The end of the year is a good time to reflect on what has happened in the last 12 months. One thing for sure is that it has sure gone very quickly and I’ve seen new levels of busy-ness on both a personal and professional level.
I moved with my girlfriend from Paris to Lausanne, and although I was sad to say goodbye to Paris the plus point of the change far outweigh the negative ones. 2011 was the year of the first Paris Ultraskate, another epic Goodwood marathon and the Rabbit Race in Amsterdam. It was also a good year for making new acquaintances both at the aforementioned events but also further afield, meeting Jeff Vyain in NYC and closer to my new home here Switzerland. It would be wrong to overlook those people who I have got to know via the wonderful medium that is the internet, people who have brightened up my inbox such as Bevil‘ at Sakaroulé, Mark from G|Bomb, Gbemi from Longboard Europe/London Longboards not forgetting my good friend Tim from PSD.
He is thinking about stepping up the footstop game by providing carbon fibre versions of his footstops. At the moment he is trying to gauge the interest that people might have in such products.
Please check out the pictures and if you have the time, let him know what you think on his Facebook page. Personally, I love his footstops, they have really help bring out the pumpability of my Illuminati and also love carbon fibre, so for me it is a win-win situation.
I also had the opportunity to be interviewed by All Around Skate and loved the chance to spread some distance love. Read all about some of the things that got me started on this 4 wheeled journey as well as some of this year’s highlights in the full article available here.
Props to the Skatefurther and Riderz families goes without saying! A big thanks also goes out to everyone who happened on this blog, read it and especially those of you who have got in touch. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it!
So what will next year bring? Hopefully a lot more events and some nifty suspension trucks of some kind! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Stay tuned for more adventures in 2012…
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!
A buddy who lives in the city of Vancouver WA has quietly revolutionized the modern day longboard. With one simple, unique idea, he makes it:1. quicker and easier to tweak and tune for different terrain,
2. even more portable for travel on airplanes, in cars, etc.,
3. just as high performing as other high-end longboards on the market.
At first there were no specific boards that were built for the new brackets and early prototype decks were simply cut from existing suitable shapes.
After some testing, the potential to create a full LDP board with the benefits of being lower for pushing was clearly seen by forum members and this avenue was then thoroughly explored by a handful of testers. The initial brackets although innovative and functional were not completely suited to pumping since the front truck was out in front of the board, meaning a loss in leverage for pumping. In order to correct this a new ‘bent’ front bracket was developed, but with it came a compromise. The increased pump-ability brought about by bringing the truck back nearer to the board meant gravitating away from the aim of using a drop deck shape – although it was still lower than a traditional LDP deck.
Well back then when the foundations of this idea were being laid, I had barely started longboarding and the term LDP (Long distance pumping) meant nothing to me. As I started to get into skating distance, I got intrigued by the idea of efficient pumping and at that point it was only for the fun factor – pumping is first and foremost fun and feels awesome.
Having used a very low deck for pushing, I was (and still am) hesitant to invest in a LDP specific deck because I find them awkward to push when you have to because they are too high. Laura Hatwell on the Skatefurther site pointed me in the direction of the more recent developments to come out of the G|Bomb stables which were being talked about in the afore mentioned thread: the Illuminati. What grabbed my attention was that it was designed to be an “an all out pumper” , whilst obviously being nice and low. Another thing for me was that it was a colloboration between G|Bomb and Subsonic. A seemingly perfect fusion of two companies that I admire greatly.
Knowing that I was highly interested in it, Laura very kindly lent me her light flex Illuminati to test for a while. After setting it up (description here) I was instantly hooked. Back in May 2010 I wrote:
I was very intrigued by how this board would feel compared to a regular LDP deck like the Subsonic Pulse and also how well it would fit the description of a hybrid Pusher/Pumper.
I’m pleased to say that I’m instantly astounded with how good this board feels. If you are looking for versatile board that is as pumpable as it is pushable then look no further. It’s going to sound rather simple, but being able to adjust the truck angles the ‘on the fly’ really is a very nice touch. The metal brackets feel as strong as a tank and the quality of the board construction made by Subsonic is pretty much second to none. Purple to turquoise fade – awesome!
