So “1st ever DOWNHILL race in Oman Jabal Thrill” is over and from all positive responses we can say IT WAS VERY SUCCESSFUL. Who was not there missed a lot – if it was riding or just being part of the event which was just in the heart of Muscat on scenic location of PDO area hills in Ras Al Hamra providing breathtaking views over PDO club beach on one side and over Fahal Island and PDO bay towards Darsait on other. In this location we placed our track which tested riding skills and bravery of participants. Atop of that Red Bull made tremendous effort to bring atmosphere you can experience only on high profile professional events in Europe or America – if it was DJ, barriers with event banners, their start and finish arches, wigwam with bar and bean bags and their attractive g irls offering famous energy drink and water (who would resist?) plus professional photo- and videographer(!!! – so don’t be surprise if you see your pics on Red Bull web site !!!).
Track was partly built from scratch, partly on goat/single track and partly on graded road. Preparation was ongoing for almost 3 weeks prior the event, all track was cleared from rocks, 2 new sections were basically carved/raked into the hill surface from scratch and on places bumps and berms were built from rocks and smoothed with layer of soil to provide fast cornering and to add some “pump track” feature to force riders to dig even deeper into their skills bag, bushes were trimmed, holes filled and 4 scorpions relocated (to other world). So was all that effort w orth for 2 minutes weez down the hill? Answer to follow below…!
So how was the track? Start was really on “top” of jebel, flat platform approximately 3x5 meters after which track disappeared down the steep section for few meters so actually you could see it only when you are on the edge. You had to push your body far to back not to fall over handlebars and ignore 2 rocks which looked like they are going to trip your front wheel so it was best not to brake at all. All this threw you to steep opposite uphill where you had really time right your 90dgr turn. Then single track traversed on the side of hill and only support was few centimeters of loose rocks on its lower/right side so if you did not want to be swept from mountain you had to keep your speed down and push hard on your outer leg. In the end of it was another 90dgr turn to keep rider on the ridge and only 3 barriers stopped you from falling to the sea. Next section was steeper and had 2 steps where you really had to know which line to choose but then it was just matter of balance. Then followed steepest part of the track – dual track which spat you into 2 berms so if you steered it right you even did not loose the speed. Here started graded road but to keep riders from being bored – new technical single track was laid and carved over eroded rocks and opposite hill plus several pumping bumps so who wanted to keep it fast really had to dig to bottom of his skills and power. Single track finished on wide graded road which was gradually sloping so it was place to open throttle. In the bottom of it was bottle neck – single track turning sharp right (hence built berm to keep speed up) into the tunnel below bushes with steep bump – and here we were – last single track section with several sloping corners and short stone walls on both sides trying to catch your pedals. Then only sharp left turn and approx. 50 meters of gravely/sandy wide open finish area where time clock and Margaret kindly but resolutely announced you what a loser u r. ;) So as you can see it was combination of various surfaces, types, techniques and some of not-riding us told that “that was easier that I expected” – I told ya!
So how did event go? As soon as riders were registered and collected jersey/numbers we went for trial ride. All of us climbed to the top and one by one in short intervals rode in moderate speed just to be sure we know the track. As major energy sapper was actually climb (with approx. 65 m gain it is like going on 15th floor!) we had some rest and watered our thirst with Red Bull. With approx. half and hour delay we had short briefing and set for climb again. We had 21 participants but 3 retired from race due bike problems. We regrouped in Waiting area just on that second right turn. Here marshal organized circulation of riders going to top and Bob were starting them as soon as walkie talkie crackled and Margaret voice announced successful ride end of previous rider. Riders started as they were registered so first was Brady etc. I started 4th to cope with my organizer duties and clocked fastest time, but not for long as just few minutes later stormed in Tim and beat me by 3 seconds. However – you could see who is downhill breed: Kai, Noel, Jonny, Nate, Mike, Ingmar, Talal and Patrik were just seconds away from eventual winner Tim. The best were Tim 2:14, Willy -2secs and Jonny and Marcel with same time 1 second behind Willy – excellent – we had 4 riders within 4 seconds!!!!
However - good job everybody who raced – everybody below 2 mins 20 secs – consider yourself being “GOOD”! ;) Big surprise was Talal – he registered via phone call so he never cycled with group before and on his Ruwi Releigh bike was just 5 seconds slower then Tim, finishing 4th overall. Also very well done to Viktor – only 12 year old, youngest rider in the pack.
Because we were loosing light we quickly climbed up and had trophies giving with excellent background (sea and mountains – see newspapers I set before). Trophy was made from 2 pieces of Plexiglas glued together with Jubal Thrill logo on it and bike chain on the edges – really nice design by Red Bull/Gilbert . Holding it together with Jonny – it fell apart - so we had 2! ;)) SO it was 4 of us (Jonny, me, Tim and Willy).
Immediately after that we had 3X (3-cross) – elimination race of 3 riders. We took best 9 from DH race (the ones who left or were not interested were replaced by next ones). We had 3 triplets: Tim, Jonny and Talal (Jonny won); Willy, Mike and Nate (Winner was Willy) and Marcel, Noel and Ingmar (Ingmar came down first with significant gap behind him – excellent ride - but I put last burst of speed, sprinted over that sand and jump him, winning literally by few centimeters). Last race was Jonny, Willy and me. Jonny started fragment of second before others which gave him advantage (and he kept it to Finish), Willy racing after him and me (had bad start) eating their dust – I left my sunglasses as it was getting dark with Bob – but Willy stalled it on that steep bump and I almost got him there but he elbowed his position back (I complained about that to organizers (me) but they told me to shut up!) so it was Jonny (1st), Willy (2nd) and me (3rd).
Soo good racing day is behind and all of you have to realize how lucky all of us are to be able to participate in such a event – and for all that you did not need to pay single baiza. In Europe/America it would probably cost you something between ten to several hundred EUR!
Photos - on usual link on flickr
BIG THANK YOU TO