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!
Winter has officially arrived and with it all the usual horrible-ness – well that was until Autumn made a bit of a come back and meant that I could go out riding last weekend! Stoked! I also finally got round to writing something…result.
I’ve racked up a good few sessions now on the Subsonic GT and it’s low-ness has been misjudged three times, resulting in the pristine look being exchanged for a slightly more rugged one:
Last weekend I went on a nice leisurely skate towards Morges:
The cool thing is that I discovered that the bike route 1, section 6 actually carries on a lot further than expected although I had to run for about a kilometre to get across an unpaved section. This is awesome as it means that in theory I could get to Geneva without too much difficulty by just continuing the route.
I’ve also started using Endomondo to track my outings whereas previously I’d been using Runkeeper. All in all Endomondo seems to be a little more feature-packed, it certainly appears to be more social-media orientated. You find the same notion of ‘friends’ as on Facebook against which you can compare performances.
I actually started using Endomondo because over on the French forum Riderz there has recently been an upsurge in LDP/distance related talk. This is really good to see because for ages it was just Alex Bangnoi and myself yapping on as we tend to do. In the distance related thread there has been a couple of friendly challenges using Endomondo app and personally I’ve found them to be a really good way of motivating myself.
Look out for more tasty footstop treats seeing the light of day in the coming months. I wanted it to be a litle higher to be able to really push my front foot into the stop, I haven’t done many sessions on it yet but so far I’m really liking it.
In terms of gear, the following will probably be old news to most of you but I still think it is worth a mention. In all of my trucks I have never used the stock bushings as I have always found that the aftermarket bushings to feel a lot better. Also, I bought my trucks back in 2009/2010 before truck companies had really started to think seriously about the importance of the squishy bushings. Therefore I have run up to some obstacles: finding the right washers and almost always having to stack them because they weren’t the right height – that kind of thing.
These puppies are a dream come true:
People are snapping their kingpins on their trucks left and right. The grade 8 washer and grade 8 kingpin in combination with bushings that are too soft are hanging up the kingpin and snapping it. Old, traditional washer cups surf around on the bushing and on the kingpin too much. It’s about time we have a state of the art washer cup that works to help the rider be safe. We have been working on solving this problem since 2009.
Why Are These Better?
The center sleeve puts the pressure on the center of the bushing, giving it more energy. The facing on either side of the washers gives extra grip to help grab onto the baseplate and the bushing. No movement equals straight power. It’s made in the USA in a one inch size and is machined from 303 stainless steel.
Whilst we’re on gear, the following caught my eye last week: Num cups
Some information from the thread:
Because your stock pivot cups suck. Chances are if you loosen up your trucks, you can wiggle the hanger back and forth in the pivot cup. And if you can’t, you most likely will be able to in the near future. This is because so many truck manufacturer’s keep using that same crap black plastic for their pivot cups that deforms are provides no compression of the hanger pivot which leads to slop.
How do these make my trucks feel better?
I’ll sum it up short for now: A pivot cup that provides compression of the hanger pivot does not allow for slop in the pivot cup area. This in turn moves all of the turning focus to the bushings. With these you’ll probably want to go down a duro or two from the regular bushings you’re using because of this.
I’ll be following this idea closely…more information on the Silverfish thread.
The above is my favorite design. Here is some information into the thought gone into these new products:
This time around we had three focuses as we redesigned the gear; (1) Improve the reflective safety gear (2) Incorporate some of the dopest board graphics into some shirts and (3) Make a hoodie that you can’t live without.
In the spoiler alert at the bottom of a post, I mentioned in passing the Rabbit Race which took place on the 1st October 2011. A few months back when Alex Bangnoi spotted it I ummmed and ahhhed quite a bit about whether to go or not. Frankly, I was disappointed by my performance at Goodwood back in August and so I wasn’t feeling too motivated. On the other side, I really love Holland, and more especially the few people (read longboarders) that I have had the pleasure of skating with, at various events (Skaiti, CaRott, Brussels, Paris Ultraskate) . I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t go so I booked my tickets. I’m so glad that I listened to my gut instinct as I had an awesome time!
