EDI - France
EDI's first race of the year was held in France. We ended up on a one lane road in Annecy, France. The course was about 3/4's of a mile, with three hairpins. Speeds in the high 50's entering the hairpin, but you almost had to stop to make it through the hairpin.
Early in the Week
Kurtis and I left The Highland Wheels on Monday and spend two days in Paris.
Kurtis continued his Handstand Around the World tour.
Kurtis and I tried to get our picture taken in front every major tourist location.
The first night we ate one the Champs Elyses.
We went to Versaille
The palace is enormous. The section here
is huge. Kurtis is about a football field from the front door. When we got inside we saw a pamplet,(one of the folded kind, that was about 8.5 x 11) the building was about the size of a quarter!
This was one of the smaller buildings.
We visited Notre Dame.
The inside was magnificent.
We even had time to check out the Louvre. The Eifel Tower was pretty impressive at night.
The hotel we stayed in, had an elevator. But I'm not really sure why, as it wasn't much bigger than Kurtis.
Thursday, May 31st
We flew from Paris to Nice Thursday morning. We planned on spending a day and a half in Nice before the race. Both Kurtis and I had a ton of luggage, and since this was a domestic flight we got hit with a fairly hefty excess baggage fee! We met up with Bob Scwartz at the airport. Manu was there to pick us up. He squeezed the three of us and our equipment in his jeep.
At this point we found out that all was not cheery on the home front. It looks like we were going to lose the race hill! But no worries, Manu says, he has a backup plan. He drives us by the original road, which looked technical and fun. Then we drove us down the backup road, technical, but a bit more narrow and a little more dangerous. He then dropped us off at the hotel,
out in the middle of no where and tells us to call him around 7PM for dinner.
Fortunately Chris Chaput and his dad are in the hotel. They are rooming with Bob. I'm hungry, haven't eaten all day. The restaurant is closed (its around 3 PM and won't open till 6) We are told the only thing open is the McDonalds 5 km away!
The five of us are off for lunch. After lunch, and an afternoon rain shower, we decided to walk the second course. The course isn't too bad, but it does have problems.
Its got a couple of hairpins,
but all in all not too bad. We end up driving into Nice for dinner, and find a nice pizza joint. Probably the best pizza I've ever had!
Friday, June 1st
We decided to spend the day in Nice.
And spend some time on the beach.
Kurtis and Chaput cruise along the board walk,
I knew I should have brought my butt board. Bob somehow thought we were going to be put up at a hotel on the beach with blue umbrellas. All weekend he kept moaning about Blue Umbrellas.
We were supposed to have a meeting in Carros at 6 PM, so we started to head out when we ran into Pam and Todd.
We got to the meeting late, but thats ok, the major was speaking, and we couldn't understand a word he was saying.
It turns out that we can't race in Carros! But don't worry we they have a backup road, in Annecy, about 8 hours away! We would spend Saturday driving there and race on Sunday.
But first we were going to dinner.
It was taking forever to order, so a couple of a us left, we wanted to eat and get back to the hotel early enough to get some sleep. Once again we end up at McDonald's. We hurry back to the hotel to repack. Most of our equipment and luges will be shuttled to Manu's house tonight. Tomorrow we would meet at the "Ford" hotel to leave for Annecy.
Saturday, June 2nd
We were supposed to be leaving from the "Ford" hotel at 11:00 AM.
As usual this didn't go on schedule, we left about 1:30. We had a caravan of four cars.
There was our chase vehicle, the tv crew's car, Manu's car, and Chaput's rental. After about an hour on the road we stopped in this small town for lunch.
Manu's timing is impeccable, as I tried to take a picture of the town.
We are in the foothills of the Alps, and the town went up the mountain side.
It was a long drive, and we were supposed to be practicing right now, but we did see some cool French sites.
We did stop several times along the way.
Late in the afternoon we hit another small town for some snacks.
There are two routes from Nice to Annecy, one is to follow the auto bahn, the other is a fairly straight route through the mountains. We took the fairly straight route, while this is a shorter route, it is not a major freeway.
About an hour from our destination we stopped for some gas, the skateboarders took the opportunity for some practice.
We finally got to Annecy, where we stayed at the Hotel Altess.
After getting settled in we headed into town to the Burn Out Cafe for dinner.
Before dinner we collected in the bar for some drinks,
and a video of the race course.
We went upstairs for dinner.
We're racing around here somewhere.
I think we were supposed to be eating outside, but it was raining.
Sunday, June 3rd
We had a fairly leisurely morning, since we couldn't race until noon. We had breakfast in the hotel, and then packed up and checked out. We went up to the hill, where we saw it for the first time. The road was barely one lane wide.
I think everyone walked the course.
Yes the course is narrow. The top half of course was fairly straight,
with speeds probably in the fifties. There were three hairpins, the first was the worst because of the speed,
many people ran off the road here.
The second and largest of the three hairpins.
Immediately after was the third hairpin, which was close to the end.
Apparently the French ride this course on a regular basis and have some permanent safety measures, including mattresses.
We pitted at the bottom.
The chases vehicle could be crowed at times.
Yeah, it can get real crowded.
Somehow the Brits found out that the race was rescheduled, and the flew into Geneva. But their flight left at like 7pm. So the plan was to get the luge out of the way first. We got three practice runs, one qualifying runs, and then ran a dual.
There were 18 pros, so we took the last three pros and had a three way race off. The three got on the line, the starter would said, in French, three... two... one... then go. He had been doing this through qualifying. Well George heard "one" (which in French does sound like go) and went! For the most part it came down who ever got through the first hairpin cleanly first won the race. I know I was leading into the first hairpin, and took it a weeee bit too fast.
As soon as racing was over, a few of the lugers took off for the airport. Then the standup guys raced. Manu takes the first hairpin cleanly.
But it seems that some racers theory of taking the hairpin, was to NOT break, wreck, and get back on the board! Some thought this was actually a faster way through the turn. This first hairpin was where most of the spectators were.
Time for the awards, which were some nice look bowls.
The festivities wrapped up around 9 PM. It took us about an hour to pack up and leave. We hit the road at 10 PM for the ride back. We stopped at a gas station for gas and dinner and motored our back to Nice. Chaput and I were in Chaput's rental, and we made a wrong turn once. Thankfully we caught up with the caravan before they left the freeway. We got to Manu's house about 5 AM, where the rest of our luggage was stored.
We repacked our luggage and were off to the airport for an early morning flight.
It wasn't too hard for me to sleep most of the way home.
We first flew to London where we had a two hour lay over. Something happened to our plane, and we had to use another one. We ended up leaving an hour late, and had to be transported by bus over the tarmac to the new plane. After finding Kurtis's luge, I think I know what happened to our plane.
This is supposed to be straight, and is fairly solid. Kurtis said he drove his car over this to try and bend it back, but no luck.
This trip came very close to being a bust. Fortunately most of us from America had come over for the Highland Wheels Extreme but it would have been horrible for those that came just for this race. But EDI came through and found another course, although it was on the other side of the country. While the race course was fun, I personally don't think its a world class race course. The course is a great practice area, but is too short and narrow for a race, especially a race where athletes from around the world are come too. There were no physical injuries.