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European tour in just one week.

I’m writing today’s blog whilst on a National Express coach, sat in the car park commonly known as the “M4”. Friday rush hour traffic. Not going anywhere fast. Quite a contrast to the uber-efficient European transport system I’ve been using for most of the last week…

Monday, I flew to Austria. Got picked up by a crazy driver called Steffan, who tried to show me what his “250 horses” powered Audi Quattro could do, on the way to Schladming. He took me to an empty hotel which looked and felt like the one from the film “The Shining”. Luckily, there was no rabid kid growling red rum over and over, and I survived the night.

I was in Schladming to check out the site for the new World Cup 4X track. A new ski piste means we get to build a new 4X for this year’s race in June. The hill is a bit less steep than the old one, which was way too steep at the top to allow for good racing. It looks like we should get a nice track. I’ll be going back to build it in May.

That afternoon, I got picked up by a guy called Uros, who drove me to Maribor in Slovenia, in his Audi Quattro (not so many horses and not such a crazy driver). Maribor will have a new 4X track with some cool sections and maybe even a root section. I didn’t get a chance to see the DH, but they told me it will be even harder than the last one in 2002 (which was pretty tech already). The finish area will be different from the last one, since they too, have built a new ski piste.

The following night I had to get to Val di Sole in Italy. 5 trains through the night got me to the right place. I had to wait for 3 hours in Bolzano from 2 – 5 am. Biggest challenge here was avoiding the resident drunks. Luckily, I managed to negotiate a good deal on a hotel for a few hours.

Val di Sole had me over to meet with an architect to plan out their 2008 Worlds 4X track. I wandered around the site with the architect and his troupe of minions dragging a theodolite around after him. Working with the architect is going to make the work much more complex than necessary, but they told me they have to, for local planning reasons. Oh well, plans look good on paper, although the hill is kind of flat. They’ll hold the Italian 4X champs there this summer (if the architect ever manages to work out what’s going on in my drawings).

By this Sunday I’ll have done 7 countries in 10 days. All pretty full on, so I’m going to try and get some sleep tomorrow. I also need to fit in my social life too somehow. Hmmm. Off to Vigo, Spain on Sunday for the final preparations for the World Cup next weekend. I’ll get back to you then with some news. I seriously hope the 4X riders turn up with their full sus bikes……..

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