DHX

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Red Bull DHX

Cape Town, South Africa

The first race of the year, was the first race in IGSA's World Cup series. It was also the first street luge race to be televised LIVE. The race was held in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town is a fairly large city located on the southern tip Africa (well it's actually about 80 kilometers from the tip.)

The race course started in the saddle between Table Mountain and Lion's Head and heads toward Clifton Beach. The course is just over a mile long, at 1.7 kilometers. It has one hard right that leads into two fairly nasty hairpins. Followed by a long series of chicanes, which lead to the finish line. This has got to be one of the best course I've ridden, couple with amazing scenery and Red Bull's hospitality, the DHX us a premier event. 

Friday, February 23

When I travel to a race I like to spend an extra day or two to visit the area. I've already invested the time and money to get there. I generally don't include information from this extra time in these reports, or at least a whole lot of it. But this trip is a bit different, for one it took 24 hours of flying time, and Red Bull stuff started to happen on Monday. Because it takes so long to get to Cape Town I decided to leave Friday evening. Tobi had me (and most of the US guys) flying though Amsterdam. While this added a few hours of travel time, it had the added benefit of breaking the flight up, as we had long layovers in Amsterdam. Also Tobi negotiated extra baggage weight for us. Since I was due to arrive in Amsterdam at 8 am, and it was a 10 hour flight, I wanted to sleep for most of it. But I was actually leaving Seattle in the afternoon, and I would be arriving in Amsterdam midnight my time! I decided not to sleep Thursday night. Well my first problem was I twisted my ankle playing soccer Thursday night. Not a good thing if you are going to be spending the weekend sitting in an airplane, and walking around Amsterdam. 

I discovered that, while Tobi negotiated extra baggage weight, it didn't mean extra baggage. Apparently they don't like to travel with more than two checked in items, and two carryons. I actually had five bags; my luge in a snowboard bag, my duffel bag of equipment, my suitcase of clothes, my camera and my computer. Somehow I lucked out and they only charged my $37.50! I learned my lesson and carried my suitcase on the return flight.

Saturday, February 24

Sitting in a plane for ten hours isn't good for a sprained ankle. I slept off and on, on the way over, but I've still got a ways to go before I can go to sleep in a bed. I've got a twelve hour layover in Amsterdam, so I take the train into the center of town and spend the day walking around. There are a couple of nice museums here, but even in winter there are a lot of tourists. I skip a couple because the line to get in goes down the block. One thing I don't understand is the bicycles. They are all the same.

Dave Auld has a picture of another toilet at www.auldovertheroad.com.

Sunday, February 25

A shower about now would be nice. A fourteen hour flight is a little harder than a ten hour flight, especially when almost all of it is a night. Sure I got some sleep, but it seemed like they brought more meals and snacks on the previous flight, probably because it start at 2pm. We had a short layover in Johannesburg, which I didn't know. As we flew in Johannesburg was being deluded with rain,. there must have been two or three inches on the tarmac. At this point I thought it was Cape Town, and because of the cloud cover I didn't know that it wasn't. I'm thinking great, I've got to put up with this for four days. Well hopefully it'll blow over by Friday. And then I noticed my seatmates weren't getting off!

I met Dani, aka Mama Bear, at the airport. Her and her fiance drove me to the Lion's Head Inn. Starting Monday we would have regular shuttles to pick up the arrivals, but I was getting special services coming in a bit early. She asked me if I wanted to see the hill, well of course! After getting checked in at the hotel I took a mini taxi down town. Mini taxis are a great, cheap way of getting around Cape Town. This things are more like miniature buses than taxis. They hold up to ten people (or more!) and pretty much have set routes. But alls you have to do is stand on the side of the road to have them pick you up. I headed to the Gardens, and had lunch. This is a nice peaceful place to have lunch. After going through the South African Museum (a strange collection of stuff) I decided to walk the race course.

At the top of the hill there were several signs proclaiming the road closures. 

About halfway between the start and the hairpins is th

e first real turn.

Unfortunately my camera battery died at this point. The rest of the course is a very long chicane. There were only two interesting points. The beginning of the chicane is a right/left across a bridge. Each direction was banked, which means there is a hump in the road you have to cross. And finally near the finish line were some bumps in the road. Waldo apparently got airborne hitting them!

The bottom of the race course isn't far from Clifton Beach.

