Madison County Gravity Festival
Madison County Gravity Festival
Munnsville, New York
About an half hour or so east of Syracuse lies the village of Munnsville which is part of the Town of Stockbridge. The town is in a valley amongst rolling hills. There is one traffic light and the Legion's hall, and a manufacturer of lawn mowers.
The course comes down out of the hills and heads toward the Village of Munnsville. The course starts amongst corn fields with a long straight leading to a right hand bend. The course picks up speed in another straight before a hard right. The road has a few slight bends, but nothing that requires breaking, although the yellow line down the center can give you wobbles as you cross it. Speeds approach 65 mph before the new pavement ends and the right hand hairpin begins, followed immediately by a left hand hair pin. The finish line is just a tad after the s turns. The course, up to the hairpin, was freshly paved. Apparently someone convinced the State to pave the county road!
Saturday, July 30
As I headed up the hill, the pit area was at the top, I passed a street cleaner coming down. I got up to the registration area, and found a long line of people registering. Registration was on one side of the house, the pit area on the other. The gang up from Florida brought a little bit of the swamp with them. We got a couple of practice runs in before doing a parade run. A parade run is where everyone rides down at once, but we go at a slow speed, it is mostly to show of for the spectators. Bob Swartz rode his Jet Luge down, with the jet off of course. When we got to the bottom Beagle informed us that there was a young lady there celebrating her birthday (I forget, her 80th?) So we sang Happy Birthday to her.
After the parade lap, we ran the bucket brigade. A team of three people race to the bottom relay style. Each person carries a bucket to the next person. The first group raced down to just before the hard left. The second group raced to the hairpins. I was in the second group, and got off second. I flew by the lead racer, but the bucket was completely full. The water was being sucked out of the bucket, and my shield was covered. I was unable to find my teammate in a timely manner, and we got blocked by someone else by the time we transferred the bucket.
Rookie and amateur luge was run next. Those of us not racing were allowed to practice after each heat. Gives everyone a chance for more time on the hill. Unfortunately Beagle tried to take the hard left without braking on his buttobard, and broke his thumb. He put it up for sale.
So far the race was amazing. They had people running up and down the course, with cold water, race programs, tshirts for sale. Bleachers in Crash Corner. Big welcome sign at the corner. They painted a huge wall in the s bend. And its not even lunch time.
They cooked up hamburgers and hot dogs. While we all sat around eating. Bob Swartz demo'd his jet luge. The jet was still undergoing testing, and Bob didn't want to risk an accident at the event, so it remained tied down. But it sure made the trees in the background move.
After lunch we ran the pro buttboard race. There were a few spectators on the course, most hanging out at Crash Corner GSI runs its racing in four heats. You get one point for first, and four points for fourth. After four heats, there is a run off in the event of ties. But Madison County wanted to do something a bit different, they wanted a final. So after the runoff, the top four places got to raise in the final, for the podium. The worst I did in all of my heats, including the final was third!
Immediately after the final, we were brought to a ramada near the campsite (which was provided free by the Legion) for autographing and the awards ceremony. They also brought some of the Tshirts and cards and race brochures. Race brochures were printed with pictures and short bios on some of the riders. They also made photo cards from the pics and bios. Not that I am complaining, but the cards are large, and there were so many of them, they will be hard to frame.
After the awards ceremony it was time to cleaned up for dinner. I heard that a shuttle bus was provided to take people staying at the campground to the local school to shower. The Legions provided a dinner of chicken and pasta. I heard they also provided a cheap breakfast as well. While we ate dinner, we had the pleasure to watch Concrete Cowboys. The DVD chronicled the 2004 GSI season. After the DVD was over, a live band played. We mingled with the locals and some cheap drinks.
Sunday, July 31
The Gravity Fest is held in conjunction with a local fair. Unfortunately the fair is just far enough away, that I was unable to go visit it. There was parking near the fair, and a bus shuttle spectators to the hill.
