Downhill Jamboree 2005

Downhill Jamboree 2005

Downhill Jamboree

Chamrousse, France

Chamrousse is a ski resort in the alps above Grenoble, France. The summer season is a slow time of year, but it is still a destination for picnicers, hikers, paragliders and tourists. The resort is split into two sections. The lower section, 1650, is a little busier as it has more restaurants as well as a gondola to the top.

The course starts below the mall located in the upper section, 1750. It is an amazing course, over five and a half mile long. There are six major hairpins, and two sections that are straight enough to reach speeds of 60 mph. I was starting to learn the course by the end of the weekend, but it is so long, it is hard to learn it in a only a few runs. Of course 10 minutes with constant turning is murder on wheels.

The course in Google Maps.

Friday, July 19

I woke up to the sound of bells, many bells. I looked out my hotel window, and the size of the mountain side was covered in sheep.

And it look like it would be a nice warm summer day. Inscription was from 8-10 AM, so I took my time waking up, and go down to registration around 10. There was still a long line of people trying to register.

Fortunately for me there was two lines, one for A-L and the other for M-Z, the M-Z line was nice and short! It was still quite a while before we started riding.

It takes a long time to register over 200 people.

The Downhill Jamboree is a free ride. It is a lot like the practice session of a race, it just the whole even is practice. The road is closed, there are paramedics and course workers. The free ride allows pretty much anyone in a gravity powered vehicle to go down the course, the only requirement was a helmet.  There were a lot of contraptions the people rode, street turtles,

skeleton luges,

not sure what to call this,

off road inline skates,

summer ice luges,


We finally got started around noon,

low flying clouds and all. A mighty roar goes up as the first wave of riders starts for the first time, and the jamboree is underway. Friday is a light day for the jamboree, some riders won't show up till tomorrow. So we only needed three busses

to get us back to the top. It takes at least 15 minutes, but closer to a half hour before the next run can start. We have to let the busses go back to the bottom and that takes 15-20 minutes.

So there is a bit of waiting.

Someone got hurt after each of the first two runs, and that caused some long delays.

There are two roads from Uriage, the village below Chamrousse. There is a sign at the bottom, saying the course road is closed and there will be delays.

After one of the runs, a cement truck had been waiting to go up the course. As the last of the riders came down the course, we began to board the buses. Apparently the truck got impatient, and decided to go, running over one of the barriers.

It takes a long time to get to the bottom of this course. It didn't take long for some people to begin to make modifications to their equipment. Some tried to add headrests.

While others tried to add padding.

Since it is going to be a long weekend, and each run is fairly tiring, I sat out a run, took some pictures of the start. It is quite amazing to see 25 lugers leave, and yet still have quite a crowd waiting to go.

Taking up the rear are the carvers and those going fairly slow.

Following the last rider down, was an ambulance.

We ran pretty late, and I got to dinner close to 9 PM. The Pizza Roc was running a special for us. Originally they had set up tables outside, but it was getting pretty cold out, so they moved the tables inside. The Pizza Roc serves past and pizza's, but the riders menu was spaghetti with a cup of wine.  After dinner, we headed into the Gallery to watch some videos into the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday, July 20

As more people were showing up today, registration was open from 8-10. Of course we didn't get started right at 10. I wandered around to check out the various vendors that set up.

We finally got underway, about 11.

With over 300 riders being released in packs of 40 or so riders, it takes a while for everyone to get to the bottom. The fastest riders took just less than 10 minutes, the slowest probably 15 minutes. After each run everyone would collect near the busses chatting about the run, or watching the next group finish.

When it was time to go, everyone would climb aboard one of the 4 buses or half dozen vans.

After two runs, we broke for lunch. Sausages and chicken skewers were cooked up

for a small fee. But it was to get in early, as the cooked food went quickly.

There was an announcer near the start line

that would periodically make announcements, in French. I would have to look for some who I know spoke both languages, to find out what was said, and usually the answer was nothing important. So I just watched for people starting to gather at the start line.

Generally it meant we were going "soon." (sometime in the next 10-15 minutes)

While we waited to go back up there was watermelon.

The ride back to the top took about 15 minutes. I usually dozed off, but one trip back up was pretty rowdy. A couple of the guys did some sort of crowd surfing/ climb along the luggage rack.

Once back at the top, we would have to wait for the busses to return to the bottom. We were serenaded while waiting.

Towards the end of the day we were entertained

by some flatlanders.

And of course we waited.

Once again I skipped a run, watched over 300 riders head out.

We got a total of six runs in, over 33 miles of riding. It was time for dinner at the Pizza Roc.

After dinner there was some Swedish Massage.

There was supposed to be a concert, which I think was supposed to start about the same time we all hit the Pizza Roc for dinner. I think the concert was down at the start line, while everyone was up at the Gallery eating dinner, as many of us expected it to be in the Gallery. We ended up just hanging out at the Pizza Roc.

In the wee hours of the morning, the Brits decided to hang out at another pub, who set tables up in the Gallery for them.

The Gallery had three bars, that usually close around midnight, and apparently all stay open much later for us.

Sunday, July 21

Today the schedule wasn't supposed to start until 11. So of course we didn't get start

till after noon.

We have a long wait before getting another run in around 2:30. After this run there was some jumping.

Apparently someone broke their leg,

hence the delay before our third run. The flatlanders were also back to keep us entertained.

The entrance to the campsite

is located a little down hill from the start. Many people would head down there to the campsite. But this section was also used as a testing ground or practice.

About 5:30, we begin to prepare for the forth and final run of the day and of the event.

When we learn that there is a missing luger. He had been missing since at leas the third run, his board was found on the side of the road, but no sign of him. Just as they are about ready to release us for the last run, it was announced they had found the luger. He had gone off the road and was on the side of a cliff. Eventually a helicopter was brought in to rescure him. The final run was canceled, the event was over.

Most of the people coming to the event live within a few hours, and were packing up to leave. I was invited to have dinner with the British Contingent

, as they were all staying the night. We had a nice BBQ, and found another purpose for a luge.

We sat around the fire, cooked our food on the sticks, and rejoiced in a fine weekend of riding.

Chamrousse is a special event, what I have said here and the pictures I've presented, don't do the event justice. This year there were over 350 riders, and the hill is over 5.5 miles long. The road surface isn't in the greatest shape, but anything is in great shape after you've ridden Barrett. Unfortunately due to the length of the course, it is impossible to do a great job of protecting the entire course. Last year that wasn't a problem, as it is a free ride people tend not to push the envelope. This year it seemed someone was seriously injured on every run. I know at least 4 people went to the hospital. The event ended on a sour note when someone went over the edge, without anyone knowing. If he hadn't fallen off his luge, we might not have known. Days after the event I heard this last rider was in a coma. Please ride safe.

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