After having seen the posts and the excitement surrounding Sideways Sunday for weeks now, enough was enough. We needed to check this out for ourselves. N E Drift Trikes, and NFA Drift Trikes invited The Lancaster Area Knights of Trikes to check out their weekly gathering. It took several weeks to coordinate, but two of the Knights, John and myself (Sean), finally chose a weekend and spread the word. Our good friend Anthony from Random Savage was able to make the trip also, so we loaded up our 1977 Dodge Sportsman and trekked on up to Vermont, picking up Anthony in NY. It was a cool 7 hour ride, but when we finally got into Vermont, we had a good feeling this would be totally worth it. A change in terrain from the flatter NY and Ct, Northern Massachusetts and Vermont had plenty of mountains that tempted us to pull over and assemble our trikes. We somehow found the self-control to continue on to Ludlow, VT.
A small ski-town, Ludlow seems as though it would be bursting with energy during the winter months, packed with out-of-towners looking to hit the slopes. During the summer, a lot less people are floating around town. Being as though we rolled into town at 9:30 at night, it was quiet and a little cloudy, but that did not distract us from the beast of a mountain we were about to climb. Finally reaching our destination, which was Kirk from N E Drift Trikes’ house, the hill we climbed to get there was awesome. Little did we know, we were only halfway up the mountain. We pulled in to the driveway and found several people hanging out, having a good time and getting excited for a weekend of drifting. Present were Kirk and Tony, Matt, Tim, Andrew, Mike, Dustin, Allie, Sunshine, and Natalie. Introductions were had, trikes were assembled, and adjustments were made. We admired each other’s innovations and craftsmanship but riding is really what we were itching for. After the last bolt was tightened, we loaded up the trikes on the back of a pick-up, hopped on top and rode up the rest of the mountain.
On the way up, the trikers and spectators were giving me bits and pieces of information to remember as we went down. They have a great practice of stopping to regroup at a few places on the run to pick up any stragglers or riders that wrecked. They pointed those places out, told me to avoid the pond and the pot-hole to look out for. All in all, Trailside Road is a two mile run complete with sharp turns, steep drop-offs and spotty lighting. It looked awesome. At the top, the first section was condos that were pretty well lit and moved into some more dark wooded areas. All 8 or 9 of us turned on our lights and kicked off. The road got very quick very fast. It wasn’t too long before we had a little separation between us, but seemed to group back up around the hair-pins. This made for navigating the turn fun and a little more challenging at times. It seemed at least once per run someone ended up too wide and went off the road. Some areas were fine, other areas, particularly at night, you were in for a nice surprise. I slid over a deep drop off and went down someone’s front stairs. After regrouping, we kicked off again and lost the surrounding lighting headed into the woods. The chaser truck provided me a beacon of light as the turns crept up on you very suddenly. I could barely see the riders ahead of me so I had a just a small idea of what was coming next. Then one of the other riders Matt just disappeared into a ditch on the side of the road. The quality of the road was not bad, stones kicked up just a little bit, and some parts were newly paved. The PE sleeves were clutch in gripping the road, but not making it challenging getting sideways. Several sweeping turns later, we cruised back into Kirk’s driveway.
After making some more necessary adjustments, we loaded back up and ran the road several more times the first night. We avoided major injuries to ourselves and our trikes and had a great time drinking beers and piling back into the trucks. After the last run, some people dispersed while the rest of us gathered around in the trike circle and talked until the early hours of the morning.
The next day, Allie and Summer prepared an amazing breakfast of pancakes and bacon and John and I checked out the town and picked up some supplies. The trikers started to arrive back at Kirk’s house for the official Sideways Sunday. Some of the riders started to practice on the road in front of Kirk’s driveway using cones to weave in and out and try to ride in tandem. Anthony showed off his two-wheel skills and before too long, Kirk had held a two-wheel all the way down. We started to gather some footage with our Go-Pro cameras. After pretty much everyone arrived, we loaded up and went back up Trailside Road. I have to say I was much more comfortable running this road during the daytime. The first few runs saw a few spills like Matt rolling into a corrugation ditch and being dumped onto his head. Another run, I looked to my right and saw a wheel with a sleeve bouncing off the road and Andrew behind trying to navigate without it attached to his trike. That reminded me of the first Austin event when the same thing happened to me in the competition. There was a lot of fighting amongst the lead riders to make it down the hill first. Constant battling between Tim and newly nicknamed Malibu Mike with Anthony throwing 360 spins in front of everyone made for great pictures and videos for the passengers in the lead vehicle. I had a close call when I completely misnavigated a turn and smacked a tree. With as much as the front of my legs were killing me, my trike was magically unharmed. Tony was nice enough to stop and ask me if I was ok and said that he doesn’t stop for much but my wreck looked pretty bad. A few of the runs we continued on down the hill instead of pulling into Kirk’s driveway. This yielded the fastest stretch of road, with Anthony topping out at 51.6 mph at one point. After each run, we’d have some beers, make the necessary repairs and adjustments and load back up. There was some buzz about food being prepared for an afternoon feast, and the riders became excited at the idea of running down Mountain Road.
I got the run-down from a few people like Tony regarding Mountain Road. I remember things like rough road quality, sharp turns, double diamond drops off the side, best to control your speed. I made mental notes of all of these things, but they did not sink in until we drove up this road. Mountain Road runs all the way up Okemo Mountain, cutting across the ski slopes. It is 4.5 miles of sharp turns and very steep drop-offs. The view from the top was priceless; miles and miles of beautiful mountains and countryside. That feeling was short-lived however as the task ahead was riding our trikes down. I knew it was going to be intense when I saw Tim actually strap on a helmet. We kicked off and right away the action started. On the third turn, my break assembly completely detached from my fork and I had to come to a screeching stop with my feet to throw in the back of the truck. Shortly after, Anthony was seen pulling his trike out of the trees and a few turns later we came upon Matt laying on the road, Malibu Mike running to his rescue and John trying to hoist his trike out of a ditch. Matt loaded up in the truck with me and we rode down, trying to catch up to the other riders. If the road itself was not enough of a challenge, having to navigate the cars that were careening up the mountain made things even more dangerous. Convening at the bottom of the hill, all and all, no one was seriously hurt and walking away alive seemed like a win. Mountain road was the most incredible run we have taken to date, and I know John, Anthony, and I cannot wait to ride it in the competition in August.
We gathered back at Kirk’s and the trikers wanted to run Trailside a few more times. I sat with the spectators and watched the epic drifts and increasingly more intense battles for the lead. It seemed like every time we pulled back in the driveway some new faces had arrived to join in the fun. There were lawn chairs and food on the grill and trike parts scattered throughout. We all finally took a break and gathered around the tables. Perfectly marinated steak tips and potato salad with hamburgers and hot dogs made for an amazing feast. We felt right at home with the New Englanders, and we were like neighbors to them. All brought together by a crazy extreme sport. There were a lot of pictures and videos taken of the day’s events, but the truth is, Sideways Sunday cannot be fully captured on film. It’s more than just hanging out, swapping some paint, and feasting. It’s a ritual that you must be there to experience for yourself.
John and I from The Lancaster Area Knights of Trikes and Anthony from Random Savage want to thank NE Drift Trikes and NFA Trikes and everyone in Vermont for taking us in and showing us an amazing weekend!