Towards the southern end of Brazil, admist the Braziallan jungle lies the small town of Teutonia. The town itself is on a small hill and is home to an addidas plant. The town has some cobblestone streets, a skate shop, and even a disco. The town lies on the foothills of a mountain range.
Heading up this mountain is a "cliff that was paved" and is our course. The course starts in front of a church/bar
. The road meanders a bit, with a couple of sections that feels as if it is going uphill. The speeds of this top part are fairly low, probably 35 or 40 mph. There is a short drop that shoots the speed up to about 60 MPH. The road then flattens out before heading into a sweeping left turn. Immediately after the turn ends, the road literally drops away.
From here the road drops vertically almost 80 meters in about .5 kilometer, giving it an average grade of 16%. The road is not straight, but it can be run almost as if it was straight. The surface of the road is not bad, although there are some bad cracks near the bottom.
The biggest problem, other than the high speed is the road isn't smooth, it has lost of bumps, a couple of rises, and a few other surprises to make this a "straight technical course."
Thursday, Nov 11
After a long 23+ hours on planes and airports I finally made it to Proto Alegre. We ran into a few other riders who were being picked up at the airport. The trip wasn't quite over, as it was still about another 1.5 hours to Teuntonia.
We got to the Harmonia de Lago, our base camp for the race in the late evening. Hamonia de Lago is a beautiful lake with some cottages and a restaurant, about 5K from the hill. We got checked in, and ran back into town for some money and supplies. Dinner is usually hard to get at the restaurant, so we found this "burger" place in town.
I had heard of this place a few years back, and finally made it. While the food was good, the only resemblance to a burger was a round bun with some meat in it.
Friday, Nov 12
There was a schedule posted on every door.
Unfortunately it was in Porteguese. The schedule seemed to imply that we would start until 10:30, and someone mentioned something about breakfast from 8 to 10. We decided to get up at 8 and have breakfast.
We were still getting ready about 8:30 when we were told the bus would be leaving in 5 minutes! Apparently there was tech inspection at the top of the hill from 8 to 10. Since I had my own car, we decided to eat breakfast before heading to the hill.
We got to the hill with plenty of time for tech inspection
. We still milled around for a bit, as things were getting ready.
Finally about 10:30 there was a short meeting.
I'm not exactly sure what was said, as most of it was in Porteguese. But the event was about ready to begin.
The first run at Teutonia is always from the corner. If you miss this run, there is no enforcement to make you stop here on your maiden run, but I strongly suggest you do. This road is very fast starting at the midway point gives you a chance to acclimate yourself to the hill. This year we rode from the start to the mid point, unfortunately there was still oncoming traffic so we had to take it slow. Many of the standup riders opted to walk down the last steep section. People lined up, eager to go.
Riders went down one at a time, and fortunately didn't take long. While we were waiting some of the lugers there wanted a group photo.
It was the largest luge field ever on Teutonia, and not everyone made it into this photo.
The second run starts just about the final drop leading into the corner. Another good starting point, as you won't reach the corner at top speed. After our first run, the bus dropped us off at the second starting point.
Many people took this oppurtinity to tighten up their trucks. And again we were sent down one at a time.
For the first few runs, riders had to clear a certain point on the track before the next rider left.
The third run, and the rest of the runs were from the top.
They built us some shade at the bottom of the hill.
There was some hay bales inside to sit on, and sometimes there was water in there. It wasn't the coolest, but it did get you out of the hot sun.
With a late start, we only got in three runs before breaking for lunch. The bar across from the start provided some lunch.
It was mostly sausage and bread, but it was good.
We had about a two hour break before we started to gear up for the afternoon session.
The plan was 2 hours of practice, followed by two hours of qualifying.
But with a late start we only got one warmup run in. And then we started qualifying.
The standup field started first. There were 65 or so, and I think only one person was on the course at a time.
With several breaks to allow traffic up and down the hill it took longer than expected. Because the hill is so steep, it takes larger vehicles a considerable amount of time to go up the hill. Most people hung out in the shade near the bar, or the start line,
waiting for their turn.
It took over two hours to complete the standup, and street luge went next.
I was one of the first to go. Classic was going to run next, and with only two of us, I think they wanted to give us a small breather before we went. We got run back up the course in a car, for our classic run. It was my first time on my buttboard on this hill, I hoped I had tightened the trucks down enough. I assumed I had because I didn't have any issues last year. But almost immediately after I started, as I was going around the first turn at the top I knew there was going to be a problem. The board was too responsive. In normal circumstances that would be fine. But not at Teutonia. I started down the speedy section of the hill at my board just started wobbling. I trying to counteract it, but my legs were flailing as well, and I thought I was going to flip over! About half way down the hill I sat up and hit the brakes. I laid back dowm and finish the run off, still fighting the wobbles. Despite how bad the run was, I was still only three seconds slower than the other guy!
