The Highland Wheels Extreme
IGSA's second World Cup race was held in the Highlands of Scotland, in the ski resort town of Aviemore. The town is about three minutes long, but it has some great restaurants and hotels.
The town had its own skatepark and a go-kart track.
The race course is the longest on IGSA's world circuit at close to 2.5 miles. The course is one the road to the ski resort. Towards the top the road splits into two one way segments. The original plan was to practice on both segments, and select the better race. Unfortunately due to a lack of hay, we were only able to take one segment, probably for the best. The road started with a right hand turn, with a short straight a way to the Gun Barrel. This was probably the make or break part of the course. The Gun Barrel was a tight hairpin, with speeds probably in the upper 50's leading into the barrel, and exit speeds in the thirties. Following the Gun Barrel was a long straight with an uphill cant. If you didn't carry enough speed through the Gun Barrel, this section was a LONG one. The straight ended with another hairpin, which was harmless because of the speed. Exiting this hairpin began the wild ride to the end. The next section reached speeds of over 70 mph before hitting the Juice Box, a slight left hander, but dangerous at high speeds. The last mile or so of the course led through a series of chicanes and over a bridge before the end.
Thursday, May 24th
I arrived in London, en route to Aviemore. I met Kurtis Head for a whirlwind tour of London before heading out to Aviemore.
1:34 pm Marble Arch, 2:00 pm Wellington Arch, 2:11 pm Buckingham Palace, 2:22 St. James Palace
3:12 pm Westminster Abbey
3:47 pm Big Ben and Parliament
Our last stop was Trafalgar Square where Kurtis was working on his Headstands around the World,
and I rode the lion.
At this point we discovered a discrepancy, Head thought the plane left an hour before I did. He hurried off to the airport and arrived in Inverness around 10:30 pm.
Head exits the plane in style.
Somehow Chris Beard and I miscommunicated, he wasn't expecting us to show up, he was only expecting Dave Rogers. Jo Beard showed up in this tiny vehicle.
The car is actually seats six people, but once you put three peoples luggage in it, there are four seats left, there were five of us.
Dave graciously sat on the floor for the ride to Aviemore.
After checking in to the Freedom Inn,
I wandered around to see who was already there. Across the hall from me I met up with Darren Lott.
Darren had been in Scotland since Tuesday, but had no luggage with him! He was building a buttboard for tomorrows practice. Kurtis and I stayed up late putting our boards together. I got to sleep around 2 am or so. Kurtis stayed up until about 3. He sayed he had a hard time going to sleep, because the birds were starting to sing! We were pretty far north.
Friday, May 25th
We were bright and early for a day of practice.
Darren even finished his board.
Chris Beard found us a Greyhound type bus,
I thought it was just to take us the eight miles to the course, but it was also our chase truck! We pitted at the finish line, and a nice little park.
While we were getting ready we were seranted by a bagpiper.
We finally head to the top for the first practice run.
And we got a look at the gorgeous scenery. Looking away from the start, you can see the first turn and a lake off in the distance.
Looking away from the start line, to the left
you can see some patches of snow. The weather has been incredible (as you can see, it was a cloudless day). People who had been here all week, said that the hills were practically covered in snow in earlier in the week! The start line was near where the two roads came back together. Nearby was a stone monument to "White Horse Road"
About lunch time we all got together for a group photo.
During our lunch break, I wandered around and took some photos of a few of the boards, including a skateboard with Hickey Wheels.
Time to head back to the top. The bus was way cool,
but it was leaking oil. It usually stopped right at the start line to drop us off. One time it left a small patch of oil, which we covered with dirt. From then on, it stopped further up the hill. As usual we had delays all day long. The road was opened every fifteen minutes or so, which means we usually had to wait a few minutes when we got to the top, to let the traffic clear out. During one of the delays, a bus load of school children was waiting in line.
The kids came out and met some of the riders. They seemed to be fairly stoked. Richard, a streetluger from Britian liked Darren's idea of building a buttboard, so he decided to build his own as well.
Richard somehow talked a handful of people to help him out, including myself, and Chaput.
I think Head got pissed off at how long it was taking us to cut the wood, so he jumped on and showed his muscles off and finished the job.
Chris Beard got a film crew to come out and film the event. These guys did a fabulous job.
The really found the soul of the event.
Have I mentioned how blessed we were with the weather? Apparently the nice weather we had as quite an anomaly. Regardless it got quite hot, I even got sunburned! Eli found some shade during on of our long breaks.
Tom Mason, meanwhile, ignores the sun, and naps.
After a great day of practice, I think pretty much everyone decided they liked this hill, there were smiles all around.
