The Highland Wheels Extreme
The second annual Highland Wheels Extreme was once again held in the Cairngorm Mountains near the resort town of Aviemore. Aviemore is a small town about an hour south of Inverness.
While the town is small it has plenty of good restauraunts!
The race course was the same as last year's. The course is the road leading up to the ski resort, and is 2.2 miles long. The course starts off with a short, gentle straight a way.
There are two rights
that lead into the straight a way
before the Gun Barrel. This straight is fairly steep and builds speed quickly, just it time for the Gun Barrel.
This turn is a hairpin with a large radius.
Once you exit the Gun Barrel you head through the flats. A long almost quarter mile section that is flat, if not slightly uphill. That flats end at the Sugar Bowl, another hairpin. The Sugar Bowl starts off slow, but you begin to pick up speed midway through the turn, and the Sugar Bowl spits you out into another straight. This is the steepest part of the course with speeds close to 70 MPH! About halfway down is a left kink, and the straight ends at a larger left kink called the Juice Box.
This is the fastest part of the course, and the entrance is very intimidating from the luge, as you head for a wall of hay.
And yet the Juice Box is barely a kink in the road.
Last year the entrance to the Juice Box was full of pot holes. Chris Beard had it patched!
The bottom part of the course is a series of chicanes before hitting the finish.
Thursday, May 30
I got on the plan last night in Seattle, spent the morning in London, and got to Inverness around 4 pm.
Jo and Do were waiting for me. We hung out at the airport for a bit to pick up Dave Rogers. It was much easier to fit the four of us into the car, than the four of us and Kurtis, like last year!
I got in and got registered, and picked up a pair of gloves that Chris is having made. These gloves are the type with protected knuckles. We were also given a program with ever rider's picture in it! Later we had our rider's meeting.
We've got a much smaller group than last year.
Turns out that Pete Eliot lost his luge, so he decided to take a hacksaw to one of the Britsh Rogers Bros knockoffs.
Meanwhile John continued to work on his new Lott Speedstick.
The race wouldn't be the same without some last minute board building.
I headed up to my hotel room to put my board together. I was pretty tired, and was falling asleep as I put it together.
Friday, May 31
After a Full English Breakfast, which could have included blood pudding and hagis, we started to gather for the bus ride to the course.
The Freedom Inn is about 8 miles from the course. This year there were only about a half dozen people that didn't have their own ride. Our pit area was at right at the finish line. This year we had a Red Bull tent, as well as a pit tent.
A booth was set up to sell stuff, programs, wheels, tshirts, gloves.
This year we had a bus to take us to the top,
and a trailer for the boards.
For some reason the bus driver drove to the ski resort to turn the bus around.
I was on the start line for the first practice run of the weekend, when I played with my board and realized something to feel right. I looked down, and leaned left, my wheels turned right! They were on backwards. I THOUGHT I could probably ride the board down if I sat up, so I let everyone else go and then headed out. Turns out its IMPOSSIBLE to ride a board backwards, you make so many minor adjustments without even thinking about it. I got down to the Gun Barrel and decided to give up. I did meet a photographer at the corner who took my picture.
After sweeping most of the corner, one of the spectators offered to give me a ride to the bottom!
We got quite a bit of practice in, even though it seemed like we kept the road open longer than we needed to. On my second to last practice run of the day, I started to high side in the Juice Box, doing about 65. Fritz was right behind me. I don't know if he hit me or not, but I started to tumble, and then he definitely slammed into my side. I rode on the top of my hand for a bit, tumbled a bit before finally sliding off the road. My only injuries were a bruised side, and scrapped knuckles. Now I'm wishing I wore the gloves I bought yesterday!
Saturday, June 1
Today was qualifying day. We had a new bus driver, when we got to the point in the road, where they joined back up, he swung the bus around in a U turn and dropped us off. Everyone on the bus erupted in a large cheer, I wonder if the driver ever figured out why we cheered him? Buttboards qualified in the morning, and we had quite a crowd.
After qualifying Pete decided his board needed to be fixed.
One of the restaurants in town had a tent to sell food all weekend.
