This is kinda long, so before i get into it, if u are overwhelmed with details here and just want pictures, u can visit this thread here http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?p=10495688#post10495688 for just pics and simple explanations It’s not very encouraging when you see groups of fellow riders stopped mid race because they just don’t want to ride down the next cliff. I knew something bad was going to happen when I rolled up to a cliff and 1000’s of spectators were standing just a few feet from me, waiting to see me rag doll down a couple hundred foot cliff. When I was caught in traffic jams, I wasn’t thinking that I am loosing time, I was actually happy that I wasn’t out breaking my neck on the crazy hills. If I had to describe my KTM Erzberg thumpertalk experience in a sentence I would say that Erzberg is more of a contest of distance then a race against competitors. Surprisingly, it was much less physically demanding then I expected but MUCH more extreme than I experienced. I am glad I got to experience Erzberg, but if I knew than what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have gone. For the last 17 years, 1000’s of extreme riders from every continent and 40 countries have traveled to take a crack at 1500 year old active “Iron Giant” mine in Eisenberg Austria. All 2000 entries were sold out in couple days and there was a waiting list of 1600 riders for 2011. 500 of the top racers are determined from 2 days of prologue qualifying and they will get to race on the main event on Sunday; however, some racers came just for the prologue only, like Stephan Everts. In the end, only 9 people were able to complete the 25 mile course in less than 4 hours. Over the 4 day period, approximately 50,000 spectators and pit crews are treated to additional attractions like a free style show, an endurocross race and wide spread partying. There is a very large beer and food pavilion that is always hopping and the practice hills can be great entertainment. A special “family” pit area is designated so everyone can enjoy. Comfortable passenger buses shuffle people around from the pits to spectator points as well at the concessions. The atmosphere is a strange cross between the professionalism of an ISDE and the party attitude of Glammis dunes or the old days of Unadilla. Many manufacturers and vendors are represented in the pits with KTM having the largest presence. It seems to be KTM VS everyone or should I say everyone VS KTM. Riding a KTM is not only the best bike for the race, but the support on and off the course is 2nd to none. It may be possible to win on something other than a KTM, but that would be doing it the hard way. The KTM headquarters are located near the Erzberg and extreme adventure tours are run in the mine throughout the year. Course knowledge can be attained in a variety of ways. On race day there are 600 crew members, however for some it is a full time job and local residents actually embrace the Enduro and the year round income generated. . Medical crews travel on bikes, ambulances, mountaineers on foot and 6 helicopters allow doctors to be within 5 minutes from any part of the course. Due to unsecured helmets during the prologue, the promoter claims they have had only 2 deaths in 17 years. Even 1 death is a tragedy, but considering the situation, this is a testament to the promoters concern for accessible medical attention; Even though this made me a little more comfortable, it wasn’t very encouraging when I had to sign a release acknowledging that I could afford an emergency helicopter ride. The main obstacles at Erzberg are the hills. The hill in the above picture was hit by waves of 50 riders at the start and every available line on this hill had to be used. The more difficult hills required a towrope to get up. Better riders will make it up most of the hills without help but I know everyone required help at some point. Later in the race I saw 20 riders at a time stuck on the hills. While I was going up, others were sliding down out of control. It was like riding on the wrong side of the road, bouncing past out of control riders going the other direction. Because some of the hills were 100’s of feet long, many obstacles couldn’t be seen from the top or bottom. Things like 3 foot ruts, angles past 180 degrees and rocks typical. The best I could do on many of the up hills was to make it within tow rope distance of the spectators. In the pictures below, if you look carefully at the dangling orange banner behind the spectator in the KTM pants, you can see that the angle of the hill is vertical because the banner is not even touching the hill. You can also see the direction that the spectator is holding the tugger strap. The bottom of the hill, or should I say cliff, is in the background a few hundred feet down. Spectators were even using the ropes to get back up the hill. When I didn’t make it over the crest, I had to lay the bike down and use the handlebars as an anchor or the bike and or I would slide right back down out of tow rope reach. Some times when the bike was being towed up the hill, I would slide down the hill away from it. The bike was actually holding me on the hill. I’ll admit that I begged for help to come quickly. Even if I came within inches of the top of the hill, it’s physically impossible to push or pull a 250lb bike on a vertical wall. Thank god for the rekluse clutch for going up and also the Rekluse LHRB (left hand rear brake) for going up (yes up). The LHRB prevented the bike from sliding back when I was off to the side of the bike. As I was lying beside my bike I had both brakes locked with my hands. Going down was much worse than the up IMO. While near the crest, I couldn't see down the hill past the fender, all I could see was the bottom 30 stories down. Some times I would get off the bike I and walk to the edge of the hill so I could see the decent and the line NOT to take. I rolled a brick down one hill and it picked up speed and got air. I would always pick up unwanted speed on the way down. To be honest, I didn’t even like standing near the edge of some of these hills but I have a fear of heights. If I knew the majority of my race would be tackling extreme heights, I would not have gone. To add to the terror, it rained every day which not only makes the course harder, it scares away the spectators (i.e. helpers). When I reached the limit of how high I could climb, I would often try to ghost ride the bike up a few more feet or over the lip. The spectators loved this, I could hear them cheering over the screaming bikes. Spectators also were intrigued that I ran my chest protector over my shirt. Europeans all run the shirt over the chest protector. I got lots of questions about the GNCC, NEPG transponder still on my chest protector, “Is that a bomb? A pipe bumb!?” In the picture below, I launched my bike up a rocky hill and it tumbled down and was teetering on a 30 foot rock ledge. In the picture below, I had to ride on the top of a retaining wall, see the rider below. There rock below my foot down pushed the rear wheel closer to the edge, so I hooked the rock with my leg, as an anchor.