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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!


Winter outing: Vevey and quite a bit past Montreux…

Skating during the week has become impossible, mostly mentally because it is so dark and cold but also phyisically because recently the weather has been wet. This isn’t all bad though because it means that the snow is finally falling – some 2 metres or so have fallen higher up whilst the town centre is looking rather white.

A week last Sunday was the first time in a while that the conditions were good and that I had some time to go and skate. I’ve been itching to go for a while so it was nice to finally get outside in the weak Winter sun. I decided to continue exploring the route that I found in Vevey during this trip.  It is the start of the national Swiss Roller skating route number 2 the Rhône Skate which in total is about 100km (62 miles).

Unfortuately, I didn’t have enough battery on my phone to record exactly where I went but the round trip was a little over the 30km (18 miles) mark. Here is a very rough map showing an approximate route:

I firstly took the train from Lausanne to Vevey and then quickly found the very well signposted route which led to Montreux. In Montreux there started to be many people who were also making the most sun and the Christmas market. Pretty soon I had to carry my board and weave though the human traffic… by some wrong turn I actually found myself in the main Christmas tent complete with gospel singers. Needless to say I was not dressed for the occasion and by the looks I got I was a little out of place.

Still, I was in the mood to discover what the path ahead had in store for me. A little more walking had to be done around the Chateau de Chillon as well as a fair bit more stroller slalom:

As soon as I got out of the town I had a rest and took in the nice view back towards Lausanne:

I carried on a bit more along the route which started to take me away from the lake and towards Villeneuve and the Grand Canal. The view inland really opened out and I decided to stop and take some pictures. There were no cars and only a few walkers who were braving the cold. The path wasn’t great quality but it was certainly longboard-able. I think that it wasn’t helped by the fact that quite a lot of mud and stones had been brought onto the paths by the tractors and other equipment which use the roads.

I drew some attention from some local wildlife too! ;-)

It was possibly the sight of my longboard or, come to think of it, the smell of my gloves! A little later I headed back to Montreux by the same route and got the train back home. All in all it was lovely to stretch the legs and make the most of some dry weather. It looks like my next outing on a longboard will probably be next year now… it’s a good job that there are other kinds of boards to ride too!


Descent2

Feels like things have slowed down in this last week, but despite the feeling there is still some stuff to write about. Last Saturday I attended my very first longboarding event in Lausanne: Descent2. As far as I can make out, it was co-organised by Lausannedescent.ch and La Fièvre/Skatepark HS36 and was very good afternoon out. Being my first DH event, I didn’t know really what to expect but it was really chilled and everyone I chatted to was really friendly.

The event was held at the Vallée de la Jeunesse, which is a curving road, closed to traffic which winds it’s way down to lake-level. It is the perfect event to go to if you want to try your hand at some of the tamer downhill runs that Lausanne has to offer. More experienced riders can also practice in an environment which is free from traffic or uncertain road surfaces and ‘have at it’…

Just for the record, that’s not me…I was on my G|Bomb and mainly there to get a flavour of what was going down. I did get to meet some lovely people including long-time skater and all-round nice guy Stephane Conus. Stéphane had been on hand with some really good advice when I was looking at moving to Lausanne. Incidently, a big thanks goes out to Bevil’ from Sakaroule for putting me in touch with him. It was great to cruise the lake route with him and put in a few ‘k’.

Along with the much needed BBQ stand a few longboarding brands were showing off their wares. Some were well known (Sector9 with the great ‘Push don’t Pollute’ t-shirts) but others brands less well known. Two Swiss makes represented; LGS Skateboards which showed some awesome carpentry skills and F-9.81 with some carbon-foamcore-concave-dope-ness. I was representing PSD which raised quite a few eyebrows:

As well as longboarders, there were quite a few people on luges, lots of inliners and something new to me drift-trikes - it is as crazy as it sounds. Big up goes out to some of the organisers I met: Nicolas Gachoud and Natan Lakonishok.

Spoiler alert, here are some upcoming things:
This, this and this..;-)


Goodwood 2011 musings

Like most years the Goodwood marathon is one of the top, if not THE event in my longboarding year. It certainly is the longest and most competitive distance event in Europe to my knowledge. This time around things were no different – I’ve been focussed on how I can improve my time since I started training back in April.

Tim Pritchard and I arrived early enough to set up a camp and generally collect our starter packs and get ready. The couple of hours before the race went by in a flash. I made some adjustments to my setup and after some stretching was ready for the off.  Tim, Matt Elver and I made our way on to the track together and snaked through the masses of lycra-clad rollerbladers, many roller-derby girls and got pretty near the front. With a little bit of manoeuvring and some grumbling from those around us we managed to get our boards down. The race marshals counted down from 10 and we were off. After about 10 metres Matt got knocked or tangled up with another rollerblader but other than that the start was clean and problem-free.

Tim and I got into a fast pace and the first lap really flew by. During some sections of the first lap he pumped and I managed to keep up by pushing as hard as I could, but only just. I should have pumped too but didn’t want to loose valuable time changing my stance but I was already aching and didn’t feel like I’d warmed up enough. After crossing the line for the second lap we were soon passed by Matt who seemed on very good form. I was really taken aback by how fast Tim was pushing and really struggled to get into a rhythm. After turning into the section of the track where there was a headwind I was lagging further and further behind. Pausing to drink some water proved a step to far.  Tim put in a few power pushes and just pulled away, I couldn’t keep up.

My breathing was all over the place and I decided to pull back a little, in the hope that if I maintained a high average speed then I could possibly catch up with Tim again in the later laps of the race. I had successfully done this the in 2010 with Alex Bangnoi. Soon after, I then also got overtaken by Ben Williams on a rather funky LBL Pusher V2 and Moe Neve. Shortly after that I managed to get into a good zone.

For the next laps, I pumped on every downhill and  straight where the wind was behind me or in the downhill sections and and pushed the rest of the time. It is at this point that I versitality of the G|Bomb showed through. Being able to pump the board was a very welcome break from the pushing. I also found that I was much quicker when I was pumping compared to when I was pushing. This was most noticeable on the flat or gradual downhill sections of the circuit. Along these sections I maintained speeds of around 24+ kph (15mph) compared to 20-ish kph (12.5mph) when pushing normally. I felt really comfortable on the G|Bomb  and I was pleased that I had adjusted to it in such a quick time. I have found my ultimate race board.

As the counter on my GPS climbed above the 43km mark at around the 2 hour mark,  I started to wonder how many laps I’d done. One error was that I didn’t carry a pen with me and being focused on pace, I’d not really paid attention to the number of laps I’d done. I really didn’t want to be one lap out so decided to do another, in hindsight I did this perhaps unconsciously to honour Alex Bangnoi with whom I’d raced around with for an extra lap at Goodwood in 2010. ;-)

In the end I finished in : 02:00:15, in 4th place – not bad!

A great podium picture of the top 3 finishers – well done guys! Check out the funky Skatefurther banner!

Here are the readings from my GPS for both 2010 and 2011.

2010 :

2011:

You can see from the above pictures that I was 1.4kph (0.86 mph) off last year’s pace.

Since the race I can’t help wondering why I was slower. I’ve tried to change many things in preparation for this year’s race, from looking into different techniques by reading the Chi-Running book to uphill training with the aim of improving strength. I perhaps made too many changes and don’t think that I ate right on the day. The previous day I hadn’t managed to resist a couple of beers either – schoolboy error!

Additionally, given my time in 2010 I may have been a tad over confident, it may have also been the headwind too. Who knows. One thing is for certain, I really feel that I got the setup right this year with the  G|Bomb although I may tweak a couple of aspects. I will also look at the pushing and tucking method, especially for use in headwinds. I also want to train for longer distances and give up on the grueling short uphill strategy as this isn’t fun. Regardless of my performance I had a really great time with everyone and had a great day.

