13 June 2017
The second competition of the UCI downhill mountain bike World Cup was held at Fort William, Scotland, with the magnificent Ben Nevis towering over proceedings in the back ground. The course is long, fast and technical with plenty of natural features providing obstacles for the riders to navigate. Definitely not for the faint hearted!
Over the course of the week the track, particularly the wooded section, claimed many – not helped by the furious downpours that came frequently turning that section of the track into a bog with sharp tree roots hidden just out of sight waiting to throw riders off their bikes.
This is an important venue for the British riders as it’s the only competition on the world circuit to be held in the UK. It gives the public a fantastic opportunity to meet and support the riders. There was a steady flow of fans at the pits all day every day of the competition with happy faces as tee shirts, hats & posters were individually signed, photos taken and general banter had.
In between that there were TV crews and other media wanting interviews and photoshoots. The pressure is high for the riders to find the balance between focusing on the competition itself and being available for the public and media.
Despite sustaining a dislocated hip a few weeks previously on the course, Gee attended to offer his support to the team and kept everyone entertained with his good humour.
My main job as physiotherapist travelling with the team is to provide soft tissue and manual therapy, strapping, acute & existing injury management. I try to treat the more chronic issues in the first 2 days before the riders start their practice runs. Once the riding is underway I focus on the immediate issues such as forearm muscle pain (muscle pump), acute sprains, strains, cuts, grazes, fatigue and stress. I never know what state the riders will come back in so I try to have my area organised to be able to deal with things as they happen. Space and resources are limited so some imagination is often required!
Most of the time things go well, but unfortunately bigger injuries occur as we saw with Rachel who dislocated a shoulder on the final day preventing her racing in the final.
Whilst I am predominantly attending as therapist for the riders, I also treat any crew member that needs help – mechanics, chef, media and anyone else associated with the team.
Days are long and always busy. When not treating, I take my physio hat off and become self proclaimed “camp mum”. Duties include washing up, serving food/hot drinks, making sure riders have water, electrolytes, smoothies/juice etc, cleaning the truck out, running errands – whatever is needed to keep things rolling smoothly.
Once the riding is over we return to the house where I set up clinic again and often treat the team until past 10pm.
I look forward very much to the next stop – Leogang, Austria. – Fi Lundie, team physio
Thanks to Sven Martin for the photos