Downhill Jamboree 2004

Downhill Jamboree 2004

Downhill Jamboree

Chamrousse, France

Chamrousse is a ski resort, in the French Alps, about 30 kilometers from Grenoble, France. There are two sections, Chamrousee 1650 and Chamrousse 1750. The village at 1650 meters houses the gondola to the top of the mountain, while the one at 1750 has a small mall called the Gallery. The course starts just below Chamrousse 1750.

The course is just under 9.5 kilometers, or 5.6 miles! It takes a fast luger just under 10 minutes to ride to the bottom! There are two straightest sections, each about a half mile long with top speeds approaching 60 mph, but the rest of the course is so twisty the average speed is 30 mph. I can't really explain the course, other than it has a bunch of turns. I think there were 6 hairpins, and lots and lots of other turns.

The Downhill Jamboree is not a race, but a Freeride. A Freeride is exactly like a race, without the competition. The road is closed to traffic. There are corner workers with flags. Paramedics are standing by.  Its just like a race, except there is only the practice session. Its a great way to get some nice stress free riding in. The freerides are fairly stress free, as no one is trying to beat everyone else down the mountain. Its about coming out and having a great time riding.

The course in Google Maps.

Friday, July 23

I got to Chamrousse Friday morning. I thought I arrived a little late, as I was getting there around 10. The Chamrousse Freeride is special, it garners more than 300 riders! I got there around 10 AM and there was still a line to register.

The event was only 35 Euros for the entire weekend!

Sine I only brought my buttboard to Europe, I was going to have to tough it out and ride my buttboard. I got ready in time for the first run down the hill. I left at the back of the pack of street lugers, but with me taking everyone turn fairly cautiously I soon fell behind and was all on my own. The road was a blast, it just kept going. I started to get tired, and good barely move, and I was still going down hill. At one point, I didn't see any protection for a while, and I thought that maybe I missed the stopping point! I started to wonder if I was going to go all the way to the next village! Then I saw the next matressed filled hairpin. I still had a kilometer or so to go. The last few turns I could barely get around, I could barely move. And I finally go to the finish line. What an incredible run, but I could not stand up!

I wasn't in the best shape, haven't worked out much since I broke my leg last year. It generally took my 12 minutes to ride to the bottom. Imagine lying on a plank of wood, not quite supporting your lower legs as the board stops just past the bottom of your knee. Now, using your abs curve your torso to the right, then to the left. Then sit up and lean to the left as you lie down. Now repeat the entire process for the next 12 minutes. Most abdominal exercise programs don't ask you for twelve minutes!

I skipped the next run, needed to rest up a bit.

There were more people going down the hill at one time, than are in some races.

The free ride is open to pretty much everyone that ones to ride a contraption down the road. Gravity bikes

, inliners and roller skaters

, skateboards

, Street Turtles

, off road scooters

, and other odd contraptions

. For lunch so sausages were grilled up

or the gallery with several restaurants was just up the stairs from the start. Several vendors set up booths near the start area.

Between the late start and skipping some runs from being extremely tired I got three runs in. Almost 30 km!

After getting cleaned up I headed to the Gallery for dinner. There were a half dozen restaurants, but because this was a ski resort their prices were fairly expensive. But every restaurant had a "riders menu" for a fairly decent price. Usually an entree and a desert. After dinner everyone headed into the Gallery to watch some movies and see some pics taken from that day.

And of course drink beer.

Saturday, July 24

I woke to rain. I headed out to the start, and there weren't many people there, most everyone was at the Gallery, hanging out inside. The massage tables were moved inside.

Some others set up a slalom course.

While others just hung out.

Early in the afternoon it was decided to cancel the ride for the day. Some people skated around the start.

Supposedly there would be a slide contest in the afternoon. But I decided to drive down into Grenoble for the rest of the afternoon.

The night one of the restaurants cooked up free dinner for the riders.

After dinner a live band entertained everyone.

Despite the fact that there was no riding today, everyone was still is good spirits.

Sunday, July 25

The weather was much better today, nice and sunny,

with some low lying clouds. Problem was, the clouds were so low, we were actually above them.

The clouds below us were pretty thick.

We waited for a bit to let them clear out, but then we went. I got about half way down, and almost had to stop, it was so dark and thick I could barely see.

As the day wore on, the clouds cleared out. I was still riding conservatively after my accident from last year, and on my third run was the first time I really started pushing it. I barely broke heading into a kink in the road, amid a half dozen other riders, when my board started to slide out. As I was fighting to stay on the road, I was thinking that I didn't push it that hard, how did I slide out. As we exited the turn I realized there was a problem with my board. I managed to weave through traffic and stop the board. Turns out I lost one of my Flashbacks.

I was pretty lucky, I managed to spew a wheel near the only water fountain on the course.

I hung around and watched the rest of the riders come down.

That afternoon, between runs a flat land there was a demonstration.

We had three busses

and a slew of vans

to cart us to the top. At the bottom there was also a water fountain to cool off or drink from.

I ended up getting in 5 runs today, over 45 kilometers of riding. A good majority of the riders live in France and cleared out after the last ride, many had to go to work the next day. There were only a dozen of us left to hit the only restaurant that was still open on a Sunday night for dinner.

I don't think there were any serious injuries. I am sure there were lots of scrapes and bruises, but nothing broken. This was one of the coolest events I've been to. The vibe was mellow, and twelve minutes of riding a shot is unsurpassed!

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