This is the complete setup I used:

- Board: Subsonic G|Bomb Illuminati in light flex
- Front truck: Bennet 5.0 with Lime 80a Reflex barrel bushing boardside and Orange 86a barrel roadside (with rounded edges), with bushing saver fix
- Front wheels: ATOBE Wigglers wheels 77mm 82a
- Back truck: Seismic 30° with red springs tightened to 2.5 turns
- Rear wheels:  ATOBE  Bonneville wheels 76mm 78a
- Siesmic Tekton bearings
- PSD FWD+ Short footstop

More importantly, Goodwood like the other longboard events that are too-few, is also an unmissable opportunity to meet and get together with fellow longboarders. It was great to see such people as, Keith O’LearyTom ParkerNick RandallZoltan NagyBen WilliamsMoe Neve  Jon SteelChris White Gary EwensMatt Elver and not forgetting Tim Pritchard. Laura Hatwell was sorely missed though as were the other members of the Skatefurther family who weren’t able to make it.

It was also great to oogle at some really very nice setups, mainly a brace of G|Bomb Illuminatis and the urban legend that is the Longboard Larry Pusher V2.

Another awesome aspect was that the PSD footstops was really well received and deservedly so. Quite a few people bought a one on the day and all feedback on them was great. Here are several in action.

It was really nice to have to time to chill with some of the others after the race. After a good rest Tim, Keith and I went for a chill lap in the Summer sunshine. The circuit really is an amazing skate…

Tim summed it up nicely in his write up, which includes his impression of the G|Bomb:

Keith, Chris and I took the opportunity to ride the super smooth circuit for one last lap. All 3 of us pumping and using my footop’s which was another great feeling. I took a ride on Chris’s G|Bomb Illuminati, extra low brackets, Bennett front 17* Seismic red springs -7* and AToBe Wigglers/Bonnevilles. It was far more stable than my top mount LDP and return to centre equally, turning equally and less like a fish weaving. The pump feels much more centred, you kind of make longboard type turns, and it pumps/accelerates and you can make tiny pumps with your toes/heals dipping. The height is really low which felt pretty normal, until I stepped back on my board which felt enormous. The G|Bomb certainly has potential for a true pusher/pumper, but, I may well stick with my Pulse? The mega quick alteration of angles on the G|Bomb is also a massive advantage, I’m sure we all agree, especially front and back for us LDPers. I’d love a G|Bomb, and I have no doubt that it could be my ideal board for a race, but, I may never know. 

New strategies, more training but the same board – bring on next year already! Tim’s write up of the day can be seen Pavedwave and all the results of the day’s racing are here. A big thanks goes out to the organisers for putting on such a good event!


Training-tastic

So my weekend of training is finished. As I sit here slightly aching and full of food I know that in a weeks time the race will already be over. Seeing as I only started training properly around a month ago, I’m pretty pleased with how things have gone. I’ve learnt a couple of things too which I want to record here so that I don’t forget.

Eat right
Sounds basic, but is easy to get wrong. Realising that I wasn’t going to have all that much time to put in the miles, I decided to go for an sprint approach with my regular sessions. The route I used is short in distance terms, around 4km (2.4 miles) but has an elevation of around 135m (442 ft). Here is the different times it took me to travel the route:

Jul 18, 2011: Pace: 4:04min/km, Speed: 14.47km/h
Jul 21, 2011: Pace: 3:49min/km, Speed: 15.72km/h
Jul 27, 2011: Pace: 4:20min/km, Speed: 13.83km/h
Aug 02, 2011: Pace: 4:02min/km, Speed: 14.83km/h

So what happened on the 27th July? Well, I arrived back home thinking I was going to pass out. Coming up the hill I felt like I had no energy and like I was skating through treacle. It was a horrible feeling. From that day on I decided to eat more during the late afternoon to fuel the longboarding runs. The results are that I have got a little faster (last run) and I am also decidedly less grouchy upon arrival home.

My favourite snack of choice at the moment are home-made cereal bars that I used during the Paris Ultraskate.  Why make them? Well, here are some advantages:

1/ You know exactly what is in them
2/ They contain different levels of sugars to give you quick and sustained energy
3/ Really easy to make

Long Distance energy bars – all credit goes to the fantastic Diet-Sport-Coach site (in French)
By slightly changing the ingredients, you can make either a sweet or a slightly salty version – good to ward away boredom for when you have to eat a lot of them during ultras, etc…

Method:

Mix for sweet:
> 250 g powdered almonds
> 100 g fructose (powdered or agave syrup)
> 50g brown sugar
> a small potato (80g) cooked and mashed
> Add 80g sesame and/or lin seeds

For salty version:
> 250 g powdered almonds
> 75 g fructose (powdered or agave syrup)
> 100g peanut butter
>  80g sweet potato steamed and mashed
> Add 80g sesame and/or lin seeds

Mix everything up into a paste. It might at first appear really dry but just mix in enough and it will turn into a paste. Leave it to set in the fridge overnight. The next day, cut the paste into bars and wrap in cellophane. You can also wrap the paste around fillings such as dried bananas or dates.

The last big training push
During the weekend, I had some time to get the final bit of my training in. Since I setup the Illuminati not too long ago and had a couple of issues getting to grips with it and it was a real feeling of relief to feel everything come together. I’ve mainly been playing around with bushings (see last link) and also trying out ways to strengthen them.

I knew that it was possible to setup and get used to a board that is both good at pumping and pushing. From using it at the weekend, I think that I have came close to achieving that.

The weather around Lausanne has been pants for the last couple of weeks; muggy and showery. Not really very summery at all. All in all I did nearly 60km (37 miles) during the weekend at race pace for as much as possible. The most interesting run was on Saturday. I actually had a false start that day. I came out of the flat ready for a skate and after 10metres it started to rain. That was in the morning.

In the afternoon as I was waiting for the bus to take me down to the lake, I got my picture taken by a passing photographer:

Once at the lake, I’d done about 12km when again, it started to rain. Luckily, I decided to press on and the rain didn’t last – I did almost go home at one point because the rain kept threatening to come down.

Here is the route I took according to RunKeeper:

I’m happy with the speed. The route is certainly one of the more interesting ones to skate around on, but that does mean that you need to keep your wits about you. I had multiple near-misses with children on bikes, roller blade or just people randomly changing direction. There were also several crossings to deal with, although for the most part I managed to time them just right to get the ‘green man’. When you’re not dealing with all that, there is a lovely view of the lakeside. The surface really is top notch too. Physically, afterwards I felt pretty good and made sure I did my stretches. That reminds me…

Tim Pritchard recommended that I read a copy of Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. There is some interesting stuff regarding technique. After reading it, I’ve tried to keep in mind the following when I skate:

- Strike the ground when pushing with the mid-foot, making as little noise as possible
- Stay as straight as possible, lean forwards more the faster you want to go
- Don’t reach too far forwards, concentrate your push to the back
- Focus on the point where you want to be going (as much as your board and the terrain allows you)

I would really recommend this book. There are some very waffle-y sections and some running information that isn’t very relevant to longboarding, but the philosophy, warming up/warming down, stretching, race preparation and training plans are all well worth the read.

T minus 5 days-ish
So now comes a nice part of the training: eating and resting as much as possible! I’m really looking forward to the weekend, as well as the race it’ll be a good chance to catch up with old friends (Matt Elver, Keith O’LearyTim PritchardTom Parker, Nick Randall, Zoltan Nagy), and meet some new faces for the first time in person (Chris White, Gary Ewens of Smile Longboards, the UK Longboard Larry distributor, and who knows else!).

A sad fact though is that Alex Bangnoi will unfortunately not be able to make Goodwood this year- it won’ be the same without you drifting me around the track ;-). The French will be duly represented though by Matthieu Josse, a young gun who shot to 8th place in the Ultraskate rankings at the Paris Ultraskate. I think there are going to be a few surprises this year…let’s see!


Adrenalina – watching from the outside

It’s 1pm (GMT+1) last Saturday, the 30th July 2011 and I am sitting in the Pschorr brewery in Munich, Germany, eating würstl and Fass-sauerkraut accompanied by a glass of their refreshing Helles beer.

