Raceblog: Chapter 4 – Leogang

By Tim Butler – “The Adventures of the Non Work Boots”

Chapter 4

So, we left Scotland, straight after packing up from racing, and headed towards Leogang, we had be in Munich on Tuesday night at nine o’clock to pick up Pat and Reece from the airport, so we had over two thousand kilometers to cover. We left straight after racing to get a jump start on the trip, we had booked a Channel Ferry at five pm on Monday, which was ten hours from Fort William. We drove alongside a massive Loch on our way to Glasgow, it was so picturesque. We stayed the night at Carlies about four hours into the journey, a bit after midnight. The room only had four beds, and there was five of us, as Eddie had invited one of his mates, Jason Hodge, from New Zealand to travel with us, so I slept in the van, which wasn’t that uncomfortable as Eddie had bought a mattress before we left, so packed two sleds in front of the back seat which were the perfect height, and threw the mattress on top, I made a pillow by packing my flanny and jacket into a tee-shirt, work well.

We set off around eight o’clock and made our way to Dover to catch the Ferry, on the way we stopped for breakie at a fuel stop, Eddie found a cheap fidget spinner, a perfect thing for him, I wish he bought one for Hodge as well, it kept Eddie quiet for a while till he worked out that he could hold it out the window and had half of it behind the wing mirror the wind would spin it so fast. He had it going that fast he accidently let go of it and it flew into the back of the van straight into my packet of chips. I pulled it out and handed it to Hodge and he hid it, Eddie was convinced it had gone out the window and gone forever. It wasn’t for a few days later the boys did some Snapchats with them playing with it that Eddie realized what had happened and was relieved to be reunited.

Noise cancelling headphones are one of the most brilliant inventions when you are travelling with four twenty something stir crazy boys. I could turn my music on and shut out all the, what I think was singing, and have a sleep. The boys had a great time taking photos of me and putting dog faces on me and sending them around the world, it kept them happy for a few hours, so it was all good.

A weird thing that happened on the four lane Motorway, M6 I think, two emergency breakdown vehicles with flashing lights pulled in front of the cars in front of us, each merged into half lanes and slowed the whole motorway down to a stop, the drivers got out and talked to the drivers of the cars in front, and must have told them to stay there till they gave them the signal to go again. There was a broken-down car off to the side, they drove over to it and attached a snatch strap to it and started to tow it away, then gave the signal for us to go again. I couldn’t believe they stopped a whole freeway in peak hour just to do that. Weird English.

We made it to the ferry around five in the afternoon, it was amazing how big an operation it was, there were lots of terminals and each terminal was full of cars, buses and semi-trailers. We drove onto the ferry and went straight up to the bar, found a power point so we could charge the devices, Kurt and Hodge decided to that they should have a after party, since they missed out the night before, and started drinking Guinness on the boat, Tommy and I didn’t drink, so we had two drivers to get us to the next destination. Eddie spent the whole time trying to find some accommodation in Belgium for our next sleep over. We all threw in our loose change as we didn’t need UK money anymore and you can’t exchange coins, Kurt and Hodge used it for the Guinness. I went up onto the outside deck to get some picture of the White Cliffs of Dover, it was a great break from the kids, I didn’t think the English Channel was so narrow, I thought to would take hours to get across, but you can see France from the English side.

Before long, we across the other side. We drove for another four hours to our next sleep-over in Calis in Belgium. Kurt and Hodge kept they’re after party going by drinking the mixing what was in a three-liter bottle of vodka the boys nicked named The Baby and Redbull. We arrived there around midnight, driving through the streets of the town there were funny shops with ladies in underwear in the windows, it was quite funny. Again, there wasn’t enough beds in the Accommodation so I set up the van again and slept. It was amazing that in a day I had been in four countries.

The next morning, we set off again to Munich. I spent most of the time typing and with the headphones on it was bliss. At one stage I looked up and Eddie was trying to drive looking through his mobile phone camera, so I looked back down and continued typing. We arrived in Munich with four hours to spare, so we attempted to go and have a look at BMW Welt, a car museum. In a big van and trailer it very hard to find a park, but to make it harder there was a Coldplay concert on close by. We couldn’t park so the boys decided they felt like Pizza Hut for dinner at proceeded to find one. Eddie found one not too far away. Just ten minutes down the road. I was peak hour, that ten minutes took nearly an hour. But we did find a carpark in the middle of town by moving a few roadwork signs. We went into the Pizza Hut to find it wasn’t an all you can eat, so the boys weren’t happy, and went down into a shopping Centre and got Kebab’s instead. It was amazing how busy it was and people rushing everywhere, Eddie said he felt it was the perfect place for a terrorist attack, so we left. We still had an hour and a half wait for the plane to come in, so after driving the van through some very narrow streets in Munich we headed to the airport. We stopped off at a McDonalds so the boys could use the free wifi. I slept in the van for a while.

