About a week ago, a ton of riders from Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Spain, and the US rode the dangerous curves of the IDF sanctioned Mesa de Las Tablas Longboard Festival in Mexico. The three day festival took place on a 3.5 km course with eight corners, including some fun right sweepers and two hairpins. The sun cooperated all weekend, the track was clean and safe, and riding ended fairly early each day to avoid the potential rain. This meant we got a whole lot of socializing time. Racing was fun to watch and exciting ’til the end. Check out my 300 photos in my MesaFest gallery of awesomeness.
In the middle of the remote Sierra de Arteaga mountains of Arteaga, Coahuila, Mexico lies a small, quaint, and tranquil town called Mesa de las Tablas. There’s only one way in from the nearest metro area, Monterrey. The race course is the road you drive to get to the town and starts at about 2,900 meters above sea level. As you drive down the hill and out of the trees, you can see the valley and you are surrounded by apple fields and mountains. There’s a small plaza in town, one other road that runs parallel with the main road, and like four places that sell alcohol. It is a great place to get away from your phone. There was no wifi and little cell reception out there and it was magical to see people interacting with each other. I still took pictures with my phone.
Though it’s hot in Monterrey, it’s nice in Mesa because of the elevation and cold at night. The locals are friendly but don’t know much english at all so you may want to practice your spanish a bit. People stayed at locals’ houses, in tents outside, or in cabins up above the race hill. If you wanna order food, you order inside other people’s homes. They make lots of gorditas in Mesa, but they also had burritos, tacos, tamales, and some other dishes. With all the apple trees nearby, they reserve some for the sour variety so Manzana (apple) liquor was a big part of the weekend for those of age.
The Mesa Longboard Fest is new in the sense that it has new organizers. Alain Carvajal started riding this hill many years ago and attracted an organizer to hold an event. He has been the on the ground negotiator and co-organizer for the festivals since the beginning. In the years past, the former festival was more about the crazy party and chiquichores (short shorts contest), and less about the downhill. Riders would come and have a good time, but riders wouldn’t necessarily come back the next year citing things being too sketchy on the course. This year, under new organization, the safety and logistics of the race were priority and there were no chiquechores. Fer Bailleres was asked by Alain Carvajal to organize the event this year. Fer has travelled the world, skating world class race courses and runs the skate shop Longboard Mexico. Alina Gavroche was another main organizer of the skate event and picked me up and dropped me off at the airport. Pajaro, and Chimino of Trip House Co. were also a big help in the organization. They all spoke english pretty well which helped me out. None of them knew how to organize a music festival though and people were starting to ask about music for the event. A man Pajaro knew, Rogelio Macias, got in touch with the organizers. He has experience with big events like the zombie run, and he wanted to direct the music festival side of MesaFest. The team was complete. They provided for me to come out to Mexico to shoot the event and the took care of me.
From my point of view, I thought the organization went really well. Punk Rocker was the starter with the radio up top and there were course workers at every corner, sometimes two. There were no problems at corners, yellow flags went up quick, and hay was cleaned up quickly. There were some logistical hold ups that caused things to start later than planned, but everyone is used to the hurry up and wait game. Still there was more riding than most events. The three day event started with a day of practice, no race to qualify, no qualify, just casual and it meant more runs. The second day was the race day and it ended early to avoid rain, which didn’t come. The third was strictly freeride and much more casual than the other days. The course marshals where taking runs with us! I got to take runs so I was happy. First things first, Alex Ameen from Skatehousemedia was doing follow runs right away.
We hung out in town until the sun went down.
The next morning got started a little late because of negotiations with the local authorities.
The second day was race day and they did one practice heat before getting right to the racing.
Next was the first round of race heats.
The racing got exciting in the quarter finals once it was narrowed down to the fastest riders. There was 100,000 pesos pay out for all classes.
The next day we woke up slowly and got to freeride the hill more. It was awesome getting to ride with the local shredders. The hill is really fun to skate.
Oh yeah, here is an evolution of a small town skate bowl in a couple days with ten select photos.
Kyle Wester · USA
Gerardo Moreno · Mex
Oscar Gutierrez · Mex
Brian Sandoval · Costa Rica
Fernando Concha · Mex
The event was a success. Most everyone drove back to Monterrey the last night. The van Fer and a bunch of skaters were riding got an unexpected flat tire on the way back and spent some time dealing with that. After the weekend, we could truly say it was a long hard ride.
Now here is the gallery of all the photos.
A big thanks goes out to the Mesa Fest Organizers for making my trip happen.