 As nice as this all is, beer, smiling mädchen and all, my mind keeps on wondering how is everyone getting on at the Adrenalina marathon in NYC. I’m pretty sure that two names will be on the podium but as we all know, these events often bring surprises. When I finally saw the top three results I was not disappointed:

1. Jeff Vyain – 1:31:41
2. Paul Kent – 1:32:10
3. Robin McGuirk – 1:38:07

Both Jeff Vyain and Paul Kent’s times speak for the themselves, this was no doubt an epic race at an amazing location, perfectly described by Alex Bangnoi:

 Ideal (weather) conditions…a gorgeoous setting! Imagine: the starting and finishing in front of the Statue of Liberty! Classy! What better motivation!

Alex Bangnoi went on to set himself a new personal best time (I think!) of 1:48:20, placing him in a solid 30th place out of 110 starters in the male category.

With around 6 minutes separating 2nd and 3rd place this was clearly a dual for the last lap or so as apparently both the front racers were working together to maintain pace…the following pick captures this:

But the race was worth it from the expressions at the finish line:

1st place Jeff Vyain:

2nd place Paul Kent:

All this makes for a great podium: Epic!

Adrenalina photo credits: ShRED Magazine

Let’s not forget the women – woop!:

1. Cami Best – 1:59:16_Bustin
2. Sara Paulshock – 1:59:48_Bustin
3. Priscilla Bouillon – 2:04:42

The full results are available here - only one rider from outside the America’s…there’s bound to be more hidden talent out there!

Those of us who couldn’t get to the race got to have the next best thing, a live report by PushCulture News, all the videos which were broadcast live can be seen at by clicking here. There are great interviews with the winners and many racers including  an epic 5 mins with Alexandre Bangnoi at 14m32! Bravo!

Other noteworthy people who were also interviewed are Dan Gesmer of Seismic and Jack Smith, the first person to cross America on a skateboard, and founder of this wonderful sport.

Another thing which has stood out is the amount of attention that this event got from the media, national and international alike:

Yahoo:  Bustin’ Boards Jeff Vyain wins Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon’s maiden NYC run
ESPN: Skateboarding meets marathoning in NY
Sports Illustrated/CNN: Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon

Also, what could be better than a picture in Times Square!

Congrats to all the participants, the organisers and everyone who is playing their part in making what distance skateboarding is what it is today and for continuing to push things forward. Bring on the next races, with hopefully one in Europe! Failing that, I’m going to get out there to the States in 2012 for sure!


In full flow…

Skatefurther store now open for business!
Exciting news this week in the Skatefurther world as we have now made the once elusive merchandise easier than ever to get your hands on. Clicking on the picture below will take you to the store.

On the store you will find designs old and new, on most of the t-shirts you can choose the colour. As well as giving your wardrobe a boost, and helping you look more awesome, part of the price you pay will also help support the cost of running the site. Happy days!

Adrenalina NYC
Not long to go now! Adrenalina NYC needs no introduction and kicks off the first not-quite-world-tour, but certainly biggest step forward in distance longboarding in recent years. Racers are now winging there way to participate from far flung corners to step up to the challenge.

If like me you can’t be there, the next best thing for sure is to hit up PushCulture.

They will be bringing you the best of the action live and as ever will make sure that you don’t miss a thing. As well as the usual news crew, LongtreksonskatedecksAaron Enevoldsen will be flying in from Canada to help with the live broadcast of the event.  You can be sure that with is distance experience Aaron is sure to have plenty of relevant and entertaining content to contribute. It’s going to be one hell of a show.

For more information about the event and what will be going on during the day, everything can be found in Adrenalina’s latest press release.  Best of luck to everyone taking part! It’s going to be a close call.

Summer Ultraskate13
With Adrenalina NYC happening the same weekend, this may have not had the coverage that is deserves. Weather permitting, the Dutch ultra-crew will be once again out in force to push the boundaries of what is physically possible in Summer Ultraskate13. The Paris Ultraskate was a warm up for this. Can’t wait to see some personal bests beaten and hopefully some records!

Goodwood prep
Training is in full swing for me, lots of cross-training using the flat then uphill route described in my previous post and trying to balance of work and longboarding successfully. I’m still dialing in my setup so until I’m 100% confident that it is perfect I won’t be divulging anything else G|Bomb-esque – with the LBL Pusher broken I need to get this right.

Until next time…


Busy times

This week marked the start of my training for the Goodwood Roller Marathon which is taking place on the 14th August.  Last year I was skating home from work in order to get some training in, this time round I’m mixing things up.

Last Saturday I decided to stretch my legs a little and longboarded from Lausanne, the town I live in, to…well, about as far I could get in roughly 1.5 hours.  I got about 22km (14 miles) away following the lake:

The trouble was that my board the LBL Pusher which I have had for a good few years now is finally showing it’s age and is on it’s last legs. There is a known weak spot in the board that cracks over time. I hadn’t worked out until my last run what was causing it to split but now I know that it is caused by going over big cracks in the road and up kurbs, etc. On Saturday over a particular rough patch (drainage channels, yep) I actually heard it splinter…yeesh.

Anyway, the show must go on – based on other people’s recommendation that the end was nigh, I’ve contacted some companies about getting a replacement deck. Although broken, ti is still useable for the moment, but it is difficult to judge how long it will last. I certainly don’t want to undertake any big trips with it for sure.

My training route during the week is a shorter, more intense one to work on muscle and power development. It’s much shorter (just shy of 4km, 2.5 miles) but encompasses some brutal up-hill:

I managed that route  in 15m38s – it’s something to work on. My aim is to do this route a couple of times a week at least, getting faster each time.

On a gear point of view, there has been some exciting talk about Vicetrux on the Skatefurther forum - I hope that these trucks will see the light of day sooner rather than later as the design is awesome. They are also thouroughly tested by Jim Petersson during his trips so they are sure to hold up.

Also, a wonderful package of stoke arrived chez moi this morning from G|Bomb Longboards:

More information to come on this soon…exciting is an understatement!


Lost and found

So…I haven’t been doing too much longboarding of late due to this:

Somehow, I managed to forget my wonderful Bern Helmet in the park and not realise for pretty much a week. The moment I realised was about 10 minutes before meeting new longboarding buddy Christian Schlumpf who hails from Toronto where all thing Longboard Living are at. It was strange boarding for the first time in about 2 years without a helmet but I still managed to get stoked. Another helmet should be arriving in the next week or so as especially with the hills around here I want to protect what few braincells I have left.

During our outing we met up with fellow Lausanne longboarder Joan Nydegger who is the founder of lausanne Papy free ride - and I am told that routes will be made known around Lausanne that do not involve shoe-melting über downhill sections. I haven’t quite got to grip with those yet…

On another note, I’ve just bought my plane ticket to the UK for the weekend of the 14th August. Why I hear you say? Well it’s the weekend of the 2011 Goodwood Roller Marathon! Woop! More information on the previous link or Facebook event. Let’s get loads oflongboarders representing!


Paris Ultraskate write up

The Paris ultraskate was the second 24h skate I have undertaken. One thing I have come to appreciate is that an ultraskate is an event which is full of highs and lows and at the Hippodrome du Longchamp, thanks to the lie of the land, ups and downs too.  For some reason, the need for mental strength really came out at this Ultraskate.

In terms of physical preparation, I really didn’t feel like I’d done much at all. The recent move to Switzerland, the pretty busy work schedule and a certain apprehension to the massive hills in Lausanne have meant that I’ve not skated much in recent months. I was also organising the event from afar and hosting it on an untested circuit. Although I was super stoked to hear that people were coming from the UK and Netherlands for it, a small part of me was wondering, what happens if we get kicked off or if the track is not suitable…I didn’t want to let anyone down.

So when I picked Tim up from late on the Friday night, I was a little apprehensive…however, the ball was already rolling and we needed to get ready – and that meant eating! I’d already started carbo-loading since the Friday morning but I’d asked my grandmother with whom I was staying to cook a big pot of rice…Tim and I finished that off before snatching a couple of hours agitated sleep. On the Saturday morning we ate probably enough Bircher museli for four people, it is an amazing Swiss snack and contains many good things as well as being mega tasty. From my point of view it is the perfect breakfast to have before a sporting event as it is nutritious and filling whilst remaining easily digestible.

