It might come as a surprise but I do not often allow myself the pleasure of photographing one of my other biggest passions in life- mountain biking. Although seeing stunning photographs and pictorials of the sport in magazines nearly 20 years ago is one of the key things that sparked my interest in both! Fast forward to 2019 and our move to Scotland put me in prime a position to tick off a bucket list item- to watch and photograph a wold cup race.

After a beautiful Friday evening drive through the highlands to set the scene for the weekend, the rain set in and did not relent. However not even this torrent could dampen my excitement and nor did it stop any of the thousands of spectators from tackling the mountain on foot, which by mid-afternoon on Sunday was knee deep in mud in many places. If the spectators were braving for tackling the mud, then the racers deserve medals for their courage to even attempt the course in these conditions- axle deep ruts in the mud, pea-soup fog and slick conditions in the forest awaited riders on each and every run

A last minute decision to run into town and invest in water-proof pants, meant I missed qualifying on Saturday but I was very grateful for this purchase the next day. Whilst missing out on qualifying was a disappointment this opened up an opportunity for me to take a long and thorough tour of the pits, and this was an amazing experience- in between ogling all of the beautiful bikes on display and brushing shoulders with all the pro riders, I witnessed all the team mechanics in action, preparing the bikes for race day. Along the way I met not one but many of my heroes, including Aussie championship hope Troy Brosnan and trials superstar Danny Macaskill. Soon it was time to get up onto the hill, as the sun broke through just in time for the Four-Cross (4x) racing.

Sunday came around and I was finally able to experience what I had been waiting for- seeing my heroes rip down the downhill course. I headed straight to the chairlift and got myself to the top of the mountain for morning practice. And what an experience this was- working my way down the hill itself was challenging enough, there is no pathway only you, pelting rain, deep deep mud and a large mountain to contend with.

If you are looking for a recap of the race, you can find a great video here but I will let my pictures do the talking. Instead I will finish with this thought- anyone that thinks Word Cup downhill tracks have become ‘too easy’ or that the Fort William track doesn’t deserve a place on the series anymore, has clearly never been here. The track is as gnarly and high consequence, the crowd party like its the last day on earth even when the weather is ‘Scottish’ and seeing the racers fly down it at inconceivable speeds should be on every mountain biker’s bucket list. I am so happy I can tick it off mine.

Saturday- Pits & 4x

Sunday- Downhill Finals

Elite Women

1st. Rachel Atherton (Great Britain): 5:15.560
2nd. Tracey Hannah (Australia): +1.611
3rd. Nina Hoffmann (Germany): +8.822
4th. Marine Cabirou (France): +13.374
5th. Veronika Widmann (Italy): +15.735

Elite Men

1st. Amaury Pierron (France): 4:28.578
2nd. Troy Brosnan (Australia): +3.582
3rd. Loris Vergier (France): +3.631
4th. Finn Iles (Canada): +7.203
5th. Danny Hart (Great Britain): +7.518