The first sod for the MTB techniques, training and competition track in St. Märgen was turned with the MTB world champion Sabine Spitz and famous representatives from sports and politics. Thanks to the efforts of the local authorities, the district council and the St. Märgen Cycle Club RSV, this unique German project could be realized exclusively by sponsors' allowances and public grants.
World champion Sabine Spitz sitting on a dredger, working on the MTB roller coaster…
St. Märgen builds the first permanent mountainbike training and competition track.
Amazing what this woman is able to do: only a short time ago, Sabine Spitz was awarded the title of MTB world champion. Like no other before, the 31-year-old cyclist from Niederhofen worked the pedals during the Mountainbike World Championship in Lugano. On difficult single trails and steep slopes - an unmanagable horror for hobby cyclists — she first took up the struggle with utmost strength and highest perfection and then left all her competitors behind. It was a cloudy afternoon when the world champion was sitting in the driver's cab of a yellow dredger elegantly moving a joystick and conducting a huge shovel into the earth. Twice - three times - ten times … Sabine Spitz goes on and on.
The material excavated is raised up to a hill: the first jump on Germany's unique permanent mountainbike track! The track - 1.4 km long - must be finished for the MTB German National League's race on August 14th/15th 2004 when the Pfisterwald track has to prove its suitability for the for the first time. It shall later be enlarged to a complete length of 3.5 km.
Working the dredger for an MTB track? Isn't it enough to ride the bike up hill and down dale? “Yes and no”, Sabine Spitz answers and she shows her typical charming smile. Mountainbike cross-country does no longer follow the old physical rule: force multiplied by distance means sweat.
Who wants to keep pace on a national level today is more an artist on his bike than simply a hard worker. Mountainbike competitions are jumps up and downhill, racings over slopes, through dangerous bends and path channels nearly a yard in width. Mountainbiking nowadays is a real challenge for all senses and the whole body. Taking a rest is impossible. No one could be trained for these special demands in the past. With the new MTB track in St. Märgen the situation has changed.
Reinhard Rüffer, head of the St. Märgen cycling club, talks of a tour of ”concentrated challenges”. He is an expert in jumps and obstacles. In the St. Märgen grove ”Rankwald” and at the so-called ”Franzosenschanze”, Rüffer - master chimney sweep by profession but actually thinking about bikes, pinions and spring-forks day in, day out - has built up a jumping course that is regarded as the most difficult MTB track in Germany.
The German U23 Championship as well as two national league's races have successfully been organized by St. Märgen.
It seemed the optimum had already been reached but Rüffer was not satisfied: visitors lost their way in the grove and the track itself- though rich in obstacles - was relatively long. Rüffer's idea was a kind of ”mountainbike roller coaster” - and the first step has now been taken.
The costs of the first part of the 1.4 km long track are estimated at 175.000 Euro. The track is not suited for bikers like Jan Ullrich — he would have to leave the saddle. Trunks are going to block the path, steep bends and a roundabout are planned. Rüffer's eyes are sparkling when he thinks of ”cork-screws”, the ”wonderful compression” and the ”merry-go-round”.
A pilot project that - according to Sabine Spitz - the German cyclists urgently need.
But Rüffer's labyrinth shall not only attract first-class professionals. It is also thought to be a training possibility for the mountainbike youth and, ideally, inspire any courageous MTB hobby cyclist, too - as the mayor of St. Märgen, Mr. Kreutz, hopes.
Gundolf Fleischer, president of the Baden Sports Association BSB regards this first permanent mountainbike track as an important step in this field of sport in whole South Baden.
He is proud of Germany's smallest Olympic cycling base and the most hopeful St. Märgen cyclists riding in the lee of world champion Sabine Spitz, like Benjamin Rudiger, the German junior champion Florian Ackermann and Adelheid Morath. And, of course, Bianca Knöpfle, and, and …
When Gundolf Fleischer goes into raptures, nearly everything is possible.
Reinhard Rüffer should perhaps invite the BSB president to a test training tour when the track has been finished.
We promise to join them - at least on the first few metres across the less demanding ”Mühlenmatte”!
But thinking about riding down the hill our world champion raised up yesterday is a real horror to us.
Text: Johannes Bachmann,
editor of daily paper "Badische Zeitung" (BZ)
Photo: Johannes Bachmann,
BZ sports office