Shimano British Downhill Series Rd2: Fort William Photo Essay

Aanoch Mor, Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil. Fort William is big country and has a race track to match. It’s big, tough and a proper test of bikes and balls. The weekend saw a steady stream of broken chain guides, taco’d wheels and punctures. The weather was also a fickle bitch. She stayed dry and clear for Saturday and then turned on the rain hard for Sunday finals. That’s mountain biking though I guess?


Manon Carpenter had a strange weekend – she didn’t manage to complete her seeding run and came down early in the running for finals. It was easy to assume that she would smoke the field with Rachel not on the hill but … it wasn’t to be.  2nd place for her in finals.

I had a bit of a nightmare in my race run on Sunday but I’ve been feeling good on the track so I’m looking forward to coming back in a few weeks for the World Cup and getting a clean run in!” MANON CARPENTER 


Commencal/Riding Addictions Remi Thirion and crew had flown over for the race to get some practice in for the World Cup. They were racing light – pitting with their sponsors from Fox, borrowing our jet wash and making do with whatever they had squashed into their bike boxes on Easyjet. More spares would have meant less time for Remi in the carpark hammering the dents out of his rims so he could ride again! It was great to see those guys on the hill and to see Remi score 10th place.


Marc Beaumont followed by Matt Simmonds . Mark had #2 on his race plate and scored 3rd place overall.


When people say that the BDS is like a “mini World Cup” they’re not joking. To see Troy Brosnan on track  and going head to head with homegrown British talent is a hell of a thing. Troy seeded 9th place and then 5th overall in finals.


RAT ATTACK! Josh bloody Bryceland might well be our favourite rider in British Downhill. Fast, talented and fucking funny. Come on lad, win a World Cup will you?! 4th place for Josh, once again destroying the field. There’s few riders out there with such natural talent on a bike …

“My run wasn’t bad, I saw from seeding that the pace was high so I put a bit of effort in from the last bridge to the woods but you gotta have a bit in reserve for the world cup haven’t ya?!”

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Brendog – another rider that is a midgies bawbag away from the win anytime he races. Bren was on his Scott DH bike for Fort William, leaving the long-travel trail bike at home this time.  17th place for Brendan.

WO: “Would you race the trail bike here at Fort William?”
Brendan: “Fuck no!!”


Fort William suits Danny Hart. He can go fast at the Fort and he can win. He proved it by being fastest in seeding, going 4 seconds quicker than Sam Dale at the first split. A win on Sunday afternoon wasn’t to be though and Danny rolled across the line with a flat tyre. We’re really looking forward to seeing what he comes back with at the World Cup.Whatever it is, it’ll probably involved big whips!

My weekend was really good. I did a few runs on Friday and I gelled with the track straight away. The track was pretty smooth to start with, but it soon roughed up.  My qualification run went well and I was pushing pretty hard. I put everything out there and had a solid run… I knew I had a bit left for the final race run.

By my race run I was buzzing ready for it and ready to lay it all down. I hit the top really well then I hit something and my tyre started letting air out. I stopped trying because I thought it was just going to go all the way down but it ended up holding some air so I was like “shit! lets keep this going”. In the end it did loose all the pressure and that was that. On the up side, looking at split times, I know I am up there, and my speed is there”


Gee Atherton is on another level. The preparation, the timing, the investment and the attention to detail that goes in to his racing is insane. Combine that with a mountain of raw talent and a laser guided focus on winning and you’ve got a hell of a package. Gee didn’t smoke the field – but he beat Simmonds by a solid 2 seconds. The work that Gee puts in shows you how hard it is to take two seconds at his level of the sport. Another level.


Huge thanks to the newest member of the Wideopenmag family – photographer Ian Lean.

Ian joined us for the first time at Antur Stiniog and everything you see here his his work. Check out his website here.