Maryhill Festival of Speed

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Maryhill Festival of Speed

Goldendale, Washington

The Columbia River cuts a gorge through the cascades and separates the state of Washington from Oregon. Goldendale is a small community a few minutes from the Columbia River. The town appears like it has more than 3760 inhabitants. It has a McDonalds and two grocery stores.

Maryhill Loops Road is about 10 minutes from Goldendale. The region was developed in the 19th century by Sam Hill, trying to create a Quaker community. The road was the first paved road in the state of Washington. The road is owned by the Maryhill Museum and was refurbished in 1998. Normally the road is gated and open to hikers and cyclists.

The course is 1.8 miles long and starts in the shade of the only tree in the area. The first hard left is about 50 feet from the start of the course. While the speeds through this turn, and the next 180 degree right aren't yet very high, the tight sequence makes it hard to set up for the first true left hand hairpin. A short straight leads to the next hard right hand turn which is immediately followed by a right hand hairpin. Exiting the hairpin leads into a chicane named Spaghetti, these leaves you to setup for a long wide Never Ending left hairpin. And the end of the Never Ender is a sharp right leading to one of the few long straights on the course. The straight ends with a hard 90 degree right turn. There is barely enough time to set up for the left hand turn, nick named the Ambulance turn, as that is where the Ambulance is parked. A short straight leads up to another hard left, hard right combo. As you exit the right hand turn you go through a cow gate. This leads into the final long straight. At the end if a left hand turn. The result is a 90 degree turn, but fortunately it isn't sharp, unfortunately it barely leaves time for one of the tightest hairpins on the course, Cowzer corner. It isn't much longer to the finish, although there is a little time to attempt a draft, with a as the road veers to the right before one last hairpin to the left and the finish line.

Monday, September 10

My house is 3.5 hours from Maryhill, as long as I don't stop at the Miner Diner in Yakima. I picked up David Dean from the airport and we drove down.

Tuesday, September 11

Today is the first day of a five  day event! Three days of practice, two days of qualifying and practice, and then race day. I got to the course fairly early. Although I was already registered

At the end of the day McIntyre had been filming on his bike. He was kneeling down, past the shutdown area when one of the skateboarders fell off his board, trying to shutdown. The board flew down the road and impaled McIntyre's knee.

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Even though he was still in leathers, the board hit him hard enough to break the skin in two places!

The first day of practice was over. The course was fairly slow, I was only hitting 40 MPH. The road had been recently sealed for a car commercial. The sealant was odd, it was tacky yet at the same time it was slick. My first run down, I broke a lot. Unless I applied a lot or pressure, it was almost like I was on ice!

A couple of minutes from the course is a full size replica of Stonehenge.

which I visited just a week ago before the Eastbourne race.

I made my way over the the

Paul set it up, and turned it on to get a blue screen, he then spent 45 minutes looking for a cable. Amazingly almost no one left!  We spent the next couple of hours watching videos and photos from today's runs.

Wednesday, September 12

It looks like there are a few more people today.

John decided to try something different for starting this year, and we practiced it a bit.

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A bungee cord is used. It is stretched taut, and when John lets go, you are off. The cord travels fairly quickly, so it is fair for everyone. It might be possible to get a jump by watching John, and trying to see when he releases it. But then you would have your head cocked to the right, instead of looking forward down the track.

A few more people showed up today. Mostly skateboarders. We were trying to figure out how many standup riders would show up. I figured it would be over 100 and maybe over 125. Dean swore up and down it wouldn't be over 75. I think over 50 had shown up by the end of the day.

After a full day of practice I went over to the camp

When I got back to the campsite the videos and photos were already being shown.

We watched videos until the wee hours of the morning.

 

Thursday, September 13

And even more people showed up today.

After a morning of practice we broke for lunch.

Standup was the first to qualify.

We had about twenty lugers, and only seven buttboarders. This hill is very hard on the abs on a buttboard. With a 1.8 miles, a top speed of 38 miles an hour, it takes over 3 minutes to get to the bottom, and almost constant turning. I decided earlier in the week to take one run a day. I got two practice runs in, and then my one run for today would be my qualifying run.

After qualfiying was over it was time to go to McDonald's. McDonald's provided all of the racers with a $5 coupon book,

It was pretty cool to hear about it on the radio, on the way back from the race.

After stopping my McDonald's I went had an all you can eat Spaghetti dinner a local Church was putting on. I took to long at dinner, and missed the world premiere of Living Free: The heart of longboarding. These guys also had a booth set up at the race.

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After dinner it was off to watch more videos on the back of McIntyre's RV.

Friday, September 14

The town of Goldendale has really been getting behind the race. To start the morning off they've provided a free pancake breakfast!