We all got back aboard the greyhound style bus, while our boards rode back in the van. The boards were dropped off in the back of the hotel, where I'm pretty sure some stayed all night.
After dinner we had a riders meeting in the hotel bar.
It's still light out, but its about 9:30. After the riders meeting, the tv crew showed a short film they put together of the days events. It was incredible, we loved it! After the cool recap of the days events, most of us headed out to sample the local nightlife. While there isn't much nightlife in Aviemore, at least not during the summer, there was more than I thought there would be.
Saturday, May 26th
We got to Glenmore Forest Park, with dark skies.
Today's weather did look as promising as yesterday's. Well we were going to hope the weather held out. Darren's stuff showed up this morning,
he was one happy camper. Riding up the hill, one of the other riders (I forget who) showed Darren a TRUE buttboard.
Yep, that's what it looks like.
We had been dropping the standup guys off at the last hairpin, as many felt the Gun Barrel was too risky. So we were sitting on the start line, ready to start practice when we get word that there is an oil leak. The oil leak was near the bottom hairpin, where you had little speed. It was apparently in the outside lane, and you were generally in the inside lane, with no speed going through the hairpin. Then we hear that Chris Beard is cancelling practice until the oil spill can be taking care of. Remember yesterdays oil spill (about a foot in diameter) and hearing that it was in the outside lane, we all thought that Beard was being paranoid. The bus is broke down (it leaked oil) so Beard was talking about shuttling us down, a few at a time, using the board van. Darren talked Beard into letting us ride down. We would take it easy, sit up through the hairpin, and go slow. So off we went, as we approached the Gun Barrel, we were still going pretty fast, but not as fast as normal, so I was on the inside of the Gun Barrel, when I see Chris standing in the middle of the course. I veer around him, and notice that the oil leak starts on the inside of the Gun Barrel and runs ALL the way to the next hairpin, roughly a quarter mile! I didn't know that the bus even had that much oil in it! Turns out Beard did the right thing and saved at least one wreck. I don't know what they did to clean it up, apparently threw down some concrete (the Ski Resort was building a new lift.) But they did a fabulous job, you could barely tell a leak existed.
I walked down the course a bit, to try and get some more pictures. I got a shot after the first turn,
off in the distance, you can see the course just drop away, shortly after this drop is where the Gun Barrel starts. Looking off to the left you can see the old road,
imagine riding that? Looking back up towards the start line, you can see more of the scenery.
Today was qualifying, I was having problems with the turn that we eventually dubbed "The Juice Box." It was only a short jig to the left, but at high speeds, and rough road I was having problems. During downhill qualiying, I walked up the course. One of the last turns, goes over a bridge.
Subterfuge was one of our sponsors.
The bottom was fairly straight with a few chicanes.
Off in the distance you can see the Juice Box.
The Juice Box caused problems all weekend, one reason was the high speed entering the turn, but also the road was pretty rough.
You can see that the Juice Box really isn't that big of a turn.
The perspective really is different when you are inches off the ground.
Only a couple of my Downhill qualifier pictures came out
After qualifying everyone gathered around the truck
to see the results. The truck
had a computer and monitor, and the results were posted fairly quickly.
Every time up the hill we all talked about the Juice Box, the turn had garnered many names over the weekend, but nothing really stuck. One time up the hill, Tom Mason had no idea what turn we were talking about. So we were trying to point it out to him, when we rounded the turn and spotted a Juice Box in the center of the turn! The name stuck.
After qualifying, and the weather holding out, we headed back to town. Right next to the hotel is a go kart track. I could see it from my hotel window.
A few of us went riding.
Once again we had a riders meeting.
This time we spent most of the time talking about what would happen if it rained. Apparently it does that quite often up here, and apparently weather forecasting is a joke (at least the locals laughed every time you mentioned it.) Once again the TV crew showed another short recap of the days events. I can't believe how good of a job these guys did in just a few short hours. I was heading up to bed around midnight, when I noticed that Richard was putting the finishing touches on his board.
I've got to say that the hotel put up with a lot from us, they didn't seem to mind.
Sunday, May 27th
Today is race day. We load the board van up
with the Rogers Bros luges getting center stage.
The weather looked even worse than yesterday, but it was still dry. Standup went first. I didn't get many good shots,
I think this was from one of the semis. The finals were pretty exiting,
three guys were vying for second and third. With Chris Chaput getting passed at the last second. It took a while for the judges to make the call. I thought I got the shot, but it turns out I was too late, and got a great shot of the judges wondering what had happened.
The weather was still holding out, so we started the luge race.
First run is a good time to get a group shot, especially as we had to wait a few minutes before we could start.
The clouds were promising rain as the first run got under way.
