Almabtrieb

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Almabtrieb

World Championships

Hungerzell, Germany

Not far from the Czech Republic border, in the Bayer-Wald Nature Preserve lies some rolling hills and some small German villages. At the top of one hill is Hungerzell, a village of a half dozen houses. Neukirchen is a slightly larger town near the bottom of the hill, complete with a bank and several restaurants. There were some sports fields, and a horse farm. In between these two villages was a smooth, fast but technical course.

The course was about 3 kilometers and started in Hungerzell, at the end of the road. A quick left right chicane starts the course off. As you leave Hungerzell you make a hard left turn and pick up speed for the first hairpin. The hairpin was a right hander, with a drop of about 15 feet. A short straight lets you set up for the next, left hand, hairpin. Both of these hairpins requires little to no braking, as the speeds were just picking up. Coming of the left hander there is a short job to the right as you get set up for a long, double apex, sweeping left hander. The beginning of this turn was a short left, with a short straight. The straight was short enough you could almost treat the whole set as one turn. The second part of the left started easy, but then turned hard to the left, followed immediately by a very hard right hand hairpin. Neither of which required braking, but with them both so close together, braking was required to set up for the turn properly. Exiting the hairpin deposits onto a long fast "straight." The straight was actually broken up about half way down with a left to right chicane. Just after the chicane new pavement began and brought speeds up to over 100KPH! The long straight ended in another chicane the immediately led into Risch corner,

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a very hard and long left hand hairpin. Following this hairpin was a long right hand sweeper leading to a hard left turn immediately before the finish line.

Tuesday, July 13

We travelled all day to get to the race course. Our train was cancelled and we had to be rerouted because apparently someone was walking on the tracks earlier that day! Yorke, one of the organizers picked us up at the train station, about 15 minutes from the course, and gave us a tour of the course. The course looked a lot faster and more technical that what was shown on the video. The organizer Stephane Risch had done a lot of work in the hairpin at the bottom of the straight. He cleared some trees, made some bleachers and set up some Japanese lanterns.

It started to rain as we ate dinner. Most of the other patrons darted inside, while we elected to stay outside under one of the gazebos and enjoy the slightly cooler weather. By the time we finished a leisurely dinner it was fairly late, and there wasn't anyone at the mess tent. I spent some time in the camp chatting, before calling it an earlier night. I think I was still jet lagged.

Wednesday, July 14

Breakfast was supposed to be served from 7-9 with the busses leaving to go up the hill about 9:00. We got up fairly early to try and catch breakfast but we spent a little too long getting our equipment together. I don't think we made it down to the mess tent for breakfast until about 9.

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We were given a bag with a banana, some Apple-sonne, two buns. One with cheese, one with ham. And two small candy bars. The mess tent was mostly empty, I figured everyone had started already. After finishing breakfast we walked up the road to where the buses picked us up, and discovered they hadn't left yet. This was a relief as the finish line was several hundred meters up the hill.

It took a while to get to the top of the hill, and despite the hour it was already sweltering hot. Fortunately I hadn't put my leathers on, but I was already sweating. As the buses went down the hill, we had a short riders meeting.

Street luge and classic lined up first for practice.

We got five runs in when we broke for lunch. Since the finish line was uphill from the campsite, most of use sat on our boards and rode down to the campsite. The day was pushing 38C and the humidity must have been 90% or more, sitting in the shade was a necessity.

to collect my gear and get ready for the afternoon session.

Lunch was about two hours, a long siesta type of lunch. We jumped back on the bus

Being in leathers on a sweltering humid day isn't the most pleasant thing to do.

Like the morning session, the lugers would go down first, followed by the standup guys. The motto for the day though, seemed to be "shade."

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Lunch ended about 3:00 and we ran the after session until about 7:00. The weather was still fairly hot, although it was starting to cool a little. We got another five runs. After a long hot sweaty day I was ready for a shower.

Dinner was served in the mess tent, although a lot of people cooked for themselves, and a few people made the trek into town. Again there were two choices, tonight was half a chicken and a pasta dish. The chicken was pretty good and at 6 Euros was fairly cheap. Unfortunately they didn't have anything to drink except beer, sparkling water, and a sparkling apple cider. I guess they had some sort of cola mixed with orange juice that I've tried before, and I didn't like it.

After dinner there was a short riders meeting discussing tomorrow's schedule, which would be practice in the morning, qualifying in the afternoon. And then most of us headed back to the campsite to socialize a bit.

Thursday, July 15

Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up to sounds of rain. When I woke up and looked out the window it was hard to tell if things were wet or dry, as there was a gravel road in front of the place I was staying. I headed up to the tent for breakfast, and it looked like things were drying up. Although I had already decided I wasn’t going to qualify if it was wet. After breakfast, on my way to the campsite, Yorke told me the course was still wet and we had a half hour. At the campsite I wasn’t in a hurry, and I guess I sat around for a half hour as I just missed the first ride up the hill.

The morning went pretty much the same as yesterday. Stay cool in the shade,

on his GPS, the fastest he had ever recorded.

Again we had a long lunch.

It was a light rain. With the day still hot, I knew it would dry quickly, if it stopped raining. It didn’t last long, and the course was dry by the time it was my turn to go.

