Kozakov, Czech Republic
About an hour or so north of Prague, deep in the heart of Czech lies the Kozakov watchtower on top of a 744m high hill.
The tower is a local tourist attraction, and the hill is a popular paragliding spot.
The hill is sandwiched between the towns of Semily and Turnov.
The course starts at the top of the hill and heads down through the woods. The top of the course has a couple of mild kinks in it,
but quickly drops away. Speeds approach 60 MPH heading to the first interesting turn. There is a hard right turn, that doesn't require braking, but a few weeks ago some timber was cut and left at the side of the road.
The lumber is not protected very well, and is quite indimateding. Fairly quickly after this right is another hard right
that does require braking. Immediately there is a left hand hairpin.
The road straightens back out and heads back into the forest. There is another left kink as you need to set up for a right hand hairpin.
The road levels out, maybe even goes slightly uphill as you exit the turn. The road twists through the forest,
a gently left, and hard right
before hitting the final hairpin. A left hander that takes you out of the forest. Exiting this hairpin, the road straightens
out and drops away, as you head fora kink
before the final turn.
The final turn, a hard right hander, that may or may not require braking, is approached at 65 MPH. The finish line is not much further past this turn.
Tuesday, August 11
I travelled most of the day on the train across the Czech landscape. I got off in Semily, a small town in the middle of the Czech country side. The organizer had suggested to try and take a bus to Kozakov, but the last one ran at 2pm. I tried to give him a call, but he didn't answer. He had already suggested I try to get a taxi. I tried to ask the ticket lady at the train station, but she just shrugged her shoulders. I wasn't sure what else to do, so I grabbed my bags and started walking towards the town center. I got to a crossroads, a sign pointed to the bus station in one direction, the town center in another. I was standing there trying to decided what to do (the bus station wasn't far, but my bags are heavy) when I spotted the bags of the Canadians! So off to the bus station. Just after I said hi, Jan, the organizer called and said he'd be down in about an hour. Fortunately there was a restaraunt next to the bus station. We dropped our bags outside. It was a small pizzeria with a cheeze pizza costing about $2! I wasn't exactly hungry, but I didn't know what the food situation would be later, so I had a pizza. While we were waiting for orders to arrive, a couple Swedish standup riders showed up, and they informed us it was starting to rain!
I was put in the first hotel down the hill, in the opposite direction from the course. It was a small B&B about a mile from the top. It was a small three bedroom place, and I think there was eight of us staying there. After getting checked in, I walked back up the hill to hang out with everyone else in the tent.
Unfortunately they weren't serving anything yet, and we had to borrow a generator for some light. Apparently everything will be set up tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 12
The first day of the event wasn't starting off well.
I decided to have breakfast at the restaurant at the top of the hotel, instead of my hotel. The breakfast was some meat and cheese and bread and jams. The spread at my hotel was much more impressive. After breakfast I went at got registered.
With the road wet, and the fog still out, things were fairly well laid back. It didn't look like we would be riding today, unless the fog lifts. Most everyone stayed in the tent where it was warm and dry.
I took the oppurtunity to walk the course, which was very wet. I didn't plan on riding if it was still wet.
After lunch the fog had lifted, so practice was getting underway. Our first couple of runs were a little wet, but as the day progressed it quickly dried out. The sun eventually came out, and it started to warm up.
Because we did ride in the morning they had let one of the bus go, so we only had one bus to bring everyone back to the top.
I think more people showed up the first day than they expected, and the bus was a bit full.
After a small dinner at the restaurant we had our first riders meeting.
Jan promised an additional bus for tomorrow.
After the meeting a projector was set up to show some video and photos from the days riding.
Thursday, August 13
The morning started much like yesterdat, wet and foggy.
Again we didn't do much in the morning. Some people took the oppurtunity to work on their equipment. Tech inspecton was started, to try and get it out of the way.
I took the oppurtunity to wander around the mountain a little. There was an old ski lift not too far away. Apparently they get snow in the winter.
After lunch it was sunny
We got in several runs in the afternoon. The busses were left at the top, so we had to wait
at the bottom for them to come down
and pick us up. But with two busses for everyone, there was a lot more space on the bus. The road surface was interesting. It was fairly smooth, and there was only a couple spots you needed to break, but it really ate the rubber.
After an afternoon practice a few of us
decided to head into Turnov for dinner. The meals served at the restaurant on the hill were just too small. I was required to order the "American Potatoes" which turned out to be wedges.
The meal was very delicious, and a bit more filling. We made it back to the campsite in time to watch some of the days videos.
I'm pretty sure lots of beer was being imbibed, as the tent was very festive.
Labarthe and Bouchard got themselves in some sort of jam.
There was a homeade balance board that people were trying out.
Then went from standing on it, to jumping on it.
And then someone decided to slide down one of the benches.
I'm sure someone was going to get hurt.
Until the bench broke. And then someone realized the floor was slippery when soaked with beer.
The drunken revelery was still going on when I decided it was time to turn in.
Friday, August 14
I got up early hoping to catch the shuttle up to the top. We didn't have any fog, and the road was dry. But there were some low lying couds.
It was bright and sunny by the time I got to the top.
I think it will be a warm day!
We had to do qualifications today. A timing company was hired to do rune the timing.
After a warmup run we start with classic qualifying.
Everyone else took a practice run down behind us.
Dirt Surfers ran next
There was a wreck so we had some waiting to do.
Some seemed to be enjoying themselves.
We finally got luge underway. With only about 20 racers it didn't take too long.
