As a follow-on to the gruelling challenge of the South Downs way, DIY Dad finally gets to realise his lifetime ambition… to ride the world cup downhill trail (‘extreme’ Orange run) at Fort William, Nevis Range in Scotland!
‘Our 500 mile journey started on a Wednesday evening with six dads in two cars, travelling to Preston for the first night’s stay. We were all tired from our working day so it was straight to bed after a few well earned beers. The rest of the journey to Fort William took place the following day and the weather was on our side for all but one day. With bright sunshine leading the way, we arrived in Scotland on Thursday afternoon, we unpacked and headed for the ritual of our arrival meal at a local pub.
The next day was our first biking day and having been planning and thinking about this challenge for a number of years, we were all more than ready to give the various trails a go! Perhaps a little too eager, we all opted to try the Nevis range ‘extreme’ trails first and being competent mountain bikers we felt we’d be ok.
With every ‘extreme’ trail you first try, you should always reckie the run to get familiar with the trail and cautiously take your time. We decided to reckie the (2.8km) Orange trail ‘in awe’ first, then the (5.5km) Red trail. Then, on only our third run of the day, we were all keen to do the Red trail from top to bottom without stopping. However, one of the six dads unfortunately did not complete the run.
The facts of the accident are a little hazy, as the rider following was a little way off and the chap who fell can’t remember due to a concussion. Hasten to say the accident resulted in a broken arm, which unfortunately led to a visit to the A&E department on day one. Conversations were then had about whether to inform his wife or maybe waiting to deliver the news once home. We all agreed, rightly or wrongly, not to worry her unnecessarily. However his wife was remarkably calm about the news even though she is six weeks due to giving birth!
In hindsight we perhaps should have built up our level of confidence over the first few days and then the chap with the injury would have gotten more days of riding in before the chance of any accidents may have occurred; tip for future trips! The good news is that no other party member required hospital treatment, a few bumps and bruises from minor falls but all in all 85% damage free.
Back to the biking and for the rest of the group we spent the next few days’ trialling different runs. The red and blue runs were fun but the last day for me was all about the Orange run, learning it and conquering it. I ended up being the only member in our group daring enough to give it a go from top to bottom ‘non-stop’. Don’t get me wrong I was dubious along with my group, however this was a long term goal for me and I had to take the chance, forgetting momentarily, about my also expectant wife and three year old son’s words of: ‘Don’t take any unnecessary risks and keep safe!’
Third black run of the trip, GoPro on, final checks made and I was off! As the video will show, there are some fast and flowing parts but there are some scarily rocky sections that shake every muscle in your body, some gnarly (cool speak) roots and then the steep hills & jumps at the bottom. When you’re tiring after 8 minutes of full on adrenaline, concentration and physical endurance, you can make the odd silly mistake.
Check out the crash on the video and apologies for any naughty words (you have been warned).
I am so glad I have this recorded memory as I am really pleased I completed my mission at a level I am happy with. I can now rest in the knowledge that I pushed myself to overcome adversity. After all, with baby number two on the way this could have been my last opportunity to complete a lifetime ambition.
That is until my son learns to conquer his bike riding and confidence levels grow and off we may go again!’