The Le Mans 24hr race is an epic event in the skating calendar. Skaters from all over Europe will converge on the Ducatti race track for 24 hours of relay race madness, where the best speed skaters in the world are on the track with teams made up of skate clubs, groups of friends, speed teams and total amateurs. Skatefresh have a team of instructors and students who will be battling it out with 60 other teams (of 10 people each).
Hyde Park should be pretty empty this weekend as London submits 9 teams (90 skaters), some of which are doing duo teams (go for it Sparky and Quaddie) and we even have a solo 24hr skater Rick who is going for the impossible! Each team member skates a circuit of the 4100m track and then passes the batton (hopefully with smooth powerful change-overs) to the next skater, and so it goes on without stopping for 24hrs. The change overs happen in the ‘pits’ where usuallythere are mechanics working away