Red Bull DHX
Cape Town, South Africa 2002
Red Bull has turned a small race in a far a way land into the biggest and best event. In its fourth year Red Bull once again threw an incredible party, inviting 160 contestants from 13 countries. What a way to kick off another promising season.
Sunday, February 24
After twenty four hours on the planes, and a twelve hour layover in Amsterdam, I pulled into Cape Town about 11:30 am.
After visiting the Sunday market, it was time for the pre-party at La Med. La Med is apparently the place to be on a Sunday night. We showed up to see a line of Red Bull vehicles. We were whisked to the front of the line! A few of the locals riders showed up. While La Med is cool, two days of travel was catching up to me, and I headed back to the hotel too early.
Monday, February 25
Once again we were
staying at the Lion's Head Lodge.
Red Bull also provided us with shuttles
to gets us from the airport, take us around town, and takes us to the race. We had two shuttles on Monday, there will be 12 by Friday.
After spending the day in Cape Town I hooked up with a couple of the local riders, Richard, Mike and Simon
and got a few runs in. It was a great chance for me to try out my new suit, as well as my new camera equipment. We finished up at sunset, so we hopped in the car and went around the hill to check out the sunset.
The sunsets were phenomenal.
Tuesday, February 26
Nick Harvey showed up in time for dinner last night. We went up to Table Mountain for the day. Not only are the views great,
but with the breeze its also a bit cooler at the top. When you first step off the gondola, if you look to your right you can see a bird's eye view of the course.
You can also see a spectacular view of the beach. La Med is on the point on the right.
Rat, Eli, and Kurtis showed up today. We went down to the waterfront for dinner. Cape Town was running its own version of Cows on Parade, Kurtis had to continue his Handstands Around the World Tour.
Rat talked Eli into slaloming around some street musicians hats. There was no one around, so I set up to take a pic. As soon as Eli hits the hats, this lady walked up to toss money in the hat and ruined the shot.
I barely got the shot off on the second run before someone walked in front of me.
Wednesday, February 27
Kurtis and I got up early to head out on Safari. We went to the Inverdoorn game reserve.
We went on the two day Safari, instead of the one day. It was the right idea, as this place as phenomenal. While the one dayers went on Safari, we hung out at the lodge.
I don't know how many hours I spent in the hammock. The one dayers came back from their Safari, everyone had lunch. The one dayers headed back to town (about a 2 and a half hour trip) while Kurtis and I lounged around some more. After afternoon tea we finally went on our first safari trip. Personally I thought the coolest thing we saw were the giraffes.
We also saw some Rhinos,
zebras, water buffaloes, and tons of different antelopes. We had a stop to watch the sunset, and it was back to the lodge for a 7 course dinner.
Thursday, February 28
We got up early for another game drive. Back at the lodge we had a sumptuous breakfast. They knew how to feed us, I was half way through the large meal, when they asked me if I wanted bacon and eggs. It was back to lounging around before lunch and the ride back, until the weather intervened. It rained, and it rained hard, and the wind blew hard. One of the trucks came back without its canopy. We were nice and dry, but the poor souls who went out were completely soaked.
We missed the BBQ the night before, but we made it back in time for tonight's party.
Most everyone had arrived in the last two days,
and everyone was headed to the Dunes.
It was great to see everyone again.
It was a fairly mellow party, mostly old friends re-acquainting themselves. The story of the day seemed to be missed luggage. It seems like pretty much everyone who arrived today had some or all of their luggage missing!
Afterwards a bunch of us headed to Fez, a disco in the heart of Cape Town. This year we had athlete's passes to get in. Its pretty cool to get preferential treatment. About three o'clock we decided to call it a night, amazingly Steve Pearl, the oldest racer, was the only one who wanted to keep partying!
Friday, March 1
The party really gets started today. I had already registered
but for those that hadn't it ended today at noon. We all got DHX Leathermans this year!
Several of us
headed out to swim with the penguins
and visit the Cape.
We were supposed to be back at 5:00 for the rider's meeting. We left about a quarter to four. I don't know how we made it back in time, our driver rocked!
Chris Chaput arrived today, with all of the missing luggage, unfortunately his luge was lost in the process.
When we got back people were gathering for the tech inspection.
That is we were told to bring our equipment to the rider's meeting for a tech inspection. For some reason people thought the inspection was going to be held first in the parking lot. The rider's meeting was held first, in the courtyard. The courtyard was chock full of people.
We were introduced to several people, "Charlie's Angles"
These four lovely ladies were Dani's assistants. Dani aka Mama Bear.
Barbara, the new Race Director.
And the Head Honcho himself, Tony, head of Red Bull South Africa.
Tony sprang a surprise on us, dinner would be at the S bend on the course, and we would ride tonight! Turns out there was no tech inspection, Red Bull said that so that everyone would bring their equipment for the surprise ride!
We loaded up the vans, luges and all.
It took a while to get all dozen vans loaded.
It felt like there was a sea of luges out there.
Waldo can relax anywhere.
We finally pulled out in a huge caravan.
The course was only a few minutes from the hotel, but we got there in style.
Lights flashing, horns blaring, and the sun setting.
Biker and Waldo even took in some uphill practice,
as we went up the course. We saw the mostly built course for the first time.
It was spectacular. I think this course is the most beautiful course in the world. And to be up there when the sun was setting made it that much more gorgeous.
A bar was set up (this is the VIP area during the race) and a buffet set up. First we eat.
And then we ride.
They were hading out glo sticks that everyone was attaching to their luges or bodies.
I would have LOVED to watch the riders go down.
