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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).


Training-tastic

So my weekend of training is finished. As I sit here slightly aching and full of food I know that in a weeks time the race will already be over. Seeing as I only started training properly around a month ago, I’m pretty pleased with how things have gone. I’ve learnt a couple of things too which I want to record here so that I don’t forget.

Eat right
Sounds basic, but is easy to get wrong. Realising that I wasn’t going to have all that much time to put in the miles, I decided to go for an sprint approach with my regular sessions. The route I used is short in distance terms, around 4km (2.4 miles) but has an elevation of around 135m (442 ft). Here is the different times it took me to travel the route:

Jul 18, 2011: Pace: 4:04min/km, Speed: 14.47km/h
Jul 21, 2011: Pace: 3:49min/km, Speed: 15.72km/h
Jul 27, 2011: Pace: 4:20min/km, Speed: 13.83km/h
Aug 02, 2011: Pace: 4:02min/km, Speed: 14.83km/h

So what happened on the 27th July? Well, I arrived back home thinking I was going to pass out. Coming up the hill I felt like I had no energy and like I was skating through treacle. It was a horrible feeling. From that day on I decided to eat more during the late afternoon to fuel the longboarding runs. The results are that I have got a little faster (last run) and I am also decidedly less grouchy upon arrival home.

My favourite snack of choice at the moment are home-made cereal bars that I used during the Paris Ultraskate.  Why make them? Well, here are some advantages:

1/ You know exactly what is in them
2/ They contain different levels of sugars to give you quick and sustained energy
3/ Really easy to make

Long Distance energy bars – all credit goes to the fantastic Diet-Sport-Coach site (in French)
By slightly changing the ingredients, you can make either a sweet or a slightly salty version – good to ward away boredom for when you have to eat a lot of them during ultras, etc…

Method:

Mix for sweet:
> 250 g powdered almonds
> 100 g fructose (powdered or agave syrup)
> 50g brown sugar
> a small potato (80g) cooked and mashed
> Add 80g sesame and/or lin seeds

For salty version:
> 250 g powdered almonds
> 75 g fructose (powdered or agave syrup)
> 100g peanut butter
>  80g sweet potato steamed and mashed
> Add 80g sesame and/or lin seeds

Mix everything up into a paste. It might at first appear really dry but just mix in enough and it will turn into a paste. Leave it to set in the fridge overnight. The next day, cut the paste into bars and wrap in cellophane. You can also wrap the paste around fillings such as dried bananas or dates.

The last big training push
During the weekend, I had some time to get the final bit of my training in. Since I setup the Illuminati not too long ago and had a couple of issues getting to grips with it and it was a real feeling of relief to feel everything come together. I’ve mainly been playing around with bushings (see last link) and also trying out ways to strengthen them.

I knew that it was possible to setup and get used to a board that is both good at pumping and pushing. From using it at the weekend, I think that I have came close to achieving that.

The weather around Lausanne has been pants for the last couple of weeks; muggy and showery. Not really very summery at all. All in all I did nearly 60km (37 miles) during the weekend at race pace for as much as possible. The most interesting run was on Saturday. I actually had a false start that day. I came out of the flat ready for a skate and after 10metres it started to rain. That was in the morning.

In the afternoon as I was waiting for the bus to take me down to the lake, I got my picture taken by a passing photographer:

Once at the lake, I’d done about 12km when again, it started to rain. Luckily, I decided to press on and the rain didn’t last – I did almost go home at one point because the rain kept threatening to come down.

Here is the route I took according to RunKeeper:

I’m happy with the speed. The route is certainly one of the more interesting ones to skate around on, but that does mean that you need to keep your wits about you. I had multiple near-misses with children on bikes, roller blade or just people randomly changing direction. There were also several crossings to deal with, although for the most part I managed to time them just right to get the ‘green man’. When you’re not dealing with all that, there is a lovely view of the lakeside. The surface really is top notch too. Physically, afterwards I felt pretty good and made sure I did my stretches. That reminds me…

Tim Pritchard recommended that I read a copy of Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. There is some interesting stuff regarding technique. After reading it, I’ve tried to keep in mind the following when I skate:

– Strike the ground when pushing with the mid-foot, making as little noise as possible
– Stay as straight as possible, lean forwards more the faster you want to go
– Don’t reach too far forwards, concentrate your push to the back
– Focus on the point where you want to be going (as much as your board and the terrain allows you)

I would really recommend this book. There are some very waffle-y sections and some running information that isn’t very relevant to longboarding, but the philosophy, warming up/warming down, stretching, race preparation and training plans are all well worth the read.

