Lampkin's love affair with Erzberg

Dougie Lampkin has felt pain as well as joy at the Red Bull Hare Scramble, but he still loves it.
Dougie Lampkin at full throttle at Red Bull Hare Scramble 2011
Dougie Lampkin at the Erzberg Rodeo 2011 © Erwin Polanc/Red Bull Content Pool
By Joseph Caron Dawe

After finishing second at last year's event, the Gas Gas rider is returning for more at the Iron Mountain in 2012 and is delighted to see the competition going from strength to strength.

Wet met up with the 12-time trials world champion to hear how impressed Dougie is with the overall atmosphere, how it compares to other riding experiences, and who he fancies (apart from himself, of course) to win on Sunday.

How does riding at the Red Bull Erzberg Rodeo differ to other events?
This is a great event because after so many championships and so many years of riding under pressure and expectation for results I can really enjoy this one. It's not just about results for me any more, although that competitiveness will never leave me. I'll always be like a bull out of a gate when I get off that start line, I can't help that. But riding without the pressure – I enjoy it loads.

How does the atmosphere and spirit of the event compare to others you've ridden at?
When you get into the no-help zone, people are shouting you along even though they can't help you, and that means a lot. Random people pass you water bottles, and that's what Erzberg is all about, they appreciate what you're doing and if they can help you in any way, they will. That's why the event is so massive. It's more than an event, it's a festival.

You have so many people here who have no chance of qualifying for Sunday – if they do they'll destroy their bikes and it'll cost them a fortune – but they still come. How does that work?! I'm not sure, but it does, and there's over 1,000 on the waiting list and 1,800 entries!

Tell us about the race and its demands, particularly on someone like you who is more used to riding trials...
This is a slog. It takes just over two hours, but feels like six or eight, you just can't believe it. You need to push it for the whole time, that's why it feels so tough. They say it's easier this year, but there's no way it is!

I'm not a racing Enduro rider, I don't have the speed to compete anywhere near these top lads. But come Sunday when it's time to really dig deep and I've got that first 20 minutes out of the way, once we get in that mud, it really separates the men from the boys.

My favourite bit is after 20 minutes of the main event, once you're out of the quarry and away from the majority of the other riders and you get onto the hillside where it all slows down. That's where you really roll your sleeves up and dig in. That's where it really starts for me.

© Bull Content Pool

Have you done anything special to set yourself up for the demands of Erzberg?
I haven't! I've been doing a lot of filming and advertising for the Olympics, doing television stuff, different commitments with Red Bull. I enjoy it all. I'm supposed to be semi-retired but I've actually got a lot busier! It's all good.

I've not really prepared for this event, but to be honest I didn't really prepare for it last year. It's getting harder and harder and the riders are getting more and more professional and concentrating on this like it's its own discipline. Two or three years ago it was something the factories sent their best trials rider to have a go at it. Now they're treating it as a proper championship. I'm really pleased because it deserves it, it's a fantastic discipline and I'm glad it's getting this type of support.

Looking at some of the talent on display, who are you tipping as frontrunners?
There are some very strong riders this year so it will be a very tough one. I'm talking especially about [Jonny] Walker and [Graham] Jarvis – that will be a scrap right to the end if they get a good start and aren't held up at all. That will be an amazing battle.

There are a lot of other talented riders too, like Taichi Tanaka from Japan. He came here last year and started from the fourth row after crashing on the prologue, and then finished seventh in the race. You can't discount anybody who finished here last year from winning it this time around.

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