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2002 IGSA Bainbridge Grand Prix


Posted by Furlong on Monday, October 28, 2002 @ 12:00 AM (GMT+0800)



Venue: Bainbridge, Ohio, USA
Date: October 18-20, 2002





Finishing off the 2002 season, I looked forward to this event as the race had been upgraded from National Cup status to World Cup status this year. As such, racers from outside the United States came to compete, coming from Austria, Canada, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.





I had traveled to Ohio with Smokin' Joe. It was going to be his first race, so he was quite looking forward to meet the other racers, including Team Florida. I saw a lot of new and old faces. We had 26 street lugers registered this weekend.





Compared to last year, the event spanned 3 days instead of 2. Friday was practice, and Saturday was qualifying. Having practice on Friday was a good idea as it gave riders the opportunity to learn the course and concentrate on technique, form, braking and passing zones. Andy Lally was kind enough to share his racing knowledge and he even walked everyone down the course on Friday, giving pointers about where he personally would be at each part of the road, and where he would start braking. He also indicated danger zones, for example, he pointed to the sharp rocks, broken glass bottles, and other debris hidden in the grass on the side of the road, and told riders to beware and to ride the luge bottom out to prevent injury, and to keep their legs up if they do go off the road. I rode the course so much better after listening to his advice later that day!





Saturday saw the riders qualifying. It had rained the night before, so unlike Friday, the course was wet and damp at certain parts of the road. During the first practice run that I took, I was approaching Turn 2 with moderate speed. I tried to brake hard, but to no avail. My shoes kept slipping. Plus, I was running brand new Abec11 83mm Flywheels, and they were very slick. Turn 2 is pretty much a 135 degree hairpin. As I leaned into the turn, I could feel all 4 of my wheels losing traction that very instant, causing me to drift sideways towards the haybales on the left. I immediately threw my left leg out to provide an opposing force, and swung my right leg out, dragging the side of the shoe as an anchor. I also threw my right arm out and grabbed the road, while my left hand was pulling hard on the handlebar. Spectators who saw me told me that I was riding on 2 wheels, as the other 2 wheels were up in the air during the controlled slide! I continued sliding 45 degrees relative to the road, before the luge started correcting its line of travel and I started regaining traction, going straight. That was fun! This was a technique I noticed riders using in the rain at Hot Heels 2001. This saving technique really works! At that very instant, I really felt like a true street luger, sliding and slipping thru corners, as well as throwing out body limbs on the road just to make the turn on a wet road.





Sunday was race day. Amanda was kind enough to be my videographer during the practice session. I took videos of the other disciplines while they were racing. For the first time, I had observed downhill skateboarding, downhill inline skating, and gravity bike racing. I had also competed in classic luge for my first time. Classic luge represents the early form of the sport of street luge. It involves riding a 4-foot long wooden plank, with skateboard-style trucks and 70mm wheels.





The street luge race was the last event to be run on Sunday, as it is the most popular gravity sport event, which meant having to run more riders down the course. In my first race round, I was up against John Fritz, Phil Kirkland, and Brian Hager. I paddled hard and came out first off the start line. I took the lead pretty much all the way to the bottom of the course, where it starts to flatten out. Then I saw Fritz blowing by me. I tried drafting him to the end, but the finish line was already near. I finished in second. We all got into the U-Haul truck, until we found out that Fritz had DQed off the start line. He was automatically placed last in the heat. So it turns out I finished first, and Phil in second. In the quarterfinals, I was up against Gerhard Lanz, Tony Mistretta, and Phil Kirkland. I finished this heat in second. Man, Gerhard was fast, I couldn't catch up to him! I advanced to the semifinals, where I was up against some very fast riders, namely Bill Smrtic, Gerhard Lanz, and Pete Eliot. I couldn't catch up to any of them at any one point on the course. I went on to the consolation final, which is a losers bracket for those who failed to advance to the final. In this heat, I was up against Pete Eliot, Jeremy Gilder, and John Lewis. I had passed John Lewis at Turn 2, as I had to take him on the outside. I thought I had this race in 3rd, until John Lewis passed me at the dip on the long straightaway. But I managed to keep up with the rest of them till the finish line. This was my best performance at an IGSA World Cup ever, as I finished in 8th.





The finals saw Andy Lally, Tom Mason, Bill Smrtic, and Gerhard Lanz battling for gold. Andy and Mason had a photo finish between them. Andy told us that he threw his feet out longer so his toes would inch out Mason at the finish line, and this strategy worked to his advantage. He was on fire this weekend, as he had claimed 2 gold medals in both street luge and classic luge! Congratulations Andy!





Smokin' Joe and I traveled back home, dropping me off in Purdue before he headed to Michigan. I have to thank the IGSA, Marcus Rietema and Bob Ozman for ensuring a smooth-running event, Smokin' Joe for providing transportation, Andy Lally for the racing strategy, Amanda Nau for being my videographer, and other names I may have forgotten to mention. See you at the next race!







1) Andy Lally (USA)

2) Tom Mason (USA)

3) Bill Smrtic (USA)

4) Gerhard Lanz (AUT)

5) Pete Eliot (GBR)

6) Jeremy Gilder (GBR)

7) John Lewis (USA)

8) Abdil Mahdzan (MAS)

9) David Dean (USA)

10) Rusty Riley (USA)

11) Tony Mistretta (USA)

12) Christopher Hicks (USA)

13) Bob Swartz (USA)

14) Sean Clarke (USA)

15) Phil Kirkland (USA)

16) Robert Griglack (USA)

17) Wally Hoffman (USA)

18) John Colmorgen (USA)

19) Eric Eisenberg (USA)

20) Victor Schumacher (USA)

21) Kevin Hahn (USA)

22) Tony Butler (USA)

23) Brian Hager (USA)

24) Joe Kachoris (USA)

25) AJ Biancaniello (USA)

26) John Fritz (CAN)