By the way, La Med, is situated in the peninsula on the right. I got involved in a game of Ultimate on the beach, and then headed back to the hotel. One of the guys gave me a ride back in his Miata. These guys drive on the wrong side of the road, and car. Which gave us Americans a lot of trouble all week. Well I own a Miata, and sitting on the left side with no steering wheel has just weird. 

Monday, February 26

It was great to finally sleep in a bed. The hotel was an ok hotel, its main problem, was no air. The room had a ceiling fan, but the fan wasn't over the bed.  I headed over to the waterfront. This is a set of working docks,

Lion's Head is the peak in the right, and the hotel is somewhere on the far right as well. 

Dani opened up a Red Bull office at the hotel.

Tobi, who arranged most of the international flights also worked here for the week. The Red Bull was free!

Red Bull arranged dinner every night. The first night was at restaurant on the other side of the bay. Some of the Red Bull Girls beat us there.

Tuesday, February 27

A few of the guys decide to head out to some local hills for a little practice. I had already planned on going up to the top of Table Mountain today. I did get a couple of shots of them loading up.

It looks slightly suggestive. By the way the Ocean was only about a block from the hotel. Unfortunately there wasn't much of a beach.

Dinner time, people start to gather in the courtyard. We now have two vans.

Tom Mason arrived while we were out dinner, now I wasn't the only American.

Wednesday, February 28

I tried to log on every morning to check my email, and to send an update to streetluge.com.  Today the line in the hotel, fortunately there are at least three internet cafes within a couple of blocks of the hotel. Apparently they are fairly popular with the tourists.

I wasn't the only one, a couple of the Germans were already there, and Rat Sult and Freeman had just left. I was wanting to try and go to the Cape today, so I could hang around on Thursday when everyone else is supposed to arrive. But I took to long to get organized, and I got roped into helping Dani out with some computer problems. She offered me some Red Bull. Turns out Red Bull was putting together a township tour. The townships are places they recommend tourists don't visit without a guide.

Before hitting the township, we stopped at Red Bull HQ to pick up a few people. I got a chance to check out some of the Red Bull Mobiles. Of course there were a couple of VW bugs,

We passed the shanty towns,

Sometime Wednesday morning a fire started on Table Mountain, we noticed it on the way out, it seems to have grown.

covered most of the face of the mountain, making the mountain on the left look like a volcano.

After lunch we had a few hours for dinner. So I hopped a mini taxi to the Clifton Beach.

I figured on may back I would catch another mini taxi back. As I waited for the taxi I was putting my shoes back on, when I spotted a mini taxi coming my way. But it looked too nice to be a taxi. Did I mention that the mini taxi's are blocky VW vans. In fact it seems ALL vans in Cape Town are these VW vans, including our shuttles. Well I figured this van was too nice to be a mini taxi. I started looking away, to put my shoes on, when just as it past I noticed it was one of our shuttles! Fortunately Rat told me and had the driver stop, but not before they were well past me. So here I was, chasing the van down the road barefoot.

 A few more people joined us for diner. We're now up to about five vans. We usually left the hotel right at sunset.

Thursday, March 1

The party is about ready to begin, today is my last free day. I took a tour down to the Cape. They take us down and drop us off and let us mountain bike the last 20 kilometers to the cape. There were some beautiful views.

Pretty much everyone had arrived, except for Waldo. Tonights restaurant was the

Friday, March 2

Today the party begins, first with a practice session. We all piled

The table cloth is the clouds that appear to pour over the top of Table Mountain.

We had a quick riders meeting,

The meeting was held in the courtyard of the hotel.

he was very proud of the fact that this was Red Bull's largest sporting event, and streetluge's first live tv.

As we waited to grab a shuttle to tonight's beach party we saw an interesting view of Lion's Head.

Saturday, March 3

Today is qualifying day. The last shuttles were leaving around 8 am. It sure is nice to get up, have some breakfast in the hotel, and then hop on a shuttle to the course. We got to the course with plenty of time to set up and check things out, like the starting line.

This is quite incredible considering we had over 40 lugers, about 40 standup guys, 30 inliners, and a half dozen gravity bikes. Having the shuttles taking us back to the top the long way around helped things run smoothly. 

We had a nice leisurely lunch. A few people took the time to check their equipment out.

