Prepping the Course

One of the things that comes from building the world that you can have a little fun creating people, places, and things.  Some of the things I’ve put together for this world go back to 2014 or 2013, and there are some things that go way back beyond that–like to middle or late 2011.  One of those things was the original layout of the school; another was the course of the Polar Express that Kerry would take if and when he decides to try that event in his C Levels.

And then there’s the Mount Katahdin Cross Country race.

I started working on this race back in August, 2011, and there was a reason why I picked this location for the big race–and to show why, I have to go back to about March of that same year to show you something.  Ready?  Here it is:

Yeah, it doesn't look like much now, but just wait.

Yeah, it doesn’t look like much now, but just wait.

That was the original location of the school.  At this time my friend, the original Annie, and I started putting this together as a role play, we needed a place where our little witches could do magic without being bothered but nosy normal people.  I’m not sure how this location actually came to be, but in the retelling of the story, the first Salem school was closer to the town that now bears that name, and at some point around in the late 1600s–1683 to be exact–the witches moved north into Maine and established a new, more remote location just to the west of what is now the Appalachia Trail.

(In the image above the trail actually follows that stream near the lower right point of the black outline, so I’ve sort of drawn over it, which is a mistake on my behalf.  Normally the wall would end before the stream, and the Trail would follow just outside the wall.)

Now, the huge peak to the right is Mount Katahdin, or simply Katahdin, since that’s just about what everyone calls the summit.  And because of the witch’s proximity to this site, every year around the Vernal Equinox they’d have a huge race on their brooms, flying around the area to show the other witches who was the best out there.  Because even if you can do magic, you wanna still have bragging rights about who’s the best on a broom.  People are people, even if they are magical.

When I finally moved the school southward closer to the local from which it takes it name, I kept the course in mind simply because having a bad-ass race far up to the north, where people would continue holding a race that had been run for centuries–it felt like a good idea.  And that’s how we’re at the point in the story we are today.

However . . . stickler that I am, while I have a course, I don’t have a lot of nice names for the various location on the course like one would have for like, you know, a Normal race course.  If you pulled Annie’s dad aside and asked him, “What’s that first left-hand turn after you return to the old section of track?” and right away he’d say, “Blanchimont.”  Because that’s what all the drivers call that section of the course.

The same thing would be true here.  Over the years the fliers would give various sections of the course names, normally turns and memorable straights.  So when Kerry heads in for his pre-race briefing before being turned loose on the track, he’s not gonna hear, “Okay, by turns 1 and 2, you need to watch the drop in the middle,” he’s going to hear something completely different.

That’s what I was doing last night.  I began going over the course and started labeling it.  And guess what?  You get to see what I’ve done so far.  Keep in mind that I haven’t marked the whole course, so what you’re going to see today is like a fifth of the track.  You’ll see what I mean at the end.

Let’s see then what I have in my Scrivener project.  Here’s the first section I put together, and this is how it looks when I’m writing.

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

Notice if you will that I not only have sections names, but I’ve given the elevations.  Because this is a course that is as cross country as it gets, and there’s a lot of going up and down over hills and dales.  So lets get started.

The Start/Finish is 260 meters/850 feet above sea level, and is in deep, dark Maine forest.  The first turn, really a “S” chicane, is called Trout because that’s the name of the stream the course crosses–just as Crossing is named after a nearby Normal location, and South Branch is named after the creek just to the left of the course.  Twelve Cut is named so because it’s the first part of the track to cross twelve hundred feet, and it was named so back in the day before there were metrics, so that name has stuck.  Barrell Around is named after nearby Barrell Ridge, and Twin Peaks because you go between those two peaks.

Here points 9, 10, 11, and 12 are a fast yet technically difficult area because of the elevation changes.  North Climb starts out at 543 meters/1780 feet, heads up to North Pass at 712 meters/2335 feet, or 170 meters higher, and then the fliers shoot right down the other side to Howe Drop–named after the creek there–which bottoms out at 404 meters/1325 feet.  Then you follow the bed at high speed to Cut Side, a climbing right hand turn situation 832 meters/2730 feet above sea level.  So in that area you have a fast, easy climb, then you drop at high speed 300 hundred meters and then climb back up another 400–all of this while probably zipping along somewhere between 250 to 300 kilometers and hour, or 155 to 185 miles per hours.  On a flying mountain bike.

Now comes the next part:

Still with me?  Good.

Still with me? Good.

Point 1 is Point 12 from the last map, so you have a point of reference.  You go up and over the ridge and then skirt along the mountain on East Terrace, located 648 meters/2125 feet up.  This leads to another hard left, East Slide (670 meters/2200 feet) which then drops hard and fast to Ford, 200 meters/950 feet lower.  Wading follows another creek bed and starts at 488 meters/1600 feet, and continues to Tip Over, at 985 meters/3230 feet and then on to Pogy (488 meters/1600 feet) and Notch Bottom (370 meters/1215 feet).  Though you go up for 500 meters and then back down for just over 600 meters, this is a flat-out section, where hitting 450 kph/280 mph isn’t out of the question and is usually the norm.

Now you have a nice little chicane section in 9, 10, 11, and 12.  First is Squeeze Through at 451 meters/1480 feet, and then a left turn and up 90 meters to Climbing Water at 544 meters/1785 feet, which leads to a right and then a left, climbing all the while, to Tiny Tip, 850 meters/2790 feet up, making for a 400 hundred meter, or quarter of a mile, climb from points 9 to 11.  Then we dive down into Hard Right, which is exactly what that is, at 610 meters/2000 feet.  If you go straight at Hard Right first you hit the safety enchantments, and then you hit trees and rocks, and while you probably wouldn’t hit the later, the inertia you lose when you hit the barrier isn’t going to leave a flier feeling one hundred percent.  Like they say, the enchantments are there to keep you from getting killed, not injured.

And there you have what I have so far.  And how much of the course is that?

Just this much.

Just this much.

Everything inside the black is covered:  like I said, about a fifth of the track.  That means I need to get the rest of the track in place, and then write about what’s happening in the briefing as well, and that all happens tonight.

Man, do I have a lot of work ahead of me.