It was clear that for at least the Saturday, thankfully the weather would be with us. My main aim for the event was to ensure that it was a success from an organisational point of view, meaning that we would be able to hold an ultraskate as planned. I also wanted to beat my previous performance of 100mile (160km) at Skaiti.

Upon arriving at the Hippodrome de Longchamp, we were already greated by Matthieu Josse and Romain Bessière who had made their journeys from the North of France with family as support crew. Another worry was how we would fare with the cyclists who we would share the track with.

As you can see from the picture above there were quite a few around. Luckily for us though they weren’t the type to stay there all day and as time went by the track cleared (they most probably went off for lunch). We had to put back the start time to 1pm (instead of mid-day) in order to give the Dutch guys who had travelled further some time to get ready. It was all good though as was great to spend a while chatting to different people at what was to become the event HQ.

The turn out really went beyond my initial expectations. I was sure that Romain Bessière and Mattheiu Josse were going to make it, along with one or two local guys such as Alex Bangnoi, but in reality things were even better. Obviously, I’ve mentioned that the Dutch were well represented and the UK too with Tim Pritchard, but what really was good to see was that many skaters from around Paris also came along and really gave it a good go. That really was good to see.

Everyone was soon ready and after waiting for a gap in the pack of cyclists, we were off.

At first I found it hard to keep a rhythm and was a little daunted by the prospect of lots of skating around bikes. I remember spending a good few laps with Tim, generally chatting and enjoying the atmosphere. Every now and again you would hear a whistle or a ‘à doite’  being shouted by one of the more aggressive cyclists as they came up from behind.

I felt good about how I was progressing. It was a really hot day so a priority was to ensure that I was drinking enough. I was using the same Isostar endurance drink I had used before and always had a pouch of energy gel or something similar to keep me going. Every 12km (approximately 3 laps) or if I ran out of water, I would come in and have a 5 or 10 minute break and something more substantial to eat, such as a cereal bar or slice of Ultracake (reciepes in French here). I’m glad that I had brought lots of food though because I found out that the carefully prepared Ultracake had suffered al malfunction, it was undercooked and pretty raw in the middle, the sides were ok though and the general consensus was that it was tasty.

Some people, such as Jesse Beau and Paul Brunninkhuis just kept going. I was trying to be sensible and learn from my mistakes at Skaiti and manage myself, ensuring that I was eating and drinking enough. Still, the fact that in the past Jesse has done well over 100km before his first stop shows that this guy means business but also that everyone has their own preferences. Perhaps eating for me is a good way of reassuring myself that I can carry on skating, it sure feels that way.

In the eveing, most of the French guys had finished their 100km skates and headed back home. With fewer and fewer cyclists the track became our own and the rhythm just got stronger. This is the point where I put in a lot of miles – everything just felt right.

The track we were on went right around the Hippodrome the Longchamp which is a famous course used for horseracing. Around 8pm one of my stops coincided with Jesse and Paul. They asked me what the deal was regarding the use of the track on race days as like me they had seen banners all around the track saying that on race days the bike track was closed from 10am…if that were true then our ultraskate would be cut short by around 3 hours. I had seen banners around the track for an horsey-type family event, but no racing so I was pretty certain but not sure that we would be able to complete the 24 hours.

In light of this, I aimed to equal my previous distance of 160km before sleeping. In the early hours of the evening, I had a great time skating with Alex Bangnoi in the early part of the night. I’ve enjoyed many long rides with Alex and he has also been a worthy opponent in the Goodwood Roller Marathon. Later on, I asked Jochem Boer to come along with me (he’d decided to play a more supportive role in the event) and we ended up skating a good few hours together which hadn’t happend since CaRott. I also had a good time skating with Giovanni Barbazza who previously to the ultra hadn’t skated much at all. His enthusiasm was infectious and help get through some of the night time hours.

I really need to skate with people during an ultraskate, it makes things so much easier. There comes a time when I can’t be on my own, I’m too tired and need the banter and conversation of a fellow skater to help me through a tough time. Or to even just  share the pain with someone else. It is funny because I have only met and skated with Jesse and Jochem on three separate occasions, but despite of the fact that we haven’t shared much time together, the little we have has really brought us close. I would definitely think of inviting them when organising future distance trips and really enjoyed seeing them at the Ultra.

As I have hinted at before, ultraskating is full of contradictions and the track we were on certainly was very varied too. Cyclists aside, one part was a haven of tranquility and the other was a mega hectic. From around 10pm one of the buildings set back into the horse-racing circuit turned into a nightclub. At first we went by queues of immaculately dressed people and as it got later we had to slalom around broken glass, drunken people and mini traffic jams. There were a few close calls but people generally didn’t take much notive of the crazy guys on skateboards.

In the middle of the night, when I was about 10km off the 160km target Jochem and I stopped at the HQ and I wondered off to ‘give life to a tree’. A guy approached me declaring himself to be ‘completely hammered’ asked me in French where I could find some weed. I said I didn’t know and explained what we were doing and that most people here only spoke English. In the next half hour we entertained this guy who was clearly a drug dealer. I got increasingly annoyed because I was loosing valuable time, but fortunately he didn’t stay long. Jochem and I laughed about this later on as apparently he could tell that I was fuming! Apart from him and a courtesy call from the police at around 5.30am we weren’t bothered at all.

From around 5am until 7 I had a rest in Alex Bangnoi’s car. Perhaps it was the vast quantities of sugar or maybe just Alex’s snoring ;-), but I really found it hard to sleep. In hindsight, perhaps I should have just carried on skating! I woke at around 6.30am feeling horrid and ate what I could to keep myself awake. This picture sums up how I felt well.

Jesse was also pretty knackered as he hadn’t slept a wink, Paul on the other hand was really going strong. We formed a nice little line and it was great to skate together and really helped with motivation.

As the morning progressed, the cyclists came back with a vengeance.  I decided that I would aim for the next round number, which just happened to be 200km. With about 10km to go, I got fed up with cyclists having a go and ended up arguing with one of them for about half a lap…we were within out rights, on a public right of way (I can already feel my blood pressure rising as I write this!). The positive thing that came out of this was that my average speed jumped by about 4 km! Awesome!

I quite clearly remember skating the last lap with Tim, who had woken up by that point and I reached 200km with half a lap to go until the HQ. I slowed right down for the last bit and after shouting a bit of encouragement to the others that were still going, I just completely conked out. I feel now though that it would have been possible to continue, so I am really confident that I can push further next time. We’ll see.

Overall, I really had a great time. I was proud to have beaten my previous personal best by 40km, but most honoured that the event was attended by so many awesome people. The track in the end worked pretty well, but we were lucky with both the cyclists and the weather. I really want to thank all who attended – like most events, it was the people that really made it and I can’t thank them enough for coming. A big shout out also goes out to Marvin Thine of UrbanDrift and James Peters of Pavedwave for their support.

On a personal note, I felt the success of the event was a win also for French distance skating. Ever since I had started to get interested in trips, ultras and the like, I had got a little bit of a strange reputation. It has taken some hard work to legitimise distance skating in Paris and thanks to lots of people’s tenacity things are moving forward. I’m really pleased to see that there was anther Push Race in the centre of Paris at this year’s Greenskate, there is also another a 20km push in the South of France coming up.

The Paris Ultraskate results:

Romain Bessière (FR): 366.8 km (227.9 miles) – Push
Paul Brunninkhuis (NL): 338 km (210 miles) – LDP
Jesse Beau (NL): 324 km (201.4 miles) – Push
Matthieu Josse (FR): 305 km (189.5 miles) – Push
Iemke Postma (NL): 261 km (162 miles) – Push
Chris Vallender (UK/FR): 201 km (124.8 miles) – Push
Alex Bangnoi (FR): 179 km (111 miles) – Push
Giovanni Barbazza: 150 km (93 miles) – Push
Jason Yoyotte Lapierre (FR): 100km (62 miles) – Push
Alex Pereira (FR): 100km (62 miles) - Push
José Laurier (FR): 100km (62 miles) - Push
Eric de Ridder (NL): 68 km (42 miles) – Push
Tim Pritchard (UK): 85.7 km (53.3 miles) – LDP

Here is also a video recapping the event – it captures the vibe of the event well:


Getting back into it…

A surprise package:

So last weekend ended very nicely as I received a lovely surprise package from Tim, a long time friend, distance trip partner and more recently creator of the very promising tickering factory that is PSD. After many prototypes, and a lot of hard work, the first footstop has seen the light of day: The FWD+

Just holding it in your hand you can immediately see the thought that has gone into this product. The plastic feels very solid and it is very grippy all over…apparently this is due to the fact that it is made with lasers or something!

