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Madness in Puerto Rico: Guajataka Downhill 2013

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The Guajataca Downhill 2013 race going on this weekend has been postponed until tomorrow. The huge event has thousands of spectators that are very difficult to control. Even though this is the seventh Guajataca Downhill event, there were still many difficulties and delays in the organization. There are more international riders than ever at this year’s event, including many that don’t speak Spanish. This made for some miscommunication that has left some of the competitors a little butt hurt. Read more to see a little of what happened so far at this year’s Guajataca.

After it rained the night before, Saturday consisted of some heats for the divisions of old man, super old man, kid, little kid, amateur, and super woman. It sounded like things took a long time and there were some sketchy incidents such as an ambulance parking in a corner as racers came down. Don’t quote me on it because I’m a little lost and I didn’t make it for those stand-up racing heats. Next was slalom, but the event was running late. Not many people cared about slalom so they were all practicing at the slide hill, which was to be the next event. Once slalom was done, it was beginning to rain and get dark.

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So the slide comp, which was already so dangerous, got more sketchy. Ankles were dinged, unsuspecting spectators were taken out, cameras were busted, and riders ate the street left and right. But those brave sliders shredded hard and pleased the spectators until it was too dark to skate. It was a beautiful display of skill but extremely difficult to capture with all the mayhem.

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Today, the event was to start at 8 AM but didn’t get going till about 10 AM. No matter because there was plenty of fun to be had sitting around the party on the sidelines. Food and drink was served on the main corner of the hill and that is where most everyone was hanging out. All along the race course were pieces of rebar drilled into the road with banners and string to separate the crowd from the race track. The spectators section cut into about 1/2 of the lane in some areas and some of the rebar got bent pretty quickly making the distinction between the race track and sidelines that much more blurry.

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A cop on a bike would (usually) go in front of each heat to keep people out of the road for the racers coming down. That didn’t mean there weren’t last minute shuffling of positions and close calls when spectators were still on the course while racers came down. Can you blame them, though? The time between each heat was about 5 – 15 minutes so people got ants in their pants.

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There was definitely some great racing. It was awesome to watch. There were some good crashes and some great displays of control. Eventually though, there were too many incidents and close calls.

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I climbed into a tree for a good shot and made friends with a hornet’s nest.

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