Deep in the heart of German wine country, not far from the Reihn, and about 10 minutes from the world famous Nurnburgring is the small village on Insul. It had a couple of hotels and a bank, but I never saw a grocery store. Leading down into the village was a road with a bunch of switchbacks.
The course starts above the town on Insul amongst some large fields. The course starts off gently with a shallow right turn, followed by two shallow left turns. Speeds start to pick up as the course heads towards another shallow right turn. Heading down to the first of many hairpins is perhaps the longest straight of the course, where the top speed of the course is probably attained. The first hairpin is a tight banked left hand hairpin.
Leaving the hairpin is a short straight, although its long enough to give ample time to set up for the right hand, banked hairpin. The course continues with a long right hand sweeper which heads into another left hand hairpin. Another long straight separates the next right hand hairpin. The road drops steeply into the second longest straight on the course where the top speed, or second top speed is attained. The final hairpin has the largest radius, but with a higher entering speed is deceiving. There is a short straight on the exit that barely gives one time to setup for the last turn which is a hard 90 degree right hander. The finish is on the exit of the right hander.
Thursday, August 5
We travelled most of the day and arrived in the early evening. The organizers picked us up from the train station and dropped us off at the sports fields where the race office was. The campsite was a few hundred meters away in a large open field by the river. We wandered over to the campsite to find that most people didn’t know the race office existed! We hung out at the campsite until someone came by and told us that registration would happen at 11:00PM!
The registration was behind the bar,
in a small room. Everyone sort of crowded into the room to fill out the paperwork. In exchange we got some enormous numbers for our helmet.
After squeezing our way back outside we hung out at the bar for a while.
Friday, August 6
I never saw a schedule, and had heard three start times for today. But since today was only practice, I decided to sleep in, getting up early enough to eat breakfast. Turns out that practice was starting at 10:30. We got to the bottom of the hill just a few minutes before the first bus left. I wandered over to the race office, and discovered that is where tech was.
I guess they also served breakfast there.
But since it wasn’t right next to the track, I think a lot of people missed tech.
I got back in time to jump on the second shuttle. They let the lugers and buttboarders go first,
and the standup riders followed. We gathered at the bottom of the hill and waited for the rest of the riders and the busses.
The buses followed us down, turned around, picked us up, then headed back up the hill. One advantage of this was we filled the busses quickly. It think it was also more difficult for them to turn around at the top.
We were getting a run in about after 20 or 25 minutes.
We broke for lunch around 1:30. I think they sold sandwiches back at the race office, but a few of us went to the restaurant at the hotel. After a pleasant German lunch, it was back to practice.
We were supposed to run until 7:00 and we got in plenty of runs.
After spending three weeks racing the World Cup circuit it was nice to be at a slightly more relaxed race. Since the race was only a continental, the points weren’t worth as much, and most people were here just to have a good time, and ride a hill.
There was also a larger classic contingent. With a field of about 24 classic and 18 or so lugers.
Towards the end of the day, I had a great run. With the shadows developing on the course, and a great run under my belt I decided it was time to call it quits for the night. I think I missed the final run.
I stopped by the campsite for a bit. Apparently the free athlete dinner wouldn’t be served at the race office until 8:30. Most people were just hanging out, enjoying the cool evening. The weather was a refreshing change from our last race in Germany.
A crowd gathered around one of the cars, watching videos. The crowd got pretty big when Ramone’s Graveyard video was played.
We decided to forego the free dinner, and went back to the hotel. Apparently the free dinner was good
After we ate, we wandered back to the bar at the race office. People were playing foosball,
and drinking beer. I hung out for a while chatting. But I didn’t stay too late. It was fairly chilly out, and I was still fighting a cold, and classic was going to start the day off with qualifying fairly early.
Saturday, August 7
We got up fairly early and ate breakfast at the hotel. There was free breakfast for the athletes at the race office. The breakfast was bread and jam and some fruit with some cakes and coffees.
We had a fairly tight schedule for the morning. The plan was to do warm up for classic and two qualification runs, followed by warm up and two qualifications for street luge. And then a lunch break. We got started a few minutes late. We were expecting a bus, like we had yesterday, but instead we all had to pile into the back of a truck. ] With 24 of us, we just fit. I guess the truck can drive up the hill faster, as the bus had troubles with the tight corners.
Warm up for classic started the day off.
It didn’t take long to do the warm up run, as most of us went down together. We ran qualifying next.
My qualifying run went ok, but I broke too much in each turn. With 24 riders it took just more than the half hour allotted to finish up the run. We went straight back up for the second run. It’s been a long time since I’ve done back to back qualifying runs. My second run went much better, I broke less, and shaved three seconds off my time!
Next we went up for our luge warm up run. My warm up wasn’t the greatest, and my first run followed suit. I was just braking too much for each turn. It didn’t help that I was still sick with a clogged up nose and wanting to cough half way down the course.
