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In the Mountains of Breifing

Yesterday was a crazy day full of work and emotions.  I managed to get through both okay, but still–there were a lot of things I could have done without that happened anyway–but you know, that’s life, and there ain’t shit one can do about that.

Now, there was writing last night.  I can even prove that last statement–

There are words in the word count. I must have started.

There are words in the word count. I must have started.

But there was writing, there were pictures, there were updates to the time line . . . I was all over the place.  Lots of research and map building–and the map building is what I’m getting to first.

Yesterday I was also playing around in Google Earth with my “little” race course, because using Google Earth you can get three-dimensional views of areas, and one of the things I learned is that you can actually lay out directions and see them overlaid on those dimensional views.  Which is what I did yesterday.

The middle of Maine in all its 3D glory.

The middle of Maine in all its 3D glory.

That view there is pretty much all of the course as I laid it out yesterday, and as if you can see by the indicated in the middle bottom, it’s about a third of the length of the course.  But you have the Start/Finish on the left, and the last turn combo on the right, and a bunch of hills in the upper middle and right.  It looks like a lot, and seems a bit difficult.  Well, it is a lot, but difficult?  Nope.  We’re getting to that before we get to the writing.

Picking up where I left off above, we start getting into some of the hard stuff–kinda.  This is the lead up to the climb into the big peaks, and the one thing that’s nice is that it’s sort of level.

This . . . looks easy.

This . . . looks easy.

All the racers have to do is climb about one hundred and twenty meters and make a nice, easy, breezy left hand into the combo called Ready, Steady, Go.  Why that?  Well, Ready lets you get your speed up, Steady lets you build up your nerve as you swing into a hard right hander, and Go is just that–you have a straight, wide open, kilometers and a half/one mile, clear as hell path ahead of you.  Oh, and a 300 meter/1000 foot drop off as you blow out of Steady.  The lake and land below Go is a full thousand feet lower than the course, and as you come out of Steady there’s nothing but air below you.

Needle is a 70 meters lower than Steady, so you descend a little as you head into it, then you turn right and head into Clench and rocket right down 200 meters into Gully, which is just that:  another creek gully.  Then you hit Sixty Up, make a sixty degree turn to the left, and start climbing . . .

Into this.

Into this.

This isn’t a big section, but it’s hairy, full of fast turns and narrow areas that get fast.  Bump is 230 meters over the turn that gets you there, then you go up another 200 meters and go right over a gap and drop 500 meters.  Flare is called that because you “flare out” your broom–make it level like you’re coming in for a landing–or else you’ll slam into the ground.  High Sweep is a fast turn over some of the most level, regular ground in this are, then you carry a lot of speed up a 120 meter climb to Approach before roaring through the narrow Annis, which is named after a stream.  Then another 200 meter drop, at high speed, before reaching the fast turn Fade Away.  At this point you’re on the final approach to–

The mountains, kids.  Welcome to the mountains.

The mountains, kids. Welcome to the mountains.

Now we get into the highest, most technical, and in some places the fastest part of the course.  Going fast through Cliffside Valley and Basin Squeeze before hitting Harvey, which is named after Harvey Ridge.  Here, at the first right hand turn, you’re at 902 meters, and by the time you’ve gone left and right again, you’re at 1110 meters:  a 200 hundred meter/700 foot climb in a short distance.  Not for the faint of heart.

Now it’s all the way to the top.  4K is named such because the fliers cross 4000 feet, or 1220 meters, for the first time.  And that takes you up to the Hamlin High Dive, the highest part of the course at 1435 meters/4710 feet.  At this point you go right over the edge and hug the mountain until you’re at Basin Ridge, a half a kilometer lower, then around to Campground and Saddle Climb, which follow a trail but do so above the trees–the only point on the race where this is done–and then a jink to the right and up the ridge again to Katahdin Wave, where you can see Mount Katahdin to your left if you’re lucky.  Katahdin Wave is at 1294 meters/4245 feet, and this is the last time on the course the racers are this high.  Then you skirt the flanks of the mountain on Hamlin Thirty-six (3600 feet, hence the name) then over to Klondike (the name of the pond) before reaching Confluence at 779 meters/2555 feet.  You’ve not dropped another half a kick and are ready to climb again.

And how does that section of the course look?  Like this:

As you come in from the back, and up over Harvey.

