CRC Events Manager Grant Norris reports: "This was the second year that Chain Reaction Cycles powered Dirt Masters, held at the Bikepark in Winterberg Germany. Last year the sun shone constantly over the whole weekend, but this year the organisers brought the date forward by two weeks and as the team arrived after a 32 hour drive from headquarters in Northern Ireland, the hail was hitting the ground hard and all riding was suspended, indeed the construction of the Red Bull Berg Line, one of the most highly-anticipated courses, had been suspended too.
The hail that greeted us on our arrival to Bikepark – thankfully it soon cleared up though!
We retired to our digs with the promise of better weather the next day, and the forecast was correct – we were on site at 6.30am sharp building our Expo area. There was a real buzz throughout the whole of the festival with the prospect of the world's top riders battling it out in the weekend's competitions. Last year Dirt Masters clashed with the Fort William downhill World Cup, this year however there were only minor events on around the globe and so some of the cream of the 4X and downhill riding world were to take their place at the starting gate. This coupled with a world-class field of dirt jump riders to compete in Saturday evening's Red Bull Berg Line competition showed that not only had the event grown, but it had become a lot more serious.
Lee, Chris and Ali – part of our team of Events professionals – come and say hello at our next show!
Thursday came to an end with the Cash for Tricks and Naked Jumper competition; the latter had a €50 prize to anyone who felt the desire to do a tail whip or back flip whilst butt naked – apart from a helmet of course. Rules is rules. So this year did have the same vibe…
Friday's weather was again looking ominous for later in the day, eventually forcing organisers to cancel the SKS Slopestye competition. Earlier in the day we saw the riders competing in the iXS Downhill Cup get some practice runs in and the Scott 4X challenge also started to pick up speed with gate practice. The X0 Enduro race took place but ended in uncertainty after the results were put up and then taken down never to reappear, much to the annoyance of the competitors. They can now be found at Specialized Enduro Series. Friday however was all about the bands with Calico Ghosts, Dan Dryer and HBLOCKX rocking the Red Bull Tourbus stage. Everyone was partying like rock stars, well almost everyone.
The downhill course for the iXS Downhill Cup eventually dried up for some fast and furious race action
It was always going to be about the Red Bull Berg Line on Saturday evening and as we sat down to breakfast at the hotel that morning, two tired faces walked in. Dirt jump riders Sam Pilgrim and Sam Reynolds had not been partying, but driving themselves from FISE in France where Sam Pilgrim had taken first place and Sam Reynolds fifth. It just goes to show how dedicated these guys are, and also how much further the scene will no doubt evolve.
Last year at Dirt Masters the Slopestyle was the main event and used the infrastructure already in place at the Bikepark. This year it was dwarfed by a custom-built mega $$ course. There were camera towers to catch every flip and whip, the crowd was twice the size, yet the stars of the show still had to drive themselves through the night from France and another competition to wow the crowds that had gathered. I for one hope that it won't be long before these riders get the props they deserve and also make the leap up to the level that other equally dangerous sports can boast. Oh and with an increase in prize money to boot, but then I am constantly amazed at the skill and dedication it must take to try a trick for the first time with no real knowledge of if it will work, or whether it will really hurt when it goes wrong, just to get up and try again.
This was the drop-in at the start of the Red Bull Berg Line – big enough for some huge tricks in the finals
The competition really did match up to the hype and with double back flips being executed superbly by two riders amongst a plethora of other slick tricks on display, I would say that Dirt Masters is now firmly on the 'must-do' calendar for riders and spectators alike.
Onto Sunday and the riding stars had already taken the step up from a few years ago with pits, mechanics and managers all on hand. The rain returned which made for a slippery downhill and 4X course. We brought with us 400 Chain Reaction Cycles cowbells so after the 4X final it was off to the rock garden on the iXS Downhill Cup course to make some noise for the riders.
Mick Hannah took the win in the iXS Downhill Cup ahead of Sam Dale and Johannes Fischbach
And so it ends, with another mammoth drive over to the UK and onto next weekend's Chain Reaction Cycles-sponsored BMX world Championships in Birmingham. This is the last opportunity to qualify for the Olympics and we are all over it. If you can't make it check it out live on BBC2 or via the BBC website.
The Chain Reaction Cycles events calendar keeps rolling with Germany and Spain getting another visit next month – in those events we're swapping to skinnies and lycra for the Berlin ProRace and the famous ICU Marcha Cicloturista Quebrantahuesos. I am very excited!"