My second run was slightly better, but I was still braking too much. Hopefully running with some other people will help me brake a little less. Before heading back to the hotel, I checked my times on the second monitor they had set up.
I finished up near the bottom.
Our day was done. The schedule was to do standup qualifying in the afternoon, followed by a repecharge race if it didn’t rain (the forecast was for rain in the afternoon.) I still wasn’t feeling too well, so after lunch, I took a long nap.
I woke up and figured I would go watch some of the standup qualifying. I figured they would be about half way done with the second round. I got over to the finish line just as a bus load went up. It seemed too late to start the second round, especially if they wanted to run the repecharge. And then I discovered that they were going to run the entire race today, since the forecast was for rain tomorrow!
I grabbed a homemade waffle, across from the finish line,
then walked up to the last hairpin. There was a portable bar selling beer and cokes there as well.
I watched the entire standup race from the hairpin. It was an exciting corner, as there was a lot of speed entering the corner, and, although we couldn’t see the finish, we could generally tell who won the heat.
Usually the first round isn’t that close. I only took one picture of the first round, and it just so happened to be the closest of the first round heats.
I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures,
instead I just sat back and enjoyed the race. There was one tense moment near the end where Robin had a hard slam.
Robin ended up slamming his head into the ground. He probably ended up with a mild concussion. He was rushed off the course, as the next heat was already on its way, but he did appear ok. The surprising thing about the heat was the other rider fell, and landed on Robin’s board!
Segrest, who had missed the other races this season, seemed to be a man on a mission trying to make up for lost time.
Others just had some close racing.
In the final Segrest had a tough race with Batt and Ramone,
but he triumphed in the end.
With the standup race over, I knew the party would probably be long tonight. Unfortunately we still had our race to run. After eating dinner back at the hotel, we want to the party for a few hours.
Not long after we got there, Labarthe had set up a screen and showed some videos. After the videos were over, everyone milled about, drank beer and listened to the DJ. The party was still going strong about 1:00 AM when I left. But with my cold, I still needed some rest before tomorrow’s race.
Sunday, August 8
I got up early, and stuck my head outside. It was cloudy and the roads were wet. The schedule was to run classic luge at 9:00, if it was dry. I probably should have gone back to sleep, but decided to get up and have some breakfast anyways. We then headed over to the race office to see what was going on.
While we were sitting there with other classic lugers, the organizer stopped by and set things would start at 10:00 AM. They had made some modifications to the course, one was to move the start a couple hundred meters down the course, and it rained.
Many of us sitting there discussed how we didn’t really feel like riding in the rain. We didn’t want to have to pack up wet leathers before heading off to the next race. Personally I didn’t want to get sicker. With our decision made to skip the race, we decided to go back to the hotel, to take a short nap. But on the way we decided to drive the course. We noticed that Marcus and Koma were already at the finish line. They were getting prepared to run the race.
Johnson and I drove up the course.
Moving the start down the course would help a little bit with the first turn, but nowhere else on the course. One of the problems with the course, and many of us noticed this on day one, was how little protection there was on the course. There were guard rails all the way down the course. There was almost no protection on the rails. It is easy to spin out, on a straight road in the rain. Hitting the guard rail could cause some serious injury. But was worse was the turns. The hairpins had hay in the exit of the turns, which is perfect on a dry course. But on a wet course, the most likely placed to hit is straight on, as someone fails to turn. None of the hairpins had hay at these points. I felt the course posed some serious risks in the wet.
We stopped at the bottom and informed Marcus that we though the course was not safe. He decided to put it to a rider vote. It was getting close to 10:00 and riders were beginning to show up. As we stood there waiting for more riders, and discussing the situation it began to rain some more.
After all of the classic riders were there we voted on whether to race or not. It was 14 against racing, 8 for racing, and two not voting. Then it was decided to wait a while and see if things cleared for street luge. I pointed out there was no sense in waiting, most of the lugers were already here. Consent was given, and the race cancelled. Our qualifying times would stand as the results.
The awards ceremony was held about 1:00, to give me people a chance to head home earlier.
The major of the town gave a short speech to start the ceremony.
Apparently he said that we can come and skate the hill any time we wanted. A few awards were given to non racers, for a variety of reasons, such as organizing the race. And then the awards were given out.
Davies, Feldbaum , Kaske
Serek, Bouaich, Labarthe
Labarthe, Santolamazza, Müller
Junior I Standup:
Junior II Standup:
Melo, Readings, Dederer J
Seigrist, Batt, Ramone
As soon as the ceremony was over we said our goodbyes, and split up quickly. Many people were in a hurry to tear down their camp, and try to head out. It was still early enough in the day for a lot of people to reach their destination while it was still light out.
This event was fairly well done, although there was tons of areas for improvement. Better protection on the course, and some better communication with the riders would be a huge benefit. We did get plenty of runs in on practice day.
I don’t think anyone was seriously injured. I did see one guy in a cast but that may have happened at the previous race.