Talimena Drive Xtreme Downhill
Yes, this race was in Oklahoma (just miles west of Arkansas), and no, despite rumors, we did not have to push each other around the race course. The course was held on Talimena Scenic Drive, which goes through the Ouachita National Forest. The road is on the Winding Stair Mountain, and is a beautiful drive, if you ever have the opportunity.
The race course was just over a mile long, with 7 numbered turns. The course starts
just outside the entrance to Winding Stair Campground with a straight.
The left at the end of the straight leads to a short uphill section and a right.
Speeds begin to pick up as you head towards a set of turns, a hard left
followed by a hard right.
Followed by another right.
This opens to another straight, followed by a hard left.
This is a 90 degree left, and its pretty large, but it comes at probably the fastest part of the course. Exiting the left you build up enough speed for another hard right.
Quickly followed by a shallow left
before hitting the finish line and an uphill shut down area.
Friday, June 14
I flew into Fort Smith, Arkansas, about an hour and a half from the race site. Because the hotel we were staying out is in Poteruo, OK,
about halfway between the airport and the race site, I stopped and checked in. I was hoping to get to tech tonight, so I also put my board together. I wasn't exactly sure where the course was, but I had a pretty good idea. The road is Hwy 1, and I thought it was to the left of 259.
I drove for several miles, up a very nice road. But it didn't feel right, there was no hay, as it was a 3 mile run that looks like a blast to run. So I turned around and went back the other direction. I soon saw the finish line,
but no hay!
I pulled into the campground, and found the F6 headquarters,
right smack dab in the middle of the course.
Marcus was doing the tech inspection, and Rusty was no where to be seen. Apparently he was busy working on getting hey transported from across the state!
Gerhard was told he had to put some duct tape over the bottom of some screws on his buttboard. Mason, of course, was giving him a hard time. Gerhard figured Tom's board could also use some duct tape.
While the duct tape was out, Tom decided Bill's helmet needed to be censored.
Well it was getting late, so those of us staying in town headed back in for dinner. We left about 9:00 PM, still no hay.
Saturday, June 15
The plan was to have a riders meeting at 8, so I got up at 7, had a quick breakfast and made the just over 30 minute drive to the race site. I figured we would have a late start, as I figured they would probably be setting the hay bales up in the morning. Imagine my surprise when I got to the course to find it completely lined with hay. Apparently the hay arrived shortly after our departure last night. The crew stayed up till past midnight setting the course up!
The pit area was a scenic overlook near the campsite.
Riders meet got under way around 8:30.
The plan was to put down here, this would be the turn around point for the chase truck, so we can move back and forth from the starting line to the pit area. We also met our course workers.
No not me, the girls.
We got several practice runs in, despite having to open the road every few minutes. Red Bull showed up, provided some shade
as well as some free drinks. It also seemed that every law enforcement officer in the region was there, from Forest Service Rangers, to Sheriffs. We did spend a lot of time waiting around in what little shade there was.
While this event was granted World Cup status by the IGSA, it is still a relatively small event. Yet there appears to me more cameras around than there were lugers! There were a ton of home video cameras, as well as two separate camera crews. Gerhard brought a crew from Germany, they want to add some footage to their Hot Heels documentary.
There was also a Korean team doing a documentary on Streetluge. They had hooked up with Mason, and did some filming in California, and came out to the race to get some real race footage. They also entered two racers, who Tom spent the last week training. One was an actor from Korea, Chang. The other was Ms Korea runner up, who lived in Southern California.
Tom Mason trained both of them on Templin Hwy, a non technical road. Both riders wrecked on their first run. I was amazed they actually made it to turn 6! While the ambulance was dispatched, Christy was ok, and Kang ended up with a sprained ankle.
Lunch was catered, for those that paid. While we were supposed to do qualifying after lunch, we decided to get some extra practice runs in, and cut qualifying down to one run.
We had a really good field for buttboard.
With almost half the field from overseas! Qualifying went fairly smoothly, although I did get red flagged. We had multiple riders on the course, to speed things along, and the guy in front of my wrecked. You've got to imaging Love's surprise when he passed me! The red flag was turned to green, and I took off, shortly afterwards Love flew by me. I think there was also one red flag in the streetluge qualifying as well.
Time to pack up and head back to the hotel. I was down in the pit area, thinking how nice the view was,
when the Germans wanted to do a short interview. They basically wanted a shot of each rider saying their name.
I also wanted to get another shot of the F6-Chicks. Now I wanted a shot of just them, but they kept insisting that I be in the picture as well.
Who am I to turn them down?
