The aim of Down Hill Mountain Biking (DHMB) is very simple – the fastest rider down the hill wins! What makes it extreme, is the nature of the course, the natural and man-made obstacles the riders must navigate. By all accounts the track at Val Di Sole is rated one of the toughest in the world.
There are two main competitions for DHMB; the World Cup, which is a series of events run throughout the year and the World Championships which is a one-off competition hosted by a different country each year. Riders are invited to attend the Championships depending on how many points they have accumulated during the World Cup series.
The UK has a solid track record for producing World Champions for some years now and this year was no exception.
The main issues the riders needed treating were: forearm tension from braking (and generally hanging on for dear life!!), neck, back and calf fatigue. Acute injuries included: bruising, ligament sprains, mainly thumb and rotator cuff (shoulder) impact trauma. Creativity was required to customise joint strapping according to rider’s needs. We had no ice, so to reduce swelling, riders were sent to dip themselves in the glacial river to cool their injuries down.
Paramedics were on hand should serious injuries occur from falls – there were a few!
Alongside physical support, riders often needed pep talks to boost their confidence and consoling after difficult runs, falls and poor competition results – also, to help with pre-run nerves. Between us all, from chef to mechanic to myself to family members, we all ensured the riders’ wellbeing came first and ensured a positive, nurturing environment was maintained at all times.
Each team is allocated space with in the pits for the mechanics to set up their workshops; this is where the real magic happens. Each bike is painstakingly taken apart, repaired and put back together again several times over the week. Watching these guys work was an inspiration. I set up alongside our mechanics and patched the riders back together, whilst their bikes were mended.
The atmosphere throughout the week was incredibly positive with riders helping and supporting each other. Elite riders looked after juniors and always had time to offer words of support and track riding wisdom. It was one big world family!
The competition is in Cairns, Australia next year. I’m hoping I proved myself to be indispensable enough to be asked back!