There was no hesitation about what board to use, so the G|Bomb went in the bag along with some Swiss goodies since I was staying for free at Flavio Badenes‘ place. Once I arrived at Amsterdam airport I had a little trouble finding ‘Sport Park Slotten‘ where the marathon was to be held because neither the Tourist Information nor the taxi driver who I resorted to had either heard of it or could find it on their GPS. A quick phone call to the race organiser, Flavio Badenes and I had a meeting point: The Nieuw Slotten shopping centre. Once there, knowing that I had about 30mins until he arrived I made the most of time by nipping into a supermarket to buy varying sizes of Stroopwafels, the very best thing to accompany tea/coffee and with which I cannot live without.
Having bought the necessary items, I then sat down on a bench in the sunshine to eat a pre-race sandwich and wait for Flavio. Half way through the said sandwich I heard the unmistakable sound of wheels on pavement. It was Paul Coupe and and Rob Ashby (?) who were also having trouble finding he venue and had spotted my bright yellow Decent Hardware bag and had thought ‘this guy knows where he is going’. After working out that I wasn’t Dutch but English like them (I had said hi with a mouthful of sandwich) we chatted a bit and I told them that I was waiting for the race organiser.
A couple of minutes later Flavio arrived in his car and whisked me off to the track, having given directions to Rob and Paul. We were about 5 minutes away by car and quickly passed a huge concrete rabbit, which had inspired the name ‘Rabbit Race’:
Once we’d arrived at the venue we set about meeting various Dutch guys that were already there, including Lennart Van de Peppel. Little by little people started to arrive, I was super stoked to see Alex Bangnoi and also Giovanni Barbazza who’d came from France, but also Paul Brunninkhuis and Iemke Karun Postma with whom I’d skated with before during the Paris Ultraskate.
Once changed, Giovanni and I decided to do quick warm up lap and I was really enthralled by the course. The weather was perfect, apparently there were 4000km of blue skies over Europe that day! The later start (5pm) was really appreciated because it meant that the temperature was just right. Although the course was a bit short 2.48 km (1.54 miles) the scenery really made the course. The Autumnal colours, canals and peaceful atmosphere was only interrupted by the sound of urethane on tarmac.
At the starting line there was a really good vibe and at just after 17.10 the start was given and we were off.
Right after the starting point there was a short but steep uphill, on the warm up lap I remember thinking ‘this hill is nothing’ – something I would rethink as the race went by. The good thing about the hill is that it split up the pack really quickly at the start of the race. Going into the first corner Alex, Paul and Iemke were pretty much neck and neck. I was in fourth and just behind me was Giovanni who was really keeping the pressure up.
Then began a small game between Giovanni and myself where I would lead for much of the lap, him right behind me. On the run-up to the uphill section he would then put on a burst of speed overtaking or drawing level with me. This lasted about 8 laps and was really forced me to keep the pace high. There was once really sketchy moment after I managed to pull away quite a bit from Giovanni where I completely lost my balance. I ended up having to get off my board as it went into the grass. In a second I was back on and accelerating as hard as I could, relieved that I had not lost fourth place.
A routine started to form in my race, push 6 times with left leg, tuck into an aero position,push 6 times with right leg. At the last corner before the straight, I would start dreading the uphill, then get up the hill, and afterwards try and catch my breath on the downhill get some water/energy gel down me, wait until the speed after the downhill gets to below 24kmh and before starting the routine again.
At around the 3rd lap my body was screaming for water and I ditched the Isostar drink and I shouted to get the attention of people giving out bottles. I just couldn’t take any more sweet stuff. In the end Wizzy of Bakaboards ran along with me and ensured I got a bottle. Phew! Big thanks to him. I’m definitely going to look into getting some Elite Electrolite which is completely tasteless. The way forward if you ask me.
