A Highland teenager is gearing up for his debut UCI Downhill World Cup race in Leogang, Austria, on Saturday.
Douglas Goodwill, 16, a pupil of Charleston Academy, Inverness, is in full preparation mode after the Fort William round was cancelled due to Covid-19.
Gravity gears Goodwill up for action
Douglas is the youngest rider in the newly-formed UCI Mountain Bike Team, 555 Gravity Racing from the Muir of Ord.
They are the only UCI Team in Scotland and one of only six in the UK licensed to race with the world’s best.
The team currently has two elite riders, Luke Williamson, 18, from Hampshire, and Calum McBain, 22, Aberdeenshire, and two juniors, Ryan Brannen, 17, from Stirlingshire, and Douglas.
The local teenager is getting ready to live out his dream.
Douglas said: “Racing my bike internationally has been my dream since the age of six when I watched my first World Cup at Nevis Range, Fort William.
“I have been working towards this moment ever since. I was really looking forward to racing my first World Cup in Fort William last month.
“Even without spectators, it would have been unbelievable racing my home track against the best in the world, but unfortunately it had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions. I was gutted.”
555 Gravity was established by Mark Goodwill, Douglas’s dad and owner of OrangeFox Bikes, the bicycle shop in Muir of Ord.
He explained: “The team was set up to help develop the exceptional young talent we have, particularly in Scotland and realise their dreams racing downhill, on the world stage.
“As downhill is not an Olympic discipline, it unfortunately receives virtually no support from either Scottish Cycling or British Cycling and therefore you need to make it happen yourself.
“We are in a very fortunate position being able to do this and hopefully we can continue developing our four riders and supporting new, young talent, of which there is no shortage, in the years to come.”
Organising travel was testing for the team
He added: “It has been a busy year and a very fast learning curve ticking boxes and jumping through UCI hoops to become a UCI-registered team manager and team.
“Most teams employ a full-time manager, but I’ve had to fit it in with running my bike shop.
“Even organising travel from Scotland to Austria has been incredibly difficult with the UK recently being classed as having a Covid variant.
“We had to drop tools and come a week early in order to quarantine in Austria, which has also escalated costs.”
Tracks abroad are harder-packed
Douglas described the differences between the tracks here and in Austria.
He added: “It was so good finishing Austrian quarantine and being able to ride in the Alps.
“The tracks are very different to the UK, much harder-packed and fast – and the views, just wow.
“The first race is in Leogang and much of the course will be on stone with a relatively short, steep-wooded section with lots of mud and roots – conditions we are more used to in Scotland.
“I just can’t wait to get started with practice on Thursday after being cooped up in a chalet for five days.”
The team are looking to race Crankwork, Innsbrook, Austria, before moving on to France in preparation for the second round in Les Gets at the beginning of July.
Round three is in Maribor, Slovenia, and Douglas is hoping to be selected to represent Great Britain as a junior for the World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy, before racing the fourth World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in September.
The final round, Snowshoe, West Virginia, USA, will need to be missed out due to the cost of getting there.
- The 555 Gravity team are always on the lookout for sponsorship opportunities. Contact email@example.com for more information.