidding!) went pretty smoothly (probably because I fell asleep) and we arrived in Dover to wet, cold and windy conditions,  just another day in the British summer really. Can we go back to Europe yet? Following this I was still far too sleepy to drive and so coma’d  out in the back while Richard booked the sat nav onto a campground about 200 km’s away and we made a B-line to there to get some well deserve rest.

Waking up to the countryside after sleeping for 2 ½ hous I knew the GPS had taken us to a good place, and after meeting the lovely old couple running the place we headed off to set up camp in a nice sunset and I was asleep before I knew it.

Wee Loch in Scotland. Didnt get any pictures of France (was night-time) or England (too flat). So made up for it and have heaps from Scotland.

The next morning I emailed a good friend of mine Joe Flanagan about staying with him in Lancaster for the night, (Lancaster was about 300km away on our way to Scotland) and after hearing confirmation we headed off in his direction. The drive was fairly uneventful, just more motorway miles under our belts, nothing even worth taking a picture of.

Scottish Highlands.

Arriving at Joe’s place we were greeted with a warm welcome and a grand tour of his house, a cozy place that was packed full of awesome stuff and a very welcoming border collie. It had been two years since I’d last seen Joe in NZ and the first time I’d ever met his Brother/father and a massive thank you goes out to all 3 of them for their hospitality and company which was classic as always!

Leaving the next day (Wednesday the 6th) for the final 400km up to Fort William, we were once again confronted with rain however due to an incident that occurred while I was sleeping the day before we now only had one windscreen wiper with the other one MIA after falling off somewhere along the M6 at the speed of sound.  Luckily enough, the rain soon parted just in time for us to reach the Scottish Highland’s where we were treated to our first views of something other than cities and fields since arriving in England.  Needless to say we got a few pictures as we ploughed on towards Fort William.

More Lochs, this one has stones in it!

After having an extensive chat with our entertaining Landlord here at the Corran Inn we cruised off into town for some dinner and bumped into some Irish fella’s who were in NZ a couple of years ago and are following the World Cup circuit this year as well.  Hilarity always ensues when you are around Irishmen and no doubt there will be plenty more laughs to come.

Yea just off to the dairy to get some milk….be back tomorrow.

So finally after 3 days of travelling with one 27hour non-stop stint we have finally made it to Fort William and with track walk tomorrow the World Cup circus is back in action once again! Bring it on!

 

Val Di Sole World Cup wrap up – part 2.

Day 3 – Seeding

Very aptly named section.

At 95% of downhill events, the format for the racing is a two stage affair. In either the morning of the race or sometimes the afternoon before, all of the riders have a seeding run in which they race as fast or as slow as they want to determine what position they will start for their race run. Quite often these runs also carry overall points so the racing is just as competitive as the final.  After seeding the riders rest and recuperate before heading back up the hill for their final race run. However because there are so many riders racing at a world cup, the race itself is restricted to only 80 entrants and when there are 221 of you sitting at the top all wanting to fill those 80 spots seeding becomes almost more important than the race for the less experienced and for me, making it into the top 80 would be like getting a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, so as you can imagine I was keen to make it happen!

The last section of the track claimed a few riders despite the relative easiness of it.

In the morning of seeding, there was two and a half hours of practice for riders outside the top 80 and I intended to take as much away from it as possible before my run at 4.30 that afternoon.  While I certainly took a lot away from the track that morning it wasn’t really what I was envisioning with a sandcastles worth of dirt falling out my helmet and shorts after having a horrible last run crashing 3 times before getting to the safety of the finish line.  As a final practice run before the biggest race of your life this was not an ideal preparation technique! Sitting in the van with 5 hours to kill before I raced I took some time out and had a think about how I wanted to ride this race, I thought about the places on the track that I could push it and the places where I knew I had to be cautious to avoid crashing out. I thought of the places that I wanted to pedal and ideally what gear I would be in coming into these sections. With so much time to kill, even when I was finished preparing  I still had a few hours to kill so went for a swim in the river to cool off (it was 27 degrees) and relax before going up the hill.

