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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 :


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!

New ride – G|Bomb

There is a thread over on Pavedwave that is almost certainly the longest that the forum has seen to date. It is called CAMBIAR- portable tweakable longboard under test — wicked!! and was started all the way back on Sun 17th Feburary 2008. The thread starts of something like this:
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.
The 33 (and counting) pages of this thread track the slow development that is the G|Bomb. The G|Bomb design is the brain child of a mechanical engineer and skater Mark Groenenboom, who set out to find if a drop deck could have adjustable truck angles without sacrificing performance.

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.

Subsonic Pulse 40 v3.0 Christmas Day build

What follows is a post sent in by a friend Tim Pritchard about his new LDP (long distance pumping) setup. Tim is a childhood friend which I introduced to longboarding back in 2007 – since then we have shared the discoveries made upon this journey of learning and stoke. The many emails crowding his inbox gave me the initial idea to start this blog as I thought the information may be useful for others besides ourselves. Merci beaucoup for this entry Tim!

I’d never thought I wanted an LDP setup before Goodwood Marathon this summer but I was lucky enough to ride a few boards and immediately, I was hooked! I’ve always dreamt about a nice slalom setup, but I only wanted to be able to pump. I now know that buying a slalom board would have been a big mistake, and LDP is the way. Riding an LDP board was exactly the sensation I wanted and something that I needed in my life and my quiver!

The next few weeks and months were spent researching setups, searching the internet, forums (Pavedwave), hours of reading, dreams and little sleep. I kind of get obsessed with the project in hand and this one was a major obsession.

I started looking into decks and trucks mainly and soon discovered that the art of an LDP setup is much more involved than just those two things. I knew that I wanted a Bennett due to costs and it was the nicer feeling truck at Goodwood. But the decision on width was a major one! I also liked the look of the Galac boards but ended up choosing the Subsonic Pulse.

The aim was to get everything together and build it up on Christmas day. A couple of bits were gifts, and I guess the deck was a Christmas gift to myself, so it makes sense.

The truck ended up being a Galacized Bennett from John Galac.

It’s been adapted in such a nice way I can see the huge benefit it is going to make. John also made the width narrower and fitted wheel spacers. This means it runs as a standard 5.0 with the spacers, and effectively a 4.6 without (halfway width between a 4.3 and a 5.0). I really wanted versatility as I didn’t want to get the wrong width. My Bennett will now serve me for a long time! The bushing choice for the Bennett to start with is Lime Reflex bushings as Galac suggests these are the best he’s found for LDP. I’ve smoothed off the edges as he’s done with a drill and some files.

The rear truck was an easy choice and of course is a Tracker RTS. After receiving the Galacized Bennett, I couldn’t believe how poor the Tracker casting was. So, I spent some time smoothing the bushing cups and pivot with some wet-n-dry paper. Its amazing how smooth they are now and how good they look! I’ve sure little improvements will make huge benefits. The bushing choice I was going with was red or yellow Khiro barrels but I’ve been trying to order them from a certain British online website for a while and they’re far from helpful. Christmas is just 6 days away and no bushings. So, I contact Michael at OctaneSport and I’m going to get some off of him. I’d rather support the good shops anyway! The bushings made end up being Sabres or Venoms? We’ll see.

As for the deck, a Subsonic Pulse 40 v3.0. When I started looking into the Pulse, Scott at Subsonic had just released the v3.0 and it sounded like the perfect deck for me. I got the deck through Michael at OctaneSport as he orders bulk decks from Subsonic. These two guys have been uber helpful along the way. I opted for the lightest flex, tiger grip and colouring fading from black at the nose to red at the tail.

Red Subsonic stickers finished it off amazingly! The deck is better finished than any deck I’ve ever handled. The routing on the edges of the deck is beautiful. The routing isn’t round, its kind of chamfered, but two different heights. This means that the routing chamfer sits just above the front wheel wells which looks and feels amazing. It makes sense also and shows how much thought has gone into the design.

As for wheels, I’m starting off with the Abec11 Gumballs from my Dervish as they’re not far off the ideal choice. My perfect choice would be Lemon and Lime BigZigs.

The Galac LDP website was invaluable for setup details. Riser angles and so much more that would have eluded me for months was explained for everyone to read. Amazing.

The only thing now to do is wait for my rear truck bushings, and build it on Christmas day.

Big thanks to everyone for their help so far:
Chris Vallender for introducing me to longboards, Corinne my fiancée for allowing to put so much time, effort and money into skateboards and Galac, Subsonic and OctaneSport for being so helpful.

Tim – make sure to send in a full review once the snow has melted!