The race at Mt. Cheaha on March 6th, was not only the inaugural race for NSLA it also kicked off the 1999 race season. The race was held on top of the highest point in Alabama, Mt. Cheaha State Park. While the race was not the greatest spectator wise, the resort like setting made this a nice race to attend.
The course itself was over two miles long, and the locals claimed it required at least three brakes, riding in the right lane. Most of the pros found they could skip the braking portion of the race. The course was too long to describe in accurate enough detail. The worse part of the course were the road turtles down the center. They were high enough to sprain your ankle if you tried to brake at the wrong time, bend a ZRoller axle, or give you the wobbles.
Saturday, March 6
We left Atlanta (the nearest airport, about two hours east of Anniston) in the wee hours of the morning. On the way we encountered rain. Calling this rain is like calling the Washington Monument a toothpick. I had the wipers on full blast and couldn't see much more than 50 feet. It was still raining when we got to the hill. At this point I'm tired enough to blow of the race if its still raining in the morning (mere hours away). Although I still have to put my board together, I decide a 7:30 wakeup call is early enough, although we have an 8 am meeting. I woke up at 7:30 and looked out the window. If it was still raining I was going back to sleep. I couldn't tell if it was raining because I couldn't see the parking lot. It was fogged in! I went back to sleep. I'm not sure how long I slept, but I think I made it to the pit area around 10, that was after a quick breakfast at the restaurant.
The weather was improving, the fog had lifted, and the sun was shining a bit, helping to dry out the course. We also had to wait for Shannon who had gone into town for the chase truck. Things finally got under way around 11. Unfortunately, because of the late start, and the distance from the pits to the starting line, I didn't take many pictures. We ended up running late, and it was quite dark as we finished. The racers were being run seconds apart. In my last heat, I hit a road turtle wrong, and I got the wobs, bad. So bad I decided to sit up, when I was passed by riders from the next heat!
Of all of the races I have attended, this is the only one that held the awards ceremony indoors! While we were waiting for Michael to arrive with the awards, Yo-Yo man David Forsythe.
On the amateur podium Al "Scarecrow" Braun, Chad Collins, and Michael Gilmore
Beagle Jarvis took his first gold followed by Dave Auld and Travis Tripp.
Sunday, March 7
A few of us decided to get a couple more rides in. We went to the end of the rode, where a trail head starts. And rode back about a half mile.
After a few short runs in Dave Auld suggests we take our picture in front of the appropriate sign.
I got a shot of the Blue Smoke Racing team.
I think Bob's trying to hide.
As we head down the mountain, back to Atlanta, we tried a couple of times to take a picture of the course. The best I could do was a shot of the road leading into the final sweeper.
This is what the road looks like to a normal person.
And this is what it looks like to a luger.