From about the 12th lap onwards I started to notice thanks to my GPS watch that once I’d started pushing again after the hill it would take a good while for my legs to get going again. The result that I’d push really slowly at about 18kmh compared not my usual 21/22kmh. At about the 14th or 15th lap, just after the downhill section I heard a cheerh ‘hello’…it was Lennart Van de Peppel, overtaking me. For roughly half a lap I tried to match his pace but I couldn’t. He really deserved 4th.
The routine continued, with the hill getting harder and harder until the 16th lap when Matthijs van Wijk, who had started the marathon late and was on his 10th-ish lap caught up with me. He was in really good spirits and was in the mood for a chat. By this point I could only concentrate on one thing and apologised that I was not in a fit state to talk and skate at the same time. I felt really bad about this as he was obviously stoked to be taking part, but I was hanging! He overtook me with no problem and seemed to have lots of energy. After the race I went over to him and had a good chat…I was stoked to meet him! Here he is going full pelt down the hill.
I was really starting to feel the burn and by this point my GPS was showing distances well over the normal marathon time. Just before the last lap I was lapped by Paul (smiling) and Iemke I was amazed at the power they still had. The last uphill section was a real struggle, once I’d got to the top I felt my legs buckle but I knew I was on my last lap so just kept going. Thankfully the lap went by really quickly and soon enough I had finished the race in 5th place and had done 45km! I was super stoked as I knew that I’d done more than a marathon in just over two hours and with an average speed that was higher than at Goodwood in 2010 at 22.1kmh and therefore bettering my marathon time:
All the results can be found on the relevant post on Skatefurther. After the race there was a super good vibe. Everyone cheered on the people who hadn’t yet finished and once everyone had, and had managed cool off and rest a bit some nice prizes were handed out to the top 5 finishers. I was really surprised at this and really wasn’t expecting it. It was a nice touch.
Even after that you could tell that no one wanted the night to end. It got dark, the mosquitoes came out we were still all exchanging stories and sharing the wonderful atmosphere. At around 8pm we decided to all meet up at a local Chinese restaurant to get some food and relax together. More importantly we got to drink the post race beer which is one of the best tasting ever! In total about 14 of us were there and it was great to discuss past and future events, get to know new faces a little better and catch up with old ones. Flavio told us about his diverse history in skating, Alex about his time at the NYC leg of the Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon and we all chatted about distance skating more generally.
The next day Alex, Giovanni and I went to breakfast in central Amsterdam and we bought some souvenirs (tulips, Gouda) had a nice cruise around the pretty streets. Alex wasn’t even aching and looked like he could do another marathon, I certainly was feeling the previous day’s efforts so we didn’t do too much. Alex then took me back to ‘Sport Park Slotten where I watched some of the Slalom antics before heading back to the airport. My only regret was not to see Jesse Beau (get well soon) or Jochem Boer.
I’d spent barely 24 hours in Amsterdam but left feeling really as if we had managed to pack a lot in. I want to thank Flavio and the NLDSA for having organised the race and for making us feel really welcome. We will certainly be back if the race happens in 2012 as planned. A big thank you is due to Sofie Jochems and Orta for their excellent job at timing and for taking many lovely photos. I think I almost rode into Orta as she was taking some more ‘extreme’ shots by sitting in the middle of the downhill section. Mike Fish and Wizzy of Bakaboards also deserve thanks for their pictures too.
Most of all, if you get the chance to travel to Holland and meet up with any longboarders, you can be sure to find a lovely welcoming crowd of talented and dedicated people. I for one will be making trips there as often as possible and can’t wait for my next skate with them. Who says you need hills to skate! Vooruit!
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.
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’Leary, Tom Parker, Nick Randall, Zoltan Nagy, Ben Williams, Moe Neve Jon Steel, Chris White, Gary Ewens, Matt 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.
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…
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!
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
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!
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!