The judegment view, after finishing your run this is the view you have to find out whether you made it in or not.

At 3.45pm I gave my bike one final bolt check, put my kit on and headed over onto the gondola to warm up for my run.  I was the 186th starter and so was going to be getting the rough end of the stick as far as track conditions go.  I warmed up, rode over to the start gate and despite all my nerves (there were a lot of them by this stage!) I remember feeling abnormally calm and ready to give it death and see what happened.

I pedalled out of the start gate and into my run.  All of a sudden everything was happening at once, and my calmness evaporated before the noise of start gate’s famous 5 beep countdown was out of earshot having been replaced with a distinct sense of urgency that comes with every race. A by-product of this urgency for me is excitement, and between the urgency and excitement come mistakes. About 150 metres into my run I was a victim of one such mistake that very nearly ended my run and could have been much worse.

At the beginning of the track you jump into a rock garden, take a quick left hand corner and then are faced with an escalator of rocks. Over the course of the weekend this escalator had lost some of its stairs as the rocks had been removed from the tracks by skidding riders resulting in a series of 1-3 foot drops the entire way down the straight before turning left again to avoid the crash netting and numerous trees. While the drops themselves are sizeable features, the steepness of the track in-between each of the features is the bit that causes problems, no matter how much brake you use you actually cannot slow down and so if you come into this section too hot (I.E. me in my seeding run) you are in for one hell of a ride. I realised this about 3 metres past the braking zone and the next thing I know I am headed towards the cash netting at mach 4 with only one foot on the pedals and my eyes on stalks.  How I didn’t flip over the bars I will never know, I spent so much time with only the front wheel on the ground down that section that I might as well take up unicycling. With wide eyes and brown pants I somehow managed to pull my handlebars around and avoid the crash pads and spectators (much to their relief) and continued on down the track. After this incident I actually spent the next 30 metres or so actually telling myself to “relax”, and doing something as simple as this surprisingly helped me to focus and as I felt myself relaxing and working with my bike instead of trying to muscle it through everything I could tell that I was carrying more speed through sections and riding like I wanted to.

Rough and steep, the best two words to sum up this track.

Having done a couple of full runs in practice I knew that the track was going to demand a lot from me physically, this had been good preparation as I found that I wasn’t really experiencing anything unexpected and therefore knew I wasn’t going to struggle to hold on to the handlebars and could attack my lines how I had done in practice.

Coming out into the bottom field with only 2 corners and a sprint to go I felt confident and gave it everything I had to get across the finish line as quickly as possible.

Coming across the finish line in a cloud of dust, I felt that I had done a decent run which, while certainly not perfect I’m not going to lie I was hoping to put me around 70-90th position (remember these are the best in the world here), I thought I had had a decent middle/bottom section and  a good bottom sprint to back that up, so when 135th (10 seconds off qualifying) came across the timing board , gutted was one word that came to mind. But hey that is racing and you have to start somewhere! Even on the world’s biggest stage.  I did have some consolation though in that from the first split time to the finish (2 minutes) I had managed to make up 20 places and had a speed trap speed inside the top 80 riders and was also the fastest non-qualifying kiwi, but this wasn’t much considering I was so far off qualifying.

Since the race I have thought about the way I went about things leading into the race, from what I ate, to my bike set-up, to my practice habits, to my actual run itself and have identified a few things which I will be improving on for this weekend in an effort to find myself some precious seconds and get in that top 80!

However despite being lost in my own little world there was still the matter of the other racers who had qualified battling it out and all eyes were on American Aaron Gwin who had qualified first by 7.5 seconds and in downhill racing where races are one by less than half a second this was one massive gauntlet being thrown down to the other riders to play catch-up.

