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The Paris LDP Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LDP Paradise?

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

Tim about half way before turning back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LDP-ing accross Paris…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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!