As you come in from the back, and up over Harvey.

And then:

As you go over, down, and back up once more.

As you go over, down, and back up once more.

I should point out that when I say it’s a five hundred meter, or half a kilometer, drop, I’m talking about dropping almost seventeen hundred feet, or the length of five and a half American football fields, or probably three large stadiums laid end-to-end.  And you’re sailing down and up over this at probably 250 to 300 kilometers and hour, or 155 to 185 miles per hour.  On a flying mountain bike.

And speaking of those kids on their flying mountain bikes, they are finally getting ready for the race.  And we’re seeing it through Kerry’s eyes, because he’s there, he’s early, and he’s . . . well, there.


All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry was one of the first racers to enter the Flight School Ready Room. He took his normal seat in the front and set his helmet and gloves in the seat to his left so one no sat there. He didn’t bother looking about the room to see who entered after him: walking in from the locker room he spotted the ones he knew and cared about, acknowledged their presence, and continued towards his seat. Though this was his first time sitting in on this particular pre-race briefing, he wasn’t trying to be too cool for the room: he simply reminded himself that he’d been a member of the Cernunnos Coven A Team for almost the entire season, he’d won three races, and finally managed to gain a podium position for a Red Line race two weeks before—

He wasn’t a rookie. And since he was about to enter the biggest race of his first season, now wasn’t the time to act like one.

A few minutes after he sat Penny and Alex entered and took their seats to his right. They were both aware of his feelings that no one other than Annie sit to his left; Penny even joked on one occasion that it was his Siege Perilous, and anyone other than Annie who sat there would die. About a minute after the girls took their seat Manco entered the room and joined them, sitting on the far side of Alex. Kerry looked down the line and smiled at everyone; Manco looked back and returned the smile, giving him a slight nod before sitting back.

As soon as all fliers were in the room and settled Vicky entered and headed for the central podium. With her was something Kerry had never seen in a pre-race briefing: all the coven leaders—who technically were the leaders of their respective coven race team—as well as Isis and Professor Bashagwani, followed Vicky to the front and took seats on either side of the podium. It was only after seeing all these women and one man situate themselves before the gathered students did Kerry finally feel the enormity of what was coming . . .

Vicky cleared her throat and spent a moment looking over the room before starting. “Good morning, everyone. This is the pre-race briefing for the Mount Katahdin Cross Country race. There’s no need to check to make sure you’re all in the right spot—” She glanced over at Isis. “All of you have checked in with our Director of Security at least a couple of times tonight.

“This race holds a special place in the school’s history. For well over a hundred years—from the first event in 1707 until 1829—this was held on Ostara weekend, and it was seen as a wild, exuberant celebration of the coming spring. Back then the course was different and much larger, but after two hundred years, in 1927, it finally turned into the course we still use today. This is the only race we hold during the regular racing season where all covens are represented on the course at the same time. It’s also the only race where the top ten point, and the only race where certain criteria must be met in order for a team flier to compete.


And what is that criteria?  You’ll find out tomorrow after I write it up.  A couple of interesting notes:  first, Manco is there, so four of the five Cernunnos A Team is present.  Two, Penny is calling the spot to Kerry’s left the Siege Perilous, and I wonder if he could just curse the seat so people who aren’t Annie die if they sit there?  That would be interesting, though it’d probably get him kicked out of school and into Cloudland.  And three, we know Kerry now has three wins and he managed to get on the podium of a Red Line race two weeks before, so even though he’s twelve, he’s moving up in his abilities fast.

So, tonight:  drop off some packages, have some dinner, and finish laying out my course before writing some more.

Man, I have so many things ahead of me.  Just like Kerry . . .

3 thoughts on “In the Mountains of Breifing

  1. I’m curious. How often do they race during a school year? And if they’re on the team, are they required to race every race or is there only a certain number of people from each team on the track at the same time?

    • Because I timelined it all out, the racing season for this school year runs from 13 Oct, 2012, to 20 April, 2013, with a break at Yule. There are two races every weekend: a match-up between two covens, and then the Grand Melee between three. They race every Saturday, though ever once in a while they take the weekend off, but that’s rare. The only changes to this are on Samhain and Ostara, when they go through a multi-race elimination process, and the Mouth Katahdin race, where it’s just selected racers doing one race. Normally all five members of an A Team are on the course at the same time.

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