The annual pilgrimage to Fort William will have already begun for many of the competitors from around the world who will take part in this year's Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT), which will take place in and around Fort William from Monday 6th to Saturday 11th May. Two hundred and seventy-six riders from twenty-two nations will descend on the loch-side town over the next few days as they prepare for the event that celebrates its one hundred and second anniversary this time around.
Ahead of the main event, the nine days of free motorcycling entertainment will get underway with the annual two-day Pre'65 Trial based around the village of Kinlochleven. Watching the machines of yesteryear compete on some of the SSDT's most famous sections offers spectators an excellent prelude to the modern action. After Friday and Saturday's trip down memory lane, the focus switches to the West End Car Park in Fort William for Sunday's weigh-in day.
The parc-ferme is always a hive of activity and real atmosphere, as the riders frantically make the last adjustments to their bikes before submitting them to the secure compound that overlooks the loch and facing mountainside . From here the riders form a cavalcade of motorcycles and parade through Fort William town centre at 3pm, when the local mayor will officially declare the event open.
At 7.30am on Monday morning the first rider, led out by a Scottish piper, will get the competition underway as they head out of the Parc Ferme to embark on the first of six tough days in the Highlands. The main spectator groups of the day at Leanachen and Lagnaha traditionally attract large crowds as the riders fight their way through the initial thirty observed sections and over a route that totals sixty-eight miles.
Riders face another seventy miles on Tuesday and tackle famous groups such as Laggan Locks and Trotters Burn as they begin to become accustomed to the Scottish terrain. Day three, Wednesday, represents the second longest day of the week at ninety-one miles and incorporates sections at Lower Mamore, Pipeline and Loch Eil to bring the riders to the half way point in the week.
Thursday is always a classic at the SSDT, and this year looks set to be no different with the day kicking off with the long trip out to Chairlift which is then quickly followed by Ba House and Gorton, all of which usually contain sections that can prove decisive amongst the front runners. The closing part of day four looks no easier with visits to Lochs Wood and Fersit to mention just two more testing groups for the riders as they complete the one hundred and eighteen miles.
Day five is a favourite with both riders and spectators alike, as the route meanders around the peninsula before heading back over the ferry. Almost all the groups are accessible on foot although Pipers Burn, WD's, Meall Nam Each, Kilmalieu and Rhuba Ruadh remain the most popular sections amongst the loyal SSDT followers.
Come Saturday the main contenders for the famous winner's trophy have normally become apparent, but still they know they must overcome classic hazards such as Pipeline, Ben Nevis and even Town Hall Brae if they are to be triumphant and collect the main silverware at the presentation of awards later in the day.#
With just days to go all is in place for what promises to be yet another memorable pilgrimage to Fort William for both riders and event followers alike.
Click here to view full daily spectator information.
To find out more about the Scottish Six Days Trial and spectating opportunities, please visit the website at www.ssdt.org