Kozakov, Czech Republic
About 100 kilometers north of Prague lies a large preservation area. At the top of this area is a tourist hotel and an antenna area on a lookout tower. The small tourist hotel is mainly for hikers, and not really a hotel.
The course starts near the lookout tower and heads down the hill. There is a high speed straight with speeds approaching 65 MPH before a hard right then left hairpin. The right hand turn might be doable without braking, but the setup for the hairpin would be wrong. A long left sweeper leads to the next hairpin. The right hand hairpin looks deceiving and requires less braking than expected, especially as the exit is flat. A short journey through the forest and along a right hand sweeper brings up the final hairpin. After exiting the left hand hairpin the road drops off into another long and fast straight. Speeds approach 65 MPH before the final hard turn, which is almost a 90 degree right hander. A left hand sweeper finishes the course.
Tuesday, Aug 10
We spent a day in Prague before heading out to Kozakov, where we ran into several groups of racers. We caught the late afternoon train, and got to Semily about 8:00 PM. Fortunately we had made arrangements and got picked up at the train station. Kozakov is about 10 km uphill from Semily. I got dropped off at the hotel and put my equipment together before heading up to the campsite. I wasn’t starving because we had a late lunch, but I was hungry. I was surprised to find out the caterers were already cooking, and still going by the time I got up there.
I got a tasty kobalsa. I had one earlier in the day in Prague, but this one was much better. There were a handful of riders already in attendance
drinking beer and catching up.
Wednesday, Aug 11
We were supposed to have a riders meeting at 9:00 AM and start riding shortly after that. But we took our time, ate breakfast and headed up to the course just after 9:00. Registration was just getting underway.
I don’t think there was a riders meeting.
We finally got riding about 10:00. We started off fairly informal, the road was open we went we wanted to. I think this was a slight mistake as we ended up sending four people to the hospital in the first four runs. I’m not sure if it was because of too many people on the hill at once, or because people went all out and too fast on the first run.
We rode to the bottom of the hill, and just sort of hung out on the road.
The buses followed the last rider down.
After the buses turned around we would hop on. It is nice to have the buses at the bottom of the hill already, but I think this method speeded things up, as we loaded the buses as soon as they stopped.
We usually didn’t wait at the bottom for too long. I think we were averaging a round trip in thirty minutes. But occasionally someone would get hurt and our wait was a little longer. Some of the guys took to playing a game of ninja to stay occupied.
It turns out we weren’t taking a break for lunch. We would ride until 6:00PM.
So I decided to take a break at about 1:00 to get something to eat.
The lunch special for the day was goulash, basically dumplings with stew.
It was very tasty, and at 3 Euros cheaper and more of it than the restaurant had last year! The mess tent wasn’t too full, I think people filtered in and out while I was there.
After I finished eating, and missed a couple of runs I got my equipment teched.
I was ready to go as the last riders were going down. I didn’t want to jump in front of the bus, so I was waiting around when Eimer told me the bus drivers were still eating, if I hurried up I could go.
We rode for the rest of the afternoon. Eimer generally tried to get luge and classic to go first.
But I think some of the lugers jumped in at the end of the standup. After last year, where I got stuck behind some standup guys, I tried to always jump in the front of the line. We took our last ran about 5:30.
I think I got about a dozen runs. Someone said there were 14 runs total, but I’m sure I missed more than that during lunch.
I was staying about a kilometer down the road in the attic of someone’s house. We took off to get cleaned up and have dinner. On the way out we noticed that this year they had a shower bus. They were using the showers at the pension that was down the hill a ways.
We drove into Semily for a lovely pizza dinner. Afterwards we went back up to the camp to hang out for a bit.
Thursday, August 12
The weather forecast called for rain on Thursday, although the forecast I saw said rain in the evening. But we woke up to lovely blue skies.
While the current weather looked nice, the forecast for the next few days looked bleak. The original schedule was practice in the morning and qualify in the afternoon for today and tomorrow. But the forecast for tomorrow is rain, with a better forecast for Saturday. So they decided to run both qualifying sessions today. Starting with a warm up run for classic and standup.
There was a last minute tech inspection before things got started.
The timing team from last year ran the timing again.
We all got one warm up run then classic starting the qualifying off.
After classic the standup qualifying was run.
With 120 riders it took a while.
We were going to run street luge next, then repeat the cycle. But they decided to run street luge back to back, followed by classic, and then ending the day with the second standup run. We got one warm up run for street luge
but the second classic warm up came behind the second luge qualifying.
One we were done
with classic, we were done for the day. Standup ran their second warm up right behind our classic qualifying,
and then they spent the rest of the afternoon qualifying. On my last run up the hill I spotted a RC helicopter on the side of the road.
I guess they were using it to film some of the runs!
I was done for the day, so I grabbed some lunch and then hung out, waiting for the standup guys to finish.
When the day was over, the times were posted almost immediately. This gave everyone a chance to check their times out.
While the caterers had some great food, the selection was limited. They had sausages, hotdogs, chicken, and pork plus another rotating item. Today it was sparrow! We elected to eat lunch in the restaurant at the top. The place was full of other riders. The food was a little more expensive, but at least it was different.
After dinner we headed over to the tent
where the party was already in full swing. The forecast was for rain, and if it was dry we would race classic and women and juniors, so everyone else decided to party. At one point someone started to play the bench game.
This is almost inevitable with the type of benches we always seem to have in Europe. The game starts with the person on top of the bench.