T minus 5 days-ish
So now comes a nice part of the training: eating and resting as much as possible! I’m really looking forward to the weekend, as well as the race it’ll be a good chance to catch up with old friends (Matt Elver, Keith O’LearyTim PritchardTom Parker, Nick Randall, Zoltan Nagy), and meet some new faces for the first time in person (Chris White, Gary Ewens of Smile Longboards, the UK Longboard Larry distributor, and who knows else!).

A sad fact though is that Alex Bangnoi will unfortunately not be able to make Goodwood this year- it won’ be the same without you drifting me around the track ;-). The French will be duly represented though by Matthieu Josse, a young gun who shot to 8th place in the Ultraskate rankings at the Paris Ultraskate. I think there are going to be a few surprises this year…let’s see!


Paris Ultraskate write up

The Paris ultraskate was the second 24h skate I have undertaken. One thing I have come to appreciate is that an ultraskate is an event which is full of highs and lows and at the Hippodrome du Longchamp, thanks to the lie of the land, ups and downs too.  For some reason, the need for mental strength really came out at this Ultraskate.

In terms of physical preparation, I really didn’t feel like I’d done much at all. The recent move to Switzerland, the pretty busy work schedule and a certain apprehension to the massive hills in Lausanne have meant that I’ve not skated much in recent months. I was also organising the event from afar and hosting it on an untested circuit. Although I was super stoked to hear that people were coming from the UK and Netherlands for it, a small part of me was wondering, what happens if we get kicked off or if the track is not suitable…I didn’t want to let anyone down.

So when I picked Tim up from late on the Friday night, I was a little apprehensive…however, the ball was already rolling and we needed to get ready – and that meant eating! I’d already started carbo-loading since the Friday morning but I’d asked my grandmother with whom I was staying to cook a big pot of rice…Tim and I finished that off before snatching a couple of hours agitated sleep. On the Saturday morning we ate probably enough Bircher museli for four people, it is an amazing Swiss snack and contains many good things as well as being mega tasty. From my point of view it is the perfect breakfast to have before a sporting event as it is nutritious and filling whilst remaining easily digestible.

It was clear that for at least the Saturday, thankfully the weather would be with us. My main aim for the event was to ensure that it was a success from an organisational point of view, meaning that we would be able to hold an ultraskate as planned. I also wanted to beat my previous performance of 100mile (160km) at Skaiti.

Upon arriving at the Hippodrome de Longchamp, we were already greated by Matthieu Josse and Romain Bessière who had made their journeys from the North of France with family as support crew. Another worry was how we would fare with the cyclists who we would share the track with.

As you can see from the picture above there were quite a few around. Luckily for us though they weren’t the type to stay there all day and as time went by the track cleared (they most probably went off for lunch). We had to put back the start time to 1pm (instead of mid-day) in order to give the Dutch guys who had travelled further some time to get ready. It was all good though as was great to spend a while chatting to different people at what was to become the event HQ.

The turn out really went beyond my initial expectations. I was sure that Romain Bessière and Mattheiu Josse were going to make it, along with one or two local guys such as Alex Bangnoi, but in reality things were even better. Obviously, I’ve mentioned that the Dutch were well represented and the UK too with Tim Pritchard, but what really was good to see was that many skaters from around Paris also came along and really gave it a good go. That really was good to see.

Everyone was soon ready and after waiting for a gap in the pack of cyclists, we were off.

At first I found it hard to keep a rhythm and was a little daunted by the prospect of lots of skating around bikes. I remember spending a good few laps with Tim, generally chatting and enjoying the atmosphere. Every now and again you would hear a whistle or a ‘à doite’  being shouted by one of the more aggressive cyclists as they came up from behind.

