It is finally here – Reservoir 51 (31 Aug to 1 Sept 19) - the first official race event for SP8BOARDS since May. Ell Macey is organising it and although he has had the venue in mind for four years, he is keeping it a secret. In fact, it is so secret that participants receive the co-ordinates only a few days before the event.
Of course, just because I have the co-ordinates doesn’t mean that I can find my way there. I am already having a bad morning because I have had to swap my camper van for my wife’s car and a pop-up festival tent that I can never “un-pop”. (The lack of a van is totally my fault but that is another story!) I make it to Wales but for some reason I end up on the opposite side of the reservoir to everyone else. I can see the other participants, but I cannot get to them without swimming. I call Harry Bentley to talk me in, but he is so overwhelmed by my self-pitying that he comes to collect me.
It is 1 pm by the time I get ready to hit the hill. I have been told that it is a “beginner” hill by Ell and so I am fully prepared for something that is both technical and fast. I am right. It is a long track with lots of sweeping corners, kinks and fast straights, yielding up to 50 miles per hour. The surface is a little rough - nothing bad, just odd patches of thick tar that get slippery when it is raining (which can happen when you are in Wales).
I am trying out the new Asylum FMS (SP8BOARDS first full metal streetluge). Although fully tested, this is the first time I have raced it in real competition. With a ground clearance of 20 mm for stability and to help me maximise the push off, I decide to use my Seismic Aeon trucks and Seismic Speed Vent 85 mm pink wheels with ceramic bearings.
The ride is as I hoped. Everything is well organised and safe with lots of marshalls, grass to the sides of the tracks and a very welcome uplift van to return tired riders to the start. I am really pleased to get about fifteen runs in and I even survive Fin’s party corner – a potential death trap set out by one of the marshals involving a nerf gun, a banana skin and dangerzone.
I am back at the camp site by about 5pm. It is only a couple of miles from the track and within walking distance of the essentials (takeaways, shops and a pub). After fish and chips, a few pints and the usual campfire, it is time to brave my festival tent. As I am 6 ft 4, I can just about fit inside if I lie diagonally. I make a mental note to be more prepared the next time!
The next day is race day. By the time the racing starts, any sign of rain has disappeared and the track is dry. There are stand up and street luge competitions. In the street luge, the six competitors are organised into a round robin – where every rider competes against every other rider in a series of two man races.
All the races are very tight and closely fought. The closest for me is with Richie Rogers on a skateboard who beats me on the push and fights me off until I manage to win near the end. In fact, I win all my five races (for a change) putting me on the winner’s podium. Special thanks are due to Ell Macey who launched himself off one of the sweeping corners near the bottom of the course at 36 mph, allowing me to beat him. (Fortunately, he has his leathers and helmet on and the track has no walls or fences and so he is fine).
It really is a great weekend. Fantastic racing, beautiful scenery, top people and first place! I go home extremely happy.
Thanks to Ell Macey for organising and thanks to Ell Macey, Max Brown, Alfie Marsh and Slide Perfect Wheels for allowing me to use their photos
For the full race between me and Richie (as well as Ell’s crash), see the video.
The next event for me is Hogtoberfest at Hog Hill from 12 to 13 October. I am bringing plenty of luges and boards with me so if you fancy trying them out with no cost and no obligation, please come along