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So I took my longboard to Amsterdam…

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, CaRottBrussels, 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.

Once we’d said ‘Bye’ to everyone  and were back at Flavio‘s place, AlexGiovanni and I ended up continuing the conversation until after 1am, I just did not see the time go by.

The next day AlexGiovanni 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!

Alex‘s write up is available here (in French).


CaRott – the journey comes to an end

Day 4: Helleveltsluice to Rotterdam (37km)

In the middle of the night we got woken up by rain. Not just any rain, but really heavy tent-shaking stuff. Needless to say that we were pretty anxious about having to spend the last day skating in wet conditions. Fortunately, our luck held out with the weather and we woke to another gloriously sunny day.

It was a strange feeling to be packing up our bags for the final day but at the same time, now  that our destination was in sight, I was looking forward to finally getting there.

We’d got used to the really good conditions and things carried on much as they had been the previous day. No sea this time round but still plenty of lovely serene countryside to roll through.

We met up with Jochem once we reached Spijkenisse, around 15km from Rotterdam – not far to go!

Suddenly the views took on a much more urban feel and before we knew it, we were crossing the bridge which would take us to the outskirts of Rotterdam.

Our route then took an unexpected turn when Jesse said “we’re going to go through an awesome tunnel”. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip from a longboarding perspective. The tunnel itself went underneath a river or a canal for around two, perhaps three kilometres of flat perfectly smooth tarmac. You picked up speed for what seemed an age until you thought that surely you’d take off and then the tunnel would start curving gently upwards.

Being underground meant that we weren’t able to get a GPS reading but it’s the fastest I’ve ever been on a longboard. A rough guesstimate would be around the 45kph mark. It was so much fun! Smiles all round!

Our route took on a much more town-like feel, with residential areas, cafes and pedestrians becoming more prominent features.

The previous day we were wondering about what exact point we would head to in Rotterdam. After some thought, I remembered the comment my girlfriend Faye had written when making her donation for our trip: “Go boys! You are only getting sponsorship from me if you bring back stroopwafels however ;)”. Not wanting to disappoint, we all decided to aim for what Jesse described as the ‘Best Stroopwaffel shop in town’.

At around 1.30pm, after 37km we finally reached our goal:

You might think it rather strange that we chose to aim for this particular food place as the end of our trip. If you’re thinking this then it must mean that you’ve never eaten a Stroopwaffel. I can’t compare these things to anything else…to do so would be to disrespect them.

Did I mention that we were ravenous at this point? We bought some very big ones and some smaller ones to take back.

And then devoured them…yummy. You cannot believe how amazing they tasted.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get a group shot of all of us but we were pretty relieved to have made our final destination as in the end timing was pretty tight. Looking back at the conversation we had together in Belgium when we were very worried about our progress made our safe arrival in Rotterdam all the more satisfying.

Group shot attempt with Jeese in the middle and Jochem on the right:

Tim, myself and a van full of Stroopwaffels…joy!

Tim’s take on the trip, which completely echoes my own thoughts:

It’s no secret that I was the least experienced and least prepared one reason being a recent sever ankle injury. The amount of skating and preperation before we went was minimal and I must have only skated around 5 times/40 miles in the past 4 months. Despite this, I feel I kept up, most of the time, and there were no problems with going a little slower at times. I still can’t quite believe how smoothly everything went. We didn’t really get lost over the entire trip thanks to great map reading by Chris and Jochem mostly.

During Skaiti when I asked Jochem and Jesse to take part in the trip, I was acting on a gut feeling brought on by a spending a good few hours skating with them. I knew that TIm would get on with them. It was a little strange at first though because both TIm and I had put lots of time and energy into organising the trip, contacting the charities and getting in touch with potential sponsors, companies and various media. I’m happy to say that I’m so stoked that they joined the team and came along!

