The weekend of 20/21 May saw The Crackling 2017 - the first skateboarding event of the year at Hog Hill, Ilford and the first time ever SP8BOARDS has competed in the Luge.
When I created the Asylum luge/butt board earlier in the year, my thoughts were on a cost effective board suitable for the skater who either wanted to give lugeing a try or wanted a luge board as part of a wider skating repertoire. However, the comments coming back on launch queried its suitability in an actual race. As we had actually reached speeds in testing in excess of 45 miles per hour, theoretically this should be viable. Never one to miss a challenge (or an opportunity for an adrenaline rush), my friend, Dreek Peeters, and I decided that the Asylum needed a more definitive test - actual participation in competition.
So, a couple of weeks ago, we packed our tent and our skateboards in my car and headed down to Hog Hill for The Crackling.
The idea was that we would practice on the Saturday and race on the Sunday. Of course when we arrived, it was raining hard and many of the other skaters called a close to their practice. We didn't. Is it because people from the North are incredibly tough? Is it because we are adrenaline junkies that just do not know when to say no? Is it because we were determined to show our commitment?
The answer is much more simple - neither of us had actually luged in the wet before and as there was a good chance it could be raining on the Sunday, we needed all the practice we could get.
We needn't have worried though - race day came and the skies were clear and sunny.
The course at Hog Hill (aka Redbridge Cycling Centre) is approx 500 metres long. There are four main features - a sweeping left hand followed by a right hand into a chicane and then a sweeping right which tightens up just before the finish line. Each rider participates in 3 heats and the Top 8 go into the semi-final. The "Top 8" are actually determined by how low a score they get, with 1 point being given to first place, 2 points to second place and so on. The riders placed first and second in each semi-final moved to the final.
Both Dreek and I were using SP8BOARDS Asylum decks slightly adapted with aluminium handles. I had Sabre Hollowlite trucks 50 degree (double set) at the front of the board and Sabre cast 38 degree at the rear, ceramic bearings and Cult Cerebrum wheels. Dreek's set up was similar to mine except he had Sabre Hollowlite 50 degree trucks all around.
In my first heat (see video), I set off slowly and went to the last corner in 4th position. However, I managed to move up two places in the last few metres to steal a 2nd place. With a win in the 2nd heat and a 2nd place in the 3rd heat, I managed to qualify for the semi-final. My journey was to end here as I only secured 3rd place and needed to finish 1st or 2nd to go forward to the final. The final ended up being won by William Stevenson, a well known figure in luge racing.
Unfortunately, Dreek was pushed out onto the grass on his first heat (and it is testament to his skills that he recovered and managed to finish). Despite better placings in the next two heats, he narrowly missed moving on to the semi-finals.
We didn't win, but then we never expected to. It was a fabulous weekend - well organised, good atmosphere and great people. The Asylum didn't let us down and I came home with a few of things on my mind:
- what would a Mark II Asylum look like?
- can I convince my wife that I NEED a made to measure set of leathers?
and of course, the most important of all
- WHEN CAN I DO IT AGAIN?
For details of Asylum, please see our store or our other blog "Testing the Asylum"