In a bout of insanity last year, I decided to race the ProTour 4X event, as I wanted to give it a try and there were no 4X races in Scotland. This year after a bit of persuasion from the #4XWednesdays crew, round 2 of the HSPC British 4X was being held at Fort William, and we couldn’t have asked for a better event.
The weather was perfect, sunny and warm, there was a great number of people who had travelled from all over the country to race and spectate, and again thanks to #4Xwednesdays fundraising efforts all the under 18s were racing for free, which had resulted in a huge turn out and an amazing atmosphere.
Much like the world cup last year, the British Downhill race was running during the day with the 4X event being held in the evening. The track hadn’t changed either. About 1km long, riders line up in the gate looking at a long straight of three rollers, a couple of step ups and a double in to a large right-handed berm. The second straight had three good sized jumps, each one kicked you in a slightly different way, finishing in to a tight left hander. Here the track switches from the old course, cutting out the rock garden and turning the old berm in to an off-camber jump in to the new berm. This shoots ridders over a couple of doubles, and makes keeping speed up to clear the big table top very difficult. The final turn splits the track between a short triple on the left, or a long double on the right, bringing riders back together on to the bottom of the downhill track with two sizeable drops in to the finish area.
It’s a high intensity track, which involves flat out sprints from top to bottom and made use of a lot of different skill sets. You could see a huge difference between those riders who came from the BMX tracks, or were on jumps bikes clearing all the jumps, and at the other end of the spectrum were those of us on the heavier trail bikes who have the pedal strength and could get all the grip on the lose corners.
We had a good few hours of practice before the motos started. Although as I had spent all morning practicing the downhill track (because I thought it was a good idea to try and race both the Downhill and 4X in one weekend) I was trying to take it easy, and just get a bit of gate practice. Everyone was enjoyi9ng getting to just session stuff and play on their bikes in the sun, but all the banter and joking around in practice quickly fell away as we lined up for the first moto. Because I don’t typically race 4X I had no idea what the level of riders I would be up against was like. Turns out these girls were fast, and seasoned racers, which made all the motos a pretty close race. We raced three motos so that everyone had a chance to race everyone else, I successfully won one of my motos and came 2nd in the other two. This was enough for me to seed 3rd and get in to the A finals. So, the final race would determine the top four Podium spots, and the B final would determine the 5th podium place. Whoever seeded 1st gets first pick of their choice of gates, and by sheer luck even though I got third pick I still had my favourite gate spot. The pressure was on for the final race and as the gate dropped I realised just how closely matched we all were. All four riders on each other’s tail the whole way around, although I fell in to 4th spot on the first straight I knew I had more grip in the corners, but despite me trying to undercut the other women I couldn’t quite take them. At the finish line we all came in with split seconds between us.
I can’t get over what an incredible atmosphere there was here, great banter all evening, and lots of high five and hugs on the finish line, and on the podiums, and I’m pretty damn happy to have a podium finish at my first ever British 4X event. Next stop, bring on the Pro Tour.