In my previous blog I talked about my first experience of Rodeln/tobogganing in Mayrhofen. Here I would like to talk to you about how my participation evolved with this sport.
My friends and I were totally hooked with this amazing sport. Yes it is a sport, there is a European and world championship but these events were not in our sights.
Each and every night that we could, we went up. Some nights even alone. The only criterion was that there had to be enough snow on the track, but not too much! Yes deep snow proved to be a problem, as you couldn’t move anywhere. You would end up walking a lot of the track.
It was a ‘track’ and we were ‘racers’. Our starting positions were like a formula one grand prix. Our tactics were similar. Overtaking on corners, following the racing line, and even nicknames of famous F1 racers. Mine was Schumacher because of some dubious race tactics that I used. I was overtaking and sort of made sure that the other racer didn’t catch me! Ok it wasn’t strictly good sport but I only ever did it once! The name however stuck.
We named and customized our rodels, adding lights (well torches taped on the front). Some enterprising soul tried to wax theirs one night only to loose the ability to steer! One New years we even had a themed James Bond evening! Yes we had smoke coming out of the back and one person tried to fire rockets! They had strapped tubes to the runners of the Rodel. After the first attempt at launching, common sense kicked in and we didn’t attempt a second!
These were great times. We would always make a point of walking the entire length of the track, sometimes up to 6 km. Everyone would have a couple of cans of beer (bottles broke, and were not a good idea) for the one or two breaks that we would make. My wife’s cousin, Sascha, starting bringing a candle, so we would have light to sit by as we circled our rodels, as if they were horse drawn wagons of the wild west! The conversation was always varied and discussion lively.
This was the perfect way to spend an evening.
One day the game changed (for the better I might add).
Up until this point the odds had always been fairly even. Everyone was on the same old type of Rodel that had been borrowed or ‘acquired’ from somewhere. Kelly, one of our original members, turned up with a brand new Rodel. It was unlike anything that we had seen before. It was slick, streamlined and even had a comfortable seat! A shop in the village had started selling them, they were called ‘Gasser’s’ and they were fast!
It was lower than ours and you no longer had to steer by putting your foot in the snow. Now you simply had to lean over and pull on the ‘reins’. Of course he won. He did each and every time, leaving us all standing as he shot off down the mountain.
Rodeln now had speed and proper steering. It had become more of a precise sport than the crazy charges down the track that it had been.
With time everyone who partook, had the same advantage. Some rodels were better at cornering and some were faster in the straight. The playing field now once more was leveled, just now at a higher speed!
We had become one step closer to our Grand Prix style of racing. Overtaking happened with a little bit more care. Helmets were worn. Glasses and Goggles assisted powerful head torches so that you could see where you were going.
New tracks became available to us as this sport was growing throughout the mountains; with it not just being something that local youngsters did on a Saturday night. It had become a thriving business that was offered to tourists as an evening excursion.
The question (as ever) was, where could we go next with Rodeln? For me the answer was simple.
My own Track
To be concluded…