Bainbridge Grand Prix
This years fall race was once again held in Bainbridge, Oh. The race was held a week before the Fall Festival of Leaves. Bainbridge is a small town about an hour east of Cincinnati and about 1.5 hours south of Columbus. There are two traffic lights in town. In October, the trees are turning a wonderful color. The camera just doesn't do a very good job of capturing the colors. This tree was near our pit area.
Also most of the homes are also decorated with pumpkins, gourds, scarecrows and flowers.
Friday, October 12
I arrived in Columbus, early in the morning on a red eye. It was raining. Things didn't look good, as the rain came and went all morning. I found my way to the hotel in Chilicothe, about a half hour from the race site about 2 in the afternoon. The rain had stopped, but it has still fairly cloudy. I took a nap, and then put my board together for the evening tech session. As I left the hotel there wasn't a cloud in the sky!
I got to Jester Hill, shortly before sundown. The pit area is at the bottom of the hill, at the local elementary school.
There were only a handful of people at the tech area, including the tech master Tom Mason!
Bob Swartz pulled up at the same time I did. Tom, Bob, and I went up the course and swept off some of the hay, until it was too dark to see.
Saturday, October 13
The next morning, it was raining. As I drove out to the race site, I was trying to decide if I wanted to race in the rain. It had stopped raining when I got to Jester Hill, but the track was soaked. I thought the track would stay wet all day.
Everyone gathered for the riders meeting. We had about 25 riders. The morning practice was tough, as the road was completely wet. Worse, the pavement was very slick. There were a couple of patches, where the road was repaired, that were less slick. Fortunately one of these was right before one of the turns. While the road was wet, and the second turn is pretty hairy, there were no major accidents!
After lunch we ran qualifying. Amazingly the track had dried out almost completely! I got a couple of shots of some of the riders.
I especially liked the sign that they had at the finish.
While the rains and subsided, and the sun came out, the humidity was still high, and the ladybugs came out in full force. You didn't really want to breath with your mouth open, as you might inhale one. These guys were everywhere, and some people insist the bugs were biting.
That was not the only trouble we had with animals. The trouble had started earlier with some dogs. One of the course workers kept the dogs busy by tossing rocks into a field. The dogs would look for the rocks for a while. When they lost interest, another rock was tossed in. Then some goats got loose and were out on the course. The most amusing (and scary) moments happened as one of the riders approached the finish line. Seconds before he came into view, ducks started to cross the road! The rider missed the ducks by only a few feet! I wish I could get a copy of the video.
After qualifying, we headed back to Chilicothe to clean up. Then a bunch of us headed over to this pizza joint. I can't remember the name of the place, but it had the cheapest food, and a ton of it.
And yet Rusty still managed to eat more than his share.
This was Richard's first race. He brought his girlfriend Liz to watch, Liz ended up working the course!
Sunday, October 14
I spend half the night watching the weather channels. Basically all of the reports said that the storm(s) were going to cross the upper part of the state. Problem is that Bainbridge is right in the center, some reports seems to indicate it was going to get poured on, others indicated it wouldn't. Well it was raining, and raining even harder than the day before. In fact a HUGE storm blew through during the night. One of the riders was actually camping at the pit area, and decided he wasn't going to sleep through the storm. When I got to the pit areas, everyone was hanging out under the tents.
We decided to to take a couple of practice runs, and then race buttboards. Hopefully the rain would clear up. Tom used the shelter of the chase truck to make some repairs.
The top of the race course looked out over an expanse of trees in just about every color, green, brown, reds, oranges, and yellows. I only took one picture of it, during practice, and it was raining.
The road was REALLY wet.
But we were all going to ride, anyways.
I took the opportunity to get a group shot of all the riders.
Neil flew out from California to race his Gravity Bike, and Rusty ended up getting him to be the starter. Neil got almost as many runs as the rest of us, as he always took the last run done, I even got him into the group shot.
Tom and Mark came prepared
Or rather Tom did. After a couple of practice runs, the buttboarders were ready to race.
We had ran out of time yesterday, and since there were only eight of us, we pea picked for position. We used Bob's Lima Beans from last years race. The finals lineup:
I had an ok start, but blew the big turn. I thought I took fourth, but Jon DQed.
We broke for lunch. Rusty, David, and I headed for the local pub, in our leathers. As we were eyeing the menu, to see if we would eat there, Mason and Fryer sauntered in. They were disappointed, they claimed they were going to grab a brew and slink back to the race, and no one would know, yet the organizer was already here!
The weather was improving, the sun wasn't coming out, but the wind was blowing. The track was drying off! The road was practically dry when the race started.
Turn 2 has a sharp right hander near the beginning of the course. Most of the spectators hung out at this turn. While the turn mostly dried out, a stream runs under the turn.
So the apex of the turn stayed wet. Jeremy took some pictures for me from this turn.
I thought I would show you how NOT to take the turn. Mason's way,
gives Tom a first place finish, but in the finals,
leads into the hay.
I entered the turn in third place,
but wheels in the air don't offer a lot of traction.
Kiggins hit the hay pretty hard, but David just glanced off, enough for me to pass him. I won my consolation, jumped off my luge and ran back to the finish. Remember when Tom hit the hay, back in Turn 2. He pulls off a photo finish at the bottom.
Apparently Jon was leading on the flats at the bottom, but both Tom and Rusty drafted him at the end!
But as usual everyone is all smiles at the end.
I never got to see Neil or Eli race, as they were the last ones down, and I was generally on the truck by then.
They decided to race each other, for fun. Unfortunately, because the road was still damp in some places, Eli took it easy, but Neil took the turn full tilt.
It was podium time, Ninja Bearings was out giving away some prizes. Rusty stepped up this year, and with a little help from his team mates in F-6 put this race on, on very short notice.
There were a few new riders, the youngest was Matt Siron
He had a very patriotic board.
We were able to talk his dad into driving the UHaul for us, and he did a fantastic job.
Andy Lally, Brian Kiggins, Chris McBride (My first professional podium!)
Tom Mason, Rusty Riley, Jon Fryer
After the awards ceremony, it was time to tear down the hill.
With the help of a couple of locals, we pulled the hay off the hill, and loaded it up on the trucks.
I took a few shots of the course from the back of the UHaul. Leading into the gnarly chicanes before the flats:
looking back up the hill:
Leaving the gnarly chicane, enter the mellow one before the flats.
The middle of the gnarly chicane.
And finally the beginning of it.
I lost two races because I broke entering this chicane.
Most of the East Coasters left early, as most of them drove. Those of us flying out, took Tom Mason up on his offer of Pizza and Beer back at the hotel. A pleasant way to finish a fun filled weekend.
The race was a blast, we got some rain riding in, and we were able to practice and race on a dry road. One person scrapped their knuckles when they high sided coming into the gnarly chicane, but there were no other injuries.