I wrote a couple of articles about trips I did on the board that can be read here and here. Another positive indicator is that this board is still in my possession one year on, and luckily Laura is willing to sell it to me – don’t worry she already had another one! Still, a big thanks and goes out to her for letting me initially borrow it.
The development of the brackets and G|Bomb mantra continued and soon came some tantalising picture of some lowered version of the brackets. After a review of these by Rob Thompson – I’ve had my eye on these ever since:
With the recent news that my LBL Pusher was nearing the end of it’s days, I got in touch directly with Mark to see if I could get some brackets…after exchanging a couple of emails I soon received extremely awesome pictures like this:
Once I received them, I wasted no time in swapping over the original brackets for the new ones – you can see the difference in the curvature of the bracket design:
As you can see the deck is very low, about 8cm at the centre (the Illuminati has some concave in it so is higher at the edges). With the new brackets and 75mm wheels it is now just under 80mm. Before, with the old brackets and 70mm wheels it was 113mm:
Here is a side view when put next to my LBL Pusher, there isn’t much difference considering it is a pure pushing deck:
Here it is fully built from the top. As I mentioned earlier I bought some rather nice wheels from Jeff Vyain at the LongboardLoft during my recent trip to NYC, I mixed the sets of wheels up back to front at first – doh!:
And here is the bottom, wheels on the right way, softer duro at the back :-) :
Awesome G|Bomb detail:
Here is the setup I am using:
- Front: Bennet 5.0 with Lime 80a Reflex barrel bushing boardside and Orange 86a barrel roadside (with rounded edges) ATOBE Bonneville wheels 76mm 78a
- Back: Seismic 30° with red springs tightened to 2.5 turns and ATOBE Wigglers wheels 77mm 82a
I initially had problems adapting to the very turny nature of the front truck compared to my very stable setup on the LBL Pusher, but this was sorted out thanks to some experimentation with various bushings, more ramblings about which can be found here. The drop on the new brackets is set to around 30mm, and together with some bigger wheels, the whole package feels very stable and comfortably low for pushing whilst remaining pumpable. It certainly isn’t a pure LDP deck but more of a fusion. It does exactly what I want it to do which is be great for pushing whilst being really pumpable but at speed – this is key for me. Additionally, the thicker brackets have stiffened the deck substantially, I really couldn’t be happier with this deck and setup. Last night I went for a cruise and came back grinning from ear to ear.
It is important to mention that there are future developments in the pipeline from G|Bomb about which more will be known in the next couple of months. Including: Drop-thru front bent brackets, improved original 10mm drop adjustable brackets and bumpers. I can’t wait to hear more. This is one of the things which I love about designers such as Mark – it is the forward thinking, via original and high quality products that help move this industry continuously forward. I have nothing but respect for all the long hard work, effort and time that is necessary to this process. Thank you Mark!
For more information, follow the thread on Pavedwave, or this one on Skatefurther or simply visit www.gbomblongboards.com. I will be using this board at the upcoming Goodwood Roller Marathon on the 14th July.
As it is about three weeks since I last posted on here, I needed a recap of what I had written about last time around when I was just about to go to NYC. That’s when I was reminded about the snack that has had the greatest influence on me for as long as I remember. The Katz Pastrami sandwich.
Anyway, this blog is supposed to be about longboarding, not food, so back to business.
That last paragraph wasn’t totally irrelevant though, as a about a mile away from Katz’s is the Longboard Loft at 132 Allen Street in the Lower East Side. It lives pretty well to it’s ambition of being “the headquarters for longboard enthusiasts in NYC and all over the world. With New York City’s largest selection of longboards and longboard components, you won’t find a better place to get your longboarding itch scratched”. I certainly left the shop feeling completely un-itchy, for sure!
