Ratboy, The Deakinator, Whipmer & Co. Get the Crowds Roaring
Only the wind, that picked up on Sunday afternoon, prevented the Slopestyle contest from going off as planned, but it still didn’t deter the riders from putting on a show for the crowd during a jam. 40,000 spectators spent four days watching the raddest riders compete in ten contests during Germany’s biggest gravity festival.
2,000 athletes made their way to Bikepark Winterberg from May 30 to June 2 to celebrate their passion for bikes and meet the fans. Eleven different disciplines were on the cards, offering an immense variety of two-wheeled goodness: BMO Four Cross, Braaap Off’s, Bunny Hop Battle, Kenda Enduro One, iXS Downhill Cup, Pumptrack Race, Rose Best of Ten, Continental Slopestyle, Sparkassen Kids Race, Specialized Rookies Downhill Cup und Warsteiner Whip Offs powered by Spank.
Riders with sick style and the fastest high-speed athletes showcased what is possible on mountain bikes of all categories and the mixed mass of spectators from families to core supporters all came together to enjoy one big mountain bike party.
We took the chance to speak to three of the many athletes about the impressions they are taking home after having spent 4 days at the epicenter of the German gravity scene.
How many times have you been here? What is your impression of the festival?
Josh „Ratboy“ Bryceland (GBR): “It is my first time here and it has been a bit of a surprise really. I thought it was going to be a small event and it has been absolutely rammed since Thursday. For how small the hill is, they have got a lot of good features, the Downhill is super fun and the jump area is absolutely buzzing. When there are no events on during the day, there are kids on BMX bikes to people on Downhill bikes and everyone in between, all getting involved. And that is what it is all about. There is no separation between the riders, just people riding. That is all that matters, isn’t it? I had a really fun week. I’m all about coming back next year.”
Fabio „Whipmer“ Wibmer (AUT): “I have been here four times already and enjoy it every year. Dirt Masters is all about the fans. I have never experienced crazier spectators than here. They all make it to what it is: an absolutely unique experience.”
Ben „The Deakinator“ Deakin (GBR): “This is my fourth time, normally I am here with DMR Bikes, but they are in Fort William. So, me and Sam (Reynolds) came on a last minute whim. I told him that the Whip Off’s is insane. It was all good fun and a good laugh. The people here are insane. All in, when you think about the weekend you have got Downhill, Four Cross, Whip Off’s, Slopestyle… it’s all going off. It’s real good vibes here.”
Describe the iXS Dirt Masters Festival in three words
Bryceland: „Proper crazy Germans!“
Wibmer: „Just absolutely mental!“
Deakin: „Pretty bloody oioi!“
Josh, Fabio, what did you think of the Warsteiner Whip Off’s powered by Spank?
Bryceland: „“It’s f$%&ing booming! It is up there with the best Whip Off contests for sure. Whistler is really big, but this is on par, which is crazy because it isn’t Crankworx. I’m impressed, man. Impressed. I f$%&ing loved it. Just riding with everyone, watching them go up that take off, just leaning in… Aww man it is such a good feeling. Doesn’t really feel like a comp at all, it’s a jam.”
Wibmer: “I don’t believe there is a crazier event all year. Absolute escalation! The atmosphere is just one of a kind, just super stoked, great vibes. Getting second behind Sam Hockenhull (GBR) is awesome and it was super close. It was pretty legendary and I am happy for him to win the Wildcard for Crankworx Innsbruck.”
Ben, you also took part in the Downhill race. When you are in the start gate do you get anxious with ambition?
Deakin: “I think overall being here is literally about the core of mountain biking. It is an answer to the question ‘why did you start mountain biking?’ The racing in my eyes takes a second step. It’s about spending time with your mates, doing loads of runs and spending time on your bike. And not to forget getting awesome shots at the Whip Off’s (laughs)! Personally it was also the first time for me really competing since breaking my arm seven weeks back. I rode around my local woods last week and thought ‘screw it’ and decided to come.”
Ben, being an instructor yourself how important are festivals like this one, speaking to the core scene and encouraging the progression of the next generation of riders?
Deakin: “I think it is awesome. During the week they had the Downhill racing for the younger age groups and they basically ride a similar toned-down track as we did. If you can get kids into mountain biking at a young age and as a parent make sure, that they are in it for the right reasons and don’t feel pressured, that’s great. It’s all about fun. If they can encourage that, like they do here, with small things such as the pump track and fun races, it will lead to progression and it is great to see riders, who started out young gradually take the next steps and move on to the bigger contests such as Whip Off’s or Downhill for instance.”
After fours days of mountain bike madness it became evident that it was a record-breaking event. The 40,000 spectators created an electrifying atmosphere and event organizer Frank Weckert was more than pleased with the result: “The iXS Dirt Masters Festival was a great success and succeeded our expectations. There were a lot of great national and international athletes here and the events for children and families were extremely well received. This weekend proved how significant the iXS Dirt Masters Festival is for the gravity scene here. The great weather certainly played a part as well. Still, we stand here with heavy hearts despite all the positivity after the tragic incident that happened on Saturday.”
The festival was overshadowed by a tragic incident on nearby trails. The incident was not contest related, but occurred in the bike park on Saturday during regular opening hours. The involved rider sadly passed away in hospital. “We are devastated. Out thoughts are with the family and friends. The circumstances are still being determined and as of now we can’t give any more comment,” Nico Brinkmann, CEO of Bikepark Winterberg.
Der Abschlusstag am Sonntag fand daher ohne musikalische Begleitung der Wettkämpfe statt.