We had a riders meeting at 8AM sharp, well more like 8:15. We were going to get a few practice runs in, before starting the days races. Neil donated the use of his truck and driver to deliver us up the hill. The coolest seat was the lift gate.
Standup started the races off. Amateur buttboard followed. Again after each heat, a dozen riders were allowed to practice. We ended up with a pretty gnarly crash. I don't know exactly what happen, but apparently the first group wrecked, and the second group ploughed into them. Two people were carried back up the hill with leg injuries. Dean tried to kick a luge out of his way, and injured his heel. Eisenberg was the worse off, but apparently no broken bones. People weren't the only things hurt.
At the morning meeting we were asked to order our lunch, if we wanted. It was fairly cheap. Lunch was delivered. We were also asked to autograph two buttboards that would be auctioned off on Ebay to jump start the fund for next year. Fall Mountain Productions (producers of Concrete Cowboy) were once again on hand filming.
After lunch, we did another parade run. Again the jet was trotted out, as were the flamingoes. Beagle led the parade. Fun was had by all. I think we did get a little scattered on this run. There was still a clump of us. We probably had 30 lugers in total. Apparently some people feel that shoe brakes aren't the best way to slow down. And I thought it was JULY 31?
Despite all the injuries, everyone raced. Beagle on a broken thumb, Eisenberg on injured ligaments, and Dean on a bruised heel. Racing was pretty tight and tense. With a field of over 20 riders, only three did not race in the tie breaker heat. Once again there would be a final for the top four lugers. Dean had the top spot wrapped up by winning each of his heats. But there was a four way tie for the next three spots (I messed up my last heat, or I might have been in there as well) It was decided to run a five man final. Although Hodkinson protested. There was some confusion though, and how many points everyone had, at one point it was thought that there would be a run off for fifth and sixth. While this was being sorted out, Neil ran into a problem with gravity. Since I wasn't involved in a race off, I rode down the mountain to watch the finals.
The Gravity Bikes and Dirt Surfers raced next. The final event was the Extreme Buttboard race, or Sunday Mass. There were nine of us in the race. The race was supposed to be a multi heat GP format race. As it was fairly late, we decided to run one, winner take all, race. We also decided to get everyone on the line at once. Not that it mattered much, but I was lucky to take the "pole position". The only advantage was I had no one to my right. We also decided to run the race with an unlimited push. I voted this way because I knew I might miss a push, as the person next to me, was literally next to me. His board was inches from mine. It managed to get to the second turn in second place, but Hodkinson hit the turn perfectly, and I was never able to catch him.
Back down at the ramada, we signed autographs for a while. At another race last year I was asked to autograph a pool. This year, we were asked to autograph a back hoe! By request of the guy who drove us all weekend. This year I visited the pool again, our autographs had faded, but were still there. Next year I'll have to see if that is true for this back hoe.
Sunday Mass is supposed to be a winner take all, but prizes were donated. The last few racers received a hat or a tshirt. HAE donated buttboard decks for second to fourth, and Abec-11 donated a complete buttboard to first.
The mayor of the town thanked us for coming, and invited us back. The GSI crew did a fine job of running the race. Finally the last thing was a 50/50 raffle. Apparently the paramedics hadn't gotten paid the previous year! Fred Kiehn of Crash Corner won the raffle, but he donated the other half to the paramedics as well!
The Legions and the town of Munnsville did an excellent job of putting a race on. The photo cards was a very nice touch, and it was great to see everyone asking for autographs. Beagle broke his thumb, but while the other injuries appeared severe, they weren't. The road is a very high speed course, with a couple of dangerous corners. Crash Corner lived up to its name, and plenty of people wrecked there, but I don't think anyone got hurt in that corner. The towns people were very appreciative of us, and cheered us on every time we went by. After the race was over, I drove up to get a picture. There was still a few people sitting in the stands, drinking a beer, and they cheered me as I drove by!