I felt good about how I was progressing. It was a really hot day so a priority was to ensure that I was drinking enough. I was using the same Isostar endurance drink I had used before and always had a pouch of energy gel or something similar to keep me going. Every 12km (approximately 3 laps) or if I ran out of water, I would come in and have a 5 or 10 minute break and something more substantial to eat, such as a cereal bar or slice of Ultracake (reciepes in French here). I’m glad that I had brought lots of food though because I found out that the carefully prepared Ultracake had suffered al malfunction, it was undercooked and pretty raw in the middle, the sides were ok though and the general consensus was that it was tasty.

Some people, such as Jesse Beau and Paul Brunninkhuis just kept going. I was trying to be sensible and learn from my mistakes at Skaiti and manage myself, ensuring that I was eating and drinking enough. Still, the fact that in the past Jesse has done well over 100km before his first stop shows that this guy means business but also that everyone has their own preferences. Perhaps eating for me is a good way of reassuring myself that I can carry on skating, it sure feels that way.

In the eveing, most of the French guys had finished their 100km skates and headed back home. With fewer and fewer cyclists the track became our own and the rhythm just got stronger. This is the point where I put in a lot of miles – everything just felt right.

The track we were on went right around the Hippodrome the Longchamp which is a famous course used for horseracing. Around 8pm one of my stops coincided with Jesse and Paul. They asked me what the deal was regarding the use of the track on race days as like me they had seen banners all around the track saying that on race days the bike track was closed from 10am…if that were true then our ultraskate would be cut short by around 3 hours. I had seen banners around the track for an horsey-type family event, but no racing so I was pretty certain but not sure that we would be able to complete the 24 hours.

In light of this, I aimed to equal my previous distance of 160km before sleeping. In the early hours of the evening, I had a great time skating with Alex Bangnoi in the early part of the night. I’ve enjoyed many long rides with Alex and he has also been a worthy opponent in the Goodwood Roller Marathon. Later on, I asked Jochem Boer to come along with me (he’d decided to play a more supportive role in the event) and we ended up skating a good few hours together which hadn’t happend since CaRott. I also had a good time skating with Giovanni Barbazza who previously to the ultra hadn’t skated much at all. His enthusiasm was infectious and help get through some of the night time hours.

I really need to skate with people during an ultraskate, it makes things so much easier. There comes a time when I can’t be on my own, I’m too tired and need the banter and conversation of a fellow skater to help me through a tough time. Or to even just  share the pain with someone else. It is funny because I have only met and skated with Jesse and Jochem on three separate occasions, but despite of the fact that we haven’t shared much time together, the little we have has really brought us close. I would definitely think of inviting them when organising future distance trips and really enjoyed seeing them at the Ultra.

As I have hinted at before, ultraskating is full of contradictions and the track we were on certainly was very varied too. Cyclists aside, one part was a haven of tranquility and the other was a mega hectic. From around 10pm one of the buildings set back into the horse-racing circuit turned into a nightclub. At first we went by queues of immaculately dressed people and as it got later we had to slalom around broken glass, drunken people and mini traffic jams. There were a few close calls but people generally didn’t take much notive of the crazy guys on skateboards.

In the middle of the night, when I was about 10km off the 160km target Jochem and I stopped at the HQ and I wondered off to ‘give life to a tree’. A guy approached me declaring himself to be ‘completely hammered’ asked me in French where I could find some weed. I said I didn’t know and explained what we were doing and that most people here only spoke English. In the next half hour we entertained this guy who was clearly a drug dealer. I got increasingly annoyed because I was loosing valuable time, but fortunately he didn’t stay long. Jochem and I laughed about this later on as apparently he could tell that I was fuming! Apart from him and a courtesy call from the police at around 5.30am we weren’t bothered at all.

From around 5am until 7 I had a rest in Alex Bangnoi’s car. Perhaps it was the vast quantities of sugar or maybe just Alex’s snoring ;-), but I really found it hard to sleep. In hindsight, perhaps I should have just carried on skating! I woke at around 6.30am feeling horrid and ate what I could to keep myself awake. This picture sums up how I felt well.

Jesse was also pretty knackered as he hadn’t slept a wink, Paul on the other hand was really going strong. We formed a nice little line and it was great to skate together and really helped with motivation.

As the morning progressed, the cyclists came back with a vengeance.  I decided that I would aim for the next round number, which just happened to be 200km. With about 10km to go, I got fed up with cyclists having a go and ended up arguing with one of them for about half a lap…we were within out rights, on a public right of way (I can already feel my blood pressure rising as I write this!). The positive thing that came out of this was that my average speed jumped by about 4 km! Awesome!

