Thirteen years after the cruel war ended, the city of Sarajevo flourishes more than ever. With the arrival of better days, the fun of mountain biking has been reinvented. The Savages Crew, consisting of more than 10 keen riders, is building new trails, and every year in July organises TrebaDH race for riders not only from Bosnia and Herzegovina but from all Balkan and some European countries. Muamer Čorambegić gives some useful tips for everyone who goes biking to Sarajevo, describes the local MTB downhill scene and unveils details about how ŠKODA has been developing the sport in the country. The interview with Muamer is accompanied with photos of his team-mate Tarik Hadžić we took on the exact track where the TrebaDH race takes place from June 30 to July 1.
Muamer, who is the founder of the Savages Crew? Who came up with the name and what was the original purpose of the club?
There are several guys who can take credit for the foundation of the Savages Crew, but if I could blame someone for that, it would be Nikola a.k.a. Johnny. He actually started calling us “divljaci” (savages in Bosnian), since at that time we were doing some crazy stuff from building trails to riding and of course fooling around. After that, we all started using that name, and eventually, the Savages Crew was born. In 2015, we were officially registered as the Association for Promotion of Extreme Sports “Savages Crew”, with the purpose to have a legal organisation, a MTB club which would be able to organise races and build trails legally.
How many active members do you have and what’s your main focus?
We have about 10 active members, and 10 more guys ride downhill as part of the Savages Crew. Our goal is to expand and attract more young people to get involved with our organisation and club, and also to promote downhill and MTB in general in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkan region.
What does the MTB DH scene in Sarajevo look like these days?
MTB is expanding in our country for sure. In Sarajevo, the MTB community has grown pretty strong and large in the last few years. I can proudly say that we from the Savages Crew work hard on this as we build trails and are positive and active members of our community that really wants to make an impact.
Can you tell us something about the trails around the city? Is it difficult to keep them in good shape for riding? How much time do you spend maintaining them? How do you deal with the city authorities?
Around Sarajevo, there are lots of trails, but unfortunately not marked as MTB trails. Local authorities do not recognise MTB as they do not recognize cycling in general, but there are always a few exceptions. We have amazing support from institutions that are in charge of the mountain of Trebević, where we spend most of our free time riding and maintaining our trail. It is pretty difficult to take care of it, and building new trails is a slow process since we do not get any financial support from the authorities. We fund pretty much all of our activities on the trail from our personal budget, getting some help from our friends who see our enthusiasm for the sport.
What if I wanted to come to Sarajevo and take a ride on your trails?
Our trail is open to anyone without restrictions. Anyone who comes to Sarajevo and needs help finding a trail is encouraged to let us know, and it will be our pleasure to ride the trail together with them. We managed to legalise the trail and have it recognised as a sports facility. That said, our plan is to work closely with institutions in charge to build more trails on the Trebević and bring MTB closer to everyone.
Do you still feel that the war has affected your riding?
In my opinion, there is no doubt that the war hindered Sarajevo and the whole country from progressing in MTB, and the post-war economic situation is another very strong hindrance in this regard, but there is always a possibility to build some new trails and make things better.
Every year, the Savages Crew organises a big DH event. Can you tell us about it? Will you introduce something new this year?
TrebaDH race is our baby, and there is always space to make it bigger and better. On the first weekend in July, TrebaDH will be organised for the fourth time as UCI DHI race in Class 2. It will also be held as the National Race of Bosnia and Herzegovina and as the Croatian Downhill Cup. What’s new this year is that we have started the project of Balkan Downhill Cup in cooperation with friends from Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Greece, and Cyprus. Our plan and the main goal is to promote MTB in our countries and the region and also to attract more riders to visit various races and to give them more opportunities. This year, we will try to get the best out of this project, and hopefully, more participants will join the BDC next year.
As I have heard, your event is supported by ŠKODA. What does your collaboration look like?
We get amazing support from ŠKODA in Bosnia and Herzegovina and our relationship is just great. They have been our main partner and supporter in our efforts to found and develop the TrebaDH race in the last four years. We are grateful that the people in charge at ŠKODA Car BHZ understand our passion and enthusiasm for what we do. Without them, this would not be possible.
What car from the production list do you consider the most bike-friendly and why?
That is easy! ŠKODA Octavia Scout 4×4 for sure, the car looks like it was made for me (laugh). I love the design, it’s got lots of space for all the equipment that goes with the sport, especially the tools for building trails, and it could take me anywhere in the mountains.