After quickly installing it, on my G|Bomb Subsonic Illuminati, I took it out for a spin. During the ride it gave a really awesome locked in feeling and because of the adjustable bracket you can easily place it wherever you want it on your board. The FWD+ is now for sale here, in very limited quantities so hurry if you don’t want to miss out!

 

Soup ride

Tonight I went out for a quick ride to get some soup on my Insect Mosquito to make the most of the incredibly Summery weather we’ve been having. It was just a quick ride, and I’m still finding out some tasty longboarding routes but one of them is near to the Tribunal d’Arrondissement de Lausanne/Casino de Montbenon…the pavement is buttery and there is a nice incline but I keep going back for the view!

Some things that have caught my attention:

Baka Boards:
Back at Skaiti I had the chance to meet Edwin Drommel who has single-handedly created a storm in his home country: Holland. Check out his complete range of boards, including LDP boards at Baka Boards

Greenskate
I’ll definitely be out skating  during the Greenskate, but I haven’t had the chance to put anything together for it around Lausanne or Geneva. That reminds me – I have recently found a small group called Geneva Longboarders, hopefully we’ll meet up at some point. However, in Paris they’re having a Greenskate Weekend. With a longboard parade down the Champs Elyses on the Saturday general cruise session, followed by a Push Race in central Paris and a slide jam, I’m sure it’ll be one to remember.

Paul’s to the wall
I love this video as it captures the highs and lows of longboard training. I hope to meet this guy someday! You can watch the video here.

Secret product alert
Well, it isn’t that secret seeing as it has been in the Concretewave’s buyers guide but Mischo Erban, world longboard speeed record holder was riding special Tekton Bearings from Seismic…I need more info on these babies if anyone has any!

That’s all for now folks…I’m hopefully soon going to discover the secrets of the Vallée de la Jeunesse! Here is what I’ve heard about it so far… “there’s an awesome downhill in Lausanne, the Vallee de la Jeunesse… it even has signs telling people to watch out for speeding skaters! There’s a pool next to the road too.” Can’t wait…


Getting to know Helvetia and enjoying 8 hours of Pax

This is me, arriving one month ago, with four bags, having just left Paris – strange feeling :

Things I have done between then and now :

- Got lost in the Ikea time-warp for what felt for 2 hours and came out to find that 6 hours had gone
- Spent full days at work, followed by evenings building Ikea furniture
- Developed quite an nonchalant attitude towards the happy looking people putting up an Ikea wardrobe, ironically called PAX, which also means peace in Latin. It took us 8 hours in total, spread over two evenings and a Saturday morning…yay and not so peaceful!


- Learn’t some Swiss words, cornet (plastic bag) and the various interesting numbers, my new mobile number for example has 90 in it, which in France is pronounced Quatre-vignt dix (80-10, meaning 90). In Switzerland, they take a much more pragmatic approach, using Nonante (ninety).  +1 for efficiency!
- Learn’t that most social occasions here involve some kind of cheese fondue – awesome!
- Shouted from my balcony at a random longboarder that ventured down the road I live on, he either didn’t stop or was a little put off by my shouting.
- Worked a full seven days straight without a day off…until yesterday!

Needless to say that since recovering from my recent knee issues I’ve been itching to get back on board…it finally happened, my boards were built up, the sun was shining and all the Ikea furniture had been built. Lausanne is built on several hills, with roads mostly sloping towards the lake. So I stepped out of my door with my LBL Pusher and contemplated the route I would take down to a rather lovely stretch of cyclepath that I’d previously seen. To give you an idea, this is a typical street:

Hmmm…let’s say that a nice gradual descent to the lake is still in the process of being hunted out, I took what turned out to be a more direct route, frequently interrupted by me either bricking it, or simply just walking down what appeared to be a tarmacked cliff. Slide gloves are a must here, and I’m looking forward to getting more use out of mine.

I finally made it down to the lake and really managed to stretch my legs…I got a bit lost and ended up on a footpath with loads of women pushing prams. I felt a little out of place with my helmet and longboard…the view was nice though.

Still, after turning back, my eye got caught by a guy on a longboard going the opposite way. I decided to sprint after him for a chat as it was my first chance to speak to a local boarder and get the low-down. We skated a bit together and apparently a place called the ‘Vallée de la Jeunesse’ is where it is at. I’m looking forward to getting there and skating around in the car free area, although I’m not sure what it is…all should be revealed before long.

What comes down, must go up…when I’m out skating, since sometimes it is a rare thing that I get out I try and make the most of it and that includes skating uphill, it’s a good challenge and I like the exercise…the uphill on the way home was probably the steepest I’ve ever skated up (that sounds so extreme uphill skateboarding) but hey, each to their own. Saying that, I got cramp, felt like I was going to be sick and thought that I was going to pass out. Happy days! But 239m climb according to Runkeeper! Wooo! Right?!

I’ve got a feeling that Lausanne has got some tricks up it’s sleeve, and for the population size, I think that there are quite a few longboarders around…time will tell.


Hereandla sponsored by time at work

So today is officially my last day of paid work in Paris for some time to come. What better way to spend it then trawling the web picking up the tastiest and most interesting (in my opinion, anyway) bits and bobs.

Long distance
First up, the “Long distance” section of the Whoisadamcolton site. This is an oldie, but it is a goodie and is often overlooked. On there you’ll find many answers to some of the more difficult questions surrounding a distance trip, all in Adam’s unique style. From why go on a trip to five simple steps which are sure to help you succeed and get the most out of any trip.

Protection
Everyone knows that it’s better to be prepared for the worst and wear a helmet. The problem is that sometimes the choice of brands to choose from can seem pretty limited. Poc Sports, a Swedish company has just released a new line up of helmets that will certainly help you stand out from the crowd. Their Receptor+ line are perfect for those want a helmet to used in various conditions and sports.

Companies
Through reading my various news feeds, a good few pretty impressive smaller companies have caught my attention, amongst them Uncommon Boards for their original looking shapes and BCLongboards for their clean lines. Remember the time when trying to find a new longboard brand was like trying to find a needle in a haystack!

No wood, no foam
I love carbon. I love the look and I love the fact that perfecting a deck making technique using carbon is a difficult thing. The skills needed to make something black, shiny and ridable are pretty impressive but yield beautiful results.

It’s impressive that so many small workshops have turned their engineering and manufacturing processes to the small the welcoming sport of longboarding. And people have said that skilled craftsmen are a thing of the past. Thank you Skunktech and all the other small brands for keeping the dream alive.

Keep up to date
We are lucky to be living in times where the growth of longboarding seemingly knows no limits. This can make it difficult to keep up with latest news and developments. The Longboardism site is one of my favourites at the moment, it is well laid out easy to use and integrates nicely with my Greader. Check it out!

The Bustin IBACH
Like them as a company or not, Bustin are part of the reason why NYC riders are placed firmly at the top of list of quickest marathon times. The ability for them as a company to really spur on the growth of their scene is inspirational. This organic growth has seen the birth of PushCulture, LongboardLoft and now this collaborative board designed with BozBoards Mike Bozinovski.

The IBACH will push Bustin further and ensure that 2011 goes to a next level:

We’ve heard your cries for a board that is built for speed, and this is our answer. A collaborative effort with Mike Bozinovski of Boz Boards in Toronto, the mold is built to lock in your feet so you feel safe and secure when even the tiniest mistakes are unforgivable. To top it off we’ve added a little Bustin innovation in the form of our new Slide Rail System, designed to keep the board under your feet through high speed, big slides. Every inch of this board has been tweaked by the scientists here at Bustin Brooklyn and we’re as proud as ever to release this new deck to the world.