Again, Tim summed up perfectly what having Jochem and Jesse along for the trip meant – I can’t agree enough with this:

“if it wasn’t for Jochem and Jesse, the trip wouldn’t have been the same. Their generosity and knowledge of the country was greatly welcomed and appreciated”

I had so much fun skating with both of them and in a strange way I feel as if I’ve known them both a lot longer than what is essentially a few days…

After a quick stop for some food, we made our way to the train station to go our separate ways. The first person I said goodbye to was Jochem who’d make his way back to Middleburg from Rotterdam. The rest of us got a train to Amsterdam together as this was where I was to get my train from Paris, Tim his flight home to the UK and Jesse his train back to Groningen.

As the train made it’s way to Amsterdam, it dawned upon us that even the mighty Jesse get tired at some point…maybe he’s just thinking about a new pushing technique?!

With everyone headed back home, little did I know that my adventure was to carry on a little longer than planned. Instead of arriving back at a nice early-ish time (8.30pm) our train broke down in Beligium meaning that I got back after midnight. At least I had lots of time to reminisce about the trip and the great times.

Thank yous

In no particular order, hoping that I have not forgotten anybody:

Tim, Jochem and Jesse – I’m sure that better travel companions would be very hard to find.
Sarah Taylor at Oxfam365 who was amazingly supportive and helpful throughout the trip.
Véronique Valois Boucher at RecySkate for fronting such a great project.
The Calais longboarders for their very warm welcome and an especially big thanks to Phildar from SessionSixDeux for all his help and for relaying our local news coverage.
– Bevilacqua of Sa Ka Roulé for his encouragement and for helping spread the word about our project – it really is an honour to be written about on your blog!
Everyone in the extended Skatefurther family for their continued support and inspiration, without whom I would have never dreamed of undertaking such adventures!
Brian at Bustin for putting the word out on their blog.
Peter at RollsRolls for his helping in finding the perfect board for Tim and for the free goodies.
– My girlfriend Faye for her patience and for not thinking I’m too crazy.

Additionally, I’d also like to thank Hieko from Concretewave.de and Anna at Howies for their material support in the early days of the project.

CaRott in the media:

Here are the press articles which resulted from the trip:

22/05/10: Nord Littoral – Calais edition (in French)
23/05/10: La Voix du Nord (in French)
24/05/10:Nord Littoral – Calais edition (in French)
06/06/10: Nord Littoral – Calais edition (in French)

At present we have managed to raise a total of £270 (€327),  or £313.70 (€452) if we include Gift Aid, all of which will go towards the Oxfam365 fund. A couple of donations are still outstanding so, I can safely say that we achieved all our goals!

Now, what’s the next trip going to be?!

 

 

 

 


CaRott – day three

Day 3: Middleburg to Helleveltsluice (74km)
We slept well and woke up late feeling fully rested and ready to move on. We we still riding high from the elation of having made it all the way to Middleburg the following night. It was a bank holiday in Holland so morning scavenging only found a Turkish shop open.

The started the day with some carrots, what else would you expect. A nice touch from Jochem and perfectly on theme:

We also had onion (another re-occurring theme) omelette, pasta, frikadel, meatballs and some other things I forget. An interesting Dutch fact is that most houses have deep fat fryers…it made for a tasty breakfast.

At around 12.30 we got ready to go after listening to some tunes to get ourselves stoked…a big thanks to Jochem for letting us stay the night!

During the first two days of the trip Jesse and Jochem had both been telling us that the roads in Holland were heavenly, flat, smooth and that our pace would be better too. Again we were blessed with great weather and I had perfected my neck sun protection into something more inconspicuous and less rediculous-looking.

I think that it is reasonable to say that this country rocks. The cycleways are awesome and almost always amazingly smooth:

Once again, the North Sea Cycle route lived up to it’s name by being mainly by the sea…something which I really loved about this trip, although the strenuous pace meant that I was not able to even swim once! As we expected, the route was intersected by barrages or dykes of enormous scale.

