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The Fort: SDA Final Round

And so the rains came...

Paul Angus - Nae Hands

Well that's it for yet another Scottish season. In contrast to last years endless summer of dry races this year proved a bit damp. The super smoothly run SDA series came to a close at Fort William, the well proven , testing track down the lower slopes of Aanoch moor. Final rounds can sometimes feel a little depressing as you hang out with people for the last time before the winter rolls in but the weather this weekend left me desperately wanting to head for the warmth of home and leave the racing until next year.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the SDA organisers and every other volunteer who made the 2004 season another brilliant year of racing for everyone, you're all great. Anyway onto the racing.

The rain started on the Friday night and apart from the odd gap in the low lying, grey clouds it didn't stop all weekend. Saturday practice started off as normal with waterproofs being the wise choice for many riders and most managed 2-3 runs before the noon lunch break. It was during the break that the weather deteriorated drastically and after the winds started to gust up to 60mph threatening to blow bikes off the gondola the reluctant decision to close the hill was reached.

With 350 riders stuck in a wet Fort William for a Saturday afternoon it seemed as though most made for the warmth offered by the public houses of the town and some maybe stayed in them for too long. The weather forecasts weren't looking good and there was wide spread speculation that the Sunday race wouldn't go ahead. As damage limitation the organisers made the decision to only have one race run, avoiding the worse afternoon weather.

As every man and his dog knows the Ft Bill track there is no need for a track description and apart from the odd bit of maintenance and re-shaped jumps there were no changes. It was the conditions that set this Fort William race apart from any other. The persistent rain had drenched the ground and washed anything loose down the hill exposing loads of extra rocks and creating , in places, axle deep ruts.

Gone was the signature hard, loose and gravely surface to be replaced by a soft and quite grippy sand that had many taking off the big 2.8 front tyres and opting for something smaller. The gusting wind also added an element of surprise to everyone's run. Some set off in relative calm and others struggled to make it off the start line and down the first straight in the gale force head winds. It felt, at times, like we were in the tail end of hurricane Ivan which kept you on your toes and I for one crapped myself at the thought of taking my wheels off the ground anywhere in the top section.

The upside of the conditions was that it seemed to reduce the number of casualties that plagued the Nationals here early in the year. Whether it was because the track was slower or the ground was softer, who knows. There were the unlucky few though, get well soon Ben.

Chris Hutchens and Ben Cathro

Sorry for the lack of Results and short repo. I'm off to Italy for the Final World cup in a few hours and I've got to go and wash some pants. Full Results and series points at

Here's the ones I do know:


1st: Dave Armstrong (Mojo Suspension), Nice one Dave.
2nd: James Hughes (Yeti Europe)
3rd: Stu Jenkinson


1st: Tom Braithwaite, Nice one Tom
2nd: Stu Thompson (Giant UK)
3rd: Chris Ball (Mojo Suspension)

See you all next season or huddling under an easy-up at a winter race. Over and out, Chris Ball

Aidan Watson
Danny Hart - Juvenile winner
Tom Braithwaite
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