Misty Mountain Race

The night was filled with dreamless sleep, disturbed only by high wind making things around the building make sounds.  As in, “Why does the building sound like it’s coming down?” sort of sounds.  It was actually a bit insane, if you must know, because there’s nothing like being awakened every two hours and wondering if you’ll need to evacuate your apartment.

Before all the night wind insanity I was back to editing.  It’s safe to say that I believe I’ll have my friend’s novel edited and out of the way before I return to Indiana early next Friday morning.  Yes, Travel Day coming again, and time to blog from the road as I travel across three states to return home and take care of some business.  Then I return to The Burg, rest up, and get ready to start on Act Two of The Foundation Chronicles.

Did I mention I did something for the novel last night?  No?  I guess that’s why I’m here now.

In the world I’ve created my people have PAVs–Personal Aerial Vehicles.  There are different kinds, ranging from Class 1 to Class 8, with the Class 1’s having the appearance of the classic witch’s broom.  My kids have already checked out on Covington Trainer Type 1’s, Kerry and Emma have checked out on Espinoza 4500’s, and Annie owns an Espinoza 3500.  Since this is all taking place alongside our “real” world, that means there are certain pop culture references that the kids at Salem find laughable–like the idea that people on brooms would play a sport where they fly around trying to toss a ball through a ring.  Ha, ha, that’s funny; what kind of idiots would do that?

No, for the PAV Pilots at Salem, there is a need for speed, so let us take you racing . . .

There is a large, enclosed oval track on the grounds known as The Diamond, which allows for racing in three dimensions along a short route, and is also used to get the A Levels used to flying in circles at speed with other people around them.  There are three cross country tracks on the grounds as well, known as the Green Line, Blue Line, and Red Line, and each one is progressively harder than the other–there are sections of the Red Line that extend nearly a kilometer above the school.

But every year, usually on the first weekend of March, there is the big race, one has been around for more than three hundred years.  This, my friends, is the Mount Katahdin Cross Country Race, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

Mount Katahdin is the highest point in the state of Maine and the northern terminus of the Appalachia Trail.  Located in Baxter State Park, it’s surrounded by wilderness and lakes, and lots of people go there in the summer to hike, camp, and enjoy nature.  Come shine or clouds, snow or rain, twenty-four pilots from Salem head for the mountain and take their Class 1’s for three laps around the track.  Just three?  Yeah.  But those are big laps.

"When you get to the big peak, take a left.  No, the other big peak.  You can't miss it."

“When you get to the big peak, take a left. No, the other big peak. You can’t miss it.”

The Start/Finish Line is the little gap near the top of the route, and the actual summit of Mount Katahdin is at the very bottom of the map.  The racers never actually go over the peak:  it’s more like they’re racing over most of the area that makes up the mountain.  Given the terrain for the location, there’s no shortage of mountains for my kids to fly over, as you can see.

It’s racing in three dimensions once more, only this time you stand the good fortune of slamming into a mountain if you’re not paying attention.  Here’s a nice section of the course, near the center of the picture above:

Racers would enjoy the view a lot more if they weren't thinking about threading that gap between the peaks ahead of them.

Racers would enjoy the view a lot more if they weren’t thinking about threading that gap between the peaks ahead of them at three hundred kilometers an hour.

Here they climb about three hundred meters up the side of one peak, then circle around it and sail over Wassataquoik Lake just over three hundred meters below, then pass between the gap and slide about two hundred and fifty meters to a gully, then turn and climb another three hundred meters, circle a peak, then drop down the other side for another three hundred meters–

All while doing this at high speed.

The course, as I have it laid out, is exactly one hundred kilometers long.  Not 100.03; not 99.98.  One hundred Right. On. The. Nose.  That’s sixty-two miles for the non-metric of you out there, which means three laps of this course is one hundred eighty-six miles, and if you’re going to do well here, you need to have your lap times under thirty minutes a lap, though a competitive racer is gonna bring that closer to twenty-five, or even twenty.  That means there are sections of the course where people are flying at close to two hundred miles an hour, and probably sailing up and down slopes at close to a hundred–that’s three hundred twenty-five and one hundred sixty kilometers an hour for the metric minded.  In other words, you’re going fast, climbing and diving and turning a lot, speeding along my magical version of The Green Hell.

The Mount Katahdin Race is going to pop up as a thing in these stories, and while I’ve had a vision of the course in my mind for some time, now I can see it.  Now I can give the locations names and write about people doing the race and trying to do well while not crashing and burning.

Though the later will happen.  Oh, boy, will it happen . . .