I guess the plan was more practice after qualifying, as we had the road to 7, and we finished about 6. But I guess the course workers were all tired, and the day was over. I got back to the cabin to switch some wheels and change some bushings and tighten my trucks. Last year I only had wobbles on the first run, tightened my trucks and then continued to loosen them all weekend. This year I tried to start in the other direction, I tightened my trucks but not a whole lot. I kept tightening them after every run. One problem was I was riding softer bushings that I ran last year. It took my all day, and while my qualifying run was the best run of the day it still wasn't quite there.
After getting cleaned up we headed to the restaurant for a buffet dinner.
For some reason the lunch buffet is better than the dinner buffet. The dinner buffet is smaller, with no desert. While I'm racing I want a light lunch and big dinner. We had popped our head in and checked out the lunch buffet earlier (although we at at the bar down at the start) and I had been looking forward to some of the stuff I saw at lunch, only to see it wasn't there. The dinner was still good though. I think I was still jet lagged and turned in earlier.
Saturday, Nov 13
Today practice was supposed to start at 8:30. The plan was practice, qualifying, lunch, practice, and then speed runs. So we got up earlier to grab some breakfast.
The breakfast is fairly simple. Some breads and cakes, and some spreads like jam and butter. Usually a plate of ham and cheese, and some delicious bannanas. The others staying in my cottage weren't quite ready when the bus was leaving.
So I jumped on the bus, and let them take the car down later.
Of course things didn't get start right at 8:30.
It was more like 9 when we got started. Although practice went fairly quickly as people were allowed to go down in twos, and smaller gaps were left between riders, it still took a while to get back to the top.
On my first practice run I attached my camera to the back of my board. The camera had already taken a beating yesterday when I strapped it underneath my buttboard and bottomed out on it. This time I got to the bottom of the hill, and noticed that while the camera was gone, the battery was in my pan! The mount used to attach the camera to the board wasn't up to the stress and had come loose somewhere on the hill. I retrieved the camera later and it was fairly beat up. I don't think it is usuable any more as several pieces (inclduing the piece holding the batter in place) had broke off. Unfortunatly the sd card was also missing, so I couldn't even recover any footage from before it jumped off my board!
They were keeping fairly short gaps between riders, to speed things along. In fact one time almost every luger went at once! I was behind some inliners, and I was told I could go when I was ready. I let them disappear around the first turn, and I waited. I waited some more, and then finally I went. I almost caught them just before the drop! I didn't want to pass them on the straight, nor did I want to have to brake on the steep section. So I sat up earlier, and started to drag a foot through the turn. I think I paid too much attenion to the inline guys, and not enough to the turn. Before long I was too deep into the turn, and hadn't really committed. I tried to keep slowing down, but at the last minute picked my feet up before slamming into the hay. It was ironic, the one time I was trying to be safe, is when I wrecked. I started just below where the drop began, after the left turn. And I still hit 120 KPH!
Normally I was hitting about 125 KPH. Last year I set the course record at just under 130 KPH and I was hoping to get back up there, if not better. But for some reason the best I could do was 126 KPH. It is funny to think that 126 KPH was too slow!
We went right into qualifying. This time the street lugers started.
Starting order was the reverse of the finish for day 1. I was in the middle of the pack, so I got a chance to watch at the finish.
The speed the lugers are hitting that the finish line is impressive. I watched a few of the standup qualifiers
before I decided to get out of the sun.
I hung out for a bit and then decided to watch some more of the qualifying.
I walked up to the makeshift bar
and watched from there for a while.
Although it was nice to see the guys go by, you can't see as much of the hill as you can from the finish.
Once again we were quickly run up the hill to finish off the qualifying on classic. My run went much smoother than it did yesterday. The board felt much more comfortable.
It was lunch time, and we decided to hit the buffet at the top, rather than stay at the bar.
After lunch we chilled out in the cabin before heading back to the race. We weren't sure when it was supposed to start again. The schedule said 2:30, but one of the organizers seemed to imply it would start again at 2:00. The lugers tried to do another mass run
and while I don't really want to go down this fast hill with that many lugers, I figured I could try to film it from the back. But I guess the organizers decided it was too many, and wouldn't let us do it.
We managed to get in a few runs after lunch.
On the final run the bus I was in stopped on the steepest part of the course, and the driver had trouble getting it going again.
