MLF-4545-3

MesaFest 2015

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.

MLF-3976
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.

MLF-3927

 

Dice.

Dice. Lot’s of dice.

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.

Will eats with the locals.

Will eats at a local kitchen.

I slept in this hammock one night.

I slept in this hammock one night.

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.

Mont-5429

Mi Familia – Fer Bailleres, Pajaro, and Alina Gavroche

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.

Alex Ameen performed a bunch of follow car runs so check skate house for the vids.

Alex Ameen performed a bunch of follow car runs so check skate house for the vids.

Alex Ameen, capturing photos of Oscar Gutierrez down the course.

Alex Ameen also made photos as well. Here he snaps photos of Oscar Gutierrez while following him down the course.

The shuttle vehicle. Pack 'em in!

The shuttle vehicle. Pack ’em in!

MLF-3406

Javier Arce and Daniel Adams roll through their practice runs.

Marie

Marie Bougourd a.k.a. Spoky Woky took clean lines during practice.

Levi Green slows in style for  righty.

Levi Green slows in style for righty.

Chris Cade drifts before he grips the righty.

Chris Cade drifts before he grips the righty.

Alain Carvajal (in flannel) poses with the young skaters of Mesa de las Tablas.

Alain Carvajal (in flannel) poses with the young skaters of Mesa de las Tablas he’s been skating with for more than half a decade.

 

Kalil Hammouri, Levi Green, and Kyle Wester relax after a day of riding.

Kalil Hammouri, Levi Green, and Kyle Wester relax after a day of riding.

Punk Rocker was a cowboy for the evening.

Punk Rocker was a cowboy for the evening. He caught a few heifers.

This guy is the oldest guy in town. He's so old, I don't remember his name.

This guy is the oldest guy in town. He’s so old, I don’t remember his name.

MLF-3952

Race brackets. Blatant advertising.

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.

Organizers meeting with locals elders and officials.

Organizers meeting with locals elders and officials.

The second day was race day and they did one practice heat before getting right to the racing.

Oscar Gutierrez leads a practice run through the first sweeping left.

Oscar Gutierrez leads a practice run through the first sweeping left.

This is the hay.

This is a hay bale

Next was the first round of race heats.

Brian Sandoval slides for the tight right.

Brian Sandoval slides for the tight right.

MLF-4086

Alejo Puente and Kalil Hammouri drift and grip in front of an unknown rider.

MLF-4111

Luis Ortiz, Felipe Marin, and Martin Gallegos get tight.

and Felipe almost had it.

and Felipe almost had it.

but...

but…

nope.

nope.

MLF-4118

He actually saves himself a bit.

He actually saves himself a bit.

MLF-4120

MLF-4124

Fernando Vega and Brian Sandoval setting up for the next corner.

Fernando Vega and Brian Sandoval setting up for the next corner.

Oscar Gutierrez, all up in that foot-stop.

Oscar Gutierrez, all up in that foot-stop.

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.

Oscar Gutierrez and Eduardo Cordero round the second to last corner, in front of the crowd.

Oscar Gutierrez and Eduardo Cordero round the second to last corner, in front of the crowd.

Kyle Wester and Dustin Hampton were close.

Kyle Wester and Dustin Hampton were close.

Kalil Hammouri and Gerardo Moreno were tighter, though.

Kalil Hammouri and Gerardo Moreno were tighter, though.

This time, with a little more subtle advertising.

This time, with a little more subtle advertising.

The locals watched the finish line.

Right by the finish line.

MLF-4379

The womens’ heats were round robin style because of the number of women racing. Marie leads Marcela Vanegas.

Gloria Gutierrez scoots through the hairpin.

Gloria Gutierrez scoots through the hairpin.

Unfortunately, Natalia Rohrer doesn't.

Unfortunately, Natalia Rohrer doesn’t scoot right through.

MLF-4390

MLF-4413

Semifinal heat at the steep hairpin with Oscar leading and Brian chasing him down. There was a crash up above that split the group up.

Next semifinal heat had Kyle making a pass on Gerardo Moreno.

Next semifinal heat had Kyle making a pass on Gerardo Moreno.

Kyle has taken the lead.

Kyle has taken the lead.

In between the last semifinals and finals, so many people showed up to town.

In between the last semifinals and finals, so many people showed up to town.

Marie Bougourt leads again through the third to last corner.

Marie Bougourd leads again through the third to last corner. She dominated.

MLF-4478

Gerardo Moreno leads the final heat into the third to last corner.

Gerardo Moreno leads the final heat into the third to last corner.

Kyle Wester is stalking with a foot brake in the back of the pack.

Kyle Wester is stalking with a foot brake in the back of the pack.

Oscar Gutierrez gets the slide while Brian Sandoval slips off.

Oscar Gutierrez gets the slide while Brian Sandoval slips off.

Kyle has to pull an extra slide to maneuver inside of Brian.

Kyle has to pull an extra slide to maneuver inside of Brian.

 

 

Kyle accelerates through the corner and catches Oscar and Gerardo's draft.

Kyle accelerates through the corner and catches Oscar and Gerardo’s draft.

Alina gives a final briefing and thanks to the organizers.

Alina gives a final briefing and thanks to the volunteers.

Here are all the people who made the riding possible.

Here are all the people who made the riding possible.

The open and womens' class winners took a victory corner on the way to the awards.

The open and womens’ class winners took a victory corner on the way to the awards.

The street got crowded.

The street got crowded.

Marie got pitted?

Marie got pitted?

They were charging to get into town.

They were charging to get into town.

Checkpoint #1. I had VIP status.

Checkpoint #1. I had VIP status.

Local family

Local family

Alain Carvajal and I

Alain Carvajal and yours truly. No one recognized me from three years earlier because I didn’t have the beard any more.

Kyle Wester and Marie Bougourt, two traveling skateboarding lovebird champions.

Kyle Wester and Marie Bougourt, two traveling skateboarding lovebird champions.

The crowd, a mixture of skate fans and music fans.

The crowd, a mixture of skate fans and music fans.

The music was cool.

The music was cool.

This guy sang his heart out.

This guy sang his heart out.

...and things get blurry after that.

…and things get blurry after that.

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.

1

1

2

2

MLF-3556

3

4

4

5

5

6

6

7

7

8

8

Huey-iphone-2464

9

10

10

Final results:

Open

  1. Kyle Wester · USA

  2. Gerardo Moreno · Mex

  3. Oscar Gutierrez · Mex

  4. Brian Sandoval · Costa Rica

  5. Fernando Concha · Mex

MLF-4597

Lee Cation from the IDF displays the final results for open class.

Womens’:

MLF-4598

And the final results for women.

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.

Huey-iphone-2585

 

Now here is the gallery of all the photos.

A big thanks goes out to the Mesa Fest Organizers for making my trip happen.

Comments