As soon as we got to the bottom, we had to get back on the bus for standup and street luge qualifying. Unfortunately for us, standup went next. With close to 200 standup riders, it was going to take a while.

It was finally time to start street luge, and we started getting ready.

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Then we were told that street luge qualification was cancelled. It took some time to confirm this, but it was already after 7:00 PM and the road permit was only good until 7:00 PM. The street luge qualification was indeed cancelled, but we were able to ride down, as it would only take a few minutes.

After getting cleaned up, we headed into town for dinner. The main part of town was about five minutes away by car. It wasn’t too far away by skateboard, but it was a good distance to walk. After eating a wonderful German meal, we went back to the mess tent to hang out for a while.

Friday, July 16

I think the original plan was to do the same thing we did yesterday, that is practice in the morning and qualify in the afternoon. Instead we would start off with both rounds of street luge qualifying. Then run stand up first thing after lunch, finishing with classic. But they wanted us on the bus at 8:30, except there was no bus at 8:30.

Just the lugers went back up the hill, the skateboarders got the rest of the morning off. It took about an hour to run the entire luge qualifying.

I was tenth in my first run, so I decided to walk up to the finish line to watch the last few. It was my first real chance to see the stuff being set up at the bottom.

We broke for lunch,

I guess the pool is used by hikers to clean their feet. Looks like it was also being used a fridge for water and beer.

About 5 O Clock we headed up to the finish line. We didn’t want to miss the buss, and we weren’t sure when it would go up. I got a chance to watch the last few qualifiers.

Apparently they were selling beer and coffee.

Bob Ozman

After qualifying was over I walked back to my hotel

The restaurant next door also had a schnapps bar set up.

Saturday, July 17

I woke up about 5:00 AM, a clap of thunder must have woken my off, because the power had just gone out, and it was thundering outside. And it was pouring, hard, outside. I went back to sleep thinking the race would be cancelled. The schedule was one warmup run for everyone in the morning, followed by standup. Since I was rooming with Andreas, and I had promised to get the program finished I decided to get up early in the morning anyway. The road outside the hotel still looked wet, but we headed off to breakfast. Yorke mentioned that the course was dry, but it was littered with pine cones and branches. The race would be postponed a bit.

The race started with a 128 man standup bracket. We figured it would take about two hours to run the first round of the bracket. With luge starting up when it got to 32 man in standup we had some time before we started racing. Unfortunately it also meant we had to find our own way up to the finish line. I managed to get a lift up, to carry my equipment. Then I hiked up through the woods to Risch corner to watch part of the standup race.

The crowd at the corner wasn’t huge, I think partially because of the hike through the woods required. Although I guess some spectators were riding the bus.

but I only watched a few heats, as I needed to hike back down to the finish line to get ready for my race.

At the top of the hill, the third round of standup started.

I was in one of the last heats, once again with Yvonne. Yvonne out pushed the three of us, and the three of us bumped each other going through the top chicanes, allowing Yvonne to pull away from us. I managed to break free before the fast straight, but I Yvonne was too far away.

My second run down was going to be a bit tougher. Basically the same thing happened, Yvonne out pushed us all. I lagged behind a bit, but figured I had three people to draft off of. Unfortunately the three people ahead of me started to separate a bit. As we pulled through the last turn before the high speed straight I decided to pass the guy in front of me. I probably should have waited, and drafted him, because he drafted me instead. He passed me in Risch corner. I tried to repass him as we exited the corner, but he shut the door. I had one last chance just before the finish line and couldn’t pull it off. I ended up fourth in the heat.

I watched the rest of the race from the finished line. Switzer won his semi heat in style.

Classic luge and juniors rounded the day off.

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My classic run was in a three man heat. Somehow I got out in front of Stephenson. I slowed a little too much for Risch corner and Will passed me in the turn. I tried to hold him to the outside of the corner so he had further to go. But he still managed to get in front of me. I had to lift my legs over his head to shift to his other side, to give me the inside turn on the long sweeper. I had just enough speed to pull in next to him, before he had a chance to close the door on me. With the inside line I was able to pass him before the finish.

I forgot to charge my GPS and only took a few runs on it. My first few runs were in the 100KPH range. Then in my last qualifying run on luge I got a 112KPH, then on my next classic run I got a 115KPH. These two speeds seemed incorrect. But then Charlie came down, in his classic run and got a 112KPH.

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I still think the speeds were inaccurate, but with two of us getting similar speeds on different devices…

My second run ended pretty much like I expected with me not advancing. So I stayed down at the bottom to watch the finishes. The women’s standup finished up right behind us.

The race finished up just after 7:00 PM. I rode my gear down to the camp, got out of my leathers, and packed my board for travel, and it started to rain! Dinner was already being served when I made it back to the mess tent.

I had to get up early in the morning to drive someone to the train station, so it was actually an early night for me. Another World Championships is in the book. This year’s course was superb. It was technical, smooth, and fast. The towns people seemed to enjoy having us, and many invited us back next year. While a few people went to the hospital there were no serious injuries. Perhaps the worst injury was to a course worker who was hit by a run away skateboard.