Max Capps Goes For Top Speed At L’Ultime Descente
Four years ago, Mischo Erban was the fastest man on a skateboard for the 2nd time. With no invites out to other riders for Mischo’s speed runs, some expected skate drama unfolded. I know a select few riders were definitely chomping at the bit for the chance to show that they could go as fast or faster, but didn’t have the same opportunities worked out for themselves individually. Fast forward 4 years and Erik Lundberg posts a faster time early in the season for a Red Bull stunt on the same hill, but this time everyone was going get their chance to post up at the Top Speed Challenge / L’Ultime Descente out in Quebec, Canada.
I was stoked to get my chance and dialed in for the trip, when I get a text on Wednesday the week before the race from Tim Del. The Red Bull Donner race scheduled for the very same weekend had fallen through and he was going for a last minute hail mary to Top Speed. Dude got his plane ticket, a box of fancy wheels, a new board and toys for the race in 2 days and was at my house in Indiana Monday before the sun came up on a red eye flight. I sent Key Dougherty a text that we were about to get ‘Tim Del swooped’, a regular occurrence for us.
Quick nap later and we went to the Drag Races in Indy, what better way to get ready to go as fast as possible than watch dragsters do 300mph in 4 seconds. We awoke the next day, continuing the stoke, only to find out about Kyle Wester going 89mph in Colorado. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now but…
The news took some wind out of my sails for sure and I know others felt the same. Different hill, and another solo shot at the record, it didn’t stop us from being excited for the event. We knew we had a chance to take Kyle head-to-head in Canada, but the bar for world record speed was definitely re-set at the final hour. Regardless, the stoke was flowing for the trip and the wrench fest was well under way. We put the finishing touches on our boards and chatted about which wheels we thought were going to be the fastest. I was extra stoked because Tim brought me a present, Rogers Brothers Flywheel hub covers, epic OG Southern California race tech. This race was also the perfect place to bust out an aerodynamic board I made many months before. We spent most of Tuesday lurking and admiring our setups as I packed the car. [Read about some of my Chop Lord experiments here.]
Mom, Tim and I left early Wednesday to mash through the 13 hour drive from Indy to Montreal. Fellow 9 baller Tristan Taillon was kind enough to shelter us for the night and show us what real poutine is. Thursday we hit the road to Quebec City to pick up Key Dougherty from a rainy airport and then to the hill. I don’t know how he did it but he had the biggest aero-lid I have ever seen with him in tow, other skaters were on similar flights and had a good chuckle trying it on curb side.
First stop was the hill, we had to see it. As we crept around the top sweeper you could see the road completely fall off and the only thing to see over the crest was water from the St. Lawrence River. It was all laughs as we drove down, trying not to burn up the brakes from how ridiculously steep the road is.
Quebec is as French Canadian as it gets; everything is in French, everyone speaks French, it was practically France to us. This made for a funny lunch trying to convey our orders to an extremely patient and nice waitress who only spoke french, damn American tourists not knowing the local language! ha ha.
We were the first to show up at the weigh and sign in, no one else would show up till later due to travel. Each of us took our turns on the scale to place us in our weight categories, 150lbs+ and 150lbs-. A few beers and foosball games later, it was time to unpack and get some sleep after way too much car time. Like the weigh-in, our earliness greeted us with a ghost town at a children’s summer camp. We would be taking it over for the weekend. It was dorm style with tons of rooms that contained tiny bunk beds, it was actually pretty rad. By the end of the night not many had shown up still, so we passed out for the night. The next morning was very different.
Friday morning it was still raining, but the place was bustling with competitors who had shown up late in the night or early that AM. When the rain stopped the show began. Everyone was in the parking lot showing off their toys for the race; aerolids, body fairings and tails, boards and setups. Stoke was bubbling as the road dried up and people began suiting up for first runs.
The run is gradual, there is time to get comfy before the big drop. You kick in and get it together for a 45mph+ right sweeper, straighten back out and lean as hard as you can on your front foot for the drop. You reach top speed very quickly, and try to maintain and increase it the whole way down. The hard part is not letting 80mph of air have its way with you. Its trying to pull you up and off your board the whole time, being solid was key. There is a slight warp in the road just before the speed trap that gives you a good shake, the right line of the road was not ideal to be on. Just after the trap a huge concrete center divider starts and you are shot into a right sweeper around it for the run out. This sweeper is no joke, you can’t just stand up and slow down, you would get peeled right off your board like a sail. Managing your speed while trying to make this 70mph sweeper and not hit the wall was sketchy.