Day 4 – Race:

Race morning.

Race day = business time,  gone are the jokes and messing around,  everybody who made it through the day beforehand  is here for one goal and one goal only, to get themselves on top of that podium! Having no part in the days activities, myself and the other non-qualifying kiwis headed up the hill to cheer on the other riders and to watch the craziness unfold.

The top 80 had another 2 ½ hour practice session followed by a short break before commencing their final runs and we walked the length of the course while this was going on and the speeds some of the guys were going is truly mind blowing as has to be seen to be believed.

Watching the race from the finish arena was going to be the best I idea because you could see the riders for the last 20 seconds of their run as well as watching other parts of their run on the live feed TV screens.

As the riders came down there were only two words on everybody’s mind “Aaron Gwin” what was he going to do today, smash everybody and walk away with the title or smash himself and hand it to somebody else? Well to be honest there is no point in beating out the bush here, Gwin killed it…..7.8 seconds up at the finish line for one of the most comprehensive wins seen at a World Cup race in ages…

Elite Mens podium. 1st – Aaron Gwin. 2nd – Greg Minaar. 3rd – Gee Atherton. 4th – Marc Beaumont. 5th – Cam Cole.

The question going through everyone’s heads right now is whether Gwin is superhuman or is someone actually going to be able to catch him?? I have my doubts.

Val di Sole World cup wrap – Part 1.

That sun is in there for good reason! 25 degrees plus for the whole time we were there!

Day 1 – Arrival/Intro:

“Val di Sole”. In downhill mountain biking these 3 words are synonymous with many descriptive words and easy is certainly not one of them. For those of you that don’t ride, think of the steepest,  most difficult trail or path you have ever walked then think of every detail that makes that trail difficult or physically draining and quadruple this difficulty or steepness. Finally, picture yourself hurtling down said trail at 60 kph with the only things between you and one hell of a maiming being your wits and the 2 inch thick pads strapped to the trees that stand beside the track like sentinels. For those of you that do ride….just think of exactly the same things I said before, this track really is that difficult. There is a decent amount of hearsay that floats around regarding this track but a general consensus is that coming to race on this track is pretty much the same as going into war, more precisely,  World war 3 between you and the mountain… and victory is certainly not guaranteed. With roots that more closely resemble Anacondas and rock gardens more akin to a meteor smashing into the hillside this track has something to challenge even the most experienced riders as many would find out over the course of the weekend.

View from outside our little bungalow, not half bad!

After Gladys’s heroic effort had us arriving in Val di Sole a day early, we booked another night of accommodation and went up to see what was going on at the track, there we bumped into another  kiwi George Brannigan who was helping his factory team set up their pits for the weekend, after a quick chat we left him busily trying to construct something that resembled a giant molehill and went home to build our bikes/get ready for the imminent onslaught that was just around the corner

 

Only the best race food!

Day 2 –Rego/Track walk:

As is customary for any world cup, the first day is registration and riders track walk. With registration being a fairly bland affair we headed up the lift to get our first glimpse at the track. Walking any track before you ride it is incredibly important as it gives you a chance to actually see what is in store before dropping in and quite often consider how much value you place on your continued good health. On a track that is as bonkers as this one, track walks become more of a survival tool than anything else and I took my camera down with me to photograph the especially dangerous sections along with the sections that had more than one choice of riding line in them for analysis later on that night. There were so many sections that required photographing that my camera ran out of battery and to list them here would require far too much writing so I won’t say any more about the track but here are a few images which will hopefully convey just how out of control this particular hillside is.

 

So many people walking the track meant it was hard o get a clear view of the lines at times but if you look to the left of the photo and down the hill you can see how far it drops away, and those pads/netting are certainly there for a reason! you do not want to fall off here at 30kph!

Wish I had taken a shot after riders had been down here, this section changed so much over the course of the race that by the end it was scarcely recognisable.

One of the many sections offering different riding lines.