Orange Dirt World Team Hit Fort William
June 11 2014
Fort William World Cup means a great deal to us at Orange. Obviously being the UK's only DH World Cup track it's a treat to see the best riders in the world race there but it's the crowd that makes it special. Fort William is, quite simply, the best mountain bike event on the calendar.
As well as having a stand at the race we were supporting the Orange Dirt World Team for this leg in their campaign.
Coming fresh from Ae forest where Elite rider Harry Heath had finished 14th and Junior rider Jacob Dickson 3rd the team were already on a roll. Part of the team's remit is to develop new ideas, both independently and alongside Orange. As such Harry's bike was a little bit different to cater for the long and fast Fort William course.
Team manager Ben Reid runs a tight ship. When he's not making tea and biscuits for the team he's prepping their bikes, talking to the media and driving the van all the while offering advice. Ben's experience on the race circuit is invaluable and the fact that he is more than wiling to share this experience marks him out as a true lover of both mountain biking and racing. What's great to see is both the way the advice is received and the way that the dialogue between all the team members, it has the feel of a team working together in unison.
Comfortable with his tweaked 322 Harry qualified in 25th place, putting him well amongst the world's best riders, and showing the form that he clearly has.
Jacob was on a stormer and qualified 10th in Juniors, all the more impressive for this being his first World Cup. He managed to catch the rider in front of him on his qualifying run so didn't manage to get quite the placing he could have. He clearly had more to give, his speed through the speed trap was 85.292km/h, the fastest speed in Juniors and the fourth fastest speed overall, including Elite Men. Mind boggling.
Race day. If you've never been to Fort William World Cup you really need to. The sheer noise and atmosphere in the finish arena is worth the admission price alone with each rider that crossed the line got a huge cheer, applause, cowbell and vuvuzella ovation. With all the commotion it's remarkable how quiet, serene and laidback the racers and pits can seem, a necessity to get minds in the right place for giving it everything and focussing on the ride.
Jacob's run didn't go to plan. An off in the woods meant he lost a lot of the time he'd made on the open top section. He got back on his bike and managed to claw back speed and places to finish 17th. While Jacob was understandably annoyed about this the team gave him the support he needed to reflect on his run and to learn from it. A racers first World Cup will always be hard and racing is an unpredictable beast, but the lessons Jacob has learned from this one race will make every other race he enters that little bit easier.
Having qualified well Harry was confident of a good result, and he delivered. Putting in a solid run he crossed the line and went into second place and managing to stay on the hot seat for quite a while. Finishing 25th overall, the same place as qualifying, Harry was pleased with how things had gone:
"When I came across that finish line and I'd put a good run together there was no better feeling. I really put together what I've learnt from the past few races and that felt as much of a achievement as the good result. Progress from the first round in South Africa and I just want to keep working on that. Huge thanks to everyone supporting me and doing such a good job to help me get the best out of myself, that makes for good racing"
One spectator later commented that having watched the top 40 riders come through the wooded section Harry had looked and sounded the smoothest, like he was floating. We're pretty sure Harry can't walk on water but he can certainly fly over roots.