Chill On A Swiss Hill
About an hour and a half south east of Zurich, as you enter the Swiss Alps, small villages and beautiful twisty roads liter the valley. About half way between Chur a medium sized town of about 10,000 people and Thusis with a population of about 2500 lies a nice twisty road.
The valley is very beautiful
The course is about 2.5k with 5 very sharp hairpins, and no real straights! The start is just straight enough to get started, then there is a gentle left turn leading into the first right hand hairpin, Angelina. A couple of gentle curves lead to the second hairpin, a left hander, Bettina. From here to the next hairpin is a set of chicanes, all but the last turn can be navigated without brakes. The top speed on the course reached 50+ mph as one approached the hard left hand turn. This turn was probably the most dangerous, as it was high speed, and there wasn't much to protect you if you missed the turn.
Monday, July 17
I was supposed to be flying from Berlin to Zurich at 6:00 AM. It wasn't quite an hour flight, and about an hour and a half drive to the race, I should be able to make it before morning practice started. Well I was 3 hours late. I decided to drive straight to Thusis and look for a hotel.
The first hotel didn't have room Saturday night, fortunately the second hotel and room. I guess this is what I get for expecting there to be plenty of rooms available. Next year I'll make my arrangements online. Then my card didn't work in the bank machine! I had no Swiss Francs, and I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I THOUGHT I had some money from last year in my suitcase. So I was heading back to my car when I ran into Scott Peer. They were on lunch break and he had come into town to grab some water and food at the store. He loaned me a couple of coins to get my car!
I showed up at the campsite
After practice I checked out the camp. The camp was about a couple hundred meters down a dirt road
After I checked out the campsite, I went and got registered.
Dinner was a catered affair, and unfortunately required ordering it earlier in the day.
I gathered up a couple
On the way back to the camp, we saw a very spectacular sunset.
As usual the Opening Ceremonies start late. A stage had been set up off the hill side,
The first part of the Opening Ceremonies was pretty cool. It was neat to see the flags parade up on stage. The second part lasted a little too long. After the festivities some people headed off to bed, and others milled around the bar. I needed to get back to my hotel, I still had to unload my car and put my board together!
Tuesday, July 18
The truck was supposed to leave the campsite at 9:00 AM. I got to their in time to chat with a few people, and of course it didn't leave right on time. Although it wasn't too late. It was a decent hike up to the finish line from the campsite, so most everyone was on the truck when it left.
One of the things I heard the most yesterday, were people running around looking for shoes or extra soles.
Fortunately at lunch the were frying up some sausages. I also noticed they had a beautiful skateboard with the COASH logo over the bar.
The afternoon session started during probably the hottest part of the day. A few people elected to sit it out, as it was pretty warm. Apparently there was also an evening session. But the evening session was run with hardly any course workers, and mostly an open road! The road is long, and the average speed is pretty low. In addition there are probably 150 riders. It takes a while to get everyone down the hill.
A couple of us rode on down to the local store,
About midway through the session just as I get to the bottom, I hear that there was a wreck up top. We had to wait for the ambulance. A new rider from Brazil was having some problems with the technical course. He made some changes to his board and ended up going straight into the wall in the hard left hand turn. It looks like he broke both of his legs! His board wasn't in great shape.
I also got a good look at Samy's helmet.
By the time we got back to camp, some people were already cleaning up.
There was some entertainment planned for every night. So we went back to the camp. As usual people were chilling out.
Wednesday, July 19
Once again I got to the camp just in time to put my leathers on and get on the truck.
I decided to switch to my gumballs. With a technical course and no long straights gumballs appeared to be the right wheels to go for.
After a relaxing lunch, we went back up for the afternoon practice.
When I went to my first Hot Heels a few years ago, I turned the TV on as I was unpacking, and there was a special on Bobby Car Racing.
Thursday, July 20
Today is the last day of practice, as well as the first day of qualifying. With one of the largest fields ever and a long course, they figured they would need a day and a half to do the qualifying. We got a few decent runs in before breaking for lunch.
At lunch I made sure to get my equipment teched.
The schedule for the afternoon was a warm up run for everyone, then qualifying for dirtsurfers and inline, then for buttboard and skullboard. I took the warm up run on my buttboard. We were going to do practice runs after the qualifying runs. Since there were only about a 12 dirtsurfers and inliners, I figured it wouldn't take too long. About an hour later they let the freeriders go down the hill. Turns out they were having problems with the timing system!
