Erzbergrodeo: Off-Road Racing the Austrian Way

When it comes to off road racing there are plenty of opportunities to tackle trails in locations that require a passport.  And for those who are addicted to rides on two wheels, the Erzbergrodeo, based in Erzberg, Austria is the premier dirt bike event if you want to show off some well-rounded riding skills.

While most dirt bike races focus on a single kind of riding, the Erzbergrodeo is a conglomeration of all skill competitions mashed into an epic series of events that is billed as the toughest one-day race in the world. With only 500 starting spots in the event, which is sponsored by the thrill-loving Red Bull, getting a spot in the event is a coveted experience. The coolest part: since entries are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, the Erzbergrodeo puts amateur racers and seasoned professionals on the same course – with everybody getting an equal chance to go home with the title. If you’re wondering just how popular this unique event is, the proof is in the pudding: in 2012, race registration was activated and pulled off-line all within 49 minutes. Within 24 hours of entries opening; they were full.

However, beyond the frenzied race action, the Erzbergrodeo draws in a vast following of spectators with multi-day action. One day, they’re drawn to what promoters call the “Rocket Ride,” which leaves competitors face to face with a furious hill climb designed to allow for wide open action.

After the hill climb, the “Hare Scramble” allows an additional 500 competitors to show off their stuff on a treacherous 25 kilometer course with a four hour time limit. While this particular event’s format mimics enduro-rides, participants will have to brave uncommonly difficult terrain and successfully check-in at 20 points with little to no help from spectators. (Although, spectators can assist riders at certain points in the course.) Sounds like the ultimate spectator experience, right?

The third event at Erzberg is the Iron Road prologue in which riders brave a gnarly gravel road at 13.5 kilometers in length. The winner needs to choose the right line and then pray that they don’t get tangled up with one of the other riders – who don’t all happen to be on dirt bikes. The novelty of this race is that any two-wheeled ride even sort of resembling a motorcycle can compete as long as it passes a tech and safety inspection. We’re talking everything from scooters to Harley’s here…On a sketchy surface; all for the chance to advance to the Hare Scramble as a top 500 finisher.

So if thrill is what you’re after, Erzberg may be your destination. While registration can be a race against the clock, this is one of those places that being a spectator is a sport in itself; so why not expand your horizons and see what Austria has to offer for your next off-road adventure.