We were racing a super mass, but we only had about 30 racers, so the first heats only had about four riders in them. I made it to the second round, but negotiated the Gun Barrel poorly, I was in fourth chasing Digger down, thinking I could pass him as I entered the Juice Box. I was concentrating too much on passing Digger that I did take the turn properly, I ran off the road and hit the hay bales (yes I was doing over 70 mph when I left the road!) Somehow I knew I hadn't been passed yet, my board ended up on the other side of the road. So I went after it. I got about half way across the road when I realized that I hadn't been passed yet, and that they would be coming soon. I stopped and looked up hill just in time to see the first person pass in front of me, and the last person do the exact same thing I did. I must say, it was pretty stupid of me to run across the road like I did. I failed to transfer so I got some race pictures of the semis and finals.
Gerhard knew he was safely transferring.
We took a twenty minute break between rounds to let cars up and down the road. The weather was still holding off, but it was really threatening.
Darren takes the time to sign his book.
Kurtis Head had his own fan club. Head's birthday was over the weekend, and these kids got him a card!
Darren was also putting the finishing touches on his Aviemore Special.
Truley a signature board. Apparently signing autographs can be draining.
The Brits found new ways to entertain themselves.
A Red board, some duct tape, and miscellaneous parts, and you have a chess board.
Richard lost a wheel, and slammed into the hay at the Juice Box.
Finally, the finals. I don't know what Tom was thinking,
I guess he was pretty excited to get third and started celebrating TOO early.
One of the coolest things about racing (or riding in general) is reliving the run, you can't start too early.
Head's fan club loved Kurtis.
The last event of the day was butt boarding.
No rain yet. I made it to the consolation, so I didn't get too many pictures.
I was able to get a shot of Darren, winning convincingly.
Buttboarding generates a ton of smiles.
After the racing was over, we decided to run a Monte Carlo. That is take ALL of the buttboards, and run them down at the same time. The idea was to go two at a time, with the slower guys up front, and the faster ones in the back.
Chris Beard started with a camera, and Darren Lott taking up the rear, also with a camera.
Darren and Dave passed EVERYONE except for Gerhard.
But as usual, it was all about having fun.
A couple of stand up guys followed us down the hill, we grabbed everyone who just rode, for one final group shot.
The bagpiper was back for the awards ceremony.
The awards were pretty cooled, they were metal wheels mounted on a plaque.
Stand Up Podium:
Hardwick took first, followed by Freeman and Golter.
Dave Rogers, Darren Lott, Tom Mason
Darren, Dave Rogers, Gerhard.
Following the ceremonies, Darren gave a very emotional speech, basically thanking everyone for helping him out when he didn't have his luggage, and how this was his best showing ever with a 1-2 finish. He then gave Beard his home (errr hotel) made buttboard.
Tom goofs off, perhaps getting ready for a new career?
I think Darren was perhaps the happiest person on the bus on the way back.
As soon as we got on the bus, it started to rain! Miraculously it held out all weekend.
A few of us headed over to the go kart track to wind down.
It was actually a lot of fun with a wet track, although there were a few spin outs.
Yep, we couldn't get enough.
Jeremy really knows how to drive, but Orton pulls off a sweet maneuver to block him on their last lap.
The storm didn't last long, but it left a nice sunset.
Later we had a party in the bar, and the TV crew showed us one last wrap up tape, reccapping the entire weekend. One more stellar job, unfortunately this is not the tape they will eventually send us, I sure wish it was. As we headed off to sleep, Bob demonstrated another way to use a board.
Monday, May 28th
Several of us have to catch the 7 AM flight out of Inverness. While there is a train station in town, we decided there were enough of us to rent us the same bus we used all weekend. One of the Rogers christened for us.
A few of the Germans had driven over, and a couple of the skateboarders left them a present.
On the way to the airport we pass a castle. We make the bus driver pull over so we can take some pictures.
The driver informs us that this is a new castle. Its only about 300 years old!
Ten skateboarders with extra luggage, must have been quite a sight.
There's more than one way to get to the plane.
Head poses for one last shot in Scotland before we are off.
Most of lugers were off to America, the standup guys were heading to Nice, while Kurtis and I were going to Paris for a few days before EDI's first race.
This was Chris Beard's first race. Chris only had Hot Heels to base the race on, and he even had a sponsor pull out at the last minute. Yet he managed to put on a fine race. The area was gorgeous. The road was technical enough, and long enough that it had everything. This was perhaps the second best event I've been to. We had one major accident. First run down, someone had their equipment set up improperly, and could not turn on the first turn. I believe he broke his leg. Richard bruised his ribs pretty hard when he went off in the Juice Box, and I sprained my ankle. But this was one fine event, and I can't wait to return next year.