Demons of Downhill


Demons of Downhill

Bainbridge, Ohio

Bainbridge is 30 miles from the nearest hotel in center of Paint Valley.

In the fall almost all of the leaves turn.

Thousands flock to the area to see the leaves and check out the Festival of Leaves. The festival is a street fair, with a car show, carnival rides, and a parade. It takes place two short blocks from the pit area.

The course is just under a mile and a half with an average of 7 percent grade. It starts with a huge left handed sweeper heading into a hard right hand turn. Leaving the turn the road has a few slight raises and shallow turns. Not enough to slow you down, but enough so it isn't a straight shot to the series of chicanes. The chicanes, which most people broke for, ended on the flats. The last quarter mile of the course was fairly straight and level, and leads to a lot of drafting.

Friday, October 20

I got into Columbus late in the afternoon, and drove down to Chilcothe. After checking into my room and putting my board together I hooked up with a bunch of the guys at Applebee's for dinner.  As usual I stayed out a bit too late, so I was pretty tired this morning.  Since it rained pretty much all day yesterday, I checked out side when I first got up. Of course the parking lot of completely wet, so I went back to bed. I couldn't go back to sleep, so off to Bainbridge I headed.

I got out to the course about 9:30. The skys were still overcast,

Since we had a very late start, we didn't stop for lunch. But the paramedics

The school had electricity, and the toilet works, but the floors were hard.

A good portion of the riders showed up at Applebee's for dinner. The place is walking distance from several hotels, has a bar area that serves food that we basically take over. One of the favorite past times is placing stickers in random places,

Most people just hung out, drank beer and shots until it was time to get some sleep.

Saturday, October 21

The truck was supposed to head up the hill at 10, so I was trying to get to the course at 9:30. I woke up and looked out the window, and couldn't see across the parking lot, it was fogged in! It was nice and sunny by the time I got to the track.

We didn't get started at 10 o clock, it was closer to 11. The fog was still burning off, but it was promising to be a good day.

We got two practice runs in before qualifying started. Standup qualifying went first.

With about an hour and a half before luge qualifying, I decided to check out the festival. With the nice weather, there were quite a few people out. Eric

and I took our buttboards and stayed in our leathers and wandered around the festival. Several people asked us about the race, or what we were carrying. One of the locals was shocked that we started the race at the top of the hill. They were surprised we could get around the tight corner, and pointed out that someone rolled a car in that corner earlier that morning!

Bill was running a raffle to raise money to buy some medical equipment for Stacy.

Bill also built one of his boards and painted it like the General Lee.

Sometime earlier in the year, a small portion of the road sunk a bit. It was only a couple of inches, but it crossed almost the entire road. The edges of the sinkhole were spray painted to make it easier to spot.

Streetluge qualifying was next.

One of these days the names and times won't have to be entered manually into the computer. Of course the advantage was the results were done almost immediately.

Again, after qualifying was finished, Bob demoed his jet luge.

It is amazing how much nice a jet the size of a 2 liter bottle can make.

Applebee's isn't the best place to go eat, although the food is ok. It is just easy, easy to get to, easy to find enough seating for everyone. Patrick, one of the Swedish contingent celebrated his birthday. We drug the Swedes off to a local bar and got them signing OSU fight songs!

Sunday, October 22

It was supposed to rain today. Unfortunately I had to ride even if it did. The sky was overcast, but the road looked dry.  I made it out to the race track just after the riders meeting started.

It wasn't raining, but it was cold.

The wind made it almost unbearable. It was supposed to rain later in the day so the standup race was first. I stayed in my leathers, to try and stay warm, as i walked down the course, watching the standup race.

Bob and I were the 16th and 17th qualifiers, and our reward was to race Fryer. Bob and I joked all night about our race for second, and schemed of ways to beat Jon.

Dean has been organizing the race for the past few years. Fortunately he has two loving parents who kick in. His mom did an amazing job racing the UHaul up and down the course. While his dad manned the hard right.

I've known this turn as "Turn 2" for years. But it siunce it was the location of the first course worker, it was called turn 1 this weekend, and many people called it Crash Corner because someone wrecked almost every other time.

I saw a quite impressive wreck, or almost wreck. Busse will share his footage one of these days. Busse came in the turn in last place, behind Eisenburg. I'm not exactly sure what happened with Eisenburg, as he entered the turn fairly slow, but he drifted wide and bounced off the hay. Busse was coming in and it looked like he would pass on the inside. As Eisenburg hit the hay Busse realized that Eric would come back onto the course, so Busse veered hard to the left, and barely squeaked between the hay and Eric's board. Meanwhile Eric grabbed his board, and then managed to roll back onto it, capturing his hand under the board. Paul never recovered and was eliminated. But he narrowly missed a bad collision. Eric was ok, with a banged up hand.

After each round of racing, riders that weren't racing were allowed to take a practice run.

The free rides continued until two of the three bobs collided with the hay in the turn. Its one thing for those still practicing to push their runs hard, but once your racing is over and you are just free riding, you should take it a little easier.

I carry a small Cannon Elph with me when I ride. The camera takes some pretty decent pictures, and since it is about the size of a deck of cards I can actually race with it. Riding with the camera allows me to take some cool shots at the top of the course as well as the bottom. But the camera isn't the best camera for taking action photos.

I got down to the finish line to catch the consolation and final. McIntyre took the consolation by a pretty good distance.

After the Inline race it was time for buttboard.

After the buttboard race was over, McIntyre had the timing system set up again. He wanted another time on his bike. Apparently the timing light is too low and isn't always trigged by the gravity bikes, and one of his qualifying runs wasn't timed. His run ended up being almost the same time! So there was a king of the hill race between the gravity bike and the street luge. Fryer won this race as well.

Once again Swartz brought out his jet luge.

We did a quick awards ceremony outside, in the cold, while there was still light. Then we went inside of a longer drawn out ceremony.


Mathias, Van Keppel, Rolf, Lindstrom


Focke, Peer, Fortier, Caron


Fryer, Dean, Weber, Meehan


Fryer, Auld, Dean, Hicks

Gravity Bike:


Everyone headed inside

Most everyone cleared out and headed out of town. Many on the east coast started driving home. A few had an early flight out of Columbus, leaving about a half dozen of us in Chillicothe. We skipped Applebee's and found a nice place down the road. At 9pm on a Sunday night we had the entire place to ourselves. While we had a good dinner, a few of the guys were bummed out that we couldn't have any beer to celebrate. After stopping at the store for some beer, we went back to the hotel and watched videos of the event. A nice mellow way to end the race.

Fall weather in Ohio is fairly unpredictable, and we got incredibly lucky. While the road was wet Friday morning from Thursday rains, it dried by the afternoon. It rained again early Sunday morning, but not enough to make the road slick. I was told it snow a bit early Monday morning, and I drove through snow flurries on the way back to Columbus!

While there were a lot of scrapes and bruises and skinned knees, the only serious accident that I know of was a sprained ankle and sprained knee. He was bad enough that the paramedics drove him down the course in the ambulance, but he didn't go to the hospital.

Bianbridge has been a part of the race circuit for seven years. Dave Dean has organized the last four races, but has decided that he isn't interested in organizing this race in the future. Unfortunately the race course doesn't easily lend itself to spectators, despite the fact that there are tens of thousands of potential spectators just a few blocks away. It sounds like someone may attempt to put the race on next year, and keep America's longest running race running. Perhaps a way can be found to make the race profitable.