Castaic Lake, CA
Templin played an important role in the development of street luge. Many of the sports early stars practice extensively on Templin. And it holds a special place in my heart as it is where I first got hooked on street luging.
As a young kid I, my favorite sport in the winter olympics was ice luge. So in 1997, when I saw these guys flying down the street in the xGames, I knew I wanted to try it out. At the time the world wide web was still in its infacy and there were only a few sites dedicated to street luge. I found directions on how to build a luge out of bolting 1x1 aluminum tubes together and using a stolen sign as a pan. I went so far as to purchase the aluminum, but when I got home and started to bolt them together I realized how dumb it was. I was going to go down the mountain at high speeds on this bolted together aluminum.
I spent the winter pouring over the one gallery from Ansted 1997, and chatting on the one forum on streetluge.com. Someone suggested using thick aluminum for the pan, and 3x3 box tubing for the boom and tail. I finally built a board, and discovered the streetluge.com was run my John Lewis. John as an XGames athlete and lived about an hour from. I had him look at my board, and he introduced me to some other local XGames athletes, Lugenestein, Lee Dansie and Kurtis Head. Lee and Kurtis taught me to luge, and helped me fix my board.
The first race in 1998 was a RAIL race in Castaic Lake. I wasn't very experienced, and wasn't sure I should go. Kurtis talked me into and said, even if I don't ride I should go, meet people and watch others ride. I finally bought a ticket, and decided to ride. But I'd pull out of the race if I didn't think I could.
One week before the race, it was cancelled. 1997 was the year of La Nino and the race road had been washed out. I guess technically it was washed under. The road had buckled so much it was unridable. Bob Swartz said a bunch of us had purchased non refundable tickets. Lets all go to LA and go riding anyways. Someone suggested Templin. It wasn't far from from the original race road, and it was already popular. In fact Templin Highway is a road that goes to the power plant at the bottom of the dam of Castaic Lake! Castaic Lake is about ten minutes north of Magic Mountain.
We met with some of the locals early Saturday morning to have him drive us up to Templin. We got up there early enough to drive the course. If you start at the water tower the course is about two miles. The course has mostly sweeping corners, with one corner you can barely make without braking. We rode it a few times,
using a rental car as the chases vehicle. It was my first time hitting 60 MPH.
More locals started to show up.
Thorught the day we probably had about 100 people total, with about 40 riders. There was quite the festive atmosphere,
despite the impromptness of the event.
The think that hooked me the most is we would run a dozen people at once.
At one point we went down side by side and head to toe. We came around one turn, and I was on the inside, with someone in front of me. I looked to the left and saw two more lugers, and I knew there was three people right behind me. I don't think we could have gotten much closer together, and I was hooked. Of course one time this happened, Bob Peryara bumped me, and ended up putting a foot down and spraining an ankle.
Bob insisted it wasn't my fault, but I still felt bad.
This was my first big event. Although I had ridden with several XGames atheletes, this was the first time I was seeing some ride on a real hill. I took a break to watch them go by and take some pictures.
I took a picture of Dondo, which is still one of my favorite street luge pictures that I've taken.
I also took a few pics of the pit area. I tried to take pictures of various luges.
This is where I decided to take lots of pictures
and try to return the favor to other people on the internet. Give them more luge pictures to look at.
After getting a ton of runs in, the sun started to go down and a bunch of decided to meet for dinner. It was mostly those of us from out of town
with a few locals. We were regaled with stories from the XGames and other races, and we were all made to feel welcome.
Someone had brought one of their blown wheels.
Templin was known for eating wheels. Back at the turn of the century about the only wheel that was available was the 70mm krypto, which was not designed for high speeds. Especially not for the two miles of Templin.
Templin is littered with urethane, as the wheels separated from the hub and shot off the road. You can probably go up there today and find tons of old wheels. I wonder what archeologists will think?
Dondo, a new rider from Ohio had built his own luge.
But he had designed his to be broken down, and fit into a case.
This was one of the first luges that I know of, that was designed to be broken down.
Sunday started off a bit slow, as few locals showed up. I think we only had about 20 people at the most. Unfortunately we had lost most of our chase vehicles.
We still managed to get lots of runs in. Although I think we blew the tranny in one of the rental vehicles. There was some discussion on how many runs we took over the weekend. But we easily rode at least 50 miles!
As evening approached, I was deciding to take one or two more runs. The sun was starting to get low enough that half the road was in shadows. I didn't like the transitions from light to dark. A dozen of us took off from the top. I was towards the back of the field, having a good time, trying to chase down the group in the front. I was pushing myself hard when we approached a right hand turn. Swartz and Digger somehow got hooked up in front of me. I made three quick mistakes. The first mistake was not to slow down. This was just a fun run, there was no reason to push things. The second mistake was trying to go around the two on the outside. I wasn't thinking that as they were wrecking they would travel in a straight line, which would take them to the outside. Because of this I had to travel further outside of them than I expected. Fortunately Templin is a WIDE road. It is two lanes wide, but both shoulders are also a lane wide. We tried to stay on our side of the road, as there were a few cars coming up the road. I ended up so far on the outside, that I was on the shoulder on the other side of the road.
I made my third and final mistake. I was on the shoulder on the wrong side of the road. There was a small rock in the road, probably a little larger than a softball. I thought I could hit it. I'm not sure why I thought it was ok to hit the rock. Of course I'm not sure if I could have avoided it, but I might have been able to slow down. I hit the rock, and my leg flew up in the air, and my luge ran off the course. I slammed into a boulder on the side of the road and was catipulated forward. I landed on my arm. I am guessing I landed on a rock. My arm hurt, and my truck was broken. The chase vehicle took me back to the pits. Sokol, and ER tech, took a look at it. Helped clean up the cut, and wasn't sure if it was broke. But we both figured going to the ER was a good thing.
Most people were getting ready to quit for the weekend anyways. We packed up, and I had someone drive me to the ER. While we were waiting to see the doctor, we did meet another rider. He had come up Friday night, met up with a local. He got target fixation, and ran off the road. He was braking on the pavement, but as soon as he ran off the road, his foot stuck to the ground, and he ran over his foot. He broke the foot, and had been in the hospital since Friday night! Turns out I also broke one of the bones in my forearm. One of my first real runs, and I ended it with a broken arm! I did learn one lesson. Don't hit anything!