A few months ago I met Nadim on a friend’s house in Malaga after Velefique’s freeride, and he told us about a freeride they were organizing in his country: several tracks, nice hairpins and, most importantly, about a week of freeriding.
“Come to Slovenia!” he said, and even though we never considered riding in that part of Europe, we agreed to what we expected to be some crazy trip to visit some friends and ride with the few locals.
A couple of weeks later I got a call from a friend, “Dude, you have to check that KNK camp Nadim told us about, it’s sick! It’s on the internet, go fast for the inscription because people from all around is going crazy.” So I searched on the internet what the KNK camp was about.
It turned out that KNK was about a long week of all day freeride runs in Olsinica, a small town right next to the croatian border, where we had a nice camp zone next to the river, a party zone, cheap food and, most importantly, two lift buses waiting to ride us up to two sick tracks the whole day. It was an impressively big event. But the most important thing on a longboard event are the tracks, and the tracks were amazing.
First we got the Vixxens, a 6 km long road with soft wide turns which was the easy track. Then we got the Bear Guts, the main attraction: 18 hairpins and 14% of average drop in 4 long kilometres of well paved road. A whole week of freeride on different tracks for 100 euros? I inscribed myself as fast as I could and I wasn’t the only one, pretty soon it was 200 of us who were already in.
KNK turned out to be the trending topic on the European longboard scene. So much expectation for an event that big on such an inhospitable place for most of us. On any other race this summer people were asking the same thing, “Are you going to Slovenia?”
Yes we did. The day after Verdicchio’s race we drove our asses to Slovenia, all across Croatia and dealed with the duane cops. I must say we were lucky on the border, as crossing it only took half an hour and we were told it was way harder for other riders, as our Swiss friend who forgot his documents back home and had to go back by his own to his embassy on Zagreb in order to do make it to Slovenia. We got there by the afternoon of the second day and set the camps with the spaniards. A friend told me “Do you see that big clear rock up there? Do you see the hairpins? This is Bear Guts”.
We were amazed, we were standing in the middle of a small valley, surrounded by green mountains and a a river, and we had those great views of the massive hill we’d be riding soon. We asked our friends how the things had ben going for the first days. They told us that the tracks were dope, but the first day was really hard for the organizers as this was their first event there and that they found out how damn hard is to manage two huge hills and 200 riders. Organizers had a lot of problems and the riders could only have three runs that first day. But experience was stored, decisions were taken and problems were about to be solved for the upcoming days.
By that night we discovered the party zone. A firepit, some booze and great music brought to us by a bunch of extra nice locals who took care of all of rider’s needs during the freeride and during the party.
There at the party zone I realised something different between KNK and other longboard events were I had been. Despite the big amount of riders, the atmosphere was more familiar, mellower than any other event. I guess such a big event out of the standard competition was not that interesting for riders trying to score points and get their sponsors happy and was more about having fun out of longboarding for a whole week with your friends, and this is what took all that competition tension away.
I was thinking about this when I found the best example of it, there it was that german fella wearing a t-shirt with something on it, “BROS BEFORE PROS“. I applauded internally and said to myself I had to get one of those, but I wasn’t the only one amazed by the t-shirt and they ran out of them way before I could get mine.
Next day, first ride. I missed the first run of the day and had to wait down the hill and see everyone come down. There was a lot of people coming down and they looked exhausted. I was getting nervous. I got onto the bus and had my first lift up. The road was amazing. I got up and met my friends at the top, we shared opinions. I was told that Vixxens was a great easy road, wide and grippy, really good for tucking and drafting which was great for a lot of people, but I wanted to get better at harder roads so I asked about Bear Guts and went for it.
I felt in love with that road. It was long, it was hard, great light and views, different sections, so many turns, really nice pavement. I felt exhausted just like the other guys but I just wanted to ride it again. Pure anxiety.
Anxious was not at all the best mood to be in KNK. As I said, it was a big road and a lot of people, so even though things improved a lot on the secodn day and kept improving further on, we had to get used to be patient in between runs. In addition, such a gnarly road was dangerous and hard to protect, so it was better to ride it mellowly if you wanted to make it to the last day. In that context, organizers decided to invest the 1000 euros of price money on an extra ambulance, something that we all applauded.
Since then people started to realise that we had plenty of time for riding during such a long event and started enjoying the time in between runs for chatting, eating or taking a nap. Some “entrepreneurs” setted their stands on the top of the hill and people enjoyed watching and getting on camera a good bunch of riders who freestyled on the starting line. People was getting happier and happier as days went by. We realised how great it was to be outside of the world for a whole week just enjoying nature, partying with new and old friends from all around the globe and just worrying about riding that sick ass hill so many times that you get to know any single inch of it.
Our Slovenian friends worked so hard so we could have an awesome week. And they succeeded. No one had ever done such a long event and it was the best ever for most of us.
Such an experience so intense in so many aspects its hard to summarise, but my perception is that I’ve been living on a DH uthopy for a big piece of time, and it is how longboard events shall always be. Can’t wait to ride Bear Guts again.