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Coldest skate ever…

I’ve been a little bit behind with updating this blog but lots of stuff has been going on outside of longboarding and weather hasn’t been up to much either. Another thing is that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to learn to ski, and after my third day last weekend I can safely say that I’ve given it a good go! I was managing red runs without berating those that led me down them or scaring myself too much…

At the start of the month, I did manage a good skate with my good friend Tim Pritchard. About the time of his visit this kind of thing wasn’t an uncommon sight in Geneva which is quite close by:

 However, although the week previous to his visit the temperature hadn’t gone above the -15°C, the weekend he was here was a cosy -10°C. Needless to say that with clear skys there was no way we weren’t going to skate. It is just what we do when we get together. It was the coldest skate ever…

In the past, I’ve skated in cold conditions especially when I was in Paris.

It’s all good once you get going and it was no different this time. Tim and I took the lakeside path, him on the G|Bomb and me on the Subsonic GT. Through the icy fields we went…

It was fun to skate and pump around the ice patches:

The  G|Bomb, good at pumping and pushing, not so good as a snow plough:

Great times…

… with some super-smooth stretches:

I got chased by dogs:

One things about dogs. It really annoys me when they decide to chase me when I’m riding a bike or longboard. I heard that one thing you can do is make noise at them to intimidate them… I tried, looked stupid infront of about 10 people and failed to get them to go away. After a good deal of barking once I stopped they got bored and went away by their own accord.

In the end, we managed around 30km in some really cold conditions including wind that never became a tail-wind, regardless of the direction we took.

A nice pic of a nice board in some weak Winter sun:

Dreaming of a warm chin-massage:

Tim, showing off his head-wear:

We finished off at the crazy sculture at Ouchy:

For those of you who are interested in what we gorged ourselves on post-skate, here is the awesome-ness that sorted us right out. Dumplings for the win!


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 :

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’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!