Maryhill Festival of Speed
Down in the bottom of the state of Washington, in the shadow of Mount Rainer is the small town of Goldendale. With a population of several thousand the town is large enough to have two grocery stores, a bowling alley, and a McDonald's. It is the county seat of Klickitat County and is home to the county fairgrounds. Agriculture is the main commerce for the area.
About 10 miles away from Goldendale is Washington's first paved road, Maryhill Loops Road.
Tuesday, August 26
I live about four hours from Maryhill, and I left home in the afternoon. I had hoped to get to the course in time to do registration, but I pulled in about an hour late.
Wednesday, August 27
I knew things would start late, plus we were going to have almost three days of practice, so I wasn't in a hurry to get to the race course. Amazingly the place was already packed.
The weather was cool and cloudy. I don't think it was going to rain, but apparently it had rained quite a bit a few days ago.
We got about a half dozen runs in, in the afternoon. There was generally never more than a dozen or so luges and buttboards and gravity bikes and inliners, and well over a hundred standup. So they let us go first, with standup coming down behind us. Unfortunately they were letting too big of a gap between practice groups and it took us about an hour to get an entire run in. The nice thing about this, it gave us time to grab a coke, or do work on our equipment.
I think it was my second run of the day, when I got taken out twice on one run! We started off in a pack of lugers, and it we were going around the first left. I was in the middle of the pack, and started to move over to the left edge of the road, to take the inside line. I knew there was someone behind me, so I left a little room. When I thought I was clear, I moved over a little more, and we tangled. Fortunately we were still fairly high on the course, so we weren't moving that fast. We both hopped back on our boards, as followed the next group of buttboarders. Didn't take too long to catch up to the buttboarders. As I was coming around another one of the lefts, I decided I had the speed to pass on the outside. I started to pass, I was probably in the middle of the course, when the buttboarder started to drift outside. He slammed into me and we both flew off the course. As I hit a hay bale, for some strange reason I had the presence of mind to GRAB the hay bale. I knew there was a cliff here, and I thought if I grabbed this 10 pound hay bale, it would stop me from going over the cliff. When the dust settled, and after watching one of the bales leap off the cliff, I noticed that I had snapped one of the metal posts in half! We were both ok, and continued on our way.
At the end of the day I headed over to the fair grounds to hang out.
Thursday, August 28
I got up early this morning to have some free pancakes.
Maryhill is an interesting place. There is a single tree on the hill. Well ok there are a couple of small ones, and several down near the finish, but at the start there is one large tree.
Probably the biggest controversy surrounding Maryhill, or maybe the second biggest after the sellout, was one of the sponsors.
Riding was pretty much get on one of the three U-Hauls. Hang out in the shade for a few minutes, as the trucks drove back down.
McDonald's had set up an autograph session again this year. This year they had tents set up in their parking lot.
Friday, August 29
I swung by the campsite for some tasty pancakes. They also had some sort of egg thing, a quiche or something. Some fruit and orange drink from McDonald's finished off the meal. Unfortunately driving from the hotel adds about 20 minutes to the commute!
I pulled into the course just in time to get my leathers on and jump on the truck.
Last year quite a few people skipped the first day or two of riding, probably because they couldn't get enough time off from work. This year it seemed like pretty much everyone was were on the first day. Chris Chaput waltzed in today.
There were three different production companies filming the race.
Since standup was going first, I had a couple of hours to chill out. The weather was fairly warm, although it was windy. I watched from the final corner for a little bit. The corner was lined with sponsor banners.
It was almost 5 O'clock when we finally went up to qualify. About a dozen standup guys had to rerun. Apparently there was some issues at the finish line, and they didn't get a time.
Buttboard and gravity bikes were the last to qualify.
I went to a dinner with some friends. There were nine of us at the table, from eight different countries and three continents! We had a long dinner and missed most of the official video session at the fairgrounds. Basically the same thing Busse had been doing the past couple of nights, but it was set up under the fairground bleachers, so it was a bit warmer.
Saturday, August 30
I skipped the free breakfast this morning. I just woke up too late to drive all the way over to the fairgrounds, and with today being the last practice runs, I didn't want to miss any runs. I got there just in time to make the last truck up for the first run.
A few vendors were set up near the finish line.
Standup started off the second day of Qualifying. But with a strong head winds most times were slower than yesterdays times. I watched for a time from the corner.
Standup qualifying went a little faster than it did yesterday. We got street luge ready to go about 3:30!
Dinner was being served at the fairgrounds, for a small fee.
Sunday, August 31
After a quick warm up session the Junior skateboard race was run.