Well done guys!

King of Parking on TV!
A little while ago I described the King of Parking event that was help at La Defence at the end of January. It turns out that we had some journalists at the event and the result of their work can be seen here.  Enjoy!


Weekend antics

So last weekend went by in a bit of a blur and the agenda, mostly taken up with longboarding events was a welcome break from the usual routine.

Longskate Video Party
As it was predicted, this year’s video party was the biggest yet with people flocking to La Cantada from all ever France and even further afield with Quebec being represeted by some of the founders/riders of Rotule Longboards.  In the end, the Bordeaux Longskate Club summed up the evening perfectly:

In the depths of Winter, this event has become the perfect opportunity to meet up with friends over a beer and a few longboarding videos

It is this simple concept which explains why this evening is so popular and from my point of view it did not disappoint. My personal favourites were, in no particular order St-Aubin freeride 2010 [by Quas0]Tibs Parise Longboard Video Team Sector 9 [by Ludo]Paris Pusch Race V1 [by Wasch] (I’m a little bit biased about this one, I admit!) , Trick Tips – La tirette [by Arno].  All the results are here, but from my point of view this evening really is about the participation, and not about the winning. I didn’t stay until the end as I was really knackered (lame!) but what can I say, I’m growing old. The full results and recap, in French are here.

Next year there is talk about the format evolving, or at least starting earlier…hopefully all the changes will only go to making this evening even more of a success! Big thanks goes to Pappy Boyington for organising this evening for the sixth in a row!

KOP Powa
I love nothing more that huge open spaces away from the hustle and bustle of urban dwellings. Therefore, I find it hard to understand why I like riding in car parks so much. There really is nothing like it.  It’s probably due to the fact that it is forbidden…

Although grainy, the above shot really captures the atmosphere of what it is like to speed down the spiral of the Beaulieu Car Park at La Défence. Just imagine the same picture with 70 longboarders in it, all wanting to grab the hypothetical ‘crown’.  After a long wait in the cold the race started. There were no practice runs on the day, this was a one run race and no room for error. After the race, everyone ‘sessioned’ the spot for all it was worth, racking in run after run until we were kindly told to get on our way. It was high time we went though, there was a new king to announce – and this is almost certainly his anthem!

In the end it is Clement Gayraud (of BourreHouseMedia and Longboard Larry fame) who was crowned king…

In the above picture we were going over the finer points of stretching…well done to him and to all the other’s for joining in with the fun. A big thank is also in order to the organisers, Urbandrift and Antoine ‘Babar’  Caput! Hopefully this will be a yearly event…

Here is the report from the day we did for PushCulture news – I need practice my introductions a little beforehand. This was properly ‘off the cuff’ stuff!


Too cold to ride? It’s time for the Longskate video party!

Sorry for the lack of posts…but something big is brewing. More info soon for sure!

This weekend is shaping up to be a good one. Tonight the whole Parisian longboarding community, together with the few brave enough to come from further afield will be squeezing into the La Cantada bar for the 6th edition of the Longskate video party.

Last year, there were 24 videos and and tonight almost double the ammont will be shown, over 2.5 hours of footage! The videos were submitted in 5 categories (humour, urban, educational, abroad and downhill) and readers of Pappy Boyington’s blog were asked to vote for their favourite.   One thing is sure, the best longboarding from the French speaking corners of the globe will be showcased tonight. There will be many prizes, from the likes of SaKaRoulé, Sector9, CDK (from Lyon) and Riderz’s partner shop Hawaiisurf as well as beer.

On Sunday will take place the 1st edition of the annual King of Parking organised by Antoine to keep our spirits up in this depths of Winter. The race will take place at a secret spot (probably here). Everyone must wear a helmet and the first to get to the bottom will be crowned the winner.

The meeting point is at 11 O’clock at La Défence – see you there! My knee is getting better so I’m in…

Due to the fact that my beloved LBL Pusher is seemingly giving up the ghost, I’m on the lookout for a new board. My choices are:
- The elusive LBL Pusher V2, spotted today at Smile LBL UK on Facebook
- A new offering by Pulse featuring a 2″ drop!
- An amazing board from B2 longboards in Toulouse, the Rock the Drop (spotted on The Silver Session – thanks Phildar!)

Which one should I get?

 


Drinking tea

Last Sunday, after Tim left, an impromptu reunion took place. I was joined by a good friend Phildar who had left the comfort of his ‘Calaisfornia’ to come to Paris for a concert and some KFC. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t with us so we hung out and were joined by Marvin. We talked some more about various projects that are in the pipeline, about gear and of the events we’d been to in 2010.

Skate culture is radical, death-defying and hardcore, right? Well it seems that once off the boards we become more civilised, tea-drinking folk. Shred-gnar! It’s with a slightly ironic feeling that I choose to post this in the ‘Sessions’ category, but tea rules!

Rock on! Thanks Phildar for the pic.

For the record, I didn’t manage to convince either of them that real tea is taken with milk…next time perhaps. ;-)


The Paris LDP Challenge

Well, would you look at that – this blog is now over a year old…

Last weekend Tim Pritchard came to visit me in Paris and as is the custom the aim was to get as much longboarding in as possible, I’d predicted 110km but the weather on Sunday meant we didn’t get that far.

First a little history… Tim first came to visit me with a longboard in tow back in October 2007…he was riding a GHF Recluse and I was on a Motion Pintail 43″. The picture below was from an album entitled 12 miles. At the time I remember this being a significant moment and to a certain extent it still is, yet now our take on distance has changed somewhat…happy days! On a side note, is it bad that I still own those same jeans?!

A little over 3 years on, we were to take to the streets with some completely different setups purpose built with more wiggling than pushing in mind. For a good while my LDP (Long distance pumping) knowledge was pretty non existant and if I remember rightly, I was first made aware of it back in 2009 when Keith decided that he would pump the Goodwodd marathon rather than push. He was crazy right?

Since then, I was kindly lent an G|Bomb Illuminati board by Laura Hatwell at Skaiti and that is where my journey of discovery began in earnest. At Skaiti I’d met James Peters from Pavedwave and got to see LDP in one of it’s purest and most accomplished forms. My curiosity was piqued  and after looking a little into setups the Illuminati was good to go.

I first LDP’d across Paris back in September which was quite an experience. With Tim still riding the LDP high from his sub 2 hour LDP time at Goodwood and the recent win by Jeff Vyain at The Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon on an LDP setup, there was no way we were going to push this one. It was also a good opportunity for me to take Tim on a tour of Paris from a longboard perspective, taking in some of the ‘sites’ that he might enjoy and that over the years I have come to know and love….the wide avenues from Daumesnil to Bastille, the cycle paths along the Seine, the Trocadero, and that’s just for the entrée!

At the Trocadero we met up with Lotfi who showed us how to hippy jump...

We then went on to the Circuit de Longchamps which at 3.5km makes for the best Ultraskate ‘loop’ location in the immediate Parisian area. Going around the track twice got us some interesting looks from the cyclists, but also allowed me to work on my pumping technique. Tim’s top speed on the Pulse was far faster than what I could achieve. I reworked my moves and tried to get my arms more involved in the pump. We had a lot of fun trying different things out, winding up the back hand, front/back/dual lasso, shadow boxing and what came to be named as the “Vallender row”.  I certainly don’t do anything to help LDP look cool, that much is sure!

By then, at around 30-odd kilometres we were in serious need of refuelling and decided to head back into the centre of Paris. After passing the Opéra we stopped from at a small Korean restaurant to get our eat on.

Once our hunger had been sated, we once again were off through some very busy streets heading North-East to La Villette. We even had to walk at times and there were lots of cars around the the touristy areas of the Opéra and Boulevard Haussmann area. This made for some interesting weaving in and out of almost stationary traffic.

This didn’t last very long, as once we turned off onto Rue Lafayette things quietened down a lot. I was very surprised at this and even turned around at one point to see if there wasn’t a big protest or something blocking traffic coming up the road. The road was slightly uphill but by that point Tim and I were pumping machines…we owned the road and felt unstoppable.