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I missed it yesterday, but swung by the campsite today. The pancakes and bacon were very good, and a fine start to the day.

There was a quick riders meeting, as all of the riders had finally made it.

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Dean lost, there were 99 standup riders. Today's schedule was identical to yesterday's. Practice in the morning, followed by lunch, then round two of qualifying.

Early in the week, we had mostly been practicing solo. Well not exactly solo, we would sort of leave in a large group of eight, but spread out. Today we were practicing in tighter groups.

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We had some pretty incredible runs through the morning, some very tight riding.

The wind had been blowing all day. Not far away, there is a world famous windsurfing spot on the Columbia River. They are also installing some large windmills nearby, the wind can really blow.

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The wind was blowing hard enough, some people thought the EX tent would blow away and were busy tying it down. EX Drinks was one of the major sponsor, and were providing free energy drinks to the athletes.

Maryhill is located in eastern Washington, a dry arid region, and it can get quite warm. This week has been a typical week, hot. Water was a precious commodity. Fortunately plenty of water was being provided.

Qualifying was going a bit quicker than yesterday. As soon as a few skateboard reruns done

And lastly was buttboard.

After stopping off for some gatorade is off to the campsite for dinner.

A couple of live bands were playing at the bandstand just outside the park.

I spent the rest of the night going between the live bands and the home videos. There was a lot of great videos shown, but perhaps the best was one shot by Mr. Lang. Läng records every run he makes using a POV camera that is inside his helmet. One of our luge runs today he started behind  Fryer and I. For the first half of the video he shows Fryer and I battling it out. Läng  passes me entering Ambulance corner, and is inches off of Fryer's read end the rest of the way. Everyone loved it. I don't think I've seen so many standup riders cheering a luge run before.

 

Saturday, September 15

After another sumptuous free breakfast it was off to race day. A local Boy Scout Troop provided some open ceremonies

Primarily Festival of Speed would be the World Championships in 2008 and would take place Labor Day Weekend!

Racing started off with gravity bikes

A few of us lobbied to run one eight man final, but instead we would run two four man heats. Fryer, Rylie, and Läng had the fastest times, with Eliot and me about 10 seconds back. Since Eliot and I were fourth and fifth we raced each other. He joked that we were fighting for last place in the finals, or first place in the consolation. I managed to get out ahead of and transferred to the finals. In the finals, Riley, Läng and Fryer just left me on the start line. My only hope was the three would get tangled up in one of the tight corners. But they hit each corner fairly cleanly, and pulled further away from me. I finally lost sight of them about two thirds of the way down. As I rounded Cowzer Corner, I saw Fryer sitting on the side of the road! I managed to squeak onto the podium!

Standup raced next. 96 riders, 16 heats of 6. The races start off with quite a bit difference in skill level. The first few heats the leaders were way out in front.

At one point in the afternoon, Dean announced that due to insurance reasons, spectators would not be allowed on the hill, making the overlook the best place to be.

 

They tried something new today. I think colorful hair ties to be used as arm bands or garters. Each lane got a particular color, the finish line could look for the color instead of the number.  

Many of the standup riders had already blown out, the rest of us were cleaning up when we all heard an explosion. We looked up to see a truck jump over the guardrail!

The Festival of Speed was one event in a larger Festival of Wheels.

After dinner most of us went over to the bandstand for another live band.

After the band played it was time for a raffle and the awards.

Earlier in the week one of the Canadian female standup riders, Haven got seriously injured. She fell in front of another rider, and he fell on top of her, puncturing one of her lungs. Apparently she didn't have insurance that would cover her outside of Canada. Someone decided to hold a raffle to raise money to pay for her ER bill. All of the companies were asked to donated some swag, and a lot of tickets were sold.

Gravity Bikes:

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McIntyre, Shaw, Williams

Inline:

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Wohrle, Peer, Tacchini

Women's Standup:

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Davies, Poscente, Richardson

Junior Standup:

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Meehan, Peck, Brinson

Buttboard:

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Meehan, Läng, McBride

Street Luge:

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Läng, Toleman, Meehan

Standup:

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Smith, Erban, Reimer

After the awards were given out, there was still some swag, and it was tossed into the crowd.

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I managed to get a set of wheels, when they landed at my feet while I was trying to take pictures!

While the last band was setting up to play,

After the interviews were over, many of us hung out at the gazebo.

A few people were watching the movies at Theatre Busse.

John Ozman pulled together an amazing event for his first event. The town really got behind him, with talks of making the event even bigger next year. The road was slow, but still a lot of fun. I don't know how the standup guys lasted through 5 days of riding on the hill, but it was a lot of fun. It would have been nice if the local swimming pool was open.

We had one serious injury on the hill, that wasn't related to the hill. Because the speeds were low, the accidents were less likely to be serious.