LEGAL DEEPER – THE COAL MINE DESCENT!
DESCENDING TO 250 METERS DEEP SURFACE COAL MINE WITH RICHARD GASPEROTTI
Despite his Italian name and hot-blooded temperament, Richard Gasperotti is a biker born, raised and living in the Czech Republic. Even though he failed to conquer a surface coal mine Bílína by bike earlier this year, the biker did not give up. After a few months break, he returned to the spot with the entire “Kill Hill!“ filming crew to give it another try. Apart from challenging the 250 slopes of the mine, there was one more task Gaspi desired to complete: to confront the old demons from his childhood.
GASPI’S CHILDHOOD DEMONS
Except for the state authorities, everybody calls him Gaspi. The 44-year old rider from the Norther Bohemia has not been in the mine for the first time. As he spent his childhood living in a town nearby, he remembers watching the dark area with high terraces from a safe distance. The surface mine resembled him a living organism as it migrated across the country through the excavating process. Gaspi enjoyed the big machines that crawled over the surface to gain valuable coal. He remembers the deep hole in the ground that could have moved up to 100 metres a year. The mine area, which is now owned by Severočeské doly company, had employed Gaspi’s imagination for many years.
After a few illegal attempts to ride in the slopes in the abandoned parts of the excavations site, he found out that this was not the way he wanted to follow. With a couple of starts at the Red Bull Rampage and the career of a professional biker under his belt, he eventually made it to arrange a meeting with the current management that agreed that Gaspi could have entered the site legally. In the end, getting official approval turned out to be a surprisingly feasible goal.
RIDING THE MINES IS A WHOLE NEW GAME
The mine is a beach without parasols nor a chilling breeze.
The crew visited the mining site in spring 2021 to explore the terrain, yet heavy rain made most of the site nearly impassable. The visit was not entirely fruitless, though. The team learned that riding in the mine demands a different approach from what Gaspi experienced at the slopes of the Mongolian Altai Mountains or the Mount Vesuvius volcano in Italy.
While entering the location, every visitor is obliged to keep lots of safety rules. Activities in the mine area are regulated by mining law, and every step is under permanent surveillance. Local occupational health and safety authorities take care of that everybody around keeps the rules seriously. Neither the company management nor Gaspi’s team would voluntarily become a mine accident victim, be it an unexpected cave-in or a slide from a pile of excavated earth.
Observing the operations in the 40 km2 large-scale open-pit mining makes the visitor think about the facility importance for the Czech energy industry. Even though the machines working at the bottom of the mine might resemble the kids’ toys from the drone perspective, they are not toys at all. For example, the K10 000 bucket-wheel excavator is anything but a toy. The 6000 tons heavy machine can dig out 10,000 cubic metres of earth per hour. The excavator is not only one of the biggest machines in the country, but it’s arguably one of the most stunning machines that man has ever built.
At the end of the spring, Gaspi visited the site with his old good-fellow and awarded photographer Miloš Štáfek who took a couple of beautiful shots despite foul weather. Gaspi promised to come back and shoot a video with the whole filming crew.
Gaspi gathered filmmakers, audiovisual artists, experienced bikers and old friends into the crew named Kill Hill! The temperatures in the second week in August 2021 attacked 30 degrees of Celsius. In the mine pit, the temperature rose by 10 degrees or even more. The most important task of a two day-filming schedule was to find a line that starts at the highest point of the mine and goes down to the bottom, which has the same level as the surface of the Baltic sea. The show was about to start.
From watching a short video, one could think that Gaspi just went down, brake-less and taking the shortest line possible. The truth was way more complicated, though. The most important goal was to avoid the working machines at any rate. Gaspi was not permitted to use main roads, either. Patočkovi brothers from the safety department kept an eye if anyone from the crew respected the rules. Some sections were passable only after meticulous preparation. Given that, Gaspi’s ride to fulfil his child’s dreams was a subject of well-planned actions. In the summer heat, it was an incredible challenge for anyone involved.
If someone asked to compare filming in the mine, I would say try walking across the beach for two days in the high season. The only difference is that the ash-like black sand carves deep in every pore of your skin and ends in every fold of your cloth. The equipment has not been spared, either. The mine is a beach without parasols nor a chilling breeze.
WATCH THE VIDEO NOW
Did Gaspi enjoy being very likely the first man in history to have a bike ride in the mine that has been probably redesigned by excavators ever since? Did he make it to deal with his old demons? Watch the Legal Deeper video to learn more.
LEGAL DEEPER by:
Rider: Richard Gasperotti
Photographer: Miloš Štáfek
A Cam and Drone: Márty Smolík
B Cam and Edit : Big Buba
Translation: Adam Maršál
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Story, photos and video by Legal Deeper Team