Nestled in the rolling hills of Switzerland, about halfway between Zurich and Lucerne is the small town of Altbüron. The town has one hotel, and a handful of restaurants, and is only a couple of kilometers wide, like most of the towns in the region. It is also surrounded by rolling hills. There are a plethora of roads to ride out here, running through farms and grassy hillsides.
The road we ran was just over a mile long, and the best way to explain it, is as a smaller version of Hot Heels, minus Hells Gate. There are three hairpins at the top followed by a long fast run out. Immediately after the start was a right hand turn. A short straight later leads to the first hairpin.
A curve to the right
splits up the straight between the first two hairpins. The second hairpin becomes trickier thanks to a quick right
chicane. The third hairpin comes up fairly quickly.
After the third hairpin, the course is fairly non technical
as it meanders past the camp (just beyond the trees on the right) but its not straight, and the speeds really pick up. One of the coolest things about this course
was the countryside, the rolling hills and grass.
This course had hay bales in four corners, the ONLY reason there were hay bales in those corners, is the corners had guard rails. For most of the rest of the course, if you went off, you went off into the hay. You'll notice that in the last hairpin there were only hay bales at the end of the turn. Those where there because there was a short guard rail there! The second coolest thing about the course, it was lined with speakers.
While music played for most of the day, it allowed the spectators to stay informed.
Friday, July 5
I spent the day in Zurich, doing some site seeing. I left the city a bit too late, and a bit too close to rush hour. Between not being able to find the freeway, and rush hour traffic, it took be several hours to make my way to Altbüron. Fortunately the road I chose to take was the road the course was on! I got to to the camp in time to see hay bales being prepped for rain.
While many people stayed at the camp site
about 1/3 of the way up from the finish, I needed to stay in a hotel. Its hard enough lugging luging equipment half way around the world, without also having to worry about camping gear. Several towns and several Gasthofs later (it wasn't until later that I learned what a Gasthof was!) I found a hotel, about 5 kilometers away, and decided to have dinner. As I was unloading my car it started to rain, it stopped raining by the time I went for dinner. I made my way back to the course around 9 pm, with hopes of getting some night riding in. Apparently the rain didn't make it to the course. The riding was supposed to start at 9, but there weren't enough course workers. It took my longer than expected to put my board together, and people started riding sometime after I started working on my board. Unfortunately it grew dark by the time I finished my board. I went for a ride anyways. It was too dark to see, and I ended up sitting up for most of the run. Its interesting that most of us perceive asphalt as black, yet at night it is white enough to see, if you are high enough off the ground.
Saturday, July 6
I woke up to the sounds of cars driving on wet pavement. I hoped for the best, and hoped that the course was dry, as it was the day before.
Several people arrived in the middle of the night
, but the weather still didn't look promising.
It was decided to wait a bit, to see if the course would dry up. Amazingly the course did dry, although some riders didn't wait for the official shuttle.
We finally got some practice runs in. At the bottom of the course was a roundabout and a water fountain (if only all race courses had a water fountain at the bottom.) We waited for the shuttle here.
A few people were also doing "summer luging." As near as I can tell, this is brings new meaning to a "boomless" or "pegless" luge.
These twenty wheelers are designed to allow ice lugers practice in the summer. At a previous event they were clocked about 10 seconds slower than a street luge.
The beginning of our second run, the weather wasn't looking good.
It started to rain, not much, but enough for me to stop and put my rain suit on. By the time we got to the bottom, the rain really started to come down. While most of the riders found shelter
Another tarp was added to increase the shelter, but new support posts were needed.
I put on my rain suit, braved the torrents coming down the track
and headed down to the riders tent to see whats up. This was one thing I didn't quite understand. The camp was about a half mile from the finish, maybe a bit closer, and yet the riders tent, where lunch was served,
was past the finish line! Because of the late start, and the rain, they decided to break for lunch.
After a long lunch, and with the rain still coming, it was decided to stop for the day. With the extra free time someone decided to do some shoe repairs.
Richard Hod and I decided to head to Lucerne for dinner. On the way we spotted a Lego factory.
We had dinner on the waterfront.
With some incredible views.
The clouds even added to the allure.
Sunday, July 7
I woke this morning with light streaming into my room, and no squishy noises. With the sun shining,
the weather promised to be much better. While everyone else got ready for the days event,
Stuart ran around plastering Hot Heels posters, EVERYWHERE.
A few people were hoping the sun would dry their wet leathers.
We finally got underway. I don't remember how many practice runs I got, it wasn't enough, but it was more than I get some places. We gathered underneath a cross before starting the run.
After several practice runs, it was time for qualifying. Instead of a light beam, a trigger mechanism was used.
I think only one person failed to trigger the mechanism. Fortunately it was simple to recall the person. Because all of the buttboarders were racing, we only got one qualifying run, but only 16 of the street lugers were racing, so two runs were called for. The summer luges took as many runs as they could get.
Just before lunch time, Spiderman showed up.
When qualifying was over, we broke for lunch. After lunch we all gathered around the control truck for qualifying results, and a riders meeting.
Streetluge was the first to go.
The top 16 riders raced. I made a mistake, trying to pass in one of the hairpins. Oliver Wagner was racing in his first race since having knee surgery in the off season. While his knees aren't 100%, they didn't slow him down as he took the gold. Buttboard was next.
I was doing decently, and though I had a chance to get into the finals, when I tapped to enter the first hairpin and my foot stuck to the ground, slowing my way more than I intended.
After the buttboard race, we headed down to the second hairpin
to watch the standup race. Not only was the second hairpin the more interesting one, mainly because of the chicane immediately prior to it, but you could also see almost the entire course.
Today was a very hot day, especially compared to yesterday. Immediately after racing, I jumped back on the shuttle to the top. I was thirsty. We went down to the second hairpin and watch the race. I was really thirsty, and hot. We hopped on our boards and road to the fountain at the bottom, for a refreshing drink and dip.
Inline: Montavon, Laffargue, Labarthe
Buttboard: Leander, Gilder, Bücherl
Streetluge: Wagner, Leander, Eliot
Standup: Bradburn, Schaffner, Labarthe
Its time to clean up and head to Hot Heels. Some peoples jobs of cleaning up were hard than others.
I don't want to see their tent at the end of Hot Heels!
While we got rained out on Saturday, the weather on Sunday was more than perfect. The course was fun to run, surrounded by grass. There were no major injuries this weekend!