It was time to start qualifying. We had two flat panel tv's set up in the pit area to watch the other racers, this is where most of us spent our time. After my second qualifying attempt, I was number 11, so there were a few riders after me, I ran down to the hairpins to get a few shots. I took a few more shots of the upper part of the course. The first Right:

Dave Rogers

Lott in first hairpin

Lott in second hairpin

Waldo

Fryer

We had a fantastic day, ever American made it in, but barely. While there were a few scrapes and bruises I don't think there were any major injuries. 

For dinner we went to a bar downtown with a Jamaican theme. It was pretty cool, they had a sandy beach area in the front, and open area bar, and then a restaurant area in the back. 

Sunday, March 4

Today is race day. Once again the shuttles get us to the course with plenty of time to set up, I found time to pose with Megan.

Today we were practicing four deep, and we had fewer people, so some of us got five runs in. This included a stop at 11:00 for a dry tv run. With the exception of the boom camera, you barely even knew that this event was being filmed, let along being filmed on live tv.

During lunch many of the riders handed out stickers

The first heat saw Rat Sult, Tom Mason, Johno, and Dave Rogers battling it out. I guess I was going faster than normal, but I lost control of the board in the first turn due to wobs (coming out of the turn) and actually flipped the board. I ended up third in the heat, though.

Since I was done for the day I headed down to the hairpins. Personally I think Marcus had the best view of the course, high up in the announcers tower.

Between heats action on live tv was switched to the vert ramp at La Med, giving the van a chance to drive up the course.

Dave Rogers had a pretty strong outing and usually led in his heats.

In the semifinals Fryer takes the outside line on the hairpin, yet manages to advance.

The consolation and finals were pretty hotly contested. Both cases they came through the hairpin in a pretty tight formation. First the consolation,

I ran into Bob in the VIP tent, and we walked down the course a bit. At this point we were about half way down the course. I really didn't feel like walking back up the hill and I was unsure if the shuttles were going to go back up the course or not. So we started heading down the course while the skateboard final was being run. Bob was still in full leathers, so a few people wanted a souvenier from him. Well he ran into a group of guys that owned a bar. They wanted his id, which of course Bob refused to give up, but he was wearing a Blue Smoke Tshirt. He decided to give them the tshirt off his back, which they promised to hang in their bar. In exchange they gave Bob a hat.

Back to the hotel to clean up and head to La Med. I ran into Chris so we took each others pictures. Chaput sprained his ankle.

I was in the first van to head out, as soon as we pulled out of the hotel parking lot, these two objects wizzed by.

La Med is a night club on a peninsula below the race course. They had this large open field where a large screen tv was set up to show the race.

You can see the pictures in the background, a very interesting effect. We got one last glimpse of the table cloth.

After dinner it was time for the ceremony. The major of Cape Town

Now it was party time. Jochen wore some lederhosen 

I think the most popular drink was Red Bull and Vodka. We stayed and partied until the last bus went home, in fact I think a few stayed after that.

Monday, March 5

For a few of us it was time to go home. We had an afternoon flight so most of us had a fairly mellow morning, packing and saying are goodbyes. There were six or seven of us that had to leave on the same flight. As we started to load one of the two vans we had, we discovered that we couldn't open one of the backdoors. So we decided to put all of our luggage in one van, and the rest of us rode in the other. Bob stayed with the luggage. Our van decided to make a pit stop on the way to the airport. We arrive at the air port, and Bob is standing next to this huge pile of luggage. "Yes my bags have been in my control since I packed them."

Tuesday, March 6

Fourteen hours back to Amsterdam and winter. It was nice in South Africa, shorts weather. In Amsterdam its freezing, and it doesn't help that its 6 AM. Five of us head into Amsterdam for breakfast, we are search of pancakes. I've been told that this is something one should try to eat when they visit Amsterdam. Well, lets just say that "Do you know where a Mr. Pancake is?" is NOT a good question to ask a young lady in Amsterdam by five guys. Especially when pancakes apparently aren't served before noon.

I arrived back in Seattle later that afternoon. All in all this was a wonderful trip. I had no problems in Cape Town, in fact most people there were nice and pleasant. While it wasn't a five start hotel, it served its purpose and the staff was very nice. The race course was amazing, it everything you could ask, the hospitality was supreme. It was just amazing. And Red Bull, I don't think I can say enough about them. Just Thank You for a superb event. I can't wait for next year.

I'll leave you with a few more pics. A view down the street from the hotel.

Despite what it looks like, the place on the right is actually a fast food chain!

When we flew out of Cape Town, the plane first flew south, and circled around the tip, we got to see an amazing view of the Cape.

The last big event.