The typical crowd was posting the top speeds, the Swedes Anders Inde and Adam Persson holding the top most of the day. Due to the rain, the air was very humid and thick and resulted in slower speeds. It also became apparent that weight was important, but you would have to be very aerodynamic to go fast. This hill, condition wise, is the complete opposite from Colorado, and it showed with Kyle Wester’s speeds.
Swedes were the only riders to break 130kmph until the last run, which had the best conditions as well, when Tim Del dropped the mic and went 133.9kmph (83mph) wearing his latex speed suit. The line in the sand was drawn and speed suits became the topic of the night. Luge was hitting 90mph right away, Mike McIntyre going the fastest of the day, 157kmph (97mph). Gravity Car was fun to watch as well, they got over 90.
After runs, Rollin Boardshop threw a Giant Slalom race. I was particularly excited with my new entry into slalom, and the chance to get to race Zak Maytum. It was held on a side road that was pleeeenty steep. The course was extremely fun and there was a good sized field of racers. Zak killed the game in speed and style, his technique had people talking, consequently he won.
We got back to camp for dinner and party, Adam was already hard on his phone looking for a sex shop to buy a latex suit to get the extra edge. The place was buzzing as people talked about their runs and what they can improve. Mostly everyone went to sleep at a decent time, except Key, Tim, and I. California held it down and won the party Friday night, and we paid for it the next day.
Saturday started with morning breakfast and bright sunny skies. Carlos Paixao finally made it to the event after visa problems and quickly went to work going 82mph on his first run. He came prepared with several speed suits, skinny legs and 200lbs. Now that everyone was dialed in, speeds were up. Speed suits were getting passed around so people could knock out fast runs and get over 80mph. I got to try Tim Dels suit and set my fastest speed, the difference was noticeable with it on. I felt like I could go faster, but on my second attempt in the suit Daina Banks crashed and my run got red flagged, which requires you to slow down. Carlos nailed the fastest speed of the event that run with an astounding 137kmph (85mph).
The fast crew continued to post runs over 130kmph, but no one could top Carlos. With rain forecasted for the next day, the window of opportunity started to close.
Carlos nailed the fastest standup speed of the event with an astounding 137kmph (85mph)
The top 5 in luge went their fastest on the last run, Mike McIntyre rocketing with a top speed of 164.12kmph (101.97mph) but crashing into the center divider trying to manage the speed and turn after the speed trap. He destroyed his helmet and speed suit, but was conscience as they took him to the hospital. Later in the night we would find out that he’s just fine, beat up but good.
The night was finished off with a showing of DROP, awesome food and the passing out of 80, 90, and 100 mph stickers from Chris McBride.
Smiles were big as everyone told stories and talked about the weekend.
Mike McIntyre rocketing with a top speed of 164.12kmph (101.97mph) on a Luge
Sunday morning was wet, and extremely windy. The wind dried up the road quickly but it wasn’t easy to make it down, nor was it very fast. It was pretty much a throw away as people took pack runs and fooled around, most didn’t even suit up and played basketball and 4square instead.
Eventually we got together for podium and the money was passed out. Carlos Paixao takes 1st, Mateus Cavinato 2nd and Tim Del in 3rd; that makes Tim the fastest North American and Californian on a skateboard, like I said before; Tim Del SWOOP.
Mike McIntyre made it back to the hill for an emotional and awesome podium, Roger Hickey right on his heels in 2nd and Andy Lally in 3rd.
Most people bailed out that night, the rest early Monday. We packed up everything and powered out the 17 hour drive without stopping. I am so stoked to have gone and hit my goals: Went 80mph, rode my maryhill board and 134mm hangers all weekend, and even though I tied, I still feel like I beat Kyle Wester and made top 10 with 8th place, love ya buddy.
Huge thanks to the organizers, Abec11 and Rogers Brothers for sending out some fancy toys for me to ride on, and of course Ronin Trucks, Sector9, Zealous Bearings, Riot Urethane, and NJK Leathers for keeping me supplied with what I needed to succeed. Cant wait for another chance at that hill, or maybe another hill for a top speed challenge in the future?
Thanks to my mom, Fred Chan and Yann at Harfang for photos. Check the full Harfang gallery from the event here.