I almost missed this challenge because I didn't bother to read the challenge very well. I read, "For the first time in our Social Distancing Race you will have partners to help you race." Skating alone almost exclusively, and not having a big crew of distance skaters to pull from I didn't think I'd have a team. If I would have read a little further I would have learned that it was a relay with "unknown teammates."
Luckily, while having a DM conversation with someone from The IDSA, it was pointed out to me that I didn't need to pick my partners, my partners would be randomly picked for me. I learned that late in the month so I didn't have much time to get mentally prepared for a distance skate. If I'm honest, I have been a little nervous about distance skating since June's 100 mile challenge. I let myself get far too dehydrated during that challenge, and I have been freestyle skating in 90+ degree weather every afternoon making it difficult to stay hydrated. An hour of skating in this heat and the sweat will literally fly off my body doing a 360. When I end my session and bend over to pick up my bottle of water, the sweat flows off the bill of my hat as if water were being poured from a jug. I had to remind myself that this is ONLY 25 kilometres each and that is only about 15 miles. 15 miles isn't much after you've skated over 50 miles. Still, I was nervous as I turned on the Endomondo app and started pushing.
Switching from miles to kilometres was interesting. The automated voice comes much sooner which, honestly, gave me a little false security. I had to keep reminding myself this was a 15 mile skate which is, despite having skating over 60 in one go last month, longer than my usual distance ride.
Mile one is almost always my slowest mile. On a really long ride I use my first mile (er, kilometre) as a warm up. I go slow and get my body warmed up, easing into the skate. In all honesty, my fastest and my slowest aren't too much different. For the first 12k I listened to an audiobook, but switched over to music after and skating to music, carving, and pumping in between pushing was a lot of fun. My freestyle trucks are very tight. I have taken to purple khiro bushings and they are very stable, very hard to turn bushings...great for freestyle, but turning, flowing is still important in freestyler otherwise you end up being robotic from trick to trick. Anyway, enough freestyle. This is, after all, a distance skate post.
It was a comfortable skate. I had to slow down a bit toward the end because of an older woman with a walker getting a few laps in (I lapped her many times each time foot breaking and smiling as I passed), and I am relatively happy with my time. It was a little slower than I had hoped. I wanted to get 20k done in the first hour but was about 3k short.
I'm eagerly awaiting the results for this month's challenge and looking forward to what challenge August will bring. Since it will only be hotter in August I'm hoping for a fairly short ride (sub 20 miles) with a longer challenge when temps start cooling down.
I walked out of my house at 5:45 a.m. on Friday June 5th and noticed that it was already warmer outside than inside my house. It made me nervous because I had watched the weather forecast for the day grow hotter and hotter over the last two weeks. When the date was chosen the forecast said it would be mild outside, in the lower 80s with some nice cloud cover. Now the forecast was for 90 degree temps and sunny.
By 6:00 a.m. I was taking my first laps as I sipped on my morning coffee. It felt great. In fact, the first 20 miles felt great. It felt so great that I kept going, and skipped my planned 20 mile break. I was wearing my new IDSA hydration vest so I was able to drink water as I skated into mile 33 when I finally pulled off to my aid station and took my first time out.
Seated in the aid station (really just the only shady tree at the park that I could put a chair and cooler under, I changed my socks for the first time and applied some petroleum jelly to my feet. I knew that trick from running and hoped it would translate to distance skating to help keep blisters from popping up on my feet. I changed shirts, and a fresh, dry t-shirt felt wonderful. I reapplied sunscreen, drank some sports drink, and ate some salty chips before taking off toward my goal.
By now the sun was fully up and it was hot. Very hot. I spotted a snake sunning itself on my path. I stopped, took a picture of him and started riding again. A couple laps later and he was gone, but I saw another, very tiny, snake sunning itself. On my next lap around, I saved the guy's life. I noticed he was coiled up as if he were ready to strike. I also noticed a bird, fluttering above him (about my head height). The bird was getting ready to time a pounce on the snake, but when it saw me, the bird flew away. After watching a deer die on my last over 10 mile ride (read here), it was a nice that the animal lived this time.
It wasn't much longer and I decided another break was in order. The heat was getting to me, and I was disappointed that I had to pull back off of the course again already. I had hoped to be at 50 miles by the time I pulled off again. I drank some more liquids and ate a banana before heading back onto the course. At this point, I also switched from the audiobook I had been playing through my headphones to some music.
