Hot Heels 10

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Hot Heels 10

Kaunertal, Austria

The 10 year anniversary of Hot Heels was held once again in the Kaunertal, beneath the reservoir about 8 km from the town of Feichten. The road leads up to the Kaunertal Glacier where the Austrian Ski team spends their summer. 

The road has 29 hairpins,

July 7 - July 10

I decided to head out a few days early and check out Austria. I flew into Innsbruck

which was the unofficial headquarters of the Americans and the Brits. I was amazed out how many Americans were already here, there were only three or four people who hadn't shown up yet!

Wednesday, July 11

Today was the last of a four day "camp." The camp was a way to get more riding in. I had decided to skip part of the camp to enjoy more of Austria. I've got to admit that if this is run next year it will be a tough decision. The camp was fairly laid back, and all about having fun. Yet Austria is a gorgeous country. 

The camp was about having fun and getting extra rides in on the road, it didn't start to late, with a long lunch hour. For those that camped

and showers set up. 

I got up early because I wanted to drive the road, and get registered before practice started. On my way out of town I say the cows going out to pasture.

I am not a very technical rider and I was a bit apprehensive of the road. But I figured if the large tour buses can make it around those hairpins, I could make it around those hairpins on my luge! I got back to the camp, and found out I got up too early. Gerhard was just waking up, we weren't going to start practicing for another hour!

I wandered around the camp a bit. At the head of the camp was a small shrine.

I never got over how beautiful the place was.

We broke for a long lunch around 2, and then it started raining. It cleared up about 3, but it was a long lunch, and it started raining again. I heard that Sunday's practice was cancelled because of the rain. Gerhard decided to have a "wet practice" today, because we may have to race in the rain. So up we went.

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I went up on my butt board, and sat up the whole way down. I watched Pam and a couple other racers spin out a few times on the way down. I got to the bottom, soaked and decided to call it quits. Pam was having the time of her life, saying to felt like 12 again. It was a fun but wet run.

Most of us Americans gave up,

As we cleaned up, I commented on how the guys still riding (and going faster each time) would be the ones beating us this weekend.

We headed back to town before the nights riders meeting. I saw the cows going home.

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Album: 
and last chance registration.

Thursday, July 12th

Today is the first official day of practice. It was another gorgeous morning, with low lying clouds drifting through the valley.

This is only one of the few waterfalls near the town. This place is amazing.

The weather today was incredible, and everyone was here. I thought the bus was full yesterday, today there were twice as many people. At one time during practice, Darren wanted to do some more filming for his movie.

I don't remember if it was this run, but one of our butt board runs, where just about everyone goes at once, I was out in the lead going into the carousel. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I was next to another rider when we crashed (we weren't going very fast, as it was towards the end of the turn.) I fell off my board, and looked up to see a half dozen helmets looking at me! I don't know how many people slammed into us, I'm sure it was a huge dogpile. I know that several people went around the outside of me, cause they would go by, grab me and say "let's go." Turns out the guy I originally hooked up was on top of my board, and I'm still trying to go!

We broke for lunch,

Friday, July 13th

Today was qualifying. Being Friday the 13th should have clued us in that some strange things would happen. Marcus ran a pretty tight ship.

The weather looked promising so far.

 Dave Auld notice some wood boards that had copied his designs, so we wandered over to meet the guys. Their boards, made of wood, copied Dave's , down to their paint jobs.

I took a few pictures of the downhillers and inliners.

I always love when we can get food on site. While I never ate dinner at the camp, I heard it was good. But the lunches were excellent. I was eating lunch in "our tent" when one of the camer men came by.

We got on the bus for a practice run before qualifying, when it started to rain! The road was soaked by the time we got ready to go.

I was in the middle of the pack of riders, so I got to see a few of the other riders come down. It sure was wet!

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Gerhard had a nice timing system out for qualifying.

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Unfortunately when the rain came there was some problems with the equipment, which caused some controversy. Especially since some people didn't qualify that were expected to!

It was finally time for butt boarding, the premier event at Hot Heels.

I didn't improve my time too much, because I forgot how to do a dry run! I slowed down WAY too much in each turn. It didn't matter, everyone was going to race. 

One thing about the valley, the weather changes quickly.

