The COVID crisis has changed much about daily life, often for the worse and less colourful, as events are cancelled and replacements often found wanting in terms of contact, excitement and human warmth. It’s thus reassuring to see familiar marks in the calendar come around without a cancellation or postponement, as is the case with the famed Red Bull Goni Pony (“peddle your Pony”), taking place this year on 5th September.
On this day, a Saturday, one the strangest races in Slovenia is open to all those who register, have access to an appropriate bicycle – the small, foldable “Pony” that gives the race its name – and are ready for a retro festival of old bikes, old clothes, and an old-fashioned ride to the top of Vršič Pass, an journey most recommend making by car.
The race is open to the first 500 people who register and pay the €25 fee within 72 hours, but sadly for all interested readers without tickets these sold out weeks ago. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the day, though, with a trip to the mountains and a chance to see other people huff, puff and sweat their way to the top.
The race will see the daring competitors cycle a 13.5 km course with an elevation of 801 metres. Not an easy task, even on a full-sized bike with gears, never mind a pocket model like the Pony, with 20” wheels. What’s more, many entrants will be dressed in vintage clothing from the 60s to 80s – the heyday of this beloved but often impractical bike– and there’s a competition for the best costume that takes place at 14:00 in Kranjska gora, where the race itself starts at 15:00.
Since this is a road race that means there will be road closures, and the Vršič Pass will be closed from 14:.30 to 18:00 on Saturday 5 September. More details at the official Red Bull Goni Pony site