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Race checklist: N°1 – are your laces done up?

With the first weekend of Spring came the first longboard race of the year: Icy Annecy. It was a race that I didn’t want to miss because the last time I had been in Annecy I’d not had a board and the bike path the race was to be held on is lovely. So I got up at ridiculous O’clock to start my journey to Annecy.

Thankfully, the weather turned out fine and the beautiful lake views could be seen by all.

Since I arrived early, I had a good chill out in the sunshine whilst I waited for Thib the race organiser to arrive. He is probably one of the more active distance riders (amongst other talents) in the South-West of France and I was eager to meet him. He’d also participated in the other race to take place in the nearby region, La Familia Winter Challenge: Stage 2 and also gone up to the race that Alex Bangnoi had organised: Paris Push Race 2. I knew that others were coming up from Grenoble so it was a chance to meet a fair few new faces in person.

The ‘locals only’ mentalities of some of the locals meant that the event had received some bad press but in the end no-one from Annecy took part. In the end there was about 10 people of which 5 took part.

Thib took us on a small skate where we met up with the group guys, all members of the La Familia collective who had come up from Grenoble… they quickly set up camp and dug out some cheese and wine for those not taking part in the race.

I was sorely tempted but knew that if I ate some the race would be over for me even before it had began!

The five of us taking part were soon lined up on the starting line and we were off. The pace was pretty good and I remember feeling happy to be on a skateboard again. Just after the start the youngest participant, Jules  took off at a crazy pace and overtook everyone. Alex was then behind him, with Thib in third and me in fourth.

I knew that Alex was going to try and make a break for it so I accelerated past Thib and Alex and took the lead. Not soon after passing him I heard Alex shout something. Not wanted to loose concentration I didn’t really reply but the Thib who was then coming up to overtake me once more said that me shoelace was undone!

Usually, I’m pretty thorough with my pre-race preparations but I’d not checked my shoes. Thankfully, I only had to stop pushing and tuck the lace into my shoe. It would have been annoying to have had to stop. Once I got push again I caught up slowly but surely with Thib who had got into a stead pace but Alex was already way ahead.

For a little while I took the advantage of drafting Thib and rested a little to catch my breath from the effort I’d had to make to catch him up. Thib was pushing constantly and I could manage 3 or 4 good pushes and rest for a few seconds between swapping legs. I was amazed that I could put in so little effot and it really helped my performance in the race. Once I was rested enough I decided to make a break for 2nd place and put on a good spurt of speed and managed to pass Thib.

Now I was ahead of him and needed to keep up my pace. Every now and again I would pump my board instead of push and it offered my  leg muscles a good rest. The issue is that I find it a little harder to breathe when pushing and I felt that after a while I was cramping up. Still, I was happy to put in some pumps every once in a while. I’m really happy with the Illuminati setup and I love it for racing.

We got to the half way marker where we would have to turn back. Not knowing exactly where this was and having stopped slightly earlier, I let Thib catch up and pass me. Stopping then suddenly starting again made my legs feel really weak but after a few good pushes I got back into a rhythm. I used the same technique as before, catching up with Thibault and then passing him once I felt rested. The way back was terrible due a strong headwind and I could tell that I was tiring. Alex was way up front and there was no way to catch up with him.

Thib was right on my tail, maybe 4 or 5 metres away and when we got to the a small downhill I pumped all I could to make the most of the incline. Pumping downhill, in my opinion means that you can reach higher speeds than pure pushing and I definitely felt that this is what helped me keep my position. The final kilometre or so was horrible… I didn’t want to loose my place and really gave it all I got. 500 metre from the finish line there were a few 90° corners to negotiate and every one I passed was sketchily done with no class or style at all.  The finish line couldn’t come soon enough and it was a happy moment when I crossed it (you can see Thib in orange just behind).

After race knackered-ness:

During races, I often wonder why I do this but being amongst beautiful scenery and awesome people really helps. The bit I prefer the most though is often the end though and the chilled skates that sometimes take place. Once we’d rested the group migrated to the skatepark which was nearby:

After some more chilling the Grenoble crew and Thib went back home and Alex and I got some quality catch-up time. We had some good food and tried to keep our skateboards out of the way of the throbbing crowds – post-race beers for the win!

We then had a little skate back to Alex’s nicely stickered-up car:

It was awesome to see everyone and be part of such an awesome day. For more information about the event see the full race report on on Skatefurther. Big thanks to Thib for getting this day together!

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9 responses

  1. Matthbro

    Nice report again!
    I had the time, I didn’t have the money; I wish I could have been there.

    March 11, 2012 at 21:55

  2. Thanks for the comments, it’s really good to keep in touch.
    I’m looking forward to our next skate for sure!

    March 12, 2012 at 09:20

  3. ++ good times !

    March 13, 2012 at 17:46

  4. Nice report and pictures! It was good to meet you again Chris! Next time check up your laces and we’ll have a real fight!

    March 27, 2012 at 22:00

  5. Greeting from Canada Mr Vallender, Always a pleasure to read your posts. I was wondering if you might be able to share an update regarding your Gullwing Stalkers; do they still take out about 30% of the vibrations when pushing along? I’m interested in investing in some now but was curious about their longevity. I know you are a self proclaimed bearing nerd, so I felt I should share a discovery I made: VXB bearings, they are built in ceramic bearings and the kicker is they sell for less then 40$ Canadian! Check them out

    July 22, 2012 at 03:30

    • Hi Kris – thanks for the comment. So far, the Stalkers are the best trucks I’ve been able to get hold of which also reduce vibrations. I’ve done probably over a 1000 km on them so can testify to their durability. However, I think that in the long run the Vicetrux that Mr Jim on Longboard uses are going to be much better. They are taking their time though with getting them out though!

      As for the VBX, I’ve heard mixed reviews…here is what Tim had to say about them: Fitted some new ceramic built-in VXB bearings this morning, the ones that loads of adrenalina people used, and they’re rubbish! Fully tight on my precision truck, and they have so much movement you wouldn’t believe it! They even click when you turn when you’re skating! … Perhaps he got a dud set though.

      July 23, 2012 at 12:13

      • Perhaps a dud set, or perhaps a bad wheel to bearing match up. I tried them at the whistler longboard festival in some old 85 mm LandYachtz hawgs and they rolled very poorly since the spacer caused them to hang just outside where they should sit. A friend had the same issue with those wheels and bearing but they roll really well in 90mm flys.

        I shall save for some stalkers if theyve held out well for this long, it was either those or saving for some lightweight precisions, ill save my pennies and wait for reviews to come out for the Aera K4s perhaps

        July 25, 2012 at 19:27

  6. save pounds – and by hundreds ! – pennies won’t be enough.

    July 30, 2012 at 20:58

  7. Hi Chris ! Getting ready for the summer ?

    February 6, 2013 at 21:48

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