5-Hour Coverage Of The Erzbergrodeo Is The Insomniac’s Dream

Gal Gadot, a dream interrupted, and the schadenfreude of the world’s toughest off-road race

The Erzbergrodeo, which takes place in a working mine in Austria, is generally regarded as the toughest single-day off-road race in the world. When the event's organizer says he tries to design an unfinishable course, it's not likely to be the average Sunday ride for most of the entrants. Harrowing? Yes. Fun? Less so.

Even though I grew up riding in the dirt, I transitioned to road-only riding at 16. I would love to get a dirt bike and rekindle the romance, but truth be told, I've got mixed feelings about it.

I vividly remember being marooned on steep hillsides on my beloved first bike (a Honda XR80R), yelling for help into a seemingly empty void as my dad and brother sped into the distance, my youthful fear and active imagination getting the better of me: “I can’t feel my legs! Is that a buzzard circling above me? If I lose consciousness from dehydration, will I be able to skip my math test on Monday? Oh my gosh, is that a scratch on the XR’s fuel tank?!”

Youthful histrionics aside, there’s nothing like a day in the dirt to make you feel like a complete novice on a motorcycle.

However, watching some good dirt biking to revel in the schadenfreude as scores of highly gifted riders get stuck on the Three Kings ascent at Erzberg is another story.

If, like me, you suffer from the occasional bout of insomnia, or (also like me) you have a fussy newborn baby who interrupts seemingly every good dream with a piercing two-stroke-without-a-pipe shriek right at the very moment that, say, Gal Gadot wearing a "kiss the cook" apron is—in said dream—placing before you (with knife and fork in hand) a piping hot platter of brisket, leaving you to forever wonder what could have been in this great dream of yours, then you'll know that watching a five-hour video of dirt bikers getting stuck on Austrian mountain sides, fighting gravity and frustration with every fiber of their being, is a palliative tool as useful as ZZZquil and a mug of Old Grand-Dad.

There’s also a considerably shorter highlight reel if you aren’t plagued by insomnia or don’t have a newborn baby.