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The day was done, and yet the weather was perfect.

Friday night was the first of two big parties. Each night would have three live bands.

The sky was clear, and the the stars were amazing. I didn't stay too late, had to get up early for racing.

Saturday, July 14th

It seems life in the small town is started by the church bell. Last night I asked for a 6:45 wake up call. The front desk tried to set it up, he said if it doesn't work, don't worry the bell goes off at 7. And it's right next door. Today was race day, and I woke at the sound of the bell.

Seeing the cows going out to pasture was pretty cool and just adds to the charm.

If it rains, it usually rains in the afternoon, so skateboarding was going first. A couple of us camped out at the carousel to watch. This is a tricky corner, as you go through the chicane first, you have to slow down to take the corner. Chaput couldn't decide on how to slow down and got fairly squirrelly one time.

His first heat he waved in to the crowd.
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While getting ready for the luge race

I was unable to get any pictures of luge, because I participated in every round. I made it to the consolation round. Unfortunately my first two runs were my best (or perhaps fortunately, as it did get me into the consolation) my last two runs I just couldn't get anywhere, but I still ended up 8th. My first top ten finish! I know what Dave meant, when he said he was worn out last year. We were commenting, as we heading up for the semi finals that FOUR continents were represented! Two riders from Europe, a South American, an Australian, and four Americans.

 Butt boarding was the final event of Hot Heels 10. I didn't last long. I actually never recovered from the rain, I forgot the lines and how little to break. I did climbed the scaffolding at the finish line. Unfortunately my pics didn't come out. I didn't get many good pics of butt boarding.  

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Dave Rogers was on fire was usual. Butt boarding generates the greatest number of smiles.

Meanwhile Darren Lott was not having a very lucky weekend. Earlier he had his bib shredded when it got wrapped around his wheels. I guess when he was turning, his shoulder touched the ground. Somehow this allowed his bib to get wrapped up in the rear wheels. In the butt boarding finals, someone put their foot down in, to brake, in front of Darren, and he ended up doing a somersault. And yet he is still excited.

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Nick Duffield went to his first race, and came in third. He was very happy.

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After dinner we came back for the awards ceremony and the last party. Hot Heels is a fairly big undertaking, and this year Gerhard didn't have any sponsors. The event was running on a very small budget. They came up with this cool idea of giving trees out as the awards.

And then the awards.

Gravity Bike Podium:

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Ok, its not really a podium shot, but Chris and John didn't pose.

Snake Board Podium:

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Women's Luge Podium:

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There were three women riders this year, so they held a woman's race.

Standup Podium:

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Inline Podium:

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The other two guys were actually on their way to another event!

Luge Podium:

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Butt Board Podium:

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But the fun wasn't over, it was time to party. Nick was overjoyed. He was taking pictures with everyone, including me,

The night continued on until the wee hours of the morning, with a huge mosh pit. 

Sunday, July 15th

As much as I wanted to sleep in, I wanted to get up earlier enough to head up to the glacier before the tree planting ceremony. But first I wandered around town, but after breakfast. Most hotels in Europe provide breakfast, but this is no continental breakfast. Its a full fledged affair. Meats and cheeses, eggs, several times of bread, baked at the local bakery. Jams, honey, and other spreads. I miss it, but I probably miss the fresh bread the most. 

I wandered through town. Every town in Europe seems to have at least one church.

I drove up to the glacier, passing dozens of waterfalls, and cruising through 29 hairpins.

When I got back to the camp, we started to clean the place up.

The original plan was to ride the original Hot Heels course in the afternoon. I don't know where the course actually was, but it's higher up on the road. While we had permission to do it, the road wouldn't be protected in any way. The event has supposed to take place after 5, that's when the traffic dies down. Of course thats when it started to rain.

A handful of us decided to go into Italy for dinner. On the way  we stopped at a viewpoint,

The meal was incredible. A fine, fine way to end a tremendous trip.

 

Hot Heels is probably the finest event on the tour. The road is both technical and long enough to provide drafting. The scenery is outstanding. The town is lovely. The people in the area love us. Despite the treacherous course there were no major injuries, just a few bruised ego's thanks to the rain. Unfortunately this may have been the last year. I hope not, as I want to do this all over again.