Last Sunday was a day for downhill. In Fort William, Scotland, the best in the world were testing their worth on an infamous track. Here in Nelson, NZ, the scale was smaller but no less furious.
The bottom of the valley was cold and frosty. Freshly-tuned rigs were loaded onto a new trailer, an artwork of metal. Riders jumped onto the tray of the rented trucks, to be taken out of the cold and up into the bright, beautiful sunshine.
First tires on track: a chance to get a feel for the day, the track, the competition. Practice was a time to test lines and check speed, or make the most of a shuttle day and crack out runs. A top section bathed in light and buff-fresh from the digger turned to low-light and treachery to the finish.
It was quick lunch while trying to stay warm and then back up to the top for the ones that counts. A days effort distilled to one short run on the rivet. Dirt, root and rock versus metal and rubber, flesh and blood.
Risk it all, find the line or push past it and pay – in pride or in blood. Whatever the level, only a handful get it right and go home happy. For the rest, there’s next race.