Kozakov Challenge

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Kozakov Challenge

Kozakov, Czech Republic

About 100 kilometers north of Prague lies a large preservation area. At the top of this area is a tourist hotel and an antenna area on a lookout tower. The small tourist hotel is mainly for hikers, and not really a hotel.

The course starts near the lookout tower and heads down the hill. There is a high speed straight with speeds approaching 65 MPH before a hard right then left hairpin. The right hand turn might be doable without braking, but the setup for the hairpin would be wrong. A long left sweeper leads to the next hairpin. The right hand hairpin looks deceiving and requires less braking than expected, especially as the exit is flat. A short journey through the forest and along a right hand sweeper brings up the final hairpin. After exiting the left hand hairpin the road drops off into another long and fast straight. Speeds approach 65 MPH before the final hard turn, which is almost a 90 degree right hander. A left hand sweeper finishes the course.

Tuesday, Aug 10

We spent a day in Prague before heading out to Kozakov, where we ran into several groups of racers. We caught the late afternoon train, and got to Semily about 8:00 PM. Fortunately we had made arrangements and got picked up at the train station. Kozakov is about 10 km uphill from Semily. I got dropped off at the hotel and put my equipment together before heading up to the campsite. I wasn’t starving because we had a late lunch, but I was hungry. I was surprised to find out the caterers were already cooking, and still going by the time I got up there.

drinking beer and catching up.

Wednesday, Aug 11

We were supposed to have a riders meeting at 9:00 AM and start riding shortly after that. But we took our time, ate breakfast and headed up to the course just after 9:00. Registration was just getting underway.

I don’t think there was a riders meeting.

We finally got riding about 10:00. We started off fairly informal, the road was open we went we wanted to. I think this was a slight mistake as we ended up sending four people to the hospital in the first four runs. I’m not sure if it was because of too many people on the hill at once, or because people went all out and too fast on the first run.

We rode to the bottom of the hill, and just sort of hung out on the road.

After the buses turned around we would hop on. It is nice to have the buses at the bottom of the hill already, but I think this method speeded things up, as we loaded the buses as soon as they stopped.

We usually didn’t wait at the bottom for too long. I think we were averaging a round trip in thirty minutes. But occasionally someone would get hurt and our wait was a little longer. Some of the guys took to playing a game of ninja to stay occupied.

It turns out we weren’t taking a break for lunch. We would ride until 6:00PM.

After I finished eating, and missed a couple of runs I got my equipment teched.

We rode for the rest of the afternoon. Eimer generally tried to get luge and classic to go first.

I think I got about a dozen runs. Someone said there were 14 runs total, but I’m sure I missed more than that during lunch.

I was staying about a kilometer down the road in the attic of someone’s house. We took off to get cleaned up and have dinner. On the way out we noticed that this year they had a shower bus. They were using the showers at the pension that was down the hill a ways.

Thursday, August 12

The weather forecast called for rain on Thursday, although the forecast I saw said rain in the evening. But we woke up to lovely blue skies.

While the current weather looked nice, the forecast for the next few days looked bleak. The original schedule was practice in the morning and qualify in the afternoon for today and tomorrow. But the forecast for tomorrow is rain, with a better forecast for Saturday. So they decided to run both qualifying sessions today. Starting with a warm up run for classic and standup.

There was a last minute tech inspection before things got started.

With 120 riders it took a while.

We were going to run street luge next, then repeat the cycle. But they decided to run street luge back to back, followed by classic, and then ending the day with the second standup run. We got one warm up run for street luge

I guess they were using it to film some of the runs!

I was done for the day, so I grabbed some lunch and then hung out, waiting for the standup guys to finish.

While the caterers had some great food, the selection was limited. They had sausages, hotdogs, chicken, and pork plus another rotating item. Today it was sparrow! We elected to eat lunch in the restaurant at the top. The place was full of other riders. The food was a little more expensive, but at least it was different.

After dinner we headed over to the tent

The party was still going strong when we decided to leave sometime after midnight, there was a small chance we would be racing at 9 AM. The skies were perfectly clear, we had hoped this was a good sign.

Friday, August 13

 

Sometime in the middle of the night a thunderstorm rolled in. The rain pounded hard, and the thunder was earth shattering. A lot of people felt the thunder as the lightning was close. The wind was howling too, and at least one tent was found in a tree!

I woke about 7 AM to rain pounding the window and decided we weren’t starting at 9AM, so I shut off the alarm and went back to sleep. About 9 AM I woke again and the rain had stopped. Our hotel was downhill a bit from the road, so I walked up to the road to see how dry it was. It was dry in places, but the wet patches were still very wet. I was trying to decide if I should wake the others, as I walked back to the hotel. When I got back, I turned around and could barely see the road due to fog. I decided we weren’t racing for a while.

About 10:00 things seemed drier, so we got up and headed up the hill. As we got closer to the top the road got wetter. The sky was still bleak but it wasn’t raining.

Some people took this opportunity to take the shower bus to the showers.

I ended up having dinner from the caterers, a tasty kobalsa and a very yummy potato cake. While I ate dinner we watched several videos

but we called it an early night as we weren’t sure when we would race tomorrow.

Saturday, August 14

The forecast said rain until 10 AM then sunny and 70F the rest of the day. We woke up to thick fog.

A lot of people were still eating breakfast. An announcement was soon made, everything but standup was cancelled. The fog was too thick. At 2:00 a decision would be made about standup.

At this point it seemed like the tent broke into a swap meet. As this was the last race on the Euro tour, people were selling wheels.

The rain continued, and the fog seemed to get thicker.

The awards

Fortunately he shared!

Top Czech Standup:

Street Luge:

Santolamazza, Labarthe, Barboni

Classic Luge:

Serek, Santolamazza , Labarthe

Women Standup:

Bougourd, Edwards, Westerick

Junior II Standup:

Guneriussen, Wegge, Piton

Standup:

Batt, Reimer, Shapiera

Mishco finished the awards ceremony off by giving out some wheels to some of the local Czech riders.

and a nice hoodie with the Kozakov logo.

Of course it felt like as soon as the awards ceremony was over that the fog moved on and the sun came out. I’m not sure if the course was still raceable though because I think some of it was still in fog.

We went back to the hotel to pack up. I was leaving first thing in the morning, but my roommates were going to head back to Sweden now, it is a long 12+ hour drive back. Before they left, they dropped me back at the top of the hill. Dinner was served a short time later.

There was a big party planned for the evening. It was supposed to be a costume party, although it was only mentioned a few days before. A few people improvised.

The party was actually fairly mellow. I guess because most of the people had left early.

The party lasted until the wee hours of the morning. It would have gone on harder and longer if the full contingent of riders was still here. The Euro Tour was officially over.

Unfortunately we sent quite a few people to the hospital. There were two or three separated shoulders, an injury involving ligaments and I think a broken leg. The course itself is fairly safe, but anytime you wreck at the speeds achieved at Kozakov, bad things can happen. I think if most riders and ridden with a bit more caution, many of these injuries would have been prevented.

It was too bad that the race was cancelled. We had a lot of spectators last year. The organizers had planned on having two beer gardens on the course.

The event itself was perhaps the best organized event of the Euro Tour, and if the race had gone off as planned, would have been the best event. I look forward to racing this course and attending this event again.