Downhill Jamboree


Downhill Jamboree

Chamrousse, France

Chamrousse is a ski resort in the alps above Grenoble, France. The summer season is a slow time of year, but it is still a destination for picnicers, hikers, paragliders and tourists. The resort is split into two sections. The lower section, 1650, is a little busier as it has more restaurants as well as a gondola to the top.

The course starts below the mall located in the upper section, 1750. It is an amazing course, over five and a half mile long. There are six major hairpins, and two sections that are straight enough to reach speeds of 60 mph. I was starting to learn the course by the end of the weekend, but it is so long, it is hard to learn it in a only a few runs. Of course 10 minutes with constant turning is murder on wheels.

Friday, July 19

I woke up to the sound of bells, many bells. I looked out my hotel window, and the size of the mountain side was covered in sheep.

It takes a long time to register over 200 people.

The Downhill Jamboree is a free ride. It is a lot like the practice session of a race, it just the whole even is practice. The road is closed, there are paramedics and course workers. The free ride allows pretty much anyone in a gravity powered vehicle to go down the course, the only requirement was a helmet.  There were a lot of contraptions the people rode, street turtles,


We finally got started around noon,

Someone got hurt after each of the first two runs, and that caused some long delays.

There are two roads from Uriage, the village below Chamrousse. There is a sign at the bottom, saying the course road is closed and there will be delays. 

It takes a long time to get to the bottom of this course. It didn't take long for some people to begin to make modifications to their equipment. Some tried to add headrests.

While others tried to add padding.

Since it is going to be a long weekend, and each run is fairly tiring, I sat out a run, took some pictures of the start. It is quite amazing to see 25 lugers leave, and yet still have quite a crowd waiting to go.

Taking up the rear are the carvers and those going fairly slow.

We ran pretty late, and I got to dinner close to 9 PM. The Pizza Roc was running a special for us. Originally they had set up tables outside, but it was getting pretty cold out, so they moved the tables inside. The Pizza Roc serves past and pizza's, but the riders menu was spaghetti with a cup of wine.  After dinner, we headed into the Gallery to watch some videos into the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday, July 20

As more people were showing up today, registration was open from 8-10. Of course we didn't get started right at 10. I wandered around to check out the various vendors that set up.

When it was time to go, everyone would climb aboard one of the 4 buses or half dozen vans.

After two runs, we broke for lunch. Sausages and chicken skewers were cooked up

Generally it meant we were going "soon." (sometime in the next 10-15 minutes)

While we waited to go back up there was watermelon.

Once again I skipped a run, watched over 300 riders head out.

We got a total of six runs in, over 33 miles of riding. It was time for dinner at the Pizza Roc.

The Gallery had three bars, that usually close around midnight, and apparently all stay open much later for us.

Sunday, July 21

Today the schedule wasn't supposed to start until 11. So of course we didn't get start

hence the delay before our third run. The flatlanders were also back to keep us entertained.

The entrance to the campsite

About 5:30, we begin to prepare for the forth and final run of the day and of the event.

When we learn that there is a missing luger. He had been missing since at leas the third run, his board was found on the side of the road, but no sign of him. Just as they are about ready to release us for the last run, it was announced they had found the luger. He had gone off the road and was on the side of a cliff. Eventually a helicopter was brought in to rescure him. The final run was canceled, the event was over.

Most of the people coming to the event live within a few hours, and were packing up to leave. I was invited to have dinner with the British Contingent

Chamrousse is a special event, what I have said here and the pictures I've presented, don't do the event justice. This year there were over 350 riders, and the hill is over 5.5 miles long. The road surface isn't in the greatest shape, but anything is in great shape after you've ridden Barrett. Unfortunately due to the length of the course, it is impossible to do a great job of protecting the entire course. Last year that wasn't a problem, as it is a free ride people tend not to push the envelope. This year it seemed someone was seriously injured on every run. I know at least 4 people went to the hospital. The event ended on a sour note when someone went over the edge, without anyone knowing. If he hadn't fallen off his luge, we might not have known. Days after the event I heard this last rider was in a coma. Please ride safe.