When we weren’t going across dykes, we were in lush green countryside…

During the day the wind started to come up and fortunately our route meant that it wasn’t completely head-on. It was more of a sideways wind. I can really see that wind is a big deal in Holland (all the wind farms back this up!) and it could also have the potential to make longboarding very difficult or very easy depending on the direction. It was along a very straight and exposed part of the route that we got to experience what the trip could have been like…mega tiring, but in a way we were glad of the wind because it cooled us down.

It was pretty long and straight…

Lots of people were out enjoying the wind, either on kiteboards or windsurfing…it was cool to watch.

Then, at around 5pm we came across the first sign pointing towards our final destination. It was a strange feeling because all of a sudden there was an air of finality that came about. I guess that before we were concentrating of the immediate ‘here and now’ and now that we could see Rotterdam marked clearly on the signs we were looking ahead…still it was nice to finally be able to visualise our destination somewhat.

Looking back at these pictures, I still cannot get over how good the roads are in Holland. We were also really lucky with both the wind and the weather – it was pretty much perfect. The following picture just makes me want to be out there again…awesome.

We then took part in what is now a Dutch tradition that Jesse and Jochem started on a previous trip. Group picture infront of a random mirror somewhere:

With the sun starting to set and we had one more huge dyke to get across before reaching the mainland of Holland, it was beast and we had a nice downhill section at the end. The town of Hellevoetsluis is just behind the tree-line on the left:

We were pretty tired and it had been a really hot day with very little rest since we’d set off from Middleburg. Tim’s ankle, which he’d injured in the run up to the trip was starting to play up and we hadn’t eaten properly since the morning. Finally we made it to Hellevoetsluis:

About 100m afterward the road in town got pretty bad and it was clear that we weren’t in the mood to go very much further that day. As it was a bank holiday, not much was open, but still be managed to find yet another fast food joint where we quickly inhaled some sustenance.

After eating, Jesse asked us if we would mind him heading on 15km to Spijkenisse where he could stay with some friends…this was no problem for us and we agreed to meet there the next day and head into Rotterdam together. In the meantime we would stay in Hellevoetsluis.

I’d be planning to do some free-camping during the trip but it turned out that in Holland you can get fined pretty heavily (€90) if you’re caught. We opted for the easier option and stayed at a nice campsite…

it was pretty nice and meant we could have a wash and more importantly some beer! On Jochem’s recommendation we had a Belgian Palm beer and I can safely say that it’s a really good one…

We were all really pleased with out progress that day. Our average speed a leapt up from around 11kph mark in France and Belgium to 13.3kph over a total distance of 74km for the day…a pretty good achievement and proof that quality roads really make a difference.

Stay tuned for day four – the final day!

 

 

 


CaRott – day two

Day 2: Camping Amazone (Koksijde) to Middleburg (93km)
After a pretty good night’s sleep in a tent filled with the smells which accompany long distance trips we crawled out of our tents full of anticipation for the day ahead.

Not to worry though we found an awesome bakery with possibly the best breakfast bread product that I have ever encountered. I’m not talking about the Belgian waffels here, I did try one but found them to be dry and not very interesting (I’ve since been told that I bought the wrong type). Not sure what it is called but behold the magnificence of the bread/onion/bacon-bits/cheese extravaganza:

I miss it too…mnom. The picture doesn’t do it justice – it was a beast, pretty much as big as a keyboard! Yeah! Enough about food…

The first few kilometres were very peaceful. The sun was out and at 10.30 it was clear that the day was going to be a scorcher. There were some lovely shaded paths to start with:

And spirits were high…

I really grew to like the scenery we were going through. We passed through small towns with Om-pah bands who were playing on the main square to the accompanied with the dull clunking of beer glasses. There is something about being near water which just lifts my spirits and combined with it being the weekend a holiday mood could really be felt.

The salty smell of the sea grew stronger and it wasn’t long before we reached the sea-front itself. It was paved, but through some genius foresight, the planners had decided to lay the paving slabs so that they lay diagonally…this small detail meant that instead of going along bumpity-bump stylee, it was smooth and marble-like.