The music was a good choice. The combination of tunes and the food I had consumed helped give me a boost for a little bit. I skated a few more miles before putting on the breaks again. More food. More liquids. I changed hydration bladders in my vest. I pondered changing shirts again, but wanted to save my last shirt until mile 66.
At 5 hours and 42 minutes I finished my 50th mile and sat down again for another break. The heat was stifling. I wasn't sure exactly the temperature, but it was hot. I sent my wife a screenshot of my current Endomondo and she replied that she was worried about the heat.
Truthfully, I was too. At mile 50 I realized that I may not make it in one go. I might have to go home, rest through the heat of the day and come back when it begins cooling down. the problem with that was that there are no lights on my course. If I come back I'm skating in the dark. If I can't skate in the dark then I'm never going to make it. I decided to push forward, but take break even more often.
I'd ride a few miles then take a break. I'd ride a mile or two more then take a break.
At mile 58 I got a cramp in my right quad. I hopped off my board at the aid station and drank a bottle of pickle juice and ate my third (and last) banana. I finished my 48 ounce of sports drink and drank down some more stock I had brought (for the liquid/sodium). Luckily, the beverages seemed to work and the cramp faded away as I skated into my 60th mile.
Another short break. I put my third, and final, bladder into my hydration vest before pushing on to mile 61. It was just after mile 61 that I knew I was done. I realized that I had not urinated since I left the house at 5:45 this morning. That really scared me. Despite all of these liquids I've drank I hadn't had the need or urge to use the restroom. Just how hot was it today?!
At the end of mile 62 I loaded my gear up and hopped into my car. According to Endomondo, I had burnt over 3,500 calories (I have no idea the truth on that), and I thought it was time to get some mass calories and fluids into me so I could at least need to urinate. I went through a drive through, skarfed a couple burgers and drank a large coca cola on my way home. Once at home I filled my 48 ounce bottle with water drank water as I took a cool shower (it felt amazing).
I finally had the need to urinate after drinking a ton of liquids. It was dark, nearly brown and I knew I wasn't headed back out tonight. It turns out the temperature had climbed to 93 degrees outside today, just two degrees away from tying the record high of 95 degrees.
Instead of heading back out I drank water and snacked into the evening, and opted to watch a movie with my wife instead of looping the track. Since I have to go back to getting ready for the Online Showdown, I won't be attempting the 100 in 24 hours again this month (and since it will only get hotter as June pushes on), but I will do a few more rides to get me over 100 for the month so I'll still fulfill one of the IDSA challenges. And I'm happy that I made 62 miles. The longest ride I've ever done was a 26.2 ride so I've more than doubled my distance, and that is something I can be proud of.
A couple weeks ago I posted about joining the IDSA, and completing the 1 km sprint challenge. I finished the 1 km ride in just under 3 minutes, and that time made me pretty excited to try the 1 mile sprint challenge which was next on the list. It would be my third challenge completed, but my first to submit to the organization as it would be my first challenge completed as a member.
As I've mentioned before, the online challenges are the reason I finally joined the IDSA, and I've been really excited about distance skating since joining. On the other hand, I am much more dedicated time-wise to freestyle and dancing. So, a monthly (or shorter bi-weekly) challenge is perfect. In fact, it has inspired me to both put my running shoes back on and get back on my bicycles. I enjoy both cycling and running, but I've been so focused on trick skating that I hated to take time away from it. Now I'm getting my longboard dance sessions in and often finishing them off with a short distance skate, run or bike ride (more on my end of day short distance sessions in another post).
I had intended to find a new, straighter path to complete the 1 mile challenge, but I didn't. I stuck with my looping section which, of course, doesn't lend itself to sprinting. In fact, in my clockwise mile, I had to foot break twice per loop. You can't footbreak and sprint at the same time, of course, but I am very happy with my times. I ran the course both clockwise and counterclockwise and the good folks and the IDSA average the two rides out.
My average time was 4:37.5 per mile which is the fastest mile I have ever skated. I know there are some sub 4 minute miles out there, but looking back at all the distance rides I've done on Endomondo, the fastest miles I can find are about 4:40 miles so I'm very happy with my time.
