The Highland Wheels Extreme
IGSA's second World Cup race was held in the Highlands of Scotland, in the ski resort town of Aviemore. The town is about three minutes long, but it has some great restaurants and hotels.
The race course is the longest on IGSA's world circuit at close to 2.5 miles. The course is one the road to the ski resort. Towards the top the road splits into two one way segments. The original plan was to practice on both segments, and select the better race. Unfortunately due to a lack of hay, we were only able to take one segment, probably for the best. The road started with a right hand turn, with a short straight a way to the Gun Barrel. This was probably the make or break part of the course. The Gun Barrel was a tight hairpin, with speeds probably in the upper 50's leading into the barrel, and exit speeds in the thirties. Following the Gun Barrel was a long straight with an uphill cant. If you didn't carry enough speed through the Gun Barrel, this section was a LONG one. The straight ended with another hairpin, which was harmless because of the speed. Exiting this hairpin began the wild ride to the end. The next section reached speeds of over 70 mph before hitting the Juice Box, a slight left hander, but dangerous at high speeds. The last mile or so of the course led through a series of chicanes and over a bridge before the end.
Thursday, May 24th
I arrived in London, en route to Aviemore. I met Kurtis Head for a whirlwind tour of London before heading out to Aviemore.
1:34 pm Marble Arch, 2:00 pm Wellington Arch, 2:11 pm Buckingham Palace, 2:22 St. James Palace
Somehow Chris Beard and I miscommunicated, he wasn't expecting us to show up, he was only expecting Dave Rogers. Jo Beard showed up in this tiny vehicle.
After checking in to the Freedom Inn,
Friday, May 25th
We were bright and early for a day of practice.
About lunch time we all got together for a group photo.
Chris Beard got a film crew to come out and film the event. These guys did a fabulous job.
Have I mentioned how blessed we were with the weather? Apparently the nice weather we had as quite an anomaly. Regardless it got quite hot, I even got sunburned! Eli found some shade during on of our long breaks.
After dinner we had a riders meeting in the hotel bar.
Saturday, May 26th
We got to Glenmore Forest Park, with dark skies.
We had been dropping the standup guys off at the last hairpin, as many felt the Gun Barrel was too risky. So we were sitting on the start line, ready to start practice when we get word that there is an oil leak. The oil leak was near the bottom hairpin, where you had little speed. It was apparently in the outside lane, and you were generally in the inside lane, with no speed going through the hairpin. Then we hear that Chris Beard is cancelling practice until the oil spill can be taking care of. Remember yesterdays oil spill (about a foot in diameter) and hearing that it was in the outside lane, we all thought that Beard was being paranoid. The bus is broke down (it leaked oil) so Beard was talking about shuttling us down, a few at a time, using the board van. Darren talked Beard into letting us ride down. We would take it easy, sit up through the hairpin, and go slow. So off we went, as we approached the Gun Barrel, we were still going pretty fast, but not as fast as normal, so I was on the inside of the Gun Barrel, when I see Chris standing in the middle of the course. I veer around him, and notice that the oil leak starts on the inside of the Gun Barrel and runs ALL the way to the next hairpin, roughly a quarter mile! I didn't know that the bus even had that much oil in it! Turns out Beard did the right thing and saved at least one wreck. I don't know what they did to clean it up, apparently threw down some concrete (the Ski Resort was building a new lift.) But they did a fabulous job, you could barely tell a leak existed.
I walked down the course a bit, to try and get some more pictures. I got a shot after the first turn,
Every time up the hill we all talked about the Juice Box, the turn had garnered many names over the weekend, but nothing really stuck. One time up the hill, Tom Mason had no idea what turn we were talking about. So we were trying to point it out to him, when we rounded the turn and spotted a Juice Box in the center of the turn! The name stuck.
After qualifying, and the weather holding out, we headed back to town. Right next to the hotel is a go kart track. I could see it from my hotel window.
Sunday, May 27th
Today is race day. We load the board van up
The weather looked even worse than yesterday, but it was still dry. Standup went first. I didn't get many good shots,
The weather was still holding out, so we started the luge race.
We were racing a super mass, but we only had about 30 racers, so the first heats only had about four riders in them. I made it to the second round, but negotiated the Gun Barrel poorly, I was in fourth chasing Digger down, thinking I could pass him as I entered the Juice Box. I was concentrating too much on passing Digger that I did take the turn properly, I ran off the road and hit the hay bales (yes I was doing over 70 mph when I left the road!) Somehow I knew I hadn't been passed yet, my board ended up on the other side of the road. So I went after it. I got about half way across the road when I realized that I hadn't been passed yet, and that they would be coming soon. I stopped and looked up hill just in time to see the first person pass in front of me, and the last person do the exact same thing I did. I must say, it was pretty stupid of me to run across the road like I did. I failed to transfer so I got some race pictures of the semis and finals.
Finally, the finals. I don't know what Tom was thinking,
The last event of the day was butt boarding.
After the racing was over, we decided to run a Monte Carlo. That is take ALL of the buttboards, and run them down at the same time. The idea was to go two at a time, with the slower guys up front, and the faster ones in the back.
The bagpiper was back for the awards ceremony.
Stand Up Podium:
Following the ceremonies, Darren gave a very emotional speech, basically thanking everyone for helping him out when he didn't have his luggage, and how this was his best showing ever with a 1-2 finish. He then gave Beard his home (errr hotel) made buttboard.
Tom goofs off, perhaps getting ready for a new career?
A few of us headed over to the go kart track to wind down.
Monday, May 28th
Several of us have to catch the 7 AM flight out of Inverness. While there is a train station in town, we decided there were enough of us to rent us the same bus we used all weekend. One of the Rogers christened for us.
Ten skateboarders with extra luggage, must have been quite a sight.
This was Chris Beard's first race. Chris only had Hot Heels to base the race on, and he even had a sponsor pull out at the last minute. Yet he managed to put on a fine race. The area was gorgeous. The road was technical enough, and long enough that it had everything. This was perhaps the second best event I've been to. We had one major accident. First run down, someone had their equipment set up improperly, and could not turn on the first turn. I believe he broke his leg. Richard bruised his ribs pretty hard when he went off in the Juice Box, and I sprained my ankle. But this was one fine event, and I can't wait to return next year.