All we had to do was slalom around the piles of sand and enjoy the ride. The sun was at it’s zenith and my neck was really starting to look pretty lobster-like…always at the forefront of fashion, I came up with the nifty idea of wrapping a spare base-layer around my neck in a stylish fashion:

 

 

After the easy introduction to Belgium it showed it’s real colours. The sea-front route that we were following started to become more and more sandy (good for Sandcastles but not for longboarding) from Oostende onwards so we were forced to turn inland.

The quieter routes were either cheese-grater or crippling paving slabs so we opted to carry on the ‘walk with your longboard’ theme of the trip and took a short-cut through the forest.

By this time it was getting late into the day and we were still a good 20km from the Dutch border, our minimum destination for the day. The problem was that we were a little slower than expected due to the heat, taking longer scenic routes, walking a little, taking some wrong turns…all contributed to us being behind schedule. Tension was starting to run a little higher and it became clear that we really needed to start moving faster and make some good progress so that we would reach Rotterdam in good time.

Slightly lost, not quite in Holland and fed up of Belgium

The LF route was also being cheeky with us by taking strange detours through residential estates, strange directions and random twists and turns. We finally stopped for some food in one of the last towns (probably Albertstrand or Het Zoute) on beach front.

We were all starving by this point and Jochem especially was pretty keen on getting some proper Belgian frites. I got the opportunity to try a fried food speciality called a Frikadel with ‘special sauce’.

The chips were ok, but this was pretty good. The closest thing I can think of is to describe it as a deep-fried Kebab sausage cut in two and filled with Ketchup, Mayonnaise and chopped onion. This is us post-frikadel:

The food raised our spirits and we just got on with getting through the last of the varying horrible surfaces but mostly the Belgian fondness for slabs. At last we felt like we were getting somewhere. The last town thinned out and we went through some lovely countryside.

The next border crossing was finally coming up – our challenge was to cross the international dyke (has it been done by longboard before?). The gravelly footpath was an interesting change from the slabs but made for some hard going.

Jochem and Jesse in a small dust cloud

 

Yum – gravel:

We didn’t realise that this was the actual border until we came accross Jesse doing a little ‘I’m in Holland dance’ – we obviously joined in because it felt good to be in Holland and the prospects of smoother roads was almost mouth-watering.

We were on a real high – after the slog of the last few hours, not even knowing if we’d make it to the border it was really refreshing to have good paths and some varying terrain. We decided without really thinking about it that we were going to push on to Middleburg that night.

The next kilometres were an amazing experience. There were some nice up and downhill-ish bits thanks to the various dykes and dunes (I managed to get 36km/h) at one point. The air was fresh and the light was soft. It really was one of those pivotal moments when everything felt perfect.

It really felt like a proper home-coming for Jochem especially as he started to recognise landmarks along the route which would finally lead us to his home town. The last few kilometres went by quickly and the views for the top of the dune we were on were glorious:

We finally made the ferry, at around 10pm – the last one of the day!

Dutch flag – we’re definitely in Holland:

Middleburg, here we come!

Once we had arrived we set out on the cycle path that Jochem knew well for the last 15km to his flat where he had very kindly invited us to stay. His mum had also phoned through to tell him that she’d made us an apple pie – knowing that it was there waiting provided a huge boost of motivation for us all.

As it was properly dark so we got the lights out:

I’d only once ridden my board in near-total darkness during Skaiti but for Tim it was a new experience.

Ground view of skating in darkness:

We were pretty knackered by this point but for me anyhow I was on autopilot. The aches were there but everything felt easier because of the cool air and the stillness of the night.

Lights are cool. What kind of contraption is hiding here?

Night-mode longboard!

We finally made it to Jochem’s where his brother and sister were waiting to surprise us with a very warm welcome at around 11.45pm. We’d done around 93km that day.

Dutch apple pie, which is the best thing ever. Tastes like apple strudel and is truly amazing and goes well with beer. Thank you Jochem’s mum!

We hung up our helmets for the night…for some well-earned rest.

 


CaRott – one week after

Well we made it – that’s for sure! But like the old English phrase the proof is in the puddingits the experience and details of the journey which count…I planning to get something tasty together asap with all the crunchy details.