We broke for lunch. I don't know exactly what happened but the standup qualifying
started a little late, and took the remainder of the afternoon. I took the oppurtunity to climb to the top of the watch tower.
The view was pretty impressive.
It was a goregous day out, and there were quite a few paragliders.
There were still free rides after each qualifying session, and a handful of people took the free ride.
I wonder what sort of trees grow in Czech?
We went into Semily for dinner. Another pizza place. They've got some really good pizza in Czech. We discovered, on the way back, it isn't always best to trust the GPS. We ended up on some sort of one lane dirt cow track. The truck made it, but barely!
The riders meeting started with a discussion of the schedule.
And then Dasha asked why she wasn't listed in the open division, despite qualifying for it. Eimer, the race director,
was trying to have a separate men's race and women's race. While IGSA is trying to have an open division as well as a separate race for the women. This is to encourage more women to particpate.
Dasha made an impassioned speech, saying she deserved to race.
There was some concern for the 64th place guy, a Czech. If the race was drawn up properly in the first place, he would have been listed 65th. And he should race harder.
After Dasha's speech, the party started.
As usual a few people drank too much.
About 1/3 of the people who pre registered didn't show for the races, and the organizers were out that money. I hope they made up some of the money by selling beer.
Saturday, August 15
As always, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is take a peek outside and see what the weather is like, especially when you've had the weather we've had the past few days. The sky was clear, and the road was dry. It looks like we'll race.
There was still a question on whether Dasha would be allowed to race in the open division or not.
would start the race off. More people are racing their classic board in the luge class. Maybe because it is cheaper, or easier to travel with? Joachim added bumpers to his board, because his qualifying time was better in classic!
I took off on my first heat, once again racing Labarthe. Since I only need to transfer I actively worked hard to stay behind Labarthe. There was no sense trying to risk a pass. As we came down the fast straight at the bottom, I even pulled out of his draft, to stay behind him. We both sat up and broke the final turn, and I dove in, and ran off the inside of the road! I managed to stay on my board, and pull it back on the road. But I shot across the road, and clipped the hay on the other side. Loosing almost all my speed. I was passed about 10 feet from the finish line! This was the second time this year that a nice clean run would have allowed me to advance!
The women lined up for their race.
With only five girls, they thought they were running a 3 heat point system.
They lined up for their first run. But when they got back to the top for their second run they discovered, due to miscomincation, they where actually racing a GP format.
Classic ran at the same time.
I haven't been racing very well on my buttboard, and today was no different. I just wasn't very comfortable on my board.
One thing I like about racing luge and classic back to back is I am done for the day and can get out of my leathers. There was a break for lunch, where I had dumplings,
a common dish in Czech. Could have used a little more meat. Standup started after lunch, and with their warmup run we had some time to kill before the race starte. Kolby took the time to watch some of the video that he recorded over the weekend.
The standup race finally got under way.
We hiked down the hill to watch the race. We stopped at the first hard right.
It isn't too often that you see smoke off a standup foot brake.
I wonder how much of the brake marks are due to luge versus standup?
We continued on down to the hairpin,
where we could watch the entire turn.
With the race over we hit the restaurant for dinner.
The restaurant had a set schedule for us, and they weren't going to change it just because the race was a little late! They were still busy getting things ready for the ceremony. A few guys just hung out and celebrated,
I rode my equipment down to my hotel.
The sun was setting as I returned to the tent.
There is a boarder cross event in Swtizerland tomorrow, so a lot of the skaters took of.
Someone set up the projector again and we watched some of todays videos.
Shortly before the prize giving an announcement was made.
About 1/3 of the people who promised to come didn't, and the organizers were relying on everyone coming. So they were out roughly 1/3 of the entry fees. A collection
was taken up to help cover some of the costs.
Jan, the organizer, and Eimer the race director presented the awards.
Pfister, Uysal, Machura
Serek, Labarthe, Bouaich
Labarthe, DeWit, Forschner
Kornieko, Gemperl, Volkel
Siegrist, Batt, Hertler
After the main awards were passed out, a couple special ones were given. One for fastest Czech.
And the next one was a little personal. Jan told a version of the story. About five years ago Jan was the only luger in Czech. He posted to streetluge.net asking for some advice, and asked about wheels. I was, apparently, the only person that responded. In addition I told him I was heading to Prague in a couple of weeks and I would bring a set of wheels. We met up, he took me to a local pub for beers. Here is the part of the story he didn't mention, but I don't drink, and refused a beer. He told me I couldn't come to Czech and not drink the best beer on earth. But I refused and ordered a coke. Well we talked for hours, and I gave him a set of Abec 11 Flywheels. Jan continue to ride, found some more people to ride with, and now five years later he blamed me for the race!
He put together one of the coolest trophies I've ever gotten. My own hay bale with a dozen bottles of coke!
Unfortunately the hay wouldn't fit in my luggage, but I took most of the coke with me.
a Czech who lives in Canada, gave many of the local Czech riders some wheels.
Tom, one of the other organizers, happens to be a Canadian living in Czech!
The Czech scene is slowing growing. They all posed for a photo after the prize giving was finished.
We had a DJ for the after party.
The party lasted until early in the morning. It was one of thebest parties we've had this summer.
With this exception of the issue with the lady standups this was a great event. I think everyone loved the event, so that will make it a problem for next year, as more people will want to go! The course was fast but still technical, the scenery was beautiful. Czech was a cool place. And I am glad to have raced in East Europe's first downhill race.