We picked up Pat and Reece, and headed towards Leogang, still another couple of hundred kilometers away. We arrived at the Accommodation at midnight. We unloaded our bags from the van and headed up to the rooms. There was three bedrooms, two with a couple of beds and one with one. I quickly grabbed the one with one. It was great not sleeping in the van.

I had a good night sleep, had a look out the window to a glorious day and some large green hills. We were going down to set up the pits at around ten, I waited around till nine and there was no movement from anyone, so I went for walk. I stepped out of the front door and looked up at these amazing grey, half snow-covered mountains, they were incredible. I thought Scotland was amazing this place beats that. I went looking for a shop to buy some milk for breakfast. On the way, I found the Pit area, where the Intense team were already setting up. I asked them if they needed a hand, which they did so I stayed. I messaged Eddie and told him I was already at the pits and he messaged me back and said that they will be there at ten. I looked at my watch and it was twenty past eleven. They eventually turned up, just as I was finishing the Intense tent, so it was good timing. Each time we put up the Bergamont pits we get faster and faster, we had it up in no-time. After we had it up we headed over to get some lunch. We walked into a Café and Anne-Marie was there with her team, I sat down and had a chat, it was good to catch up again. I had to order a snitchzel because I was in Austria, it was really good. After lunch, I caught up with a few more friends in the Pits then went up to the house for a nanny nap. By the time I woke up it was tea time, but with the late night the night before I was still tried, then Scott Parsons gave me a call nine-thirty, to see if I wanted to join him for a beer. I though why not, I didn’t have to work in the morning, I walked down to his hotel and I met in the bar and we had a few beers, and before I knew it, it was one-thirty in the morning.

I woke up a little worse for wear in the morning, so, I went for a walk. I had to be back at the pits at one for a track walk with the team. I found a lovely track that made its way up the mountain that Downhill Track was on. I was having a great time, so I told the boys I would meet them at the top. At the top there was a lovely restaurant, that served traditional Austrian food, I had Kasespatzle, it’s like a pasta covered in cheese, It was really yummy and had to wash it down with a beer, what a shame. After lunch is sat down on one of these very comfortable timber chairs, that overlooked the valley bellow, must have been the beer that made me have a bit of a nap. I woke up just as the boys jumped off the cable car and we headed off on our track walk.

The Start ramp was steep, really steep and went straight into bike park style track. A lot of the man-made rock sections have been taken out. They had cut in a new section with an off-camber corner, into a steep stumpy and rooty shoot, that look challenging. Then onto a straight run with lots of jumps. Into two timber berms, more steep shoots down to a very fast finish to a massive step down.

All the boys were glad that they had taken out the rock gardens because they were so dangerous.

I walked down with Muddie and Mik Hannah for a while, it was a quick walk because the track was really one lined and not too many line choices.

I was invited out to tea with the Intense team, we went down to a local Pizza and Pasta place. It was a good night, Jack and Dean were being typical Aussies and giving everyone a hard time, especially their junior Nik, but he did deserve it. Dean was sick of everyone playing on their devices, so he called a phone pile, Jen, the boys call mum, who is the wife of the owner of the team was the worst, Dean got cranky at her telling her that this was family time, and made everyone hold hands. We got a lot of weird looks from everyone else in the restaurant. It’s amazing the difference between Americans and Australians the way slander they each other, Americans just can’t seem to be able to do it that well, Nik and Charlie, the other two riders on the team are both Americans, and really struggled with Deans and Jacks sledging. Nik thought he could give it back but got shot down so quickly. Charlie who was a bit older had learnt to not say much, so they didn’t have much ammunition against him.

After I got back to our accommodation, Tommy and Kurt were sitting the Kitchen, Tindering, I was telling them how they are too easy on Pat, but they both said that he was too quiet and didn’t give them anything to have a go at him about, I think he’ll warm up soon.

Practice went smoothly, Pat had his in the morning, and he seemed happy with his bike and track, because he going straight back up to do another run. A credit to his mechanic who was a little bored in the Pits. They are testing a new tyre insert that is supposed to reduce pinch flats and rim damage. So far, they working for Pat really well, he is still on the same rims since Fort William, where they were first used, which is good considering he would go through a couple of rims a race, Tommy just thinks they are a pain to install, but easier than re-building wheels.