Walking in the area around the shop already felt familiar, almost certainly from having watched videos that were filmed in the neighbourhood. Another, pointer was that I started to see a couple of people on longboards – suddenly, there is was! Once I entered I was amazed by how many boards there were, it truly was a refreshing experience to see so many brands represented: Earthwing, Tutone, Landyachtz, but also rarer boards such as Subsonic, along with the the full Bustin line up. News has it that perhaps some Swiss ones will also be stocked too…
Not forgetting the wheels, too.
I got a really good vibe from the place and it really was busy. All the staff were super friendly and I was super happy to meet Jeff Vyain and have spend some time talking to him. We talked about his wheels, the Atobe Wigglers, the upcoming Adrenalina marathons, The Chief Ladiga Silver Comet Stage Race, Skatefurther, PSD, some things cooking in the Subsonic pot and about Pavedwave and Ultraskates. It was really nice of him to take some time out of the busy-ness of running the shop – Thanks Jeff! Although I was mostly doing touristy stuff in NYC since it was my first time in the city and in the States, the visit to the shop was definitely a high point for me.
Needless to say that I didn’t leave empty handed:
These puppies are going to go on a rather special new setup which will be the subject of a different article…
My girlfriend and I walked around NYC a lot. Like any major city it is huge, and in my experience, if you want to get a feel for the place then you have to just walk around. Having lived and longboarded in Paris, I couldn’t help but look at the city from a longboarder’s point of view. My opinion is that you have to be pretty hardcore and especially focused to skate and not run into trouble.
First off the pavements are often narrow, much narrower than is the norm in Paris and often crowded and of varying quality. There is no choice but to skate on the roads, making use of the numerous cycle lanes that are on offer. Even then it is at a level of hectic-ness that is rarely seen in Paris. I’ve found myself having a lot of the respect for NYC’s longboarding scene because of this. The result of this urban riding certainly has proved it’s worth in the many pushraces and marathons that the city’s crews have owned.
Then you have Broadway, which we walked most of the way down in sections during the week we were there…I was trying to picture being part of the front of the pack during the Broadway Bomb. Calling it challenging is the biggest understatement you can make. It is the least practical and ridable course that could be thought up, but I know that I just have to do it at least one time in my life! Wow! Central Park is the obvious exception to all this…but once you’ve skated there you’d need a little bit of calmer riding.
Too bad that I can’t make the Adrenalina Skate marathon held in NYC (Govornor’s Island) on the 30th June. As for who is going to win? Well we’ll all just have to wait and find out…one thing for sure is that Alex Bangnoi will be representing once again. Go Alex! Oh, and Jeff Vyain just posted a sustained pump at 18.5 Mph (29.7Kph) for quater mile intervals…to put it into perspective, during my final training last year I was getting about 21Kph, and averaged 22Kph (13.6) on the day itself. I’ve got some work to do!
New York – I’ll be back!
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a particular affection for bearings, especially when there are new developments or if I discover small manufacturers. If like me you’re a fan of SKF, Rockin Ron, and the now unfortunately defunct Garver, you’re in for a treat!
A couple of years ago there was a craze in France called Tecktonik which gave birth to some pretty crazy dance moves.
One theory might say that it inspired some serious creativity in a particular laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, or maybe not, we’ll never know. The reality is that after hearing some sneaky rumours in the recent issues of Concretewave magazine I just stumbled on this gem on the new Seismic website and got pretty excited to say the least:
What we are looking at here are two Tekton ABEC-7 bearings from a set of eight, viewed how they would be inside a wheel. I can’t wait to get my hand on these puppies!
Here is all the information there is about them at the moment (taken from the product description).
- Set of eight (8) bearings with integral flanged half-spacers.
- Breakthrough self-aligning design corrects for flaws in bearing seat levelness, bearing seat spacing, axle diameter and axle straightness.
- Integral spacers end in wide, flat flanges that square up and self-stabilize inside your wheels. This means superior alignment and less internal friction, so your bearings last longer and your wheels roll faster with better grip.
The bearing behind the Official Downhill Speed World Record – 80.83 mph (130 kph) by Mischo Erban!
Why not join in the discussion on Silvefish?
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!
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:
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
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…