I don’t want to give too much away just yet…a full write up of the trip is still in the works. I can say that the trip exceeded all expectations and was very surprising in a variety of ways…

However, I am wanting to give a small update of what is already available for all to see. There are some pictures taken by both Tim and Jochem which are already on Facebook here and here.

I want to also take the opportunity to thank two bloggers Phildar and Bevilacqua for their support before and during the trip. It really has been a pleasure to get to know you both. I had the opportunity to actually meet Phildar last Friday as he lives in Calais. I really hope that my path will one day cross with Bevilacqua as it is always more rewarding to meet someone in person.

On the SessionSixDeux blog you’ll find some photos on the short but really fun time spent in Calais as well as some extra information on Bevilacqua’s blog: Sa Ka Roulé. Both are in French, but for those of you who would like to see them in English a plethora of sites now offer web page translations so there is really no excuse to not check them out!

So, whilst you’re all patiently waiting for the writing-up, here is a video of our departure from a rather misty Calais…thanks again Phildar and the Calais Crew for a great time!
http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/xdgniw


The last straight, Illuminati, cake and a volcano

Wow – I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by in the last couple of weeks. I’m both shocked and amazed that my lost entry on here was the 4th May! Where has all that time gone…hmmm.

What have I been up to…
There has been lots going on which has been fun. A couple of weeks back I met up with a good friend of mine Alex with whom I did around 30 minutes of the Wednesday night roller meet but we were both knackered so we didn’t stay until the end – you’ve got to go with the flow and neither of us were feeling it.

Alex came with me last year to the Goodwood Roller Marathon and back then he was one of the few guys crazy enough to skate long-distance with me over here in France…that reminds me of how quickly things can change. We had a good turn out at the Paris Greenskate with around 50 people skating 30km+…I wonder how things will be next year! Alex also has his own blog about the things he is passionate about in life: surfing, chess and of course longboarding.

Alex, Tim and I at Goodwood 2009

In the past few months I’ve also become increasingly interested in the LDP (Long distance pumping) and as a result came across a rather funky company called G|Bomb. They make adjustable truck mounting brackets and boards. As the company and the ideas have evolved, so too has a partnership with Subsonic for creating a board which would be a perfect hybrid pump/push board – and lo and behold the Illuminat was born. So imagine my excitement when Laura Hatwell, who helped test the ‘light flex’ version offered to lend me the deck for the summer…stoked!

Illuminati – fun times
The fine-tuning of any setup is important, but none more so than for a pumping setup. Very small changes can make a very big difference to how the ride feels.  Using the bible that is the Pavedwave forum as reference, I put the difference components of the board together:

– Illuminati light flex proto-board with bent front pumping bracket and adjustable G|Bomb bracket at the rear
– Retro 70mm 78a Zig Zags
– Bennet 5.0 with Reflex Lime 80a Barrel and tall cone

– Tracker RTS 130mm with 90a Venom Eliminator and Orange 86a short cone

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!

Another thing to note is that as the brackets are made of metal they completely protect what would usually be the nose or the tail of the board. If that wasn’t enough, the guys at G|Bomb are currently working on another deck, the Paramount with the aim of making a board which would be even easier to push:

“Aggressive drop and stiff brackets to get to the platform height to the ~ 3.5 w/ 75mm wheels. The rear of the deck is at 3.25 w/out compensating with a riser. The platform needs to be on the stiffer side b/c of the drop. Front bracket is for wedge only with 0 degree (flat)  being the limit without an angled riser. We shortened the bracket on the front to put the wheels proud of bracket with a 75mm wheel and a Bennett truck. We really like have the wheels function as bumper and this makes the deck easily “trailerable” when walking.”

Here it is:

Follow the progress of this new board and setup here.