The challenge for June is a big one. You can either choose to do 100 miles in the month or 100 miles in 24 hours. I'm going for the 100 miles in 24 hours. It is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but have never taken the time to do.
I'm loving online challenges. As a family man unable to make a bunch of contest/race trips, I am thrilled to be able do them on my own time in my home space. I know they aren't the same thing as being in a set location competing with others on the same course, but I am enjoying it very much.
The first online challenge I did was the Cyber Slalom Challenge through the NCDSA. I later ran my own Cyber Slalom Challenge through Facebook. A move from central Arkansas to the hills of northwest Arkansas coincided with taking up freestyle so I haven't competed in an online challenge since 2018. Of course, the World Round-Up Online Showdown kicked off the contests for me (I just practiced my run), but the IDSA (International Distance Skateboard Association) has started challenges as well.
I recently posted about the 10K challenge from them. It was a lot of fun, and I wanted to become more of a part of it. So, I paid the 20 bucks to join and became a member of the IDSA. I know I will probably never go to an IDSA event (unless they have one in Arkansas or Memphis, TN), but at least I can support the organization promoting something that I support. Skating for fitness is a great thing. Plus, they sent some cool swag for joining. I've been thinking about a hydration vest for a long time. So, to get one for the cost of joining the IDSA and shipping is great. I'm going to get a lot of use out of that over the next year.
SoNow, for the story of my 1KM Sprint:
I completed the challenge on Mother's Day morning. I warmed up by doing a freedance session (what I'm calling my freestyle/dance hybrid skating), and followed it with my attempt at the challenge. It should be of note that I knew my track wasn't the right place to do this. A straight stretch would be ideal, and there isn't much straight stretch on this course at all. However, as I mentioned, it was Mother's Day morning and I felt a little guilt leaving my wife behind to go skating on her day. While I should have been making her a breakfast in bed, I was out skating instead. So, I was at my usual spot. It is, after all, five minutes from home which is much better than driving 20 minutes into town. This way I skate for an hour and a half and I'm only gone for about an hour and a half.
I put my everyday board into the back of my truck and used my push board, a Bustin Sportster with 180mm Caliber trucks, 80mm Kegel wheels and Bones Swiss bearings. I pushed off, got to a decent speed and hit the start button. It felt great moving into the first, at speed, corner.
Unfortunately, I was going way too fast for this course. Turning and sprints just don't marry well. I came off the board just as I went into that first corner as my trucks couldn't turn fast enough. Luckily, I was able to run it out, and didn't land on my face. In fact, I was able to get myself back on the trail and hopped back on, but I knew I couldn't sprint at my the best possible speed. After all, I had several more turns each time around the track, and several times around the track. So, since I had already come off the board and because I had to slow down for each corner, I knew my time would be slow, but I did push like mad on the one long side of the track, and got myself nice and winded. They've started a 1 mile challenge and, now that I'm an actual member of the IDSA, I am going to find a straight path and I may just send my times into the IDSA. Judging from the times I've seen on Facebook, I think if I stay on the board and have a straight path, I may do okay.
I do hope, after the world goes back to a normal a little bit, they'll keep these challenges going. It is a great way to feel connected, at a distance, to other distance skaters.
Since I've been concentrating on the dance/freestyle aspects of my skating, I've not been doing much (meaning: any) distance skating. I've been tempted to hit the Razorback Greenway a few times, but the sheer amount of people on the trail lately has kept me away. In fact, I've been completly unable to run my favorite off-road trails since the pandemic closures shut down businesses and people decided to hit the trails for something to do.
So, because I've not been distance skating, I have also quit checking on the Distance skate groups on Facebook. Honestly, I find Facebook to be a necessary evil. I long for the days when forums were active. I see half thought out political posts by people that I tend to respect and it puts me off Facebook more and more. ANYWAY, I found out a day or two late that there was a 10k challenge last month, but after checking out the times this morning, I decided to skate a 10k at my local paved "trail."
I put trail in quotation marks because this trail is just over .25 of a mile. It is almost a track, but it has a couple extra turns and isn't completely flat. In fact, it has one flat section, two slightly uphill sections and one slight downhill with a couple turn in it. Well, I say that but the course would, of course, be just the opposite were I skating clockwise. For some reason I always skate this thing counterclockwise. I have no idea why.