I quite clearly remember skating the last lap with Tim, who had woken up by that point and I reached 200km with half a lap to go until the HQ. I slowed right down for the last bit and after shouting a bit of encouragement to the others that were still going, I just completely conked out. I feel now though that it would have been possible to continue, so I am really confident that I can push further next time. We’ll see.

Overall, I really had a great time. I was proud to have beaten my previous personal best by 40km, but most honoured that the event was attended by so many awesome people. The track in the end worked pretty well, but we were lucky with both the cyclists and the weather. I really want to thank all who attended – like most events, it was the people that really made it and I can’t thank them enough for coming. A big shout out also goes out to Marvin Thine of UrbanDrift and James Peters of Pavedwave for their support.

On a personal note, I felt the success of the event was a win also for French distance skating. Ever since I had started to get interested in trips, ultras and the like, I had got a little bit of a strange reputation. It has taken some hard work to legitimise distance skating in Paris and thanks to lots of people’s tenacity things are moving forward. I’m really pleased to see that there was anther Push Race in the centre of Paris at this year’s Greenskate, there is also another a 20km push in the South of France coming up.

The Paris Ultraskate results:

Romain Bessière (FR): 366.8 km (227.9 miles) – Push
Paul Brunninkhuis (NL): 338 km (210 miles) – LDP
Jesse Beau (NL): 324 km (201.4 miles) – Push
Matthieu Josse (FR): 305 km (189.5 miles) – Push
Iemke Postma (NL): 261 km (162 miles) – Push
Chris Vallender (UK/FR): 201 km (124.8 miles) – Push
Alex Bangnoi (FR): 179 km (111 miles) – Push
Giovanni Barbazza: 150 km (93 miles) – Push
Jason Yoyotte Lapierre (FR): 100km (62 miles) – Push
Alex Pereira (FR): 100km (62 miles) – Push
José Laurier (FR): 100km (62 miles) – Push
Eric de Ridder (NL): 68 km (42 miles) – Push
Tim Pritchard (UK): 85.7 km (53.3 miles) – LDP

Here is also a video recapping the event – it captures the vibe of the event well:


Stroopwafels and Cadbury’s for 24 hours

Well, the Paris Ultraskate is pretty much upon us and this week has been full of last minute confirmations from people saying that they will attend the event. There was even talk at one point that Barefoot Ted was going to make an appearance as he is currently in Europe – sadly this will not be the case.

However, Holland and the UK will be strongly represented as I have described on Skatefurther here. I am delighted as this is the first time since CaRott that the original crew we will be together. I’m sure that this will raise the levels of stoke somewhat giving us all the strength to go harder and further than we thought possible.

Knowing my addiction to Stroopwafels, Jochem and Jesse will be bringing some with them, in exchange I will bring some Branches so keep us going.

Contrary to the post title, I will taking nutrition during the event pretty seriously. I will be making my own ‘ultra food’ using recipies from this awesome site. I hope that at least eating the right food will help me as I have not had much chance to train!

I really cannot wait for this weekend, it will be amazing to get everyone together and do some serious skating in a relaxed atmosphere. Who knows, if everything goes right some records may be broken! I really hope that the weather will hold out and that there will be no rain, the forecast for the moment is ok, but with some showers. One thing is for sure is that I should come back with some good stories – I will obviously share them with you here.

Bring. It. On!


Step up and skate!

It has been my aim for a while (since Skaiti, in fact) to hold an Ultraskate in or around Paris. It is not an easy task since, especially in a urban environment since you either have to have a lot of room or more ideally, a circuit which is accessible for 24h. The Hippodrôme de Longchamp, even if it not perfect soon appeared to be the best place. The Paris Push Race last Autumn was held not too far away and since then Romain Bessière and I have planned to try and attempt to organise an Ultraskate.


After lots of ummming and ahhhing The Paris Ultra was born and since launching a few people have shown an interest. I expect that at the end of it all there will be around 15 of us there with possibly a small handful aiming to go for the full 24h.

