Saturday, May 28, 2011

iXS European Downhill Cup #2 - Todtnau

For the first time since 2005, Germany's most prestigious and, as many claim, best downhill track (finally!) Todtnau returned to the international racing scene by hosting the second round of the European Downhill Cup. I wasn't quite sure what to expect of this race. The only races I've been to in the past were some smaller, local races and the iXS Dirtmasters race in Winterberg as well as the Wheels of Speed-Race in Willingen which arguably are two very unique races. And even though I've been to Todtnau several times in the past months - it's got to be my favourite DH track on this side of the Atlantic Ocean -, I was quite nervous on our way down to Todtnau.

Welcome to Todtnau!

My brother Joz and I loaded up the car and took off early Wednesday morning to get a few more practice runs in before the racers from all over the world arrived. The track was in prime condition and was extremely fun to ride as usual. The course starts with a smallish drop leading into a rather technical corner before you hit the first high speed section which is littered with some good-sized jumps and road gaps. This section is followed by the first pedalling bit and a very rooty section. Then you're off into a very high speed, rough section with some berms and jumps before entering a very long and flowy section through the woods which is quite technical in some places and extremely fun to ride. Usually the track ends here but the race organizers decided to add a grassy, off camber-section after leaving the woods, which lead right into a brutal, slightly uphill pedal-fest before crossing the finish line. In total, the track is close to 3km long and very difficult to ride. On the one hand it's very fast and rough in most places but there also are some very exhausting pedalling bits. Therefore one could easily mess up his race run by pedalling too hard and then not being able to control the bike through the technical bits and vice-versa.

Practice on Friday went surprisingly well and trouble-free. The pace was great and we managed to hit some lines that we hadn't even seen before. You could definitely tell that everyone was taking it quite easy since nobody wanted to be too exhausted for their race run come Sunday. After practice was done, we hiked up again to watch the Pros practice on course and we were definitely blown away by some of the riding... definitely very inspirational. We also met Banshee World Cup rider Matej Charvat and talked to him for a while. He was looking great on track and proved to be very nice and easy to get along with off the track.

Prepping the Legends...

Come Saturday, we got up early to get our two mandatory practice runs in. Again, everything was going very well. Our Legends felt right at home in the rough stuff and both Joz and I were really comfortable with the track. We decided to take a closer look at two or three sections to discuss our line choices for our upcoming seeding run but apart from that, everything was quite dialled. After a healthy lunch, we went back up again to do our seeding run. I had a minor little crash in the very first turn which cost me a bit of time and I also decided to walk the uphill bit so I was pleasently surprised to find out that I qualified in 23rd position despite saving a lot of energy. Joz rode very well and qualified in 14th place out of around 65 riders, so both of us were very pleaed with how our seeding runs went.

For some reason though, Sunday simply was one of these days were nothing quite works the way you want it to work. I felt horrible during the morning practice, riding all over the place and not hitting any of my lines. In addition to that, I flatted my rear tire once again and managed to bang up my rear wheel pretty badly so I decided to call it a day and rest until my finals run. Joz was once again feeling great on track and riding very fast yet controlled at the same time, so he was quite confident for his finals run.

Possibly the best berm in the world? / credit:

When I was standing on the start line, I felt surprisingly calm and relaxed, unlike during the morning practice session. Right when I left the start hut, everything was going very well and I was hitting all the lines that I was planning on hitting while riding notably faster than during my qualifier. I also managed to hit some lines that I hadn't attempted before so everything was going great until I went down in what was propably the easiest turn on the entire track. My front tire must have washed out underneath me or something like that - I didn't even have time to react so I went down into the ground with my head first. My visor was broken so I couldn't see anything for the first few seconds and I had to run up the hill to grab my bike. Luckily my helmet and neck brace absorbed most of the impact. I was lucky that I was able to get back on my bike again but obviously I knew that my race run was pretty much over. In the end I was quite surprised to find out that my finals time was just half a second off my qualifier despite the big crash and consequently keeping it rather mellow down the rest of the track, finishing in 31th position. Joz managed to hold it together during his race run and not make any major mistakes. He knocked a couple seconds off his qualifier and finished in 18th place with a 4:38 which he was very happy with.

After our race runs, we loaded up the car and watched the Pros tackle the last bit of the course. Track favourite and local hero Marcus Klausmann, who qualified 6 seconds ahead of everyone and looked visibly faster than the rest of the field managed to rip his rear derailleur off his bike so the race was over for him. In the end, Brook Macdonald took the victory a few seconds ahead of Nick Beer and Joshua Button.

Joz on his way to a great Top-20-finish / credit:

Looking back at the race now a few days later, I'm still pretty bummed about the way my race run went but that's racing I guess. If anything, crashing in my race run should be a motivation to be a bit more focused during my race run in Winterberg next week. All in all, I'm quite happy with how the weekend went though. The riding was great, the course and the entire event was awesome and we got to spend a lot of time with a bunch of friends riding and racing our bikes. I guess you couldn't ask for anything more, right?

We should have a bunch of pictures posted up on very soon. In the meantime, our good friends Peter and Rizzo took a bunch of awesome pictures of the race and uploaded them onto, so take a few minutes and check them out.

Cheers from Germany,
-Moritz Zimmermann