Buttboard was next. In my first heat, only four of the six slots were filled. I only needed to beat one person to advance, and with my good qualifying time I thought I could do that. I took it fairly easy, was in 2nd place most of the race. As we entered the turn before Cowzer's I was confident that I had a decent lead, so I took the turn slower than I needed too. As I broke for the turn both of the guys behind me flew by me! They were closer than I expected, but fortunately since I slowed down for Cowzer's I was able to take the tight inside line. We came out of Cowzer's three wide, but I had slightly more speed and pulled out in front coming down the straight. But, now I am on the outside coming into the final turn before the finish. I knew I needed to hit the turn hard. I cut the turn as close as I could, yet still giving room to the two guys behind me. And sure enough, as I came through the turn I got hit from behind. All three of us went down. Somehow I was the last one back on my board, and I knew my race was over. But for some reason Hicks stopped, so I paddled around him and advanced. Last year, shortly before the race, a car company came in and filmed a commercial. They sprayed the road with some sort of sealant to make it look blacker. When I wiped out, the stuff completed coated my wheels. I knew it was going to be a problem, but didn't think I had time to change all four wheels. While the protest was going on, I changed the front two wheels.
Back up top for the semi finals, I didn't have a great start and was in 4th place. I was pretty close to the back, fairly confident that I could overtake someone, when we got to the first hard turn and my back end (the end I didn't change) started to slide out! I had to take the corner slower, and fell to 5th. I thought I still had a chance, and outside chance, but a chance, when I started to slide out in the next corner. Again had to put a foot down. This time when I got to the bottom I moved the front wheels to the back, and put fresh wheels on the front.
For the consolation run, I actually got a better start, but was right in the middle of the pack. We were pretty much six wide through the first few turns, with a little bit of bumping and pushing going on. I settled into third place and followed one of the Bobs and Andreas down the course. I took Cowzer's pretty well and was catching them, as they were bumping. I drafted them down the last straight and as we hit the final corner, I thought I had a chance to overtake both of them! I had a small opening, right at the apex. Just as I dove for the opening, something happened at Bob shot in front of me (I later found out that Bob and Andreas were hooked up entering the turn, and Andreas had shoved him off, right in front of me!) I had to change my plans, and had to take the outside line. I was able to pass Andreas by about a foot, but the outside line was too long to catch Bob.
The standup race was going to be run next, but first the top 12 qualifiers were announced.This year, to try and prevent injuries, instead of tossing out all four wheels, one would be tossed out. The recipient would go up to grab the other three.
But it was pretty late, at it was time to run the luge race. We got up to the top, and there was a bit of a mess, near the tree. Mostly empty water bottles, and used wheels.
The Women's Standup was run in front of luge. There were 12 females, the largest field ever!
We got back up to the top and I saw a fellow luger sitting on the hay bales. I was thinking to myself, how did he get back up to the top? Turns out, he was told the heat he was supposed to be in was only a three man heat, when he should have been the fourth person in the heat. A discussion ensued about how to solve the problem, and finally it was decided to find the fourth person, and rerun the heat. It took them a few minutes to find him, and bring him back to the top. Then we had to wait for the run, and for them to bring the winners back up.
The sun was setting by the time the finals were run. I was barely able to get a shot as
Dave Dean did a phenomenal job of keeping the crowd entertained.
We wrapped up the race at 7:30. Most of the skateboarders had taken off. I hurried back, hoping there was still food left. Dinner was being served at the fairgrounds again. Our award ceremony was supposed to start at 8, but we all knew it would start late, as we barely left the course at 7:30.
Fortunately we had enough time to eat, as the awards ceremony started late.
First the prices for last years World Cup winners were announced.
Scoot was carried up on stage. But before he got there, he got hit by a flour bomb.
After the awards were present a couple of live bands took the stage.
I hung out in McIntyre's RV for a while, and then decided to wander back over to the bands. The bands cut out fairly early, as they had no customers. But the flour was still flying.I was thinking that the partying was much mellower this year than last year. The flour shouldn't be too hard to clean up.
Monday, September 1
I slept in as long as I could, with a roughly four hour drive home, I wanted to be as rested as possible. I swung by the fair grounds on my way out. I helped McIntyre pack up, and we were the last ones to leave the campground. There was some trash around, but most of it had been picked up and deposited in large piles. The place didn't look too bad.
I stopped by the Stongehenge replica before heading out.
Maryhill was a great event. The road isn't the fastest road, but it is still challenging. The competition was fierce, with over 200 athletes from a dozen countries. The town of Goldendale was behind the event. Providing us with free camping, free breakfast, and cheap dinners. But a few bad apples may have spoiled the event. Someone decided to spray paint graffiti on feed hay that was stored at the fair grounds next to the horse barn. At the after party some damage occurred, some items were stolen from the fair grounds, and fire extinguishers were extinguished. Coupled with some foul language spray painted on cars, some smoking, and apparently some public sex going on, our event left a very bad taste for Goldendale. I hope that we can return next year, and race again. But we have to act more professionally.