Just like we have our downtown tour in the Czech Republic (www.czechdt.cz), most of the European countries are similar. One of the best tours, the Italian Urban Down Alley series, has already started the 2017 season. With second race on the island of Elba, the Czech group Pirata.cz could not miss being there.
About ten days ago, we received a pretty big email. Just a week after our race Mercedes-Benz S. & W. Automobily Downtown Jáchymov we had to lift the anchors and move to the Italian island of Elba where the first race of the Urban Down Alley series takes place. When the invitation came, we did not hesitate. We only tried to negotiate one more seat for a rider. We wanted to take Marek Petelík, Ambassador of the Czech Downtown Tour 2017, with a clear answer: “Marek will come with you!” Of course they agreed, they are already familiar with this fast rider in Italy because he finished 3rd in a race of the same series last year, located in San Remo. So it was clear. Departure direction Elba with Pirata.cz (Souky, Šmejky) and shooter Marek Petelik (JCbike WHIPMASTER CTM team).
After a thirteen-hour drive from Karlovy Vary, we finally arrived at Piombino, where we boarded a ferry. It was raining all the way and a few centimeters of snow was waiting in Brenner on our summer tyres, wich did not speed up the journey. But as soon as we jumped on the ferry, it seemed as if all the wait was worth it. Azuro and the Elba Island. We were surprised at the beginning how mountainous the island is and how beautiful nature is here. As if you were going to an island without people. Really beautiful. After a few minutes we were commuting to Rio Nell’elba, where the second race of the series took place. The local organizer is VisitElba, who invited us to the race. Immediately upon arrival, the speakers took care of us, Marek got the number plate and we all went to the trackwalk. First half of the track was classic downhill. Trails were used from the local trail park. Passages covered with dust and cactuses. Second half was pure downtown. Extremely narrow alleys combined with stairs, loud Italians and such nice 25 °C … together a track with enormous potential for one of the most entertaining tracks in Europe that I have ever seen. Unfortunately, local organizers were afraid to make the most of it and except for three pallets, there was no single jump, no drop or no gap. The most interesting place on the track, from the viewer’s point of view, was the DH passage and the “Cactus zone” as we called this murderous place. Marek went for training before qualification and we learned that there were quite good riders at the start. There were boys with scalps and the World Cup, and not small one (15th place). Marek had couple of runs before the qualification and complained only about one dust spot which were sinking. We are in a good position in the town where Marek passed around us very quickly, so we are in a hurry to go to the finish line. Unfortunately, Marek’s turn gave him a good spit, and Marek had to collect the bike from ground. It was the tenth place, the loss of 6 seconds with the fall, so we thought there is no need to be worried. Not a big deal, when the race goes on three rounds and the fastest one counts. At least we were told this. Unfortunately, information was not very reliable. The training started an hour later, qualification two hours later. One Italian organizer will tell you this, another organizer something else and the universal answer was “Relax, soon”.
We then drove to a hotel where most riders slept. Beautiful location about 10 m from the beach. For dinner, we had to walk couple of meters, but we were positively surprised. Absolutely amazing restaurant, friendly service, although level of English was similar to Italian pasta and three-course meal of Czech restaurants. Massacre of taste. Beer with riders and soon to sleep, because the final day is waiting for us. In the morning, we see three times of runs written on the paper. First, second and third run. The first run starts two hours later. The second run after the break with three-hour delay, and then comes a suprising information when Marek is determined to make clean turn, because it did him big trouble in both runs. The third run is off the table! What! End. The announcements are next. I hear Marek’s “Oh” to this day. When you count on something and eventually it will not happen, what can you do. It is not worth complaining, because also the guys will not be able to understand you, so Marek had to satisfy with the sixth overall position.
If I had to evaluate the whole trip, then Elba was the biggest surprise for me. Beautiful mountainous island, which is also perfect for biker vacation. Trail Park with 100 km of trails, freeride where you look, picturesque town, incredibly fine cuisine, and Italian residents who will do everything for you. All of us have come to visit this place some time, whether to race or just relax actively in the saddle of the bikes.
And as Mára Petelík saw it: “It was one of the most beautiful races I have ever attended. Besides being a racer, I am also a total LIFE ENJOYER and I have been a bit in my world since sunrise on the ferry. To enjoy a moment. The nature, the warmth, the sea, being cut off from the world, on bike. Nothing more. Maybe it eventually had an effect on such a not good result ….. I don’t like to lose usually and keep the bad feeling in me for a long time. I clearly had more expectations, though. In San Remo, I got much better result. Here it was a bit different. Already because of the slight confusion in the organization during the training I was a little dull and stopped taking the race so seriously. I enjoyed lifts on the car, looking at the sea from the starting point, drinking water directly from the spring, the sun and basically forgot about the whole racing a bit. That led to my mistakes on the track ….. That I waited for the most important third round of the race and suddenly I see that the announcements are already going on, it could not make me frustrated, I was just so happy. Top gang, best food, great people, great accompany of us from VisitElba and I enjoyed the riding very much. Thanks for the opportunity, Marek”.
Soon on bike!
Author: Pirata.cz and Mára Petelík