This was the coolest thing they did, Red Bull went over the top and definitely out did themselves. The night run rocked. The problem is, when you have to be up at 6 am, the last thing you need to do is take a run down a cool hill at 11 pm. I was so wired from the run I didn't even think of going to sleep until after 2.
Saturday, March 2
We had an early start, they wanted the lugers in the parking lot at 6:45 to start loading up. I got up early enough to load up and grab a quick bite.
We drove through the fog to the top of the hill.
We immediately spread out and claimed our spots in the pit area.
The pit area is quite small for over 150 people.
There were a dozen tables,
and a raised stage like area with a dozen bean bags and a couple of tvs.
As usual the start of the race was graced with the Red Bull arch,
and the wonderful starting gates.
I shared a table with Chaput
and Fryer. We managed to get only two practice runs in before lunch. Chaput managed to get his board at lunch time, and with Mike's help got it put together.
Actually I think Mike did most of the work, Chaput was trying to claim he had to qualify on standup. Chaput practiced and qualified on borrowed equipment.
He wore his standup shoes on the plane, to save room, so he ended up using my regular tennis shoes when he rode his luge! It was finally time to qualify for streetluge. One of the Brits showed my what an empty Red Bull can was for.
After a day of qualifying, it was back to the hotel to cleanup and head out to dinner.
It takes a while to mobilizing 150 people.
We headed off to this place on the beach, on the other side of the bay. Looking across the bay you could see Signal Hill and the lights of the city underneath it. You could also see the lights along the race course! Looking at the picture, you'll see a thin row of lights at the base of the mountain, starting from the saddle on the right, then there is some more black space before the lights of the city, that's the race course.
We were served lamps, roasting over an open pit,
and some sort of fish. The full moon hadn't risen yet, so we spent some time sitting there and taking in the view of the stars.
Sunday, March 3
Race Day! Once again we had to be up and at 'em by 6:45.
When we arrived at the start, there was just a hint of the infamous "Table Cloth."
One of the first things we had to do was get new number plates. Racers would race numbers 1-32, based on their qualifying time. Team Rogers Bros had a good showing.
The Rogers Bros had designed some really nice boomless luges. But a new ruling made boomless luges illegal, so they had to add extensions. They made identical extensions for their luges, and Dave remember too late that his boomless board was actually short than John's. Because his feet wouldn't quite reach the pegs, Dave was making last minute, hi-tech, adjustments.
Wandering around the pit area, I noticed one of the riders using his DHX Leatherman.
Many of the lugers found the Leatherman was a perfect tool to drill the number plates.
We got three rounds of practice before breaking for lunch. We were going to have a tight schedule, as half of the race was going to be run before live TV started. During lunch Moody decorated the local ladies.
Rogers Bros fans everywhere.
Meanwhile other riders tossed out stuff to the crowds.
It was time for the first heat. Last year Dave Rogers got to race Tom Mason in the first heat in pretty much every race. Apparently this year its John's turn.
Like last year I didn't get past the first round, so I headed for the famous S bend for the remainder of the race. There were quite a few people at the race.
Leading up to the S bend.
With the bleachers in the S bend, and the VIP tent on one side, there were quite a few people here.
I hung out in the VIP tent
which of course had an open bar. Apparently Red Bull flew in the top bartenders to tend.
These guys put on quite a show, making three and four drinks at a time. Bob Swartz was unable to make the race this year due to a family emergency, but he was here in spirit.
his mug graced the S bend.
It was very difficult to take good shots. You would get all lined up, and then just as the racers came around the corner, everyone would jump in front of you.
Also taking pics of the inliners was difficult. You want to lean out to get a good picture, and the inliners were hugging the hay bales, running their arms along the hay. I know a couple of collisions were narrowly avoided.
I did manage to get a few photos of all disciplines:
Pam gave Mason a run for his money in the quarters, with a photo finish. Unfotunately the finish line was in the shade so it was difficult to see who won. The announcers didn't let us know. We didn't figure it out until Pam showed up in the VIP area! She lost by inches.
Kurtis Head got his first Gold medal.
With Leandar, the local, taking the bronze. John and Dave Rogers rounded out the final heat.
This year the awards were going to be given away on live TV, and they were behind schedule. The riders were raced back up to the S bend for the prize giving.
Head, Rogers D, Lacey L
Chaput, Zietzman, Freeman
The awards were pretty cool. They were large, working bearings, on a block of wood.
I hung out with Kurtis for a bit,
as he had several interviews lined up. While we were waiting for one of the interviews, the course caught fire!
We were down at the S bend for about 15 minutes. By the time we got back to the pit area, the starting gates were half gone!
The course workers were gathering around for a beer,
(thanks guys) and Dani and Barbara were breathing a sigh of relief.
Like last year a photo wall was made of shots taken during the event.
It was time for the party at La Med. This year we had a sit down buffet, and watched the 52 minute 8 O'clock DHX showing on the big screen. After given Dani and Barbara a standing ovation we went out at partied until they kicked us out at 2 am.
Monday, March 4
Time to go home. Had to pack up and check out of the hotel. About a dozen of us headed off to the airport for the afternoon flight. One of the downhillers was given a hard time with his skateboard at the ticket counter. DeKeyser handed his skateboard to Kahn, who already had his ticket, to take through security.
30 hours later, 24 in the air, 6 in Amsterdam, I finally arrived home. After another fabulous DHX. Red Bull threw another incredible party, the best streetluge event around. I can hardly wait for next years event. As far as I know there were only two injuries this year. One may have been a broken arm, the other was a slit finger with a half dozen stitches, due to putting holes into the number plate.