What had once started just as a matter of joy for a handful of enthusiasts has turned into an event with 1,200 registered participants this year but the ultimate goal of the race has remained the same. The riders are required to reach the finish line placed 1,611 meters above sea level after a demanding climb – using bicycles with ridiculously tiny wheels. The 5th year of the annual Red Bull Goni Pony race was traditionally held in Kranjska Gora in Slovenia.
It took the winner only 44 minutes and 30 seconds to get to the Vršić Pass after 13.5 kilometres of exhausting climbing. The route comprised of 24 paved hairpin bends ascending 801 vertical meters and an average incline of 10.8 %.
The rules allow using only the so-called Pony bikes in their original state, which means steel frames, 20-inch wheels and, at least, a rear brake. Using any kind of propulsion mechanism is strictly prohibited. The original bike was introduced back in the 60s and was a must-have in almost every Slovenian household. As you can see in the photos, one of the most important parts of the competing is a proper dress code. There were ‘fashion-police’ checkpoints scattered along the route to catch a glimpse of the best-styled riders on the course to reward them with special prizes.
As the cyclists had to get back to the valley after the race was over, the organisers advised all participants to make mandatory stopovers at the fire hose stands while riding downhill. The old brakes get hot by friction so fast while descending that they need to be cooled down.
If you missed this year’s event, stay on alert for the next edition in spring 2020.