The toughest one-day Enduro race in the world. 500 drivers try to conquer the legendary Erzberg within the 4 hour time limit. Only 20 to 25 riders can make it.
We wanted to see this spectacle at first hand and in June 2017 we are going to green Styria. We spend the night at the Moserwirt in Mooslandl. This little village is quite secluded, even if the handful houses fit beautifully into the green landscape. The hotel is a bit old, but the landlady gives us a warm welcome and so we feel adopted as part of the family.
Next morning we drive to Eisenerz. It takes only 25 minutes and the route leads through a really fantastic landscape. Shortly after a show mine the control station for the Erzberg Rodeo takes place. We hand over our online tickets and get a bracelet and the parking ticket (EUR 10,- per day!). Although only a handful of visitors have come with us, it takes quite a long time. We decide to be here early next morning because it could last to check in thousands of visitors.
Now the dusty steep road leads up the mountain. The visitor's parking spot is almost at the top of it, but a shuttle bus takes us from there to the start/finish area. The wind blows strong and dark clouds are rising. We are glad to have warm clothes and rain jackets with us. Because we are not familiar with this place we run the mainstream. We pass the Kärcher stations to a starting area and there is something going on. We are trying to get near to the racetrack, but after ten meters the run is blocked and the drivers disappear behind a corner and are nowhere to be seen. We walk back and try to get a closer look at the track. But there is a guardian who stops us. He tells us that on the one hand, nothing is to be seen here and on the other hand the slope is blocked because of the danger of hang slipping. We should go to the finish area and there through 2 arches and on to the lake.
So we go towards the arena to the finish area. In addition to drinks and foodstuffs, there are also all kinds of exhibitors with accessories for the motorcycle sector. Otherwise, we only discover different parking areas (for VIPs, drivers, family camping etc.). The two arches or the lake are not in sight. The meeting point next to the arena is not busy. We try to get some information, but nobody can help us. All people declare to be responsible only for their own area. Finally, we run through the Family camp and really, behind it the lake is in sight. We are looking for a place to get very close to the trail so that we can watch how the drivers try to get up the steep mountain. We already know that this is "only" the training area and we are not watching the qualifying for the race. But we can’t search out where this should be.
At 2.00 pm the drivers will be presented in the arena. As we are not in the biking-scene, this is very interesting for us. We get a good place, although the Arena itself is not really optimal designed for the audience.
After the riders presentation there’s nothing on the schedule until evening, and so we decided to finish for today and to walk to the bus stop. Of course, this is not just our thought and since the organizers were not so forward-looking to increase the bus frequency, it takes a long time to get at least a standing place in one of the buses. After a few meters, the driver remains however again and declares that the bus is overloaded and some people have to get off. Chris is one of those who gets out again and we decide that I should go on to the parking spot to get our car. It takes about 1.5 hours to leave the area. We are quite frustrated and annoyed with the poor management.
We bought the silver package-ticket (EUR 220,- /person) for the race day. This includes free parking at the regular visitors' car park, food and drinks in the VIP-tent and transfer to the exciting track sections. We arrive at 8 am and are the only car at check-in. This time it’s much faster and we also get a flyer with a plan of the race track and the schedule. Even the parking spot is now only halfway up and as soon as we have parked the car the shuttle bus arrives. Great, we are happy.
In front of the VIP-tent, we have to fill out a form again, we get our VIP-cards and then have to go to a second counter, where we are assigned to a bus, which will take us to the race track. We have breakfast and are lucky to meet some people, who are already on the track for three days. They have to tell some funny stories and so time flies like in flight. Suddenly it's time to go to the bus. First stop is above the lake to watch the start taking place in one hour. Except a short flight show, there is not much to see. But then the first 50 drivers start. The lower part of the Erzberg is immediately wrapped in a huge dust cloud and the first drivers can gain a small lead. After about the 4th row of starters, we continue to the "Wasserleitung". This is the longest steep climb. We park in some distance but have a good view of this section. After just 20 minutes we continue. Surprised, we get informed that the next stop will be the last. In some distance of the "Badewanne", we can get off. Unfortunately, the time slot is so tight that we only can watch three riders (but they all fail and start a new attempt). Then we have to go back to be in time to see the fastest driver finishing. The arena is already fully occupied and so we decide to go to the tent to have a drink. The gentleman next to us seems just as frustrated as we are. He follows the race via live stream on his mobile phone. And so we recognize that the Spaniard Alfredo Gomez is the winner.
Half an hour later we walk to the parking shuttle and again it takes quite a while until we get a seat - but not as long as the day before.
With mingled feelings, we drive home. The great “wow experience” didn’t come. Probably you have to ride an Enduro yourself, in order to get closer to the whole event. In any case, a few days later, we watch the 4 hours of racing on Red Bull TV and discover that the organizers have already selected very exciting sections for us. Yet, I think it will be our last Red Bull Hare Scramble. For us, the price-performance ratio did not fit and the management could also be improved a lot.
Information about Erzbergrodeo: https://www.erzbergrodeo.at