Fort William Endurance Downhill, this saturday

NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 15,475
edited January 2014 in Downhill, freeride and 4X
This is sneaking up on us a bit, haven't seen much chat about it this year... For those that don't know, this is a 6 hour endurance downhill race on the fort william world cup track, most "laps" wins. Nothing else like it in this country, it's the one event that goes in the Northwind calendar the day the date gets announced and everything else has to work round it (bumped a mate's wedding last year ;) )

So why is it so good? Well, £80 gets you more runs than you'll ever get at a normal race, preferential use of the gondola on a closed track etc. But also it's just a really varied event, for the fast boys it's all about consistency, they'll be smashing out 15 or so laps at full normal race pace, quite mad. But it's the sort of event where you don't need to be chasing first place to be part of the thing, there'll be a hardtails squad, a load of folks on normal everyday bikes (I did the first year on my 5 inch full suss). Normally if you're a minute off the race pace in an SDA round or whatever you feel like you might as well not have bothered turning up, but here, every run counts. The atmosphere's brilliant, the track's legendary, and it makes for excellent willy-waving material.

Still places left, and it's part of hte Fat Tyre Festival this year so loads of other stuff on- watch the poor sods in the XC race having to ride up hills, frinstance.
Uncompromising extremist


  • scottfitzscottfitz Posts: 283
    So i fancy doing this next year as mega training: so Bit of a review of this year’s event Northwind? and general format.
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 15,475
    Sure! I'm going to ramble a bit...

    Well, first of all, turnout was way down on last year and apparently it's put the event at risk a bit, so fingers crossed it'll be running as there's nothing else like it... My gut feeling is that the promotion was lacking tbh, and also it clashed with the BDS and was just 2 weeks after their previous enduro. It is the best event I've done, in fact now it's the three best events I've done! The low numbers didn't hurt it but obviously makes it an iffy proposition for No Fuss.

    Format is pretty simple, 6 hours or first to 15 runs. It's a mass start climb- you ride up from the bottom station to the wallride, then back down, then it's up and down on the gondola til either you run out of time, your bike breaks, your arms fall off or your soul implodes, or some combination thereof. (in practice, 15 runs seems to take 6 hours anyway so it's much of a muchness). Tiebreak is total elapsed time rather than lap times so keeping moving is as important as going fast.

    Review... Well, I love it, it is ridiculously good. The atmosphere is amazing, the sense of the ridiculous never quite fades, and everyone's so up for it- a friend of mine was last placed out of everyone that made the 6 hours, but still buzzing as just completing the event was a huge challenge. But ironically it's probably more open than standard format dh, since it's not all about split seconds and spending 2 days in a field to do 2 timed runs- slower and steadier with determination can beat super-fast flashes in the pan. (Alistair Maclennan crashed out after 3 runs- but those 3 runs were the fastest 3 runs anyone put in all day!)

    Usually various people trailbiking or hardtailing it (no rigids this year though!), some folks taking it slow and steady (some start the day barely able to ride the thing), others smashing it. It's hard to really sum it up, I guess it's a bit like the mega in that respect. It's obviously hard physically, the track's no picnic to do one fast run on, but it's pretty hard mentally to just keep going. Casing the hip replacement jump 14 times in a day takes commitment like no other :mrgreen: The feeling when you drop into the arena for the last time, with the crowd of riders and spectators etc cheering as if you've just won the world cup, combined with the exhaustion and the pain and the pure exhileration... If you could bottle it, it'd be illegal, I was almost crying cheering my friends home.

    My race didn't go quite according to plan, I did 13 runs which only equalled my result from last year, so that meant 13th in seniors. Not bad at all mind ;) I screwed up right at the start and somehow left my timing chip in the car, which meant a 5 minute diversion before my first timed run, annoying... I made it up the climb in really good time but ended up quite far back as a result. Smooth sailing for a while and pretty happy with my solid-but-not-fast pace (I'm dog slow in the middle section after the track goes brown) but after about 4 hours I screwed up an overtake and flatted on a bad line. Ah well! Quick trackside fix but combined with the timing fiasco it cost me the 14th lap. Still, the track seemed a lot rougher than previous years and the windy weather made things tricky too, so still very happy.

    So yeah. Can't recommend it too highly.
    Uncompromising extremist
  • scottfitzscottfitz Posts: 283
    Nice one will look at it next year when all the race dates are out.
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 15,475
    Cancelled for 2014 due to low numbers last year :( (and I think because it's basically a pain in the bum to run frankly). Very sad about this but who knows, maybe next year.

    I will simulate the event by rubbing my hands and censored with sandpaper and getting some large men to beat me and my bike with sticks, for 6 hours.
    Uncompromising extremist
  • If you video that, I know of a specialist website that'd pay good money for the footage.

    The men would have to be dressed as sailors though.
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