I decided to take the rest of the day off, and go check out the local lake. There was a small lake about a 5 minute walk from the camp.
Through out the week the British camp was nice and orderly, with their luges all lined up. After several days of riding I guess even the finest discipline falls apart.
Friday, July 21
Well qualifying yesterday was pretty much a bust. There were too many problems with the timing system, and the dirtsurfers got ONE run in! The entire field would have to qualify today. With over 200 riders, some in multiple disciplines, I don't see how it can happen. A new schedule was posted, with nine runs.Every 30 seconds it would beep, indicating you had to go. It took us a few tries to figure out, if we were on the line, and it beeped, we should go. Occasionally they would hold someone, but things moved along pretty quickly.
Because there was no stoppage for lunch they moved the sausage grill up to the starting line.
I'm not quite sure I liked the idea, but they wanted us to put our numbers on the side of our helmets. They had these washable markers to draw on our helmets.
It was still pretty early when we got to the luge qualifying.
After the luge qualifying I was done for the day. There were still two standup runs to go, and with over 100 riders it would take a while. It was still early and I wanted to try and do some sight seeing. A couple of us drove into Chur, about 20 minutes away. Chur is a small town with a nice little old town that we wandered around in.
When we got back to the camp a few sprinkles were hitting the windshield! I was worried that the standup riders were getting rained on. But it turns out they just finished! They got both of their runs in, in just over 2 hours. Once again we headed into town for dinner. The skies were getting dark, it didn't look good.
Back in the camp people were just hanging out around a couple of fires near the bar.
I had been leaving my equipment at the camp, so I didn't have to cart it back and forth. I left some of it in Paul's tent, but I got to leaving my luge and leathers under the big tent. After the rain, I went to check that everything was ok, and out of the water. The tent was open just enough to get a bunch of water at the bottom. I think Busse's shoes got wet. I checked my luge as I had visions of water running under the tent. They were nice and dry, but there were a few bugs. The camp was invested with these things. Earwigs were everywhere, but this was the largest concentration I saw.
Saturday, July 22
The first race of the day would be standup, to get it over with in case it rained. I didn't take the truck up on the first run, I was planning on going up to the first corner
We went up with the finals for our practice run. As we went up the course, I saw a group carrying up some alphorns to turn two. Unfortunately I never got to hear them, nor get a picture of them, as they weren't there for long.
Furlong ended up being DQ'd as he hit Rene from behind, so I advanced to the next round. I wasn't entirely thrilled. I was a little terrified of the course, the hard left hand turn is deadly, and I wanted to be able to race in Madison next week. With my left knee not at 100% I wasn't riding at the best of my ability. The other problem with the hard left turn, was the hairpin that followed. I had a problem getting through the hairpin, and I think it was because I couldn't move my left leg fast enough!
So I started my next heat, and of course got beat off the line. Although I was a little closer. Loic hit the wall in the first turn, enough to slow him down, but keep him on the course. I moved up to second when the next rider hit the wall in the next turn. I backed off in the third turn to let Loic pass me, so as not to go through the turn side by side, this was probably a mistake. I thought I had a shot, if I took the chicane with minimal braking. Well I don't know if the last rider broke in the hard turn or not, but he FLEW by me immediately after the hard turn. I was just happy to get down the hill safely.
Inline didn't run their race, since one of the four inliners made it pretty deep into the standup field, and was also racing streetluge. Buttboard was the final race of the day.
I don't know exactly what happened in the finals, but Robert came into too hot, and then at the end of the turn apparently his board went into the field.
Since I drove my car up to the finish line, throughout the day everyone seemed to store their stuff in my car.
When we got back from dinner there was a band playing.
The first prizes awarded were the 2005 World Cup Trophies.
Women's Dirt surfer
Women's Street Luge
After the ceremony it was time to party. We went back to listen to the band play for a while.
This road was the most technical road I've ridden. It was fast enough to be very dangerous, in fact that was the number one issue one everyone's mind all week, was the safety factor. I think a lot of people respected the course, and perhaps that was one reason there weren't that many injuries. There were a few sprained ankles and knees, and scrapes and bruises. But I think only the Brazilian ended up with a broken bone. Unfortunately he broke both of his legs.
It was really nice to have a six day event, with almost a dozen runs a day. Made it a bit more relaxing and easier to ease into the course. Of course it wasn't exactly "chill" as the temperature was fairly hot all week. As for a "hill", well if this is what the Swiss call a hill, I would hate to see what they call a mountain! I look forward to next years Chill On A Swiss Hill!