Friday, June 6, 2008

Ft William... DOING IT!!!

Glasgow to Ft William

Green street station platform seven, this was where our adventure to FT William from Glasgow begins. After spending what seemed like hours in the apple store I walked outside to find myself engulfed in the city, it was the weirdest feeling walking out of a place that felt so familiar into an unfamiliar city in the middle Scotland. I have experienced these feeling many times over the last week and a half. Just to think that I’ve been to Andorra already and will probably never go back there again unless there is another bike race. I suppose you just have to live in the moment and take everything in as it happens. All of us were stoked to catch the train, we had to talk with the conductor first to make sure that it was ok that we could carry all of our luggage on, but once that was done we were off cruising through the countryside passing sheep, castles and small villages while moving at a moderate speed. The country is amazing out here, I like to consider Moab, Utah as God’s country, I might have to add northern Scotland to the list as the rolling hillsides and the lush forests fuel my imagination dreaming of dragon’s, braveheart, Robin Hood and other fictional childhood fantasy tails. I have to admit though, being up here kind of reminds me about Harry Potter, it’s like I’m in Hogsmead right now! It was a brilliant four hour train ride to the town of Ft Bill as they call it here. While on the train we meet a fellow by the name of Dale, he is a mechanic for the chain reaction boy’s and was one of the nicest people I have met, most people are extremely nice up in these parts, but they have such thick accents that sometimes things get strewn about within conversation and I forgot what the heck I was talking about in the first place. Dale helped me carry my bags to our room once we found a place to stay, what a nice bloke.

Ft William

Like I said above this place is a bit like something out of Harry Potter, the main street at least is. Our hotel is situated above the main street, so the sounds of the bar patrons echo long into the night through our windows. There are many shops, bars and restaurants, but the best deal on food has to be in the super market as there is a salad bar for a set price which we all have taken advantage of. Ft William is the largest village between here and Glasgow and does offer the familiar McDonald’s restaurant with their hilarious tastes of America menu, it’s also a good place to get free internet! I would really like to cruise around town one of these nights and visit some of the local pubs and divulge in some of the customary eats but for right now I’m just trying to survive the long rides to and from the race venue and the DH course at the moment. I saw schools of kids up at the race venue today, massive amounts of people walking the pits and course and its only Friday. As good of job that Ft William does organizing this event, they still need to accommodate the biker without any form of transportation between the town and venue, It is a 7 mile ride to a from the race venue, and on the way there it is about a 4% grade the whole way, definitely a good warm up ride!

The Course

After watching a dozen race movies featuring the same Ft William Course over the last few years it sure was a trip actually being here and riding the same thing! When I spoke of surviving the course earlier, it’s just that, survival out there! I got a pinch flat my first run down, so I got to walk the majority of the course getting a good look of most of the lines and how they were being ridden. It was a tough day as Michael and I had our difficulties getting our new bikes dialed in. I messed up my derailleur a bit breaking the chain and Michael with the crash of the day went flying heads first into a face first slide down the backside of a road gap jump, he also broke his derailleur after suffering a blown bead and an explosive tube that stopped him dead and sent him flying in the first place. Today however was much better! Magura breaks and Shimano have been a huge help as well as Maxxis for letting us store our packs behind their tent and allowing me to use some tools. The first run was tough, my hands were in pain and I was unfocused the whole way down thinking about my soft rear suspension. Caleb helped me dial it in for the next run as we added a little more high speed compression to the mix allowing the glide and skip over the wallowing holes that had developed over the course of a day. There are two different personalities to the course, the top is exposed and all man made on the top of the Ben Nevis, lots of huge rocks and berms, really fun once you can get the flow down staying as loose as possible using every inch of travel whether it be in your fork or your arms. The bottom half consists of some technical woods and a peddle section which jumps called the motor speedway, new to this year is a road gap the bypasses a rock slow rock section. The finish area is really fun, after having absolutely no jumps in Andorra, it is nice to be able to take breaks while in the air before having to peddle more already exhausted from the last 4 minutes of the course. All in all the course is a good one, it took me a while to warm up to it, but now I’m feeling more confident and ready to race come Sunday, still have some work to do finding my lines however.

Shenanigans

Joey being our tour guide to Ft William took us to this sweet castle where we did some wall rides and messed around a little bit. I’ve spent a fair bit of time out in the streets riding around testing my suspension and I’m pretty sure most people think I’m a bit crazy watching me bounce around all over the place. For those who don’t know, there are these bugs that are called midges, and much like mosquitoes, they are annoying, bite and are absolutely everywhere, while talking to Tracy Moseley’s parents, they said it’s the worst year yet for the little buggers. Mountain cross training was tough; Rudy didn’t have a good run and didn’t qualify, so now he is a spectator. I’m developing a sweet Scottish accent and am thinking of getting a kilt. Today I also talked to the owners of the Golf Club who were really nice; I think I might golf one of these days, check that off of the bucket list. Now the boys are in the room eating fish and chips and after they are done we are going to watch 4X and hopefully not get attacked by midges.

Joeys Section

The trip has been awesome so far. I’m glad things are starting to work smoothly. Andorra was a rough week for all with bikes not showing up and all. I only had a few runs on the track before the race and then had a fairly poor run in qualifying. The track was very slippery during qualies and fairly dry the day before when I was riding it. I had a chance to meet up with some locals there and they showed me some of Cedric’s secret trails. It was really good training to ride on the steep, off camber, rooty, wet tracks there. It will certainly be good for the World Champs in two weeks. From what I’ve seen the track will be steep, rooty, and knowing Europe, wet. Looks like Usa cycling took a full team of 7 for the USA Junior team. I’m really looking forward to that race. Runs are going well here in Fort William. Having ridden this track at last years Junior World Champs has been helpful. The track is the same so I already know quite a bit about it and will be able to improve and build off the mistakes I made racing here last year. It’s such a rough track it’s hard to even do a full run but I think tomorrow I will try to a few timed runs. The Yeti is set up really well for this track and is getting up to speed well. The boys at Fox got my suspension al dialed and a bit stiffer for all the holes on the track. Rough is an understatement for this track. One more day of practice then quails and Race on Sunday. I really want to make top 80 and race in the finals, hopefully go top 50 then. There’s just loads and loads of fast euro guys over here you have never even herd of. Thanks to Maxxis too for letting me pit with them. I did runs with Sabrina today which was real fun. She is definitely fast and a cool person. .She also introduced me to a fast French girl today too and I got to do a few runs with her J I miss every body at home but we are having the times of our lives. The Buells are great guys to travel with and I love how they always keep an awesome attitude no matter how hard the airlines are screwing them. I can’t wait to get to Morzine and Pila next week for some riding with out the pressures of racing. Should be real good fun and good training for worlds too. I will try to do a few more updates on brains blog over the next few weeks as well.

Joey

1 comment:

barb buell said...

Great info, thanks and keep 'em coming, I'm always looking for more. Love, Mom PS Hope Michael's head from crash is ok?