Life is so much easier when you can get your lunch right on the course.
In the afternoon we did the street luge qualifying.
Last year Kurtis managed to get a pit crew. The kids came out again this year, and hung out with Kahn and me.
While it hadn't rained yet, it was WINDY today. I would say around 40 MPH! Fortunately it was a tailwind at the start, but it made it difficult to walk up hill.
The bus was left at the start so we could hide from the wind.
It was decided to run the Standup race today, as it is supposed to rain tomorrow. I stayed in the pit areas and took some pictures at the finish line. Meanwhile our pit crew kept us entertained.
After dinner we had another riders meeting. But first Richard Hod was handing out cake for Pete Eliot's birthday.
Chris Beard got Pete Love to read the result of today's qualifying.
Dave Rogers took the pole in street luge, and Darren took it in buttboard.
Sunday, June 2
Today is race day, it also happens to be part of the Golden Jubilee. The Brits came out in full force to celebrate the Queen.
The weather didn't look all that promising, but the course was dry, and it wasn't raining as we went up the hill for a practice run. As we got to the top, it began to rain! The practice run was wet, but it stopped raining by the time we got to the bottom.
We started off with the buttboard race. The course was already drying out. By the time the finals came around the course was completely dry. As expected Darren won, with Dave Rogers hot on his tail. I managed a respectable fourth!
Gilder finished off the podium with a third.
Richard Hod and Dave Auld finished off the 6 man finals.
I thought we were going to break for lunch, so I bought lunch. Turns out a fun run was in the works, the flag pass. I believe the rules were who ever had the flag had to sit up and hold it out for the someone to grab. [hopefully I've got a pic coming] Darren claimed he had the flag FIVE times! Apparently, you also had to be dressed appropriately.
Some guys have an interesting concept on what a tool is.
Several guys showed up for the gravity bike race.
Ian had a fairing, and qualified almost minute faster than the the next bike, and just seconds slower than Dave's streetluge time. He decided to remove the fairing to have a more interesting race. He still won!
Finally we have the streetluge race. I think the brackets were a bit messed up was Dave and Darren raced each other in the second round (in my heat none the less!) I just missed getting into the finals, and in an attempt to win the consolation round, took the Gun Barrel to fast and ran off the road. Dave ran away with the race, and left the next five in a fairly tight pack at the finish. Kahn tried to pass on the outside, and ended in the dirt, wrecking spectacularly in front of everyone. Auld and Lott managed to take second and third.
Incredibly for the second year in a row, there was almost no rain for the Highland Wheels Extreme. We had the one wet practice run, and a partially wet course for the beginning of the buttboard race. The awards this year were wheels made out of wood, and Scotch from a nearby brewery.
As the awards ceremony started, it began to rain. Chris Beard, once again, put on an incredible race.
Round, Bates, Farrow
Snowdon, Warburton, Rogers
Lott, Rogers, Gilder
Rogers, Auld, Lott
Dave batted for the cycle, taking home quite a bit of loot.
Rumor has it, a lot of people got drunk on some cheap (read free) Scotch at the after party.
After we got cleaned up, and had some dinner, we went back to the bar at the hotel for the after party. First we got to preview the video.
And then we partied.
Monday, June 3
Time to go home. Most of the people packed up and headed out Monday morning. Since I was going to the French race I decided I was going to spend some extra time in Scotland.
The first thing I was going to do was go back to the Ski Resort. I wanted to see where everyone was headed. Did I ever mention how many cars were waiting for the road to open? Tour busses, cars, motorcycles, a ton of people. Hod and I went up the mountain to check out the Cairngorm Mountain Railway.
The ski resort has a railway that takes you to the lodge at the top of the mountain. Apparently the area is protected, so you can't actually exit the lodge! But it does have a nice view.
The view is just slightly better than the view we had from the start.
Now I'm off to France.
Chris Beard and family and friends put on another incredible race. There were fewer people than last year, which impacted the race a bit, but there was some nice touches, like the racing program. While two of the standup guys were taken to the hospital with head injuries, there were no major injuries (they were both sent home, but with recommendations not to ride any more that weekend.) And miraculously the weather held out again!