And then he (or she) proceeds to roll under the bench
and then pull himself up the other side. This must be done without touching the ground, or tipping the bench over. I was amazed at the crowd that gathered to watch.
The party was still going strong when we decided to leave sometime after midnight, there was a small chance we would be racing at 9 AM. The skies were perfectly clear, we had hoped this was a good sign.
Friday, August 13
Sometime in the middle of the night a thunderstorm rolled in. The rain pounded hard, and the thunder was earth shattering. A lot of people felt the thunder as the lightning was close. The wind was howling too, and at least one tent was found in a tree!
I woke about 7 AM to rain pounding the window and decided we weren’t starting at 9AM, so I shut off the alarm and went back to sleep. About 9 AM I woke again and the rain had stopped. Our hotel was downhill a bit from the road, so I walked up to the road to see how dry it was. It was dry in places, but the wet patches were still very wet. I was trying to decide if I should wake the others, as I walked back to the hotel. When I got back, I turned around and could barely see the road due to fog. I decided we weren’t racing for a while.
About 10:00 things seemed drier, so we got up and headed up the hill. As we got closer to the top the road got wetter. The sky was still bleak but it wasn’t raining.
The organizers want to let the road dry some more. About an hour later the road looked fairly dry, and they drove the course to make a final decision. Just a few minutes after they left the skies opened up, and it poured.
The fog moved in as well.
It didn’t look like we would ride today at all.
Some people took this opportunity to take the shower bus to the showers.
Apparently the cost of using the shower bus was to give it a push start! We decided to head down into Semily for a nice pizza lunch. As we drove back up the hill, the road appeared to be fairly dry, but I guess that was mainly from cars driving on it. The race course was still soaking wet. People played various games to stay occupied, poker,
and watched video
. Later in the afternoon it was announced that the day was cancelled but tomorrow was supposed to be drier. We would try to run the entire race tomorrow.
We were told to drink beer and have a massage.
I ended up having dinner from the caterers, a tasty kobalsa and a very yummy potato cake. While I ate dinner we watched several videos
from last year and from earlier in the year. The party lasted a while,
but we called it an early night as we weren’t sure when we would race tomorrow.
Saturday, August 14
The forecast said rain until 10 AM then sunny and 70F the rest of the day. We woke up to thick fog.
This wasn’t promising, we could race until the fog burned off and the course dried. We took our time getting ready, and left for the campsite about 10:30. Things were worse off at the top.
People were just milling around, wasting time.
A lot of people were still eating breakfast. An announcement was soon made, everything but standup was cancelled. The fog was too thick. At 2:00 a decision would be made about standup.
At this point it seemed like the tent broke into a swap meet. As this was the last race on the Euro tour, people were selling wheels.
A couple of people set up shop selling tshirts and other items.
I eventually grabbed some more potato pancakes for lunch.
The rain continued, and the fog seemed to get thicker.
It looked like the day was finished. An announcement was finally made the race was cancelled, qualifying results would stand. Prize giving would be at 3. This would give some people a chance to try and head home.
were finally handed out about 4.
Starting with Marcus making the announcement that Kozakov would kick the tour off next year.
One odd award that was given out, was given to Luca for being the fastest on the hill. He got a platter full of baked goods.
Fortunately he shared!
Top Czech Standup:
Santolamazza, Labarthe, Barboni
Serek, Santolamazza , Labarthe
Bougourd, Edwards, Westerick
Junior II Standup:
Guneriussen, Wegge, Piton
Batt, Reimer, Shapiera
Mishco finished the awards ceremony off by giving out some wheels to some of the local Czech riders.
The winners received a cool skateboard
and a nice hoodie with the Kozakov logo.
Of course it felt like as soon as the awards ceremony was over that the fog moved on and the sun came out. I’m not sure if the course was still raceable though because I think some of it was still in fog.
I’m not sure how bad the rest of the camp site was, but the entrance was a mud bog!
We went back to the hotel to pack up. I was leaving first thing in the morning, but my roommates were going to head back to Sweden now, it is a long 12+ hour drive back. Before they left, they dropped me back at the top of the hill. Dinner was served a short time later.
A delicious venison stew was provided for free. There was plenty to go around as about half the racers had left.
The day ended with beautiful weather, a little too late.
There was a big party planned for the evening. It was supposed to be a costume party, although it was only mentioned a few days before. A few people improvised.
But most of us didn’t bother. Jagermeister girls showed up to sell Jager shots. And someone passed out glow sticks. Theresa, the bartender, did some fire dancing with the glow sticks. They weren’t bright enough to show up well.
The rest of us partied and danced and drank beer and had a great time.
The party was actually fairly mellow. I guess because most of the people had left early.
A fight did break out with the hay used to make the podium.
The party lasted until the wee hours of the morning. It would have gone on harder and longer if the full contingent of riders was still here. The Euro Tour was officially over.
Unfortunately we sent quite a few people to the hospital. There were two or three separated shoulders, an injury involving ligaments and I think a broken leg. The course itself is fairly safe, but anytime you wreck at the speeds achieved at Kozakov, bad things can happen. I think if most riders and ridden with a bit more caution, many of these injuries would have been prevented.
It was too bad that the race was cancelled. We had a lot of spectators last year. The organizers had planned on having two beer gardens on the course.
The event itself was perhaps the best organized event of the Euro Tour, and if the race had gone off as planned, would have been the best event. I look forward to racing this course and attending this event again.