Back to the real world, after 10 days in Serbia and 2 weeks off work certainly is feeling weird, but what an event! So much was happening it seemed to fly by! Here’s some of the best bits (that I remember):
I met Connor Smout at Birmingham Airport, on the Evening of 30th August ready to fly out to Belgrade via Munich. No delays, lovely beers in Munich for the changeover wait and an awesome 4 star hotel in Belgrade for 1 night.
On Sunday we made the Journey up from Belgrade to Novi Sad, via Taxi & Train. Surprisingly it all went off without a hitch, despite being shouted at by some mad Serbian woman working at the train station..
The arrival at the rider’s hostel was pretty damn exciting, the sun came out and we had a dip in the pool, a few beers and got to know the Polish riders that arrived the day before, not to mention the lovely Di Ana being very welcoming! We paid a quick visit to the track late afternoon/early evening for an hour or so, little did we know it would be the fastest ride of the track all holiday. fun none the less!
After sinking a cheap beer or 4 (80p a pint equivilent!) we decided to go to a Pub in Novi Sad city centre, with 4 of the Polish guys (Marcin, Jakub, Kuba & Maceij). They promised to stick to beer and that night almost went on until almost morning, fucking awesome night, their english was amazing!
On the Monday, a few more riders arrived, mostly the Romanians, Bogdan, Sonia, Erica etc! Again, after a few beers we hitched a lift to the track, it started to rain, but it was still rideable and definitely better for practice. Connor was already absolutely killing it, keeping right on Bobby’s tail all the way down, whilst I was still practicing little sections at a time!
Tuesday and Wednesday is when the rain really started to come, so, as you do when there’s cheap beer at the bar.. start drinking early afternoon and quickly realise you might not see darkness. More riders arrived too, Romanians, Polish, Americans, Russians, Belgians and the rest of Team GB!
Thursday was meant to be the official track practice day, but again the rain kept us away.. :( But Mountainboarders don’t give up, so we all went to Novi Sad Skatepark! Every rider absolutely killed it and it was a joy to watch! From Arno VDV’s huge air teaked grabs to Natasha Chernikova’s big 50/50 rail grind and the Wanklyn Brother’s synchronized 360’s!
Friday was much the same weather wise, which forced the organisers to completely cancel the Qualifying day at the track. So we all registered and paid for Saturday, then headed up into ‘Bobba’s Wood’.. a forest freeride spot that just caped everyone’s tyres in thick mud! The riders that stood out here were definitely Beiran, Connor & TJ, showing people how to ride fast with no fuckin’ grip. A tiring but awesome day all in all.
Saturday, Race Day dawned, everyone was up early and eager to get to the track before 10am. Nerves were setting in hard, despite mentally knowing it would be a near impossibility to get into the top 32 for me. Sure enough I came 47th / 52 but the rest of Team GB absolutely killed it, with Brindy, Beiran, Connor and James Wanklyn all in the Semi finals (last 8) and Leon Dove in the Masters Final! Lots of surprises occurred, with Kody Stewart not getting past the quarters, due to sliding out once and Tommy D with mild concussion, from an earlier race, unable to race as hard as usual.
No one could of predicted what would happen in the Finals for every category.. but for sure Brindy was the favourite for the Open and definitely lived up to expectation, with at least a 2 second gap by the final 2 corners. Everyone felt for James W, when unfortunately an overtake attempt by Evgeny caused him to slide on the last corner and take 4th. Leon Dove was also unlucky in the Masters final not to take the win, when an overtake chance on Diego caused him to slide and not able to recover his chances, but still an incredible race to watch!
Saturday night was amazing and a great celebration with all the riders, but I cut it reasonably short as I had made plans to go Longboard in Belgrade, the following morning with Jovan from Longboard Serbia! From what Jovan had told me on Facebook, they had a few mellow Downhill spots.. after walking up the first road for nearly 20 minutes, I was pretty sure that wasn’t the case! Most of the riders were beginners, but they were all awesome and very friendly. The main Downhill lasted 3 and a half minutes of almost constant speed tucking and no slides required. Sweet! :)
I followed Jovan down one run, we averaged about 20mph, this was the outcome:
Definitely the best Longboard scene I’ve come across so far, outside the UK and I will definitely have to go back to just Longboard again. It also might be an idea to bring some bigger wheels, than my worn 57mm odd Cult Chronicles..! Thanks again Jovan for the lifts! Go there!
After a hectic week it was sad to see most people leaving on Monday, but myself and Connor rested up as our flight back was on Tuesday. I didn’t want to leave by the end.. despite having the rest of the week off work. I could go on and on about awesome Serbia is as a country, it certainly surpassed expectations! Until next year.. cheers.