Demons of Downhill
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,
the wind was blowing, and the road was slowly drying. Bob, John and Marcus were doing tech in the cafeteria.
About noon we had a riders meeting, in the same building.
It got us out of the chilly wind, and let us warm up a bit. Shortly after the meeting, we finally headed up the hill. The road was still damp in places, not enough to make it slick, but enough for caution.
The rain stayed away, but the wind kept it fairly cold.
It was a little warmer in the leathers.
Since we had a very late start, we didn't stop for lunch. But the paramedics
brought out a BBQ and sold hot dogs.
We rode until after 5, getting a half dozen runs in. The last run was on a completely dry course. Before we cleared out and headed back to town, Bob broke out with his Jet luge.
Most of us managed to find a hotel in Chilicothe, but we also had the option of staying in the abandoned school, or camping in the pit area.
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,
usually someone's back.
Bill brought into a couple of boards he was raffling off.
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.
Chaput managed to donate a Hammond which Stacy hand painted.
Bill had a cabinet maker make a gumball machine.
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.
It was possible to stay to the far right, and miss the sink hole entirely. The far left wasn't bad either. I think Dave had some left over spray paint.
Streetluge qualifying was next.
Qualifying was going pretty quickly as we were let go after each person cleared the hard right. Of course we all congregated at the end of the run, to discuss how our runs went, or what we did wrong.
The UHaul was used to block the road. We found out in years past that the road closed signs don't always work. After our two luge runs the inliners took their runs. Then the gravity bike and classic qualified.
I was one of the first down,
so I got a chance to get a few pics at the finish line.
Marcus worked the timing system and the computer.
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.
The major showed up and asked us back for next year. And the owner of the school announced he wasn't going to charge for staying in the school, just requested everyone clean up after themselves. The road was a little damp as it rained during the night. We got going fairly quickly with plans to get two practice runs in.
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.
Riding fast was not on the list! I didn't stick to my game plan, and broke too much in the chicanes. So I was on the sidelines for the rest of the luge race.
I watched most of the races in the hard right. Dr No was there with a radar gun. Riders were hitting low 40's coming into the turn, slowing down to about 30. The top speed as they pulled away from the turn, and before they dropped away was low 50's! It was obvious why they made the podium
when you watch the top three in the turn.
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.
Although Cannon has improved the camera a lot over the years.
I got down to the finish line to catch the consolation and final. McIntyre took the consolation by a pretty good distance.
The finals was a pretty tight race. Apparently Dean was leading Auld and Fryer coming out of the chicanes. But Auld passed Dean, and Fryer passed both of them. I snapped my picture a second too soon, by Fryer just took the lead.
After the Inline race it was time for buttboard.
Once again I got to race Fryer this time with Hicks. I took the hard right a little too slowly and it took most of the course to catch up to Hicks. I thought I had him the chicane, but I took it just too slow. I needed about another 100 feet of road to pass Hicks. Fryer though was untouchable on the buttboard.
In the consolation race Hicks was wiggling forward to try to beat Klotzberg. Unfortunately for him he had a long way to wiggle.
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.
It seemed like everyone gathered around to watch Bob shoot back up the hill.
After a quick run Bob allowed Fryer to take a run on the luge, as a prize for winning.
Fryer is now a member of the jet luge pilots.
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
Everyone headed inside
for a more formal presentation of the awards.
But first there was a raffle. Bill raffled off three boards.
The beautifully painted Hammond went to Kim.
Bob Ozman got the General Lee.
And Riley got the gumball machine.
Dean then proceeded to hand out the awards again.
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.