So, I skated just ever so slightly over 10k this morning:
Judging from the times of the racers that actually competed in the challenge, I need to work on my distance skating. In my age group I would have placed 20th out of 30 and overall I would have been 85th out of 138. Not great, but I'm not upset about it. I've not skated distance in a couple months and the courses turns really slow me down. I think I could do a little better on the Memphis Greenline.
I hope they keep these challenges up. I probably won't enter the actual virtual race, but competing against their times is a fun challenge and a nice change of pace from freestyle/dance skating.
I enjoy cross country travel books. I've read (and listened to) books about ultra-marathoners and cyclists crossing the U.S. on two feet and two wheels, so a book about someone skating a longboard down the west coast into Mexico and through all of Central America was a must read.
In World on Board, Adrian Oh, a Singaporean who has become a central figure in the world of distance skating, chronicles a portion of his world travels. He rides a bracket longboard with Orangatang wheels while pushing a running stroller that, instead of carrying a child, carries his camping gear and water down the west side of the US and into Latin America. As both a longboard distance skater (although I've not done anything like Adrian) and as a camping enthusiast, it is a very interesting book. I've often wondered what it would be like to take off on my longboard with a pack on my back not to return for days and weeks. I imagine sleeping in my backpacking tent or in my hammock only to get up, pack up, and resume skating. Adrian has taken my imaginings and made them his reality. He has skated through Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica. He has detailed his journey through each country and how each country differs. I must admit, however, pushing a stroller and so many heavy items seems like it would take a lot of the joy and freedom of skating away. There's not much fun carving or surf style antics when you're simply trying to make it to the next host's house or campsite on item.
It must be said that Adrian's first language is not English and this is, basically, a journal printed in book form. The editing, done by Asnah Ahmed, could use a lot more work to turn this book into a finished piece. Sentence structure is often off, and I'd love to see certain parts fleshed out with more show and less tell. All of that said, however, I recommend anyone who is interested in long distance skating or any touring sport activity. His rides make my 15 to 20 mile pushes seem silly.
I believe a kindle version has just been released for anyone wanting a good deal and not being picky about having a paper copy.
Some time ago, I promised myself that I'd start doing one long skate each month. By long skate I mean over ten mile ride. I know, the true long distance purists think 10 miles is a warm up, but ten miles is about an hour of skating and sometimes getting an hour to distance skate can be a stretch when you also want to progress as a freestyler, maybe run a few slalom cones, skate the occasional curb, ditch, or bank while managing your family life and career.
What I've been doing lately is skate a few miles here and there during the week, but honestly I don't feel like I get anything out of it distance-wise unless I put in at least ten miles at a time. So, I'm making good on the promise to myself of 12 good 10 plus mile rides this year. I'll have to catch up on January and February when I have the chance.
I'm pretty stoked on this Relive app. It links up to Endomondo and creates a video based on my tracked gps ride and the photos I take along the way. So, you'll see in this video two things of note:
1. I was about 1 mile into the skate when a deer ran into a tall chain link fence, broke it's neck, and died right in front of me. I, of course, stopped skating and tried to call the park ranger to help the deer (at the time it was still alive but writhing and convulsing in pain). The last thing on my mind when it first happened was, of course, that I was tracking my mileage and time. I just kept calling numbers I found online to try and get an actual person to speak with me. I never got through to anyone. I just kept going around the same loop of voice mails and number options to speak with sales and reservation departments. The deer died while I was trying to get a live human to speak to me. Some runners said they would go find a ranger toward the visitor's center. By that point, the deer being dead, I started skating again.
2. Gumballs! I don't know what other people call them, but you'll see a picture of a "gumball" or one of those round, prickly seed balls from the sweet gum tree on the video. They were everywhere on today's skate. They kept causing me to slow my roll to nearly stopping, and they took me out at one point. I hit the gumball and went flying off my board. I ran it out the best I could, but I did end up ninja rolling and getting a nicely scraped knee out of it.
Anyway, look for more monthly longskates and some posts about how my weight training and running have helped my long distance skating trips because twelve miles today felt like nothing. I think I could have skated thirty with no problem. Also, look for the blog to be very longboard-centric for awhile. I'm trying to adjust my freestyle skating to a longboard and work in some common longboard moves (more on that in another post).
