Just two days ago, 22 top-flight World Cup racers tentatively kicked-off the riding here in Mid Wales, but already Dan Atherton and Ollie Davey’s course has cut the wolf pack down to size. Despite best efforts to keep things safe and sensible, the crashes have flowed thick and fast in all kinds of shapes and sizes - predominantly big and ugly. Suffice to say that if you’re at all prone to wearing large, plastic knee-guards outside of your jeans, this really isn’t the track for you.
No need for the joeys out there to beat themselves up just yet though; this is barely a ‘track’ for anyone… It’s goddam gnarly to the core. With a vertical drop almost the same as Fort William covered in about half the distance, it’s mighty steep. It’s also rough, off-camber and contains an ungodly mix of turf, sharp rock, and dark, wet mud. All of this plus the enormous gaps with difficult set-ups that make the course so infamous and unique.
Practice saw riders fixated on surviving re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere in windy conditions, super tech and burly linking sections seemed to lay by the wayside, the least of anyone's troubles. But the racing is yet to begin.