It kept rolling downhill! We all ended up jumping off the bus, and then start walking up the hill. It wasn't too far from the top. With all of us out, the bus got going again. A bunch of guys skitched,
and many jumped on as it crawled pass. But I ended up on the wrong side of the bus, and had to walk the rest of the way up the hill. I figured it would wait, and it waited for a bit, but not for me! Fortunately they sent a car down to pick up me and another straggler. I had also decided on taking a practice run on my classic, which is a good thing because I wouldn't have wanted to carry my luge up the hill.
It was time for our speed run. A speed trap was set up near the bottom of the hill (actually it was closer to the midway point.)
It was run much like qualifying with one person on the course at a time. In fact the only difference between qualifying and the speed run is the separation of the timing lights. Just like yesterday's qualifying run, standup started.
The shadows had grown long, and it was starting to cool by the time the street lugers ran.
The order was based off of qualifying with the top qualifier going last.
Again I was in the middle. This gave me a chance to watch the last couple of riders come down.
When you are taking a stationary still shot, and the object is moving at 80 MPH, you have to have a very fast camera to catch that object. Once again the classic lugers were rushed to the top to take the final runs of the day.
One of my main goals in returning to Teutonia was to try and increase my record speed from last year. I figured with the dryer air I might be able to pull it off. My luge run didn't go very smoothly, so I hoped my buttboard run would be better. My last run in practice was on my buttboard and it went superbly. My speed run started off well enough, although I think I broke a little too hard for the corner. It is hard to judge the braking needed, knowing the trucks are so much tighter than normal. But last year I broke too much as well, so I wasn't too worried. I straightened up on the board to prepare for the drop. The road curves to the right, and the speed is already pretty high, that you have to turn hard to follow the road. Typically you want to hug the hay bales, except there was a nasty patch of road on the far right, so I let myself drift out towards the center. The road meanders to the left, and so you have to drift across the road to apex the corner. This sweeper is about three quarters of the way up the hill, there is plenty of road to come. But as you aproach the apex there is a bump in the road. It is enough to cause you to bottom out a bit. It is this bump that scratch the camera on the bottom of my board on the first day. I hit this bump and got my feet swaying. The board started to wobble. The road doesn't go straight, but you need to run a straight line. So you have to travel back and forth across the yellow line. Now my board is swaying, my feet are wobbling, and I'm trying to control the board. It is not exactly speed wobbles, but I still can't control the board. I'm not aerodynamic, my feet are slapping into the ground, and I'm all over the track. It was my worst run of the day (expect for perhaps for hitting the hay earlier) and one of my worst runs on the buttboard on this hill ever! The speed run is not a good time to have a bad run.
I was very disappointed when I got down to the bottom of the hill. I think my speed was in the low 110s!
The day was finally over. Time to pack up and head back up to the cabin.
We finished the day a little later than yesterday, but we still had some time to chill out before dinner time. We weren't exactly sure when dinner was being served, so we headed over to the restaurant a around 8:30. We discovered the place was mostly empty, with no food being served. There was a something on the schedule at 9:00, but Google translated it as "switching batteries." So I'm not sure what was happening, except 9:00 came and went and nothing much happened. About 9:30 we were trying to decide if we should go into town with some people arrived with meat for a barbeque. Apparently they decided to have a barbeque tonight, but had trouble finding meat on a Saturday afternoon.
It was going to take a while to cook the meat. We managed to order some french fries to tide us over. Some people gathered around to watch videos from the day.
while others checked out the qualifying times and speeds.
Dinner was finally served about 10:30! The spread looked pretty good,
altohugh it didn't look too much different than the normal buffet.
Sunday, Nov 14
It was another early morning
as things were supposed to get underway at 8:30 again. Of course things got started late.
While we were waiting to get started, we did another luge group photo.
The photo was sort of spontaneous so people kepted joining in. I'm not sure if we ever did get a photo with all of the lugers in it.
We finally got a practice run in about an hour late.
The schedule was for dual practices (the previous practices were suppoed to all be solo runs.) So practice actually went a little faster. Fans were already starting to line the course.
I thought one enterprising group brought their own granstand, and later I realized they brought a fridge full of I guess beers to sell.
Of course the lugers also treat their board with respect.
We squeezed in a second run.
At the bottom of the course one of the lugers showed me a piece of hub,
all that was left of his wheel! Somewhere on the course the wheel shattered and he was left riding on just his truck!
The trucks have floating axles, and part of the bearing was ground away! Fortunately he didn't get hurt.
The race started with the first round of standup. We race dual on this hill, and standup was running a 64 man bracket. The lugers were given a third warm up run. So we were able to ride down the course and then watch the heats from the bottom.
Still photos don't really do the race justice. It is hard to capture the essense of speed, especially on the type of camera I was using. They would come blazing down the hill at breakneck speeds.
