Longboarding event gives riders safe access to Chilliwack road

The Yardwaste Downhill Memorial Race and Safety Education Event is a ‘free riding’ event with emphasis on safe racing

Longboarders (from left) Eleanor Issel

Longboarders (from left) Eleanor Issel

A section of Elk View Road will be home to a group of longboarders at the end of August as they gather for a day of downhill riding and safety demos.

The Yardwaste Downhill Memorial Race and Safety Education Event takes place Saturday, Aug. 27 along a stretch of Elk View Road, from Lindell to Ryder Lake roads.

It’ll be a friendly competition where longboarders will participate in ‘free rides’ where the emphasis is on safe riding without prizes or money to be won. It is hosted by Yardwaste Downhill (a team of longboard competitors), Abbotsford Community Services, and Chilliwack Community Services.

The event started last year in memory of 14-year-old Marcus Labarie of Abbotsford who died while longboarding. Marcus was hit by an off-duty police officer in an Abbotsford intersection on the evening of Dec. 26, 2014.

One of his friends, who participates in programs at Abbotsford Community Services, came up with the idea to hold the event.

“A big part of this is remembering fallen longboarders,” says event organizer Alison Gutrath with Abbotsford Community Services.

There will be riders from Chilliwack, Abbotsford and beyond participating.

Last year about 60 longboarders registered and the event was held on a section of Discovery Trail in Abbotsford. The route included some sharp hairpin turns, making it a more difficult race compared to what it will be like on Elk View Road, says Gutrath.

“By having it on Elk View Road, the corners are not quite as sharp, so this gives an advantage to someone who’s not as experienced,” she says.

The course will be like a “mid-point starting point and therefore (less experienced) riders will not feel as intimidated,” she adds.

All riders will be required to wear safety gear, including helmets, gloves, appropriate shoes, and long pants.

There will be an hour’s worth of safety demos by professional longboarders from Yardwaste, Coast Longboarding, and Replay Board Shop. Participants will learn how to stop, turn and slow down safely, as well as various other longboarding skills and techniques like how to crouch down properly.

Following the demos will be four hours of downhill riding. There are no classes of competitors, rather each heat is open to all levels which will give beginners a chance to watch and learn from the pros.

That way, the safety demos will actually take place throughout the day, adds Gutrath.

At noon, there will be a memorial time to remember those who have died longboarding, including Marcus Labarie, Dustin MacKenzie an 11-year-old Abbotsford boy, and 19-year-old Dakota Leslie. Family members and friends of deceased longboarders will be welcome to speak at that time.

The 1.8 km section of Elk View Road will be closed to traffic that day. A total of 23 residences are located along the road closure, but residents will have access to their homes between heats as needed.

It will take about two minutes for a longboarder to ride the course. Following each heat, a bus will shuttle the riders back to the top of the hill, at which point Elk View residents will be able to come and go from their homes. Course marshals will be located at every driveway with radios.

Delays of up to 15-20 minutes are expected, but if someone needs to leave their home sooner, it will be possible, says Gutrath.

In the case of an emergency, there will be traffic control at the top and bottom of the track. MedTech Emergency Medical Services will be on site as well.

Spectators are welcome to come and watch.

The Yardwaste Downhill Memorial Race and Safety Education Event runs Saturday, Aug. 27 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The road will be closed during those 10 hours. Registration is 9:30 to 11 a.m., safety demos from 10 to 11 a.m., and free riding from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

jenna.hauck@theprogress.comtwitter.com/PhotoJennalism