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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!


Coldest skate ever…

I’ve been a little bit behind with updating this blog but lots of stuff has been going on outside of longboarding and weather hasn’t been up to much either. Another thing is that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to learn to ski, and after my third day last weekend I can safely say that I’ve given it a good go! I was managing red runs without berating those that led me down them or scaring myself too much…

At the start of the month, I did manage a good skate with my good friend Tim Pritchard. About the time of his visit this kind of thing wasn’t an uncommon sight in Geneva which is quite close by:

 However, although the week previous to his visit the temperature hadn’t gone above the -15°C, the weekend he was here was a cosy -10°C. Needless to say that with clear skys there was no way we weren’t going to skate. It is just what we do when we get together. It was the coldest skate ever…

In the past, I’ve skated in cold conditions especially when I was in Paris.

It’s all good once you get going and it was no different this time. Tim and I took the lakeside path, him on the G|Bomb and me on the Subsonic GT. Through the icy fields we went…

It was fun to skate and pump around the ice patches:

The  G|Bomb, good at pumping and pushing, not so good as a snow plough:

Great times…

… with some super-smooth stretches:

I got chased by dogs:

One things about dogs. It really annoys me when they decide to chase me when I’m riding a bike or longboard. I heard that one thing you can do is make noise at them to intimidate them… I tried, looked stupid infront of about 10 people and failed to get them to go away. After a good deal of barking once I stopped they got bored and went away by their own accord.

In the end, we managed around 30km in some really cold conditions including wind that never became a tail-wind, regardless of the direction we took.

A nice pic of a nice board in some weak Winter sun:

Dreaming of a warm chin-massage:

Tim, showing off his head-wear:

We finished off at the crazy sculture at Ouchy:

For those of you who are interested in what we gorged ourselves on post-skate, here is the awesome-ness that sorted us right out. Dumplings for the win!


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