The banners would whip up as they went by, it was amazing. I had a difficult time trying to shoot some of them. I did catch Brianne Davies, the first women to skate the hill.
At one point Marcus commented to me that you could feel a buzz in the air about the race, that is not normally found at other races. Having a good sized crowd helps, but I think the key is having a great announcer
with a PA system. Although we couldn't understand what he was saying, we did a great job of conveying excitement. To get an idea of how good he is, just listen to any Brazilian soccer match when the announcer shouts "gooaallllll."
After the first round of 64, we took a 2 hour lunch break. The crowd disperessed quickly.
It was still small, I hope it gets bigger for the afternoon. We went back to the restaraunt for dinner. This time they had fresh cooked meat. Unfortunately we had to wait in line and then ask for the type of meat we wanted. This was sort of difficult, and I think we ended up just kind of pointing, and then giving a thumbs up when he showed us some meat that looked good. After lunch I was asked to do a short interview for a documentary on Daluha.
After lunch we took a warmup run, and then we were told that we would get another warmup before the standup round of 32.
Just as we all got ready to go, we were told the practice run was cancelled. We watch the round of 32 from the start.
Street luge had a field of 16, so it ran with the round of 16 for standup. Once again I faced Mario (who beat me in the semis last year) and I thought I had a shot to beat him. He injured his hand on Friday when he hit the hay. He still blew me off the start. I almost caught him by the turn, but he must of broke just a hair less than I did, and I never really got close to him going down the straight. I was done with luge, finishing in about 11th or so.
I did get a chance to watch the next couple of rounds. Mario won his next heat by a few feet.
It was hard to judge how many specators there were. I expected more than last year, as the weather was excellent. I think there were more, but not as many as I expected.
I caught the last bus up for the finals. The consilations were run, followed by women's standup and buttboard, finishing with street luge and standup. Once again I got beat off the start, but I managed to catch by the turn. I think I paniced a little, as I was afraid I was going to hit him, if I didn't brake enough. He carried more exit speed out of the corner than I did. I was gaining on him the entire way down the straight, but it wasn't enough. I needed to out corner him to win buttboard for the third straight year. It was my first loss on buttboard on this hill!
I ran back to the finish, catching the luge final just as it crossed the finish line. They were pretty close, much closer than the standup heat.
Apprently Kevin passed Daluha near the top, when Daluha made a mistake. One small mistake on this hill will cost you the race.
The crowd started to leave immediately.
Again they filled the entire road as they made their way down the hill. Many of us at the finish line were beseiged by fans for photos and autographs.
After most of the crowd cleared, the award ceremony was held.
I am a bit jealous, I didn't receive a big check when I won classic last year!
The ceremony was very long as Illsandro gave a long speach about each competitor, and had someone else hand the trophies out. Before the standup trophies were handed out, Marcus got up and announced that Teutonia would be the World Championsip next year.
The organizers were very excited and were jumping with joy. Women's Standup:
Davies, Vukorep Classic Luge:
Machado, McBride Inline:
Silva, Ferraz, Angenendt Street Luge:
Wolverine, Jardim, Ribeiro Standup:
Reimer, Silva, Erban The standup podium was hard to photograph, as much mayhem ensued. Hay was thrown.
More hay was thrown.
Champange was thrown.
and there never was a real podium shot. It took us a while to get off the hill. There was a traffic jam as cars were trying to go in both directions. The road is narrow, and adding hay to the road made it even narrower, plus I think a car got stuck. And someone parked a tractor in front of the bar, and lots of people were milling around, saying good byes. It took a while to clear the road, and there was no bus to take us back to the top. By the time we got all our gear and got back to the cottage it was fairly late. There was supposed to a party in town at 9 PM. We got to the restaurant about 10 PM and figured we would have dinner there, who knew what food would be available at 10:00 PM on a Sunday night. It was getting close to midnight when we decided to head into town and find the disco where the party was supposed to be. After driving aimlessly around the small town, we ran into some other riders and they helped us find the disco. There weren't many other riders at the disco, I am guessing most people had started heading home and we were some of the few to hit the disco. There wasn't anything special going on for us, so we danced for a bit before calling it a night.
There were a few injuries, but nothing too severe. One luger went to the hospital, when I think his foot got stuck in the crack near the bottom when he tried to brake. He was back hobbling around for the award ceremony.
The weather this year was fabulous, someone said he thought it was the first year the event didn't get rained on! Probably the biggest problem with the race this year was the language barrier. The road surface is getting worse, there are more cracks near the bottom, and the road itself seems rougher. The Major promised to do everything in his power to fix the road before next year. I suspect, that means fill in some of the cracks, but we'll see. The event is already a fairly big festival, with the spectators loving it. I suspect next year will be over the top.