Fire on the Mountain
Ansted, West Virginia
Bridge Day is an annual event in mid October held in Fayettville, West Virginia.
Half of the New River Gorge Bridge
is closed down and BASE jumping is allowed. The bridge is the second tallest in America, and the event draws a quarter million people. In 1997 the town of Ansted, about 15 minutes from Fayettville wanted an event of their own, and Fire on the Mountain was born. The town paved a portion of the road up Fire Mountain, creating one of the fastest most technical race courses in America. The race was held for a few years and then evaporated. Dr No Racing and GSI spent some time bringing the race back.
The course is about a mile long but is only 12 feet wide, a single lane, barely enough room for four riders. The top three quarters of the course is very twisty, with no straights, and fifty foot cliffs. The course drains out onto a straight that drops fairly fast. The straight starts ABOVE a trailer, and quickly passes beneath the trailer before its driveway! The straight ends in a 90 degree right with speeds approaching 70 mph, with the finish line shortly after the turn.
A few days before the trip
I usually am prepared for my trips, but for some reason I didn't start planning this one until very late. Turns out Sep 5 is the start of Gauley Season, which I didn't know. But it means that pretty much EVERY bed in the area were all booked. Fortunately I wasn't the only one in this situation. I hooked up the Bay Area Boys. Rian James found a cabin that sleeps 14.
The place came equipped with BBQ's, volleyball nets, horseshoe pit and a hot tub.
Friday, September 5
I came out to Ansted to help Neil put on the event. We spent a good portion of the day tracking down hay. Which gave some of the riders a chance to help us toss hay.
I got back to the cabin about 11:00 pm. And found it full of people, 1/3 of the racers stayed at the cabin! The cabin has a large rec/dining room that was perfect for board work.
The cabin even came with a refrig of Red Bull (courtesy of David Dean.) Richard Hod broke out with a brand new Candy Apple Rogers Bros board.
At two am people were still fiddling with the boards.
I turned in as I had to get up early to finish the course.
Saturday, September 6
Apparently West Virginia had been getting a lot of rain. The paper in Charleston said their normal rain fall was around 45 inches, and they had already received 44. Fortunately we were having a good weekend, but it started out foggy.
The day started early with the typical riders meeting. ,
Ace sponsored the race, providing a bus and driver. The bus came with a flatbed trailer to transport the luges.
There was time for three practice runs before racing began.
I was situated in the last turn, and while I had my work cut out for me as there were several crashes, I also had lots of help from the EMT's and firemen. Morning racing saw Amateur and Rookie luge, Pro buttboard.
Most of the heats were fairly tight.
We had a short break for lunch. Kim took orders for The Sub Shack, and lunch was delivered. The 4H club, who provided course workers, also had a stand set up selling drinks and snacks. Some people rested on the lunch break.
After lunch we did a parade lap. Everyone
went down, slowly, at the same time.
Since we were going to travel very slowly, a few went down without leathers. I tried to get some pictures on the way down,
but realized that hanging onto a buttboard with one hand wasn't going to be trivial.
I put the camera way after the second turn.
After lunch we had gravity bikes,
with 5 racers, amateur buttboard, and finally pro luge. The racing was close all day, with some of the racing being decided AFTER the last turn.
In fact racing was so tight in the Pro ranks practically everyone had a tie of some sort after the four heats.
Everyone gathered around to see where the ties were. There was a five way run off for 10-14
, there were several other run offs including one for first and second between John Rogers and John Fryer.
There were quite a few wrecks in my corner. Most of them weren't very serious, although one of the rookies fractured his wrist in one of his first heats of the day. He continued on to take second in the rookie class, as well as race in the amatuer class!
After the racing was over, and while the award ceremony was being prepared, several of the riders let the kids ride the boards.
Neil and Kim presented the course workers with certificates signed by all of the riders.
And then it was timed to present the awards.
Yes those are firemen.
Biancaniello, Koch, Hurt
Morrison, Schumacher, Mistratta
Mahzdan, Schumacher, Kachoris
Whalen, M Cayer, Connelly
Fryer, J Rogers, D Rogers
J Rogers, Fryer, D Rogers
After posing for a group photo
everyone cleaned up for the party. I didn't get to the party until late as we had to tear down the course. The bad news for the day, after removing most of the hay, Dr. No's Rogers Bros board was stolen!
The after party has held at the lounge at the Ace complex. The complex is pretty large, they have cabins, chalets, camp grounds, and a small lake. The party was winding down by the time I showed up. Everyone was sitting around watching Busse's video from the race. I've always enjoyed watching racing footage at the end of the day. Unfortunately for me, most of the footage was taken from the corner that I worked in.
Sunday, September 7
Fire on the Mountain was only a one day event. For day two a handful of us rafted the Upper Gauley.
The Upper Gauley, during Gauley season is one of the best white water rivers in the world. ACE claims its the number 2 river in America (behind the Grand Canyon) and seventh in the world. We would hit five class five rapids. One set of rapids is over a half mile long!
The scenery on the river was pretty incredible.
The region has had an abnormal rainfall lately, and the water was at an all time high. The river was really running.
Our boat got flipped!
Fortunately we were all prepared and the river mellowed out momentarily. We got most of the way through the half mile rapid when one of our boats got into trouble. Our boat
to the rescue.
We had to paddle back up stream, not easy on a river flowing at about 4000 cfs. The other rafters leapt into the water and we pulled them aboard. Just as we rescued the other raft, two more rafts crashed into the rock and got stuck!
We had lunch across from a 12 foot drop, one of the larger drops on the river. It was fun watching the other boats run the rapids. A kayaker accompanies the group
and films the rafts going through key points. About an hour after you return to the Ace compound the film is ready for viewing. While we were waiting we caught the tail end of a different trip's film. The other trip went on the Lower Gauley. To get to the put in and take out for the Lower Gauley the buses drive up our race course. On the return trip they filmed the course and used this as the end of the film! Apparently they point out our course as a street luge course, and have done so since the first race back in 97!
The handful of us that went on the trip had a blast. If you like whitewater you've got to hit this river. Thanks to Dr. No
for putting this trip together. Dr. No got the good news while we were waiting for our movie, his board was recovered!
It had been raining in the area a lot, but we lucked out with a beautiful weekend. We got to return to one of the more technical courses in America, and my second race course. One person ended up with hairline fractures in his wrist, but he was happy to take home a trophy. Everyone seemed to enjoy the race, and those that went had a blast on the rafting trip. I look forward to seeing this as a multi day event. Ansted really enjoys having us there.