Thun is a small town on the edge of Thunersee. The town is dominated by an 800 year old castle. The course actually starts just below the village of Homburg, a few kilometers from Thun. Homburg has a small store, and dairy farm that makes cheese.
The course started off fairly slow, passes the camp and makes a left turn. The speed picks up and heads to a hard right turn through some trees. A long sweeping left leads the course into a straight. Another hard right turn, a short straight and another sweeping left. The last left brings the course to a long straight before ending in front of an auto mechanic's garage.
Wednesday, July 18
I followed the signs
to the campsite. The road was 5 miles up the hill, looked like the course would be the last mile, and it looked fast. First thing I did was head to the registration booth,
amazingly there was barely a line! And of course, like most races things were getting off to a late start. I hung out in the mess tent for a while, where there was some free breakfast.
As usual we got off to a late start. But despite the rain from last night, it was nice and sunny and dry. The campsite was down near the first turn,
and the start line was a short walk up the hill.
The start line was out in front of someones carport.
This lovely couple offered us the use of their carport.
They provided a hose on the side of the carport to provide us with much needed drinking water.
We got a couple of runs in before we broke for lunch.
We got a half dozen runs in the afternoon. It was quite warm, so everyone took to the shade at the top
and the bottom of the course.
Despite the heat, everyone was happy to get some dry runs in, even Marcus.
As the afternoon rolled on, the clouds rolled in.
We broke for the day at 5:00 PM, and then it started raining.
I used the free showers, which were about a 10 minute walk through the village. I am guessing they were in the basement of a school, but it felt like walking into a bomb shelter. You had to be careful, because the high pressure showers could strip your skin off!
It wasn't long before dinner was served.
By the time dinner was over, the storm had blown through. The rained cooled everything off, and it turned into an incredible evening.
You could see clouds floating by in the valley.
Meanwhile everyone was enjoying the evening,
I counted at least three separate poker games going on.
Some people cooked their own food.
But for the most part it was a nice relaxed atomsphere.
Not something you would normally see at a World Cup Race.
But since there was another day of practice,
everyone was pretty mellow and just enjoying the evening.
Once the sun went down, the first riders meeting.
As usual the meeting was translated into German and French.
Once the meeting was over, the bar was opened. People hung out drinking beer and slowly melted away to their sleeping bags.
Thursday, July 19
The day started off with free breakfast.
The weather was pretty nice, with just a few light clouds in the sky
it look like it would be another hot day. Practice got start a little late, but early enough to get plenty of rides in before lunch.
Our chase vehicles were several small cargo vans. We all had to fit inside,
and close the doors. It was always very refreshing to get to the top and open the doors.
One cool thing about having multiple days of practice is you have the ability to play a bit. Yvon Lbarthe (www.yvonvite.ch) has produced two awesome DVD's with video he has shot from past races and get togethers. He does some good filming.
I did a little filming myself with a a new camera mount. Unfortunately the mount is essentially attached to the rear truck, so every little vibration is magnified through the mount.
After lunch we got in several more runs.
While the day was hot, as it wore on the clouds rolled in.
The clouds helped a bit, cooling it off, but it meant the rains were coming. About 4 O'clock, an hour earlier than yesterday, it started to rain.
After the day was cut short due to the rain, we head into camp to hang out for dinner. Two masseuses were brought in to do free massages.
It was also one of the places to stay out of the rain.
Most of us just hung out in the mostly dry mess tent, although it was getting muddy inside. Not quite as slippery and slidy as the mud outside.
The rain only lasted about an hour, but the skies didn't clear like they did last night.
Our free dinner showed up early.
Breakfast and dinner
was provided as part of our entry fee. The normal dinner wasn't exactly vegetarian friendly.
But vegetarian dinner (and lunch) was provided on special request.
Since we had an early dinner, we still had plenty of time in the evening before our riders meeting. We do a pretty good job of entertaining ourselves.
But I have a feeling this particular gravity sport won't be very popular.
Since tomorrow would be qualification, the serious riders meeting got underway.
Not long after the riders meeting was over, and the bar was flowing,
Andreas decided to go to the hospital. He had hurt is foot earlier in the day, and just got crunches from the paramedics, but now he could barely walk. Since pretty much everyone that knew him was drunk, I ended up taking him to the hospital. After a couple hours, they decided he was ok. No broken bones, just a sprain.
Friday, July 20
Because it has rained every afternoon, it was decided to run the standup qualification in the morning.
Marcus also ran the tech inspection as well.
But the line was too long
so I decided to chill out and try to get my stuff inspected later. I watched the rest of run one from the start.
I ran and grabbed my stuff to be inspected. I figured I'd have Marcus look at my stuff while all the standup riders were down the course. I got back, and there was almost no one there. I started talking to someone, and before I got in the tech line, the vans showed up. The standup guys immediately jumped in line!
We broke for lunch after standup finished qualifying.
After lunch we took a warm up run.
We were going to do women's standup, inline board, butt board
then street luge, but only one warm up run.
After the women's standup and the inline board,
the buttboard qualification finally started. We were worried, the rain clouds were threatening. I had an ok run, but figured I could do better on my second run. There was a timing van at the bottom.
The van was down in the area where we waited, so it was easy to see the clock, if you were just standing there. Unfortunately you couldn't see the clock from the road! And the clock didn't always work.
When we got back to the top, it started to rain.