I have been wondering, however, about my wheel choice for distance skating. I'm riding 80mm wheels, and I like them, but when you skate these urban paths that force you to stop and start quite a bit, I wonder if the huge wheel size isn't a detriment. The greenline has a lot of crosswalks that force you to stop and restart. A smaller wheel (68-75mm) might accelerate faster if you're having to stop every mile or two. Just a thought.
The last blog post on this website was about doing anything other than skateboarding. In fact, it was about expanding my life in other directions outside of skateboarding.
This, as I knew it would, has brought me full circle back to skateboarding. Mountain biking has proved fun, but is no replacement for skating. Camping is also fun, but it can easily be worked into my life...er, skatelife. And running has proven to be a great addition to skateboarding. In fact, it has brought me back to distance skating, something I've taken some time away from while I was exploring freestyle skating. I'm now riding a Bustin Sportster with Caliber trucks, Orangatang Kegel wheels, Zealous bearings, and Skull Skates Flat Head hardware. This is a great push board so far.
And the distance skating has brought me back to longboarding in a big way. I've set my landyachtz kicktail longboard and I've been doing some freestyle and street on it.
So, I didn't make it 20 miles. I rode just over 15 miles at a very slow pace, and quite honestly, I'm cool with that. If I stilled lived in Memphis, and could ride the Memphis Greenline, I would be pretty upset with my time and distance. However, having to traverse up and down the quick hills of Northwest Arkansas (technically in the Ozark Mountains) meant a lot of walking my skateboard. I'm not a downhill skater, and some of the hills are simply too much to try and navigate. Add in some wet and muddy patches and there was a lot of walking going on.
I should point out that I didn't end my journey because of fatigue. I actually decided to turn around because I didn't like where I was. I love distance skating on trails for two reasons. The first is that it is riding a skateboard which, of course, I love. The second reason is that riding a trial is an extra excuse to get out in nature. Skateboarding is an "urban" sport. Skateboarding loves urban sprawl because it gives us new terrain from handrails to concrete ditches. Paved paths help take the concrete out of the concrete jungle. Even along the Greenline in Memphis you can forget you're skating through the middle of a city.
I took off at my usual starting point at Lake Bella Vista at the Bella Vista/Bentonville border. I skated (and walked an extreme hill) past Crystal Bridges (an amazing art museum in Bentonville) and rode through the city of Bentonville.
Most of the trek through Bentonville is great. It has greenery that keeps it shaded and blocks out most of the town. However, when you get to 14th street (where 14th ducks under I-49 and Bentonville becomes Rogers), the trail basically becomes a pebble covered sidewalk.
I was disappointed about the trail at the point. Here I was, over 7 miles into my ride, and I all I could see ahead of me was traffic, an interstate on ramp, and an overpass. My plan of riding all morning on the trail and in the trees of NWA (Northwest Arkansas) was becoming unsure. I didn't want to spend miles 7 - 10 in traffic. So, I opted to grab a couple donuts, rest for a few minutes, and start riding back.
For my next long ride I am going to find out where the trail becomes a trail again and do some skating through Rogers
My skatelife has been nearly 100 percent dedicated to freestyle for about nine months now. I've gone from being a terrible freestyle skater to being not quite as terrible of a freestyler, and it has taken a lot of time and dedication to get to that point. And I do mean a lot of time and dedication.
In fact, I've cut out almost all other types of skating out of my life. After all, if I'm skating a curb or a ditch or going for a long distance ride, I'm not improving specifically as a freestyle skater and there are so many things that I want to learn or improve in my freestyle game. By missing a day of casper disasters I'm assured that my casper disasters aren't improving.
If I weren't so driven to improve, I wouldn't care if I lost a day of freestyle practice, but I'm enjoying the improvements so much that I don't want to miss a day. And that is the key, I really am enjoying myself so much that I don't want to miss a day. I absolutely love the challenge of freestyle skating.
Well, I have decided to take a one day break from freestyle next week. I have my long distance pusher ready to go. I have my backpack retrofitted for a hydration bladder. I have my hammock ready to go. I've decided to head out along the 36 mile Razorback Greenway, skate until I need a break, set up my hammock, get a little respite, and head back. It is exciting to have a change of pace skate lined up.
Looking back at last year, it looks like I did one marathon length ride, so I've decided to make sure that each year I do one minimum 20 mile ride. And now I have something new to look forward to doing.