Red Bull Erzbergrodeo – do you know its history?
The 27th edition of the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo 2023 came to an end just a week ago. As usual, it took place in Austria near the historic mining centre of Eisenerz. Erzberg, in fact, means ‘Iron Mountain’ and is the largest iron ore basin in central Europe.
The event, which is probably the most famous hard enduro race in the world, saw more than 1,500 riders at the start. But only the 500 most skilful and fastest riders managed to grab the chance to enter the Main Race, which was run on Sunday, 11 June. And if the prologue eliminated a large chunk of the riders, the Sunday race made a real killing. Out of 500 starters, only 17 saw the chequered flag, and not before overcoming difficult courses, technical sections and checkpoints. With thousands of fans cheering and applauding the riders at every lap, the small town of about 5,000 inhabitants came, as it does every year, to over 40,000 people including visitors, riders and accompanying caravans.
Ph: Redbull ErzbergRodeo
This year, for the second year in a row, it was the German rider Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM), class of 1998, who won. Manuel crossed the finish line about half an hour ahead of his near-peer British rider Billi Bolt (Husqvarna). Third was Canadian Trystan Hart (KTM), a good fifteen minutes behind Bolt.
The origins of Erzbergrodeo
But how did this race come about? What are the origins of this legendary race that attracts thousands of riders from all over the world?
If over 1,500 hard enduro riders come from all over the world to a small town in the heart of Europe to challenge the majestic ‘iron mountain’, there must be a reason. And it is certainly not prize money or anything else… in fact, what drives these riders is the myth. The myth of the Erzbergrodeo. And it is a myth that attracts hundreds of pilots who have been making the pilgrimage to Eisenrz for almost thirty years. Thousands of kilometres of travelling for four days of hard work and sweat, excitement and adrenaline, but also disappointment for those who do not make it to qualify.
Ph: Redbull ErzbergRodeo
And who was it who came up with this winning formula, capable of gaining in popularity year after year?
Karl Katoch, the pioneer
It was Karl Katoch, https://www.instagram.com/katoch_karl/ who started the first edition of the famous race. One day, while riding his motorbike, Karl had arrived near the Erzberg mountain and was literally fascinated by the scenery that presented itself before him. The Austrian Karl, a municipal official in Vienna for over 30 years, decided in 1995 to organise a race in this magical place that would later become the world’s biggest off-road enduro motorbike event, the Erzbergrodeo.
His passion for enduro and adventure, his mania for riding off-road motorbikes on possible and impossible routes, had allowed him to create the winning formula for a race that, in its first edition, had already attracted no less than 180 riders who had flocked from all over the world to challenge that Austrian iron mountain. The year after that, the number of participants had doubled, and in the following years the number of entries continued to rise.
Of course, the running of the event has changed since the first race, but the enthusiasm and sense of challenge that the race is still able to convey today has not changed. And it continues to attract both amateur and professional riders, such as Gio Sala, David Knight, Graham Jarvis or Cyril Despres, just to name a few celebrities who have participated in the event over the years. And from year to year, the difficulty keeps increasing and the challenge to the ‘big iron mountain’ has become synonymous with determination and grit, as well as pure fun and adrenaline.
Photo by Sebastian Pichler on Unsplash
Since 2022, the Erzbergrodeo has gained further importance; in fact, the race has become a full part of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship.
And you, would you like to try and be one of the thousands of riders ready for the impossible? Of course, to be able to try, you need a lot of training, both in terms of speed and technique.
Enduro Experience Croatia helps you prepare for it. Check out the climb that awaits you!
We have some very challenging routes on which you can train to arrive at the next event in super shape. We take care of everything, from accommodation to meals, we also help you with mechanical assistance, you can focus just on driving and honing your riding skills.
We look forward to seeing you. For information and bookings, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and take a look at our gallery: https://enduroexperience-croatia.com/it/gallery/enduro-stories/