The quiet streets around the Gare du Nord gave way to the much calmer districts around the Canal Saint Martin and La Vilette, the further we went. Our destination was the Greenway that follows the canal out of Paris called the Canal de l’Ourcq along a route which I’d been on a little while back.

LDP Paradise?

Once on the Greenway we were really able to ‘open up the throttle’ and get a really rhythm going. The aches and pains had become normal and the distance just flew by. We were a little worried about making our way home in complete darkness so we turned around a few kilometres from Sevran as we still had a nice distance to cover in order to get home. It was a lovely area in which to finish off a day’s skating, away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

Tim about half way before turning back

The following is written by Tim in his write up of the day posted on Pavedwave – the rest of which can be read here

The wind was now behind us and we lightly pumped back. The darkness had really drawn in once we got to the city so we put our lights and hi-vis jackets on. We’d both really got into our pump groove now, from a good few hours on it and the desire to get home to eat dinner and drink beer.

The last leg was on a narrow cycle path next to the road, separated by a kerb, so we had a good run. The narrow path meant we had to go single file and our empty belly’s meant we were going at a good pace. The darkness also helped improve our technique I think, no longer focused on talking or looking around, but just straight ahead, watching for cars/people/puddles and just pumping through it. The cycle path was interrupted many times at intersections so we had to run red lights and dodge cars. People were everywhere and we had to shout a few times to let them know we were coming through…we get back to the flat and dumped our stuff. A quick shower followed then by food and beers. Awesome.

Awesome indeed. We we tracking the route all day using Runkeeper and my Garmin GPS. In the end we did around 62km (37miles) at a pretty sedate pace. Few were the times when our ride could go on interrupted, but that is something to be expected in big cities and only adds to the challenge and to the excitement. Pushing off with cars at a red light, finding an keeping a line is something which is typical when riding in Paris.

Apparently having burned nearly 3000 calories, you guessed it, we had steak for dinner - booya!

So three years on, a big thanks is in order for Tim – it’s always nice to skate with him and look back on how far things have come. Murky buckets to Laura Hatwell for the extended loan of the Illuminati. I’m really getting used to the board and setup now, but through riding it, some questions about the shape are coming through, more specifically about the shape of the deck. I’m also curious to hear more about the lower brackets which have been developed. To follow the discussion click here.

Three year's on and we've changed very little! (spot the difference!)

If anyone is ever coming through Paris or needs some showing around, it would be my pleasure…


Clash of the titans

This needs no introduction…

So tomorrow morning at 1pm French time, the Adrenaline Skateboard Marathon will start. It’s already all over lots of different blogs, but I couldn’t not write about it given it’s importance. Representing from France will be Alex Bangnoi with whom I’ve had the pleasure of racing against in the past and generally promoting the the distance scene in Paris. They’ll be racing around streets like this on a Pavedwave approved course :

I helped Alex during his last training session on Sunday and I can say that he’s really put some miles in and it is really good that he’s gone over there to represent France. The beauty of this race is that people can speculate on who might win, but the truth is that except for a handful of racers, no one really know what will be pulled out of the bag on the day. With such a huge prize money and with racers present from all over the world anything can happen! Still, some pre-race jitters are to be expected given the line up on the front line:

1. Matt Elver
2. Paul Kent
3. Mark Schaperow
4. Alexandre Bangnoi
5. Kaspar Heinrici
6. Omar Fahmy
7. Conan Gay
8. Mason McNay
9. Evan Armbrister
10. Robin McGuirk (Nickname THE LEG)

I’d just love to be there as a fly on the wall and mingle with everyone who’ll be there…still there is talk that this might become a yearly event as part of some type of tour – with perhaps even a race in Europe! At the moment the Adrenalina Facebook group there are over 1800 ‘likes’ but only about 100 participants…hopefully there’ll be some strong last minute attendance from the locals! Hit up the Skatefuther thread or the offical Andrenalina twitter page for the latest!

On a more local level, Sunday will be the 2010 Riderz annual general meeting where we’ll be discussing what has happened this past year and put in motion new plans for 2011 – I’ll be representing the distance/LDP scene and trying to get some more events going. More info here.


Event report: Paris Push Race V1

It all started with a question – why does Paris not have any Push Races? Events like the Broadway Bomb start off small and local, but can grow to have a huge national and international outreach. Back in September, the time felt right to sow some seeds of change here in Paris so that we could build on the success of the GreenSkate. We would offer a different format to previous events with the aim of drawing more attendance but also to provide a focal point for the French, if not European scene and help promote it – the shops,  the different associations and various groups. The support we received both from Parisian shops / brands as well those as further afield was tremendous – you just have to take a look at the flyer to see that.  The night before, with 46 people attending, we could tell that this event would go off. People were coming from all over the Parisian region and even further afield; Annecy, Caen and even Prague! The only problem that we had a huge thunderstorm (yes, you read correctly!) which soaked everything right through. I set my alarm the night before the race, thinking that we would have to call it off. Sunday turned out cold, but with little chance for any rain we decided to press on. I left the flat with a bag full of home-made orange carboard arrows, the prizes kindly donated by our sponsors, some string and of course, my board.

After having set out the course in the Bois de Boulogne we made our way back to the meeting point at Porte Maillot where a handful of people were already waiting for us. People just kept arriving…

We then left the meeting point and made for where the start of the race was to be held. The start was to take the ‘Le Mans’ format with the racers on one side and their boards on the other. After the countdown, each person would have to run to their board and before starting to race. We made sure there was a good 20 metres between the competitors and their boards…needless to say that the a getting a good start was even more important than usual – it was carnage, but all good!

Not many pictures of during the race have surfaced, but generally things went mostly to plan. In the time between having set out the course markers and the start of the race, some of the arrows had already been stolen (people were obviously impressed with their quality). This meant that a few participants took some wrong turns and either got lost, or took a massive short cut…still that’s part of the fun, right!

The good thing about Push Races is that they can appeal to a wide audience, everyone who can longboard can challenge themselves to push a little faster than usual. It is then up to the organisers to try and cater for different tastes, some flat sections to keep things interesting, some light downhill for the adrenaline-seekers and some uphill for the endurance lovers.

At the start of the race there was a big straight on some horrible pavement complete with wet leaves, but nevertheless I got off to a pretty good start. There was then ‘the uphill of death’ with lots of leafy mush to slow things down even further before the start of a wide straight section…

…then a downhill section and finally a tight (due to roadworks) twisty section leading to the finish. The whole course in the end was around 9km, which despite being a little shorter than we would have liked, gave people a taster of what Push Races are about. I heard a lot of comments at the end from people who wanted more!

After having waited for everyone to finish, we then went en masse to a nearby skatepark at La Muette which is famous for being the only bowl in Paris. As someone who usually skates with a couple of people, riding as a group of 40+ really is fantastic, the group just takes over the streets…cars move out of the way and bystanders cheered and clapped us on. At the skatepark, Blackkross, had organised some drinks and snacks and it was where we would give out the prizes to the winners.

The results of the race were as follows:

  1. Romain Bessière & Antoine Badin (Mastaflex)  19min 48secs
  2. Eric Guérin (Rike) + 20min
  3. Petr Pufler (From Prague!)
  4. Laurent Perigault (Eneone)

From what I heard, the finish was a spectacular sprint between Romain and Antoine – I wish I could have seen it!

Overall attendance was really impressive, considering the forcast for awful weather -  75 people came in total, of whom 60 competed. We would really like to thank all those who participated in this first edition of the Paris Push Race and especially to those how helped organise the day. Cyril Cabri for the flyer, the president of the Riderz association Yohan, Fernando, Arno as well as all our partners for the very generous prizes and support they offered for the event: Riderz, Skatefurther, but also BourreHouseMédia, Blackkross, Hawaii surf, AlphaLongboards, UrbanDrfift, OctaneSport, Concratewave.de and Board-Z.

Congratulations to our winners Romain Bessière (in yellow) & Antoine Badin (in green).

More racing to come soon…

Thanks to Pierre-Yves Guyot, Marvin Thine and Benjamin Defrocourt for the photos.