Distance training – continued
Last weekend was a four-day weekend in France so I made the most of it by going to Kendal (in the Lake District in Northern England) with my girlfriend who is from the area. Knowing that it might be a good idea to try and improve my overall fitness for the upcoming CaRott trip, we did lots of walking – 11km around a lake called Ullswater:

The second walk was a little more challenging, up the third highest mountain in England called Helvellyn (950m) in around 5 hours:

Another great thing about the UK is the cakes – for those of you who are a little put off by British cuisine the cakes are a good way to start enjoying food in England. Try these:
Flapjack: This powered the Plymouth local Matt Elver to a new UK 24 distance record of 161 miles on a TOPMOUNT – respect this food!
Cherry bakewells
– Lemon drizzle cake
– Banana bread
Kendal Mint Cake: This got Edmund Hillary up Everest so must be good! I’m taking some on CaRott…

A big thank you to Eyjafjallajokull for extending our holiday by 24 hours!

CaRott – the next challenge
I’ve been boring people enough on Facebook and via email about this trip, but don’t worry because it’s almost time for the trip itself to commence.

On Friday 21st May I’ll be travelling up to Calais with everything needed for a 4 day longboarding trip. I’ll have the pleasure of finally meeting Phil, the creator of a rather cool blog called SessionSixDeux who writes about his experience of longboarding in Calaifornia.

I’ll also be rendezvousing with the rest of the team Tim – a good friend from the UK and two Dutch guys called Jochem and Jesse whom I met and skated a lot with at Skaiti.  A very rough itinerary will be followed:

Day 1: Calais (Croissants) to Nieuwpoort (Belgian beers) : 75km
Day 2: Nieuwpoort to Middelburg/random crazy shaped island : 65km/80km
Day 3: Middelburg/random crazy shaped island to Hellevoetsluis/Rotterdam: 70km/100km
Day 4: Hellevoetsluis to Rotterdam: 40km

I’ll also be taking Bevilacqua’s list of things to see/eat do during our route – a big thank you to him for this list and his support! Check out his most wonderful blog here which is well worth a detour.

As far a equipment goes, this is the current state of my floor:

It’s still pretty empty, but will get messier – I’m going to do some more packing this evening… an essential map which is still somewhere between Holland and Paris in the post. Could be interesting if we have to guess our way from Dunkerque through Belgium and Holland…

At the moment we’ve pretty much reached 50% of our fundraising target. A BIG thank you to all who have donated so far, you’re all fantastic and your donations will not only help our chosen charity, Oxfam365, but also provide us with a great deal of good vibes to think about when we’re pushing through the pain. It would be great if we could reach 100% so please help us if you can by donating here.


CaRott – the next challenge

Just wanted to make people aware of a trip that myself and a fellow longboarder and friend, Tim have put together. The trip is to take place from Calais in France to Rotterdam in the Netherlands (abbreviated to CaRott). We might make it further though…

We’re planning on travelling on the North Sea Cycle Route. The 200 miles (300km) is planned to take four days and we’re going to be carrying enough equipment to camp for 3 nights. We’ll be leaving Calais early on the 22/05 and returning on the 25/05.

If other people would like to accompany us for all or part of the trip then please get in touch. All we ask is for you to make a donation to the causes we are supporting.

Having been inspired by the many trips before us, we’re keen to try and raise money and awareness for charities. Therefore, this trip will support Oxfam365.

A little bit about Oxfam365
The Oxfam365 fund allows Oxfam to respond immediately after a disaster by providing essentials such as water, shelter and food as well as working to keep survivors healthy by preventing the spread of disease.

We’re also hoping to raise awareness of another organisation: RecySkate.

Some info on Recyskate:
Recyskate salvages skateboards and their components, assembles new boards so they are ready to use and distributes them either freely or as cheaply as possible to underprivileged children or like-minded youth organisations and charities.

If you would like to show your support and would like to donate to our cause, you can do so by clicking here. Your help is greatly appreciated!

Hopefully the weather will be sunny!

We would really appreciate help with acquiring camping equipment, skate equipment, clothes, shoes or food. If you can assist us, or would simply like more information please get in touch – any donators will of course be mentioned in all write ups, blogs, forums & magazines.