Six days, 40,000 spectators, 700 of the world’s top mountain bikers and one amazing backdrop: the UK’s first-ever Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships couldn’t be classed as anything but a mud-splattered success. The 2007 championships sealed the reputation of Fort William as one of the best places on earth for mountain biking. The site in the Scottish Highlands not only offers a magnificent natural setting for the sport, it also boasts some of the best competition facilities in the world, thanks to National Lottery funding.
A grant of £200,000 went towards organising the huge event, including upgrading the courses on the site – changes that have benefited amateur enthusiasts for years after the event. “The whole venue now offers world-class facilities,” said Mike Jardine of event organisers Rare Management.The world championships are considered the most important single competition in the mountain biking year.
Fort William was the only venue in the UK that can offer all four mountain biking disciplines in one place: cross-country, downhill, trials (technical, slow-speed riding over obstacles) and 4-cross (four riders racing head-to-head along a short course). Riders descended 2,000 feet down Nevis Range in around four adrenalin-filled minutes for the downhill event. Watched by more than 10,000 spectators, Scotland’s Ruaridh Cunningham won the junior downhill competition to become the first-ever Brit to win a title at a world championships.