Americans Sweep in Meersburg|
Saturday, October 09, 2004
The youngest competitor was the most successful at the Ride to the Lake Contest held at the end of September in Meersburg, which took place despite heavy rainfalls. Seventeen year old Kyle Strait from Redlands, California (USA) impressed the judges in all seven zones with two stunning performances on the one kilometre long course through the historic old town down to Lake Constance. Eighteen year old Cameron McCaul, the second youngest rider in the field from Aptos, California placed second, and street specialist Kyle Ebbet (31) from Essex, Vermont (USA) came in third.
Although it rained all weekend in Meersburg, Germany, the first ever RIDE TO THE LAKE CONTEST wasn’t rained out thanks to the hard work of the organisers. Everyone involved worked around the clock to make the giant obstacles non-slippery, using grip paper, carpet and chicken wire. "This is probably the only competition you could do in the rain," says Cameron McCaul. "And it was really awesome. The crowds here in Meersburg were so enthusiastic. Every trick was rewarded with cheers and applause. I have probably written more autographs here than in my entire life."
Meersburg’s building department had worked more than 200 hours to construct the massive obstacles like huge step ups and downs, five metre high north shores, gigantic ramps and wall rides as well as a flying fox. "It’s quite complex to organise such an event in a German town", says Mayor Heinz Tausendfreund, "because the static of all constructions had to be approved by the German TÜV. But it was worth it. This event has surpassed my keenest imagination. The performance of the riders in these adverse weather conditions was amazing. We received so much positive feedback. The spectators were of all ages – the best proof that an extreme sport event like this is not only appreciated by a young audience."
Despite heavy rainfalls, thousands of spectators lined the urban freeride course through the historic old town. "I think the people had a good show, even with the rain. Every obstacle was hit," says Wade Simmons who was voted to be best freerider in the world by the readers of bike magazine. "I wonder what would have happened when it was dry."
Wade Simmons was last one on the start list. Both judges and spectators went mad when the ‘Godfather of freeriding’ was on the course. However, in the end, the freeride newcomers - Strait, McCaul, Ebbet and Marosi - obtained slightly more points from the jury and Simmons placed fifth. "The course was well-rounded," said Cameron McCaul. "There was something for everybody." After the start in the upper town, the riders first faced some big step ups and downs. From there the route led the freeriders into the Gap Zone where they performed dazzling tricks like three consecutive back flips (John Cowan), a back flip on a downhill bike (Sam Zbinden),
Stylish Superman Seatgrabs (e.g. Niels-Peter Jensen) and a huge 360 over the third and largest gap gave Titou Piccard the Sick-O Award. Another adrenaline booster was the Drop Zone. Depending on where they jumped off, the riders dropped down between five and seven metres – a jump that seemed even more gigantic in relation to the historic half-timbered houses in-between which the riders landed and which was extremely difficult as they set down on a four metres high and four metres long wooden ramp. And if that was not enough, they jumped down with Tabletops (Kyle Strait), No Handers (Cameron McCaul), X-ups (Gareth Dyer) and Suicides (Cedric Gracia). Next on route was the Castle Zone where the competitors could chose between different lines over and across the steps of Meersburg’s historic castle before they finally hit the enormous wall ride and steep ramps in the Street Zone. So out of breath, the North Shore Zone at the end of the course in a dizzy height of five metres was an even bigger challenge.
"My biggest challenge was not to freeze," laughs winner Kyle Strait who hit all the obstacles at ease and was rewarded with 47.96 points for his impressive performance. All riders were judged on the difficulty of the chosen line, style, flow, difficultly of move and creativity. "The Drop and the last street section were the most fun," he says. "You were virtually pushed over the obstacles by the screaming crowds."
"It was fantastic to see so many families and citizens of Meersburg along the course," raves Rita Seitel of Meersburg Tourism, who had to replace the pregnant Gesa Meyer-Wiefhausen as event manager. "But at the same time we had a completely different group of people in town. The riders, judges, journalists and freeride fans from around the world created a very special atmosphere. And surprisingly many older people came up to me after the event to thank us for the great show we put on." Julian Mothes and Sebastian Herrmann, the two interns who supported Meersburg Tourism in the organisation of the event, are desperate to get some sleep. "I never thought that organising an event would be so tough," says Julian Mothes. "I hardly slept. The bad weather conditions kept us going all night. But we were able to put on a successful event and the feedback of the riders and the spectators compensates us for not having been able to attend the parties."
"I am really glad that we were able to carry on with the contest despite the heavy rain and I am very pleased with the show the riders put on," recaps Tarek Rasouli, one of the organisers of the Ride to the Lake. "They were amazing! Fortunately, they were no serious injuries despite these extreme conditions – all riders who crashed got off lightly."