10 Jun 2014

RAF DH Team at the World Cup

Massive Fort William crowd makes this event special.

Last orders are called in a well known real ale pub on Sunday night in Fort William when in walks Greg Minnaar (current World Champ), Steve Peat (former World Champ), Rob Warner (DH Legend), Josh Bryceland (DH bad-boy), Stu Thomson (mtb film-maker) and the obligatory entourage of media types. This could get messy...

RAF DH Team in the thick of it.
Around 4 weeks prior to the event, I received a telephone call from the Armed Forces Careers Office in Glasgow. "Would it be possible for the RAF DH Team to put on a bit of a display at the UCI Downhill World Cup at Fort William?" That's the sort of offer you don't hear every day. A chance to put our team on the World stage. "Yeah, I'm sure we could sort something out."
Fox, Troy Lee Designs, RAF Cycling. Not bad company!

Cue an insanely intensive period of planning and preparation: rushing branded teamwear into production, tracking down banners and flags, producing flyers and stickers, editing our riding movies into a suitable format, compiling a slide show, selecting images for enlargement and designing an eye-catching display.

25000 spectators make the journey.
Those hips don't lie.
At approximately 1503 Hrs on Friday, elements of the team travelling from Oxfordshire, Yorkshire, Glasgow and Moray convened with almost military precision in a car park in Fort William centre. The AFCO Mobile Recruitment Vehicle (MRV) was loaded up and we were on our way to a reserved plot right in the centre of the exhibitors village at the biggest downhill mountain bike event in the world.

The multi-media equipped MRV.
The aim of our presence was to increase footfall through the MRV for the RAF Careers team. However, from a personal point of view, the aim was to raise awareness of the RAF DH Team and the Combined Services Racing Downhill Series we compete in. That aim was certainly achieved and we received lots of positive feedback. The only slightly concerning aspect was the number of serving RAF personnel who came for a chat and claimed not to know that the RAF had a DH Team!!! An issue we will certainly be addressing.

You couldn't miss us!
So, the weekend zipped by in a blur of sunshine, anti-midge lotion, cow bells, air horns, energy drinks, cheers, whistles, spectacular scenery and the small matter of the world's best mountain bike racers fighting for victory on an iconic track. 

The noise and atmosphere was incredible!
The British women suffered cruelly from punctures with Manon Carpenter, Tahnee Seagrave and Rachel Atherton falling victim whilst up at the early splits. In the men's race, Inverness local, Greg Williamson held on to the hot seat for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually he was dislodged (finishing 9th) as the times started to tumble. British rider Danny Hart once again narrowly missed out on a home win finishing third. Australian legend and crowd favourite Sam Hill was in the hot seat with only one rider to go. His fellow countryman Troy Brosnan smashed his race run to finish 1.6 secs ahead of Hill and secure his first ever World Cup victory. 

The Scottish weather was good to us.
Elder-Statesmen of the sport: Peaty & Pops
Even more quickly than it was set up, the entire World Cup circus was dismantled and was headed towards Leogang in Austria for the next round. Although not before a select few had stopped off to sample the local brew...
I think we left our mark...