Front Royal, VA
Front Royal is a small town about an hour south west of DC, nestled in the Appalachian foothills. The skyline drive starts here and runs along the top of the Appalachians. The drive is supposed to be spectacular, but the entrance was closed due to ice the day I was there.
On the outskirts of Front Royal is the 4h Club.
During the summer 4H clubs from around the state hold their summer camps here. This place has everything, tennis courts, basketball courts, pool, a small pond, and a nice road. The course starts just below the dormitories,
and takes a sharp right almost immediately.
Just around the bend is a short flat spot that heads to a sharp drop.
This drop gives you enough speed to make the left and head uphill.
A left and a right later leads to the sweeper towards the bottom.
There is a parking lot on the inside of the sweeper, after practice it was decided to stay on the road, it made the race more interesting. Speeds picked up through the sweeper to prepare you for the hard right left combo at the bottom.
The finish line was about 50 feet after the last turn.
Saturday, November 30
About a month ago Bob mentioned that there might be snow the day of the race. I got to DC yesterday, the weather was nice for late November, although it was windy and cold. I woke up and the sky was mostly clear, with a few high clouds, sounds promising. But it was cold, it might have gotten into the 40's.
We used the common room for an indoor pit area.
While this was a GSI event Bob and Neil ran the event, Tim Cayer came to watch, and bring his wares.
Darren Lott ran tech inspection.
The race even had a few sponsors.
Practice got started a bit late, but everyone was ready.
We practiced until about 12:30, getting about 9 runs in! The weather was holding up, but dark clouds were seen in the distance. Red Bull showed up to had out samples, sometime after practice started. Eric convinced the Red Bull dude (Jason) to take a go. Eric had an extra board and found some extra leathers. Jason took two runs, and crashed both times, but I think we'll see him again.
Lunch was provided, pizza along with soft drinks.
During lunch I checked out some of the luges. This was the first race of the 2003 season, racing under the new 2003 rules. Probably the biggest rule change was to allow fairings.
I broke my leg and arm at the back in July. I thought I might race again in the 2003 season, I just didn't think it would be the 2003 season at the end of 2002. They are allowed in front of the feet,
as well as behind the head.
raced first. GSI has a cool racing system, everyone races at least four heats, no qualifying.
The weather was worsening. It sprinkled a few times, but generally the track stayed dry. Buttboard ran next. After the third heat it started to sprinkle again. Not quite enough to make the track slippery, but it was getting there. And then, after the fourth heat, snow flakes started to fall! Sean Clarke and I ended up in a tie for second. So we had to have a run off to decide the podium. The track was now slick, and snow was still falling. I decided to take it easy, and slam on the brake if needed, but still try to win. I lost Sean at the first turn, I thought he was going to draft me, it turned out he slid out a bit. At the bottom turn I slammed on my brakes hard, as I was sliding, it gave Sean enough time to catch up to me. We had a photo finish!
The snow continued for the am and pro luge. Since I was still recuperating from my broken limbs, I didn't need the extra distraction of an icy road. I knew there was the possibility of the road drier out for later roads, but I also knew I couldn't hold back if I did race. The road was slippery the first hear. Several people slid out in the first turn. Of course the course was completely dry by the last heat.
Darren Lott has on fire most of the day. He was trying out a new Abec 11 pour and found they were slow. In practice I usually caught him on the uphill. He switched wheels and I could never catch him. Darren double podiumed.
After the racing was over, while the results were being studied, we posed for group shots.
Jason started up a business earlier this year, Predator Bearings. He was one of the sponsors of the race, giving a set of bearings to as podium prizes.
He brought Woody with him.
I'm not sure of the story behind this guy, but I've got a feeling we'll see him at a race again.
Bob Swartz and Neil Orta put this race on.
They started off by thanking their sponsors, Jason
and Tim at landluge.com
among others. Bob made the course workers come up.
I can't say enough about course workers, without them I couldn't race. Thanks guys.
Junior luge/buttboard: Ashleigh Cayer
Rookie luge: Roland Morrison, Victor Shumacher, David Dean
Standup: Jim Ziemlanski, Doug Dupin, Michel Maurice.
Doug's wife expecting, so he took off as soon as the racing was over. Woody sat in for him.
Gravity Bike: Jason Breault, Jeff Schonzeit, Mackenzie Cayer
Pro buttboard: Darren Lott, Chris McBride, Sean Clarke
Am luge: Roland Morrison, Victor Shumacher, David Dean
Pro luge: Darren Lott, Jeff Schonzeit, Eric Eisenberg.
Landluge.com paid prize money to the top five spots.
We had about 30 racers today, and only two serious injuries. A standup guy sprained his wrist, and one of the rookies flipped and landed hard on his back, claimed he pinched a nerve. The road was a lot of fun, not too challenging, and not too dangereous with lots of grass runoff. The weather was interesting, with even a few flakes of snow. I heard the Monday the eastern seaboard got a ton of snow. We were lucky weatherwise this year, perhaps next time the race will be held earlier in the year.
Jeff and I went back to the hill the next day. The sun was shining, but it was bitterly cold. In one of his last races, Jeff took the inside line in the turn at the bottom, and just barely ran off the road to make it. It worked, he passed and won the heat. He wanted to check the turn on in the daylight, we found some ICE there.
Bob and Neil put on one fun race, free lunch, plenty of practice, plenty of riding, and a fun road to boot.