Romain Bessière who is already a distance ninja, will be trying very hard to beat the current world record of 403km held by Paul Kent. He has already come pretty close, having completed just over 330km at the Le mans 24h roller marathon in 2007. Other than that it will be great to get back to Paris and meet up with old friends.

Hopefully before then I’ll be able to get some training in, and try out some recipes to make home-made endurance food…more to come on that at a later date.


Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin…

Hopefully there aren’t many who won’t recognise the lyrical genius of Everlast in the opening lines of Jump Around by House of Pain. As well as continuing the Old School theme that this blog has taken on recently, the title is pretty in keeping with what has been going on, mainly packing!

Before I get to that, there is some good news! I’m cured of the horrible Syndrome Rotulière, more commonly known as Runner’s knee that has stopped me longboarding since November. “How are you cured?” I hear you say. Easy, with the help of orthopaedic insoles. They are the don dadda…in celebration, Alex and I went for a skate:

You can read/watch more about our outing and listen to the many amazing jokes and more at Alex’s very informative blog. In the end we crossed Paris from La Motte-Picquet – Grenelle to Porte de Vincennes, around 10km. It felt so good to get back on a board even though it was clear that my stamina really needs to be improved now.

Back to the packing, last Saturday I packed up my boards and other longboarding equipment to get everything ready for the move. After about an hour of careful packing I managed to get everything in to my Decent Hardware Park Bag:

Three boards, a helmet, toolbox, four sets of trucks, umpteen sets of wheels, two banners – you can fit in some serious gear into these bad boys!

Then came many firsts, first time driving a van, first time driving in Paris and first time negotiating the Parisian traffic. In the end it was all good…

So from this Tuesday I’ll be officially in Lausanne…all of our stuff is now there and this is certainly my last post from Paris for a little while.

Having said that though, here is a date for your diaries…the weekend of the 21st and 22nd May. If all goes well this will be the date of the 1st French Ultraskate. It will take place on the circuit which goes around the Hippodrôme de Longchamps in South-West Paris. Tim and I visited the site and did a few laps during our 62km LDP skate.

The circuit is exactly 3.529 km long and is looking like a pretty good location for an Ultraskate. Confirmed participants at the moment are myself, Romain Bessière (who will be looking to beat Paul Kent’s record), Alex Bangnoi and there are rumours and some others might be joining from further afield.

The distance will be measured either by GPS for those who have them or by counting the number of laps.

As well as achieve personal distance aims, another aim of the event is to collect money for charity. More information will be given as things get sorted out. You can also follow progress on the Ultraskate thread on Pavedwave.

It is possible that this blog will remain rather silent whilst I get the internet sorted in Switzerland – apologies in advance. However, with my knee fixed and once I’m settled in Switzerland I’ll be raring to go and make the most of the hills and wonderful cyclepaths. I wanted to thank all those who have supported and read Here&La during the past year or so – I’ll look forward to sharing my Swiss adventures with you soon.


Skaiti – Skate for Haiti

This is already one of the most exciting events to hit the UK distance longboarding scene as of late…

SKAITI is a 24 hour event taking place at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome in Surrey… on the famous test track featured on the BBC’s TOP GEAR!

For 24 hours, starting at midday on 10th April 2010 up to 250 skaters will have the permission to skate for as long as possible or non-stop for the entire event. The most exciting thing is that the track used will be none other than the TopGear racetrack.

Here is a video of what usually goes on there:

 

All skaters are welcome: young, old, families, longboarders, street skaters, slalomers, inliners, rollerbladers, rollerskaters…  everyone!

 

Jo, the organiser has already skated the track and what follows is his description of it:

I skated the track last week and it is perfect! Flat, wide and unbelievably smooth. The main runway is the width of six motorway lanes! The day we were there the track was very wet but no matter how hard I tried I could not get my wheels to slide. Big hard pumps in the wet and the tarmac was griptastic…it’s simply the best tarmac that we have ever skated.

The chance to skate for 24 hours on a private track is pretty unsual to say that least.  Participants are invited to to pitch tents beside the track during the skate so they can chill out when they need to. During the hours of darkness the runway lights will also be put on – it is going to be awesome.

The event will be in aid of Shelterbox an international disaster relief charity that provides emergency shelter to those affected by disaster worldwide.

Check out the website for more details. What do you reckon?