I wasn’t that confident that Pat would qualify on this track, it didn’t suit him and he wasn’t in good frame of mind in the morning, to the point I had to walk away from him at the top of the hill, while he was warming up. I watched him leave the gate, much too casually for a qualifying run. I was right he missed out by 1.3 seconds, he even said that he took to casually, a good lesson for him, he didn’t seem that put out. I had a good after noon testing some of the local liquids with Scott Parsons, it was a good arvo, until one of the elite riders, over shot the last jump and landed on his back and slid through the finish line like a rag doll. It was one of the worst crashes I have seen at a race. The medical crew were straight onto it, and the chopper came in minutes.

I had to give Sally, Jacks mum, commentary again as she couldn’t get live timing. It’s hard enough with my fat fingers trying to type on my phone, but after a few beers it’s disgraceful. Jack qualified in twenty-first after he had a crash in the second last corner, his mum was happy, so that’s all that counts. That night Pat went out to the non-qualifiers party, I went to bed early,

I don’t know what time Pat came home, but he didn’t get out of bed till eleven-thirty the next morning. We didn’t want to come for a ride in the morning with Tommy and I, Tommy didn’t have to get Pats bike going, so he saw the opportunity to have a ride and seized it. I decided to go with him on the Ebike because he is a bit of a machine uphill. We were riding out of the pits and Anne-Marie grabbed me for a chat. I tried to tell her I was following Tommy. I saw Tommy ride out and I race off to catch him, but I could find him. So, I went back to the pits, I was hoping that he would miss me and come back. Kurt said that rarely does that, but I must be special because he came back. We headed out another way so I wouldn’t get caught by anyone and headed up the hill. I love Ebikes, specially with my level of fitness, but the team bike had really high gearing which made it hard to ride slowly at Tommy’s pace, not that it was slow, on a normal bike even if I was fit I wouldn’t be able to keep up. We made it to the top of the downhill track, but it was only half way up so, being a little time restrained we jumped in the cable car to go the rest of the way up. The view was amazing from up there. But the ride down was even better. We rode a couple of tight single tracks then got into bike park berms and jumps, I think Tom was impressed that I was never too far behind. It was a great ride, I managed to get back just in time for the end of the juniors to see Harry Parsons finish in fifth which was a great achievement. I headed back to the house and got changed to find Pat still in bed and told him to get up.

Scott was on a high and we went off to have some lunch, and drink more beer. There was a café/bar at the finish bowl that we managed to get seats in to watch. I had a team managers pass so this let me into the VIP part of the Bowl where you can chat to the riders. Anne-Marie was with me we had a great time, I had to keep Sally up to date, she was so excited. I was busy trying to get my fat fingers working to tell her that Jack had started that I looked up to see him crash, noooo….. But he collected it back up and went through the second split a couple of seconds down, but by the forth he had made up time to being under a second, he came across the finish line on the hot seat. A great recovery, but still cost him, eventually coming 9th.

It was Reece’s twenty-first birthday so the boys were a little rowdy at the pits, they had made him a yard glass to give him a taste of an Aussie-Kiwi Twenty-first tradition. He was feeling a little worse for wear afterwards though, not as bad as Hodge though, we found him past out behind the pits in the grass.

We packed up the Pits, and the boys went back up to house. I stayed and helped the Intense team with their pit tent. They had a fair crew to help because Jen promised them Pizza if they helped. It was good till the pizza came, and they all stopped and sat around. So, I helped them finish off and headed home.

The boys were in party mode and told me to come out to with them. I had to have a shower, by the time I got out they were all gone. I walked back down to where the after party was to be and found them in the pub. They were running amuck, I didn’t really to be a part of it so started to head home. I went and sat on a park bench with a view down the valley and watched the sun go down, when Scott messaged me to tell me he was having tea in a quiet pub across the road, so I went down there and had a salad, sitting in-between the Pivot team and Danny Hart, The current World Champion. It was much more relaxing.

I’m so glad I didn’t stay with the boys, from what I heard there was a fair bit of shenanigans. I went home around nine, and to my surprise Pat was home around ten. He had had enough, I was glad he did. The rest of the boys came in at two in the morning fairly well hammered.

The next morning, I packed as many clothes in my back pack as I could because I was staying Austria for a while to meet some friends and have a look around before catching up with the love of my life Jane in Innsbruck the next Monday. The rest of the team had to be in Les Gets in France the next weekend to race the next Crankworx round. I was meeting them back at Amdora for the next round of the World Cup.