LDP-ing accross Paris…

At the weekend it was the wedding of a very good friend of mine and longboarding compatriot, Tim Pritchard with whom I’ve shared many longboarding adventures. Understandably, we had other things on our mind for most of the weekend (me worrying about my best-man speech and him with the final preparations) but I spied Tim’s Subsonic Pulse. Obviously we had a couple of runs each on it. Here’s Tim at Goodwood:

I’m aching today. Yesterday I decided to further my journey into the world of pumping by using the Illuminati (see further on in the linked thread) to travel my usual 15km route across Paris back home. I’m a real novice when it comes to LDP (long distance pumping).

Being a Tuesday night, I stopped by the Trocadero which is the traditional place for Parisian longboarders to catch up and and skate. Longboarders are still a pretty rare sight in Paris, so anyone pumping with a specific LDP board is even rarer.

Overall, it was pretty grueling but very rewarding. I think that I must have pumped around 80% – 90% of the time. After setting off, aches and cramps soon set in my front foot, but I found that alternating pumping styles helped keep a rhythm up.

Technically speaking, I think my pumping styles varied from the classic ‘Hanging Loose’, to the more energetic ‘Shadow boxing’ and then as I gradually got more tired, an erratic mixture of ‘Tossing the baby’, ‘The Chop’ and my own personal ‘argh my legs are on fire’ – anything to get me home with minimum pushing. If these terms are not making any sense, then I suggest you read the technique descriptions here.

I made it up some pretty impressive hills and showed myself that I could pump more than just around the block. It was interesting to see the faces of people in traffic jams as I was pumping by too. Their reaction was a mixture of ‘what the $£#*!’, ‘is he alright in the head?’ and ‘how does he keep going?’. The novelty factor that pumping gives you, coupled with a certain freedom from pushing is the reason why I’m going to continue to experiment with LDP in the coming months…watch this space!

I wonder, are there any LDPers in Paris, or even in France? Is my crossing of Paris a 1st for French LDP?


Brussels – go there for the beer and the Car Free Sunday!

As was posted on the main Skatefurther page last Sunday was that magical time of year when the city of Brussels in Belgium empties of cars and people take over the streets on bikes, rollerblades and of course longboards. Alex Bangnoi and myself went to check it out – we’d heard rumours that some Dutch people were going to make the trip there too.

Stepping onto the street, my usual reflex is to stop, look and listen as we’re taught in school. There was no need to as the streets were like this:

After a morning charging around the streets, we finally met up with some other longboarders at the aptly named ‘Héros’ bus stop.

It turned out that the Dutch crew were out in force – seven cars made the trip from all over Holland to enjoy the empty streets. There is a myth that Belgium is flat and I can assure you that this city has hills, yes hills! Alex and I had it in mind to push, push, push but the reason for so many people coming to the city was for the hills!

I got the chance to meet up with both Jochem and Jesse with whom I did CaRott…happy days! Jochem, along with some others are going to support Jesse in the latest Ultraskate (12) where he’ll attempt to push further and for longer than ever before! His current personal best is 334km/207 miles – best of luck in beating it! From the sounds of things he’s been in some serious training…

It was also great to catch up with Edwin Drommel and see some of his latest creations under the Baka Boards brand.

For longboarders, the city turned into a ski-resort, with the buses and trams giving an easy ride to the top for endless fun downhill runs. Here a Dutch/Belgian boarder styles it up…I’m somewhere behind (thanks Alex for the picture).

I didn’t have my GPS with me so I don’t know how far we skated but we were at it for most of the day and I worked up quite a sweat. It was enjoyable to soak up the festival atmosphere, cruise around the streets and enjoy the long downhill stretches around the huge parkland area in the South-East of the city.

The train ride home provided some time for reflection, but mainly sleep! Thanks to Jochem my bag was full of Stroopwafels as well as other Beligian goodies…

I decided to take the Strike out for it’s first serious outing since the setup changes. I wanted to pump a little so used Venom SHR in sea-foam green board side along with some purple Sabres road side for more rebound…yummy. Below is a picture of my attempt at Shadow boxing (see bottom of page).


Sessions and happenings

Ok, so it’s been a pretty long time since I’ve posted any news. Apologies. First there was the business of some maintenance on the servers that host the Skatefurther main site as well as the blogs but that has now thankfully been fixed. Woohoo! There were also some travels…

So I left off last time with Goodwood roller marathon, which seems like it was ages ago.

Good times – and soon after came some very exciting news about the organisation of the Adrendalina Skateboard Marathon. The event is happening in Miami, Florida in November and is the first skateboard only marathon with a whopping $10,000 up for grabs for the winner. For up to date news hit up the discussion thread in the forum. Alex, with whom I went to Goodwood has registered for the race – I’m sure that all of us will support him and wish him best in the race!

It being Summer and all, as I mentioned earlier I’ve been on my travels. Although, these haven’t been specifically longboarding related, being involved in the sport means that you develop a certain approach when it comes to ‘sights’ or checking out veiws – I often catch myself thinking, that looks like an awesome hill, where would I go if I lived here, etc. Here are some of the highlights which you’d do well to checkout for yourself if you have the chance:

Lyon
During 2004/2005 I lived in Grenoble and despite living so close, I only visited this city for what became a rather blury 24 hours. A couple of years on I decided to go back and re-visit this beautiful city. It is perfect for longboarding and has a flourishing scene not to mention an awesome longboard brand: Politic!

Lyon is the sometimes known to be the culinary capital of France, but It’s also home to one of the biggest longboarding shops in France – the CDK or Cri du Kangourou.

They have a brilliant range of gear and I spent an enjoyable time swapping stories with the guy who manages the longboard area of the shop.

Annecy
I was luckily enough to spend last weekend in Annecy which is small but beautiful town a little South of Geneva. It is in the heart of the Alps and is situated just next to a stunning lake.

At the moment, I’m trying to scout out a place which could be suitable for an Ultraskate and I’d heard that there is a cyclepath with circles the entire lake. We had no trouble finding the cyclepath and it was an amazing 33km route next to the lake, surrounded by mountains.

Unfortunately, the route is not circular but still if you’re in the area it is well worth checking out what has been described as ‘one of the most scenic greenways in France’. So the hunt for a spot continues…if your in the area and need gear, be sure to drop in and see Bob at Alphalongboards.

Paris
Okay, this one is cheating as I live here, but still during the Summer months Paris-Plage (Paris Beach) comes to town. This basically means clearing the banks of the Seine of traffic and installing waterpoints, artificial beaches and picnic areas. A couple of weeks ago, I went for a relaxing summery ride…

The beaches have since been dismantled and the cars are back (apart from on Sundays!). Paris is also slowly filling up again as the people come back from their holiday homes and start work once again. September is now almost upon us and with it the coming of Autumn and Winter, bringing with it shorter nights and more rain. Depressing stuff, eh?

Not really, tonight at the Trocadero we’re having an impromptu ‘back to school’ session which promises to draw quite a crowd. All the old faces as well and some new ones will be there too…there’ll be talk of events and sessions to ensure that the last of the Summer is celebrated in style but most of all it’ll be a time to just get out and skate.


Final training for Goodwood

Ok so on Wednesday I got some time to get out and try some runs to work out my average speed. I wasn’t on top form physically speaking as it was late and I was tired. It was difficult to find some long stretches of uninterrupted smooth roads which are necessary to work out an average speed successfully.

The results are ok though but due to the short distances they aren’t that conclusive:

1st run:

2nd run:

3rd run (wet):

I was not going completely full-out but around 95%. At around 9pm the heavens opened and I was reminded of my trip with Tim in the rain. What is good is that I’ll hopefully be able to beat last year’s time!

Once home I came across something that I’ll need to keep monitoring:

There are some pretty hefty cracks appearing in my beloved LBL Pusher! Oh no! We’ve done so many miles together but I think that it will be ok for Goodwood. Can’t wait for the race – tomorrow we’re heading on a road trip in Alex’s car and picking up Phildar on the way. Tim will meet us early on Sunday and then we’ll be making our way to the circuit! Woo!

See you Sunday if you’re there!


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