We got back to the hotel, cleaned up and took a dip in the pool. We finally decided to head out to the riders party. I think we were supposed to there at 8, but we left the hotel at 8, and the party was past the race course. It was supposed to be 12 hours past the race course. We get about 12 miles out, and we are thinking we made a wrong turn, when all of a sudden, there it is. Out in the middle of nowhere Saddle Gap restaurant and resort.
We had a buffet of slow roasted pork and some very tasty BBQ.
The bar was a beer only bar, and it was all canned at that!
For entertainment Rusty brought a mechanical bull in. I tried to get a picture of every rider who rode the bull. I missed a few though.
The bar was an interesting place.
But it seemed like an odd place to be, as far as I can tell, the only set of buildings for miles around. And the locals, well I've been around the world, and I've understood foreigners who don't speak English, better than I understood some of the regulars. It was pretty late when we made the hour long trip back to the hotel.
Sunday, June 16
I was the first to arrive in the pit area, bright and early around 8:30. Today was a bit cloudy, but the sight from the pit area was amazing.
After getting bored, when only Lally showed up, I wandered up to the campground to see what was going on. Turns out they decided to hold the rider's meeting at F6 headquarters.
We got a practice run in before starting racing. Inline,
, gravity bikes,
each ran three heats. After one of the inliners had a bad fall, the gravity bikes were red flagged. The dirt surfers were there for a demo.
After lunch, we ran buttboard and streetluge. I ended up in the semi finals with Lally, Lanz, and Bucheral. Lally was unbeatable, but I managed to get out in front of Lanz and Bucheral, before hitting the set of turns that I was having a problem with. Gerhard saw an opening in front of me, and tried to take it. Unfortunately the opening closed before he got there. The two of us collided and headed for the guard rail. Then I felt Bucheral hit us, and all three of us careen off into the guard rail. Gerhard took the brunt of the damage, and elected to sit out consolation. I also took it easy, and ended up 7th overall. I ran back to catch the finals. Just in time to see Lally win the race easily.
We had 18 racers in streetluge. It was decided that two heats would have 5 riders. I ended up in one of the heats with five riders, along with Fryer and Eliot. I followed Fryer and Eliot most of the way down the course, and I just couldn't catch them entering the last hard left. When I saw Eliot take the turn pretty wide and head for the hay. The hay just exploded, flying everywhere. I slammed on my brakes, trying not to hit Eliot or the hay. The consolation was Mason, Fielden, Riley, and me.
Fryer and Lally ended up in the finals. Lally was on his game, taking poles in both buttboard and luge. Winning buttboard, and apparently he was in the lead in the finals of luge, until the last turn.
Fryer takes his first win!
I'm not exactly sure what Mason did,
but you really don't want to piss of the LEO's, especially when there are that many around.
Back at the finish line, we were waiting around for the award ceremony, swapping war stories. Wurgraft was the inliner that fell in the final heat, damaging his head a bit, but he is ok.
As the awards ceremony started Mason gave awards to the Koreans, for the benefit of the television show. We all wondered what Dave Rogers was going to think when he found out that he had to work all year to get the award, and Kang went to one race?
Then the real ceremony starter. Gerhard first explained that he wanted to give these awards away at Hot Heels, but since the recipients wouldn't be there, it would be easier for Gerhard to bring them to America. The World Cup trophies were awarded.
Inline: Burger, Wurgraft, Focke. Peer is pictured because of an arithmetic mistake.
Stock Gravity Bike: (not pictured Hans, Villanueva) Siron
Standup: Kludy, Bucheral, Dupin
Buttboard: Lally, Gilder, Fryer
Streetluge: Fryer, Lally, James
I finally got the F6 Chicks to pose.
Check out that 6 shooter. The F6 guys wanted an Oklahoma touch to the trophies. Lally models his trophies and equipment he won.
We spent some time cleaning up the trash around the start, and most people in the campground packed up. Then a small group of us sat around F6 headquarters and talked about the state of the sport. We talked about a wide variety of topics, the pegless issue, lack of participation at events, streetluge without the XGames, and other topics. I'm not sure if anything was actually decided, but I think it was the first time an international group sat down to talk about some of our recent problems.
It was getting late so we went back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and some pizza and beer. The Austrians and Germans were heading out to Dallas around 4am, I think they stayed up and watched soccer.
Another fun event luging event was over. This event was plagued with some timing issues, apparently a lot of them caused by the local LEOs. Some of them would just get up and go, even though the course was closed. While a lot of people felt the course needed more hay bales, I don't think any of the more major injuries would have been prevented because of a lack of hay bales. There were a lot of wrecks, with plenty of us hitting the guard rails. I think the only injuries, other then scrapes and bruises, was the sprained ankle, and the head injury.