Attacking The Track at Harewood
The moment is finally here – it is the weekend of 15/16 August and Attack The Track is taking place at Harewood Hill Climb, the longest speed hillclimb course in the mainland UK. It is the first official event SP8BOARDS has attended in 2020 and to say I am thrilled to be here is an understatement.
Harewood is only fifteen minutes from my house, but it is a private course and so I have only skated the lower part before. This time we will be going from the top (normally the finish line for the hillclimbers), utilising about one kilometre of the 1440 metre track.
I arrive at 10.30 am on the Saturday. It is a joy to see some familiar faces, many of whom have travelled a lot further than I have to be here. There are some new faces too. As we camp at the top of the site, there is a buzz of expectation about the day. It is a free-ride event for the skateboarders and streetlugers, but the other gravity sports (gravity bikes, gravity cars and soap
box derby) are having races and timetrials.
In this new world, safety has become even more important (not that it ever wasn’t!) and this is clearly a well organised event. A proper shower and toilet block, hand sanitiser, socially distanced queuing, ambulance on stand by, lots of marshals and uplift trailers and tow trucks are all on hand.
The only thing that is missing is the sunshine!
It is a little strange doing the course backwards – the hill climbers race up the hill – but this gives some technical aspects to the ride that are both fun and challenging. From the start we go into a steep left hand bend and onto a steep straight (I am hitting it at about 42-43 mph on street luge, so I am going too fast to notice the slight kink). This is followed by a long sweeping and fast bend to the right. This is known as Farmhouse Bend and if you are a spectator, it is the place to stand to see spills and crashes.
For those who make it through Farmhouse Bend, there is a straight through the farm buildings followed by a tight left hand corner. This corner isn’t too bad in itself but with the speed gathered from earlier on up the track, it needs negotiating carefully to avoid hitting the gravel.
Next is an easy right turn into a deceptively fast straight, running at 45-46 mph on a streetluge. At the end is a 90 degree left turn. On paper, this looks like it might be tricky to keep on the track, but it isn’t bad at all. The challenge is keeping enough speed up through the corner to keep going through the following virtually flat straight. A right turn drops down into a short but steep straight followed by a left hand hairpin which tightens up on the exit catching many of us streetlugers unawares – gravel time again!!!
There is now just a right turn before an easy run in to the event finish line.
It is always great trying a new course, but I am beaming from ear to ear. There is just so much fun to be had. Even if you get a slower start, the twists and turns provide plenty of opportunities for overtaking (or simply enjoying the ride).
Before I arrived, I was a bit concerned that we wouldn’t get as much time as we liked on the hill given the number of sports represented. I am totally wrong. The uplift trailer and tow-up keep everyone moving and we literally are able to skate/luge until 4 pm uninterrupted. I am able to put the full range of SP8BOARDS streetluges (Asylum FMS, Asylum Mini and Asylum Base) through their paces and after a few runs I stop counting.
By the end of the day, I am ready for a rest. Decent catered BBQ food is provided and although there is no formal entertainment, everyone is happy just to catch up with old and new friends.
The next morning brings rain and some people decide to head off on long drives south. Dale, Mo and I hung on in there. Even though it was wet, it was still very grippy (due to it being a hillclimb I think). As the day goes on, it dries up and becomes a bit patchy but this just gives us an excuse to watch some of the races of the gravity guys, including the carnage created by racing four soap boxes at a time down the track. Apparently, this is the norm for these riders but I must admit to my heart being in my mouth a couple of times as I watch their antics.
It is a truly awesome weekend. Great track, well-run event and only 15 mins from home – what is there not to like?
Check out the video to see a full run of the course.
For more details on SP8BOARDS streetluges, please check out our website.