Vienna Dirt Battle: Soaring Above The Snow
The snow was falling and the wind was blowing and flakes were swirling around the neo-gothic Vienna town hall as Swiss dirt jumper Lukas Huppert twisted and turned over a frozen mound of earth laid out on the Rathausplatz. I thought I’d missed out on reporting on any winter sports events for FM4 Draußen during this busy winter; but, hey, the best things come to those who wait.
Shivering in a thermal undershirt and ski jacket, I cursed the weather that had blighted the Argus Bike Festival. The event is a vital celebration of cycling in a city that seems to prefer to build urban highways. I was annoyed at the weather gods for not realizing how important this platform is.
Der Wind, das himmlische Kind
“The worst thing is actually the wind,” Lukas told. “It’s not even the cold because the wind really affect how we jump, because we can get by. Bad gusts can really blow us far to the right or left side. And also it’s pretty hard to judge the speed.” But the 16 elite international dirt jumpers who had gathered in Vienna for the Bike Festival were showmen, and showmen know that the show must go on. “You just have to wait for a window. And when there’s a good window, you just send it!”
These guys are not moaners there are copers. Indeed, the Brit Cameron Crozier said that under all his layers of protective clothing, he was perfectly warm – after six or seven runs!
The Anna Gassers On Two Wheels
FM4 Auf Laut 5.4.2022: Radfahren im Alltagsverkehr
Die Stadt Wien hat eine „Mega-Radwegoffensive“ angekündigt, auch in Graz soll ein neues Verkehrskonzept kommen. Für die Mobilitätswende und ein gesundes Klima ist das Fahrrad das Transportmittel der Wahl im Nahverkehr. Welche Verbesserungen bringen die Ankündigungen wirklich? Wie ist es bei dir, für welche Wege nutzt du den Drahtesel? Was braucht es noch?
All das bespricht Eva Deutsch in FM4 Auf Laut mit Radfahrer:innen und Verkehrsexpert*innen.
Let’s go back to basics here: what is dirt jumping? Well it’s basically what it says on the tin, a bunch of riders, on modified mountain-bikes, who jump over a mound of dirt and use the airtime to do some tricks. It is the cycling equivalent of snowboarding or freeskiing’s Big Air and the jumps are pretty spectacular.
“The best trick in 2019 was a ‘twist double bar spin’”, explained organizer and micro-man Andi Brewi as I arrived to watch. “This is basically 180 degree rotation in which you also spin the bars twice 360 degrees. So, it’s really complex.” And that’s is just one trick. Over the course of the afternoon I saw back flips, double back flips, double front flips and anything else your mum would tell you not to imitate.
Despite the Arctic conditions, Cameron Crozier was enjoying the downtown atmosphere and also the Bike Festival atmosphere in general. Often, as these riders travel the world, they are competing half way up a mountain in front of aficionados. But most of the crowd at the Bike Festival were, like me, utter novices. And that, said Cameron, took a lot of pressure off and added a sense of joy.
„Everyone Gets Hyped“
“The good thing for me about this sort of thing is a spectator here would love a backflip just as much as they’d love to see a double backflip,” he told me. “It’s good to go crazy because everyone gets hyped off going crazy. But you don’t have to kill yourself for them to be happy like that. They’re just excited to watch you do whatever you feel like.”
Like most of the guys competing at this exhibition event at the Rathausplatz, Cameron had got into the sport by messing around with his mates. Most dirt jumps are ad hoc creations built in forests or old gravel pits built by odd kids who enjoy shaping earth into mounds with shovels and then jumping bicycles over them.
Childhood on Wheels
“I started about 10 minutes from my house. There’s some big woods there,” he told me. “From when I was about 10 years old, my friends and I would just take an energy drink in a pack of crisps if you’d get there nine o’clock in the morning and then we ride in back in the dark shaking because we hadn’t eaten all day. You know, you forget to eat because you’ve been biking all day.” As the months and years go by, the dares get bigger, so the jumps get bigger and that’s how a career starts.
This talk of the childish joy of riding a bike filled me with nostalgia for my early biking days; sun-splashed and endless days messing about with friends without cares nor fears. Actually what Cameron was describing is the unifying factor that brings all the aspects of the Bike Festival together, whether it be the parcours for small children, the pumptrack for bigger children or the bike-packing or vintage bike refurbishment tents for those adults who, like me, still have the souls of children.
It’s about joy.
Cycling Is About Joy And Freedom
I truly believe that cycling, a healthy activity which requires no autocrats’ climate-killing fossil fuels, is a vital tool in saving the planet.
I truly believe politicians would stop messing around with new road projects and should built safe infrastructure that makes cycling an attractive option for the majority not the tolerant minority that accepts being squeezed onto narrow or non-existent bike lanes. I truly, passionately believe that.
The Vienna Dirt Battle event and the Vienna Bike Festival in general (even when held in weather that would make a penguin shiver) were reminders of the basic truth of cycling: it’s not just good and worthy; it is fun, inspiring and inclusive.
“It’s a privilege to be here,” Andi Brewi, who had organized the Vienna Dirt Battle, told me. “For all the riders it is a privilege to show the sport to people that have maybe never seen it before. Maybe this gets even more people into biking. It’s always great to come here and show people what other disciplines of bicycle riding there are out there.”
Ride. Ride an old steel bike, ride a comfortable e-bike, ride with your kids on Laufräder, ride a 3,000 euros race bike or a 100 euros rust bucket, ride 500km a month for sport or 2km on your weekly trip to the shops, ride a mountainbike in the woods, or a cargo bike to work, or ride a folding-bike to the bus stop. Ride a fat bike on the snow. Ride a bloody unicycle if you want to. Ride in lycra or ride in jeans. Just ride.
And demand more space to ride in.
FM4 Auf Laut 5.4.2022: Radfahren im Alltagsverkehr
Die Stadt Wien hat eine „Mega-Radwegoffensive“ angekündigt und will ihr Radwegnetz um 17 Kilometer ausbauen. Auch in Graz soll ein neues Verkehrskonzept auf die Bedürfnisse von Radfahrer:innen und Fußgänger:innen ausgerichtet werden. Der Trend ist klar: Für die Mobilitätswende und ein gesundes Klima ist das Fahrrad das Transportmittel der Wahl im Nahverkehr. Doch welche Verbesserungen bringen die Ankündigungen wirklich? Andere europäische Städte wie Kopenhagen, Paris oder Barcelona investieren wesentlich mehr in radfreundliche Infrastruktur. Denn nur wer sich sicher fühlt, steigt auch aufs Rad.
Wie ist es bei dir? Für welche Wege nutzt du den Drahtesel? Welche Änderungen im Radverkehr hast du beobachtet? Was braucht es noch? All das bespricht Eva Deutsch in FM4 Auf Laut am 5.4.2022 ab 21 Uhr mit Radfahrer:innen und Verkehrsexpert:innen. All Transportmittel welcome!
Publiziert am 04.04.2022