Since there was no point in running a second buttobard run we went on to luge.
Since this was everyone's first run in the rain, pretty much everyone spun out or slid.
I put on some rain wheels, and had a decent run. I thought I was going to catch the rider who was in front of me! Stopping at the bottom was pretty sketchy, as we were on a down hill slope.
I guess since we only took one run on our buttboard, they decided we only needed one run on our luge .
The rain started about an hour earlier than it did yesterday, this isn't boding well for tomorrow. Because we qualified in the rain, we actually finished later than yesterday.
Tonight would be the first set of live bands to play.
While a sound check was being done, we were given a sign.
Would this be a good omen for tomorrow, or just an end to the rain for the evening? We had a guitarist
and a band play for the night.
After the band played, Eimer hooked his iPod up to the sound system, and the dancing continued.
I bailed a little early from the party to help put together the brackets.
Saturday, July 21
Today is race day, and the weather is looking good.
There was actually three different schedules based on the weather. One schedule was to run standup in the morning, the other was to run street luge in the morning, and the last was to do nothing till lunch. While the sky was cloudy, the roads were dry.
But the first hard turn, which was in the trees, was still wet. Several standup riders wrecked in the practice run. It was decided to move the start down to the first turn, and hay bales from the very first turn were moved further down the course.. I'm not sure what happened, because it was then decided to cancel the standup race altogether. After about an hour of nothing going on, other than losing time, a meeting was finally held.
Marcus decided the road was mostly dry, it wasn't raining, so we would start running the race.
Samy stepped up and translated Marcus's speech.
The races were held. First they got skullboards
and inline boards
out of the way. Standup finally got underway.
With a 64 man bracket I was able to watch the first few rounds.
I was getting happy because as I was watching the standup races, there was blue sky to be seen.
The race course was also along a Post Bus line. The Post Bus schedule can't be changed, or rerouted. Our practice and race schedules were defined by the Post Bus schedule.
I missed the standup finals, as I wanted to grab a bite to eat before my races began, and there was no scheduled lunch break. The sky seemed even bluer as I ate.
Luge was run next.
The weather was still holding up.
It was amazing, the forecast called for intense thunderstorms, and yet it looked like we could get the entire race finished on a dry road! In my quarter final run, I didn't get the greatest start, but I blew by Läng and Ben just before the first turn. I couldn't catch Tournisac, but I finished second. I stopped and looked around, there was no one behind me. I waited, and waited, still no one came. While it is nice to transfer, the worst thing is to get to the bottom of the hill, and not see anyone behind you.
Turns out Läng and Ben slid out in the very first turn, a turn I thought was the easiest on the course. Läng held on, and narrowly missed the wood, but Ben hit the wood hard.
He was taken to the local hospital. The race continued, with Eigen taking his second win this season.
We all jumped on the trucks, and rushed to the top. We wanted to try and get the buttboard race in the books before the rain arrived. We got to the top, and the rains arrived.
The rain came down HARD
Within minutes rivers were washing across the road.
The rain was coming down really hard, and of course no one wanted to get wet,
wanted to capture the tempest.
About 10 minutes or so after the rain started, the buttboard race was cancelled. The rivers of water washing across the board were also washing large rocks and branches across the road! I think I was the first to congratulate Riley on his win, as he was the #1 buttboard qualifier. A few of us buttboarders cleaned up the garage before heading to the camp.
That night we had another live band,
before the prize giving. The first prize given out, was to Ben for best crash.
Turns out Ben broke his lower back in the accident, despite wearing a back protector.
Women's Inline Board:
Nobre, Vogler, Hodel
Hutler, Bandholz, Pfister
Forschner, Tournissac, Marasco
Schmit, Nobre, ?
Riley, Labarthe, Tournissac
Erban, Lundberg, Edstrand
A large pillow
of some sort was given to the first place in standup. A local winery had donated some wine, and a small contest was developed between all of the winners.
They were each given a glass of the donated wine,
and the first person to drink it all would win a snowboard.
After the prize giving was over, it was time to start moshing.
Not everyone moshed, but a lot of alcohol was consumed.
One smart thing someone did, was cover the floor with several busted up hay bales. It kept the mud to a minimum, as the rest of the camp was pretty much a swamp. It wasn't easy to get to the outhouses, without stepping into a large muddy puddle of water.
Sunday, July 22
Amazingly the party died down fairly early. I had a lot to do today, and I wanted to try and get to Munich before dinner, so I got up to the camp early, in time to see people packing up.
On my way out I stopped off to visit Ben in the hospital.
Ben broke his lower back, but he seemed to be in good spirits. [EDIT: I saw Ben walking around a month later in Eastbourne!] Furlong and I were heading out to Zurich, but we decided to spend some time site seeing in Thun before we left, and we ran into the Crazy American Tour waiting for their train.
Most people that ride the trains in Europe have no bags, and if they do have a bag its usually just a small carryon type. So most people are quite amazed to see our pile of luggage! On may way back to Munich, I pulled over at a rest stop. I've basically lived out of my car for the past week, and needed to completely repack before getting on the plane.
Despite how hard some of the people worked to put the race on, Alpspeed wasn't the best race. The course was slow, and not challenging. The weather this year was miserable, which almost caused the standup race to be canceled and the buttboard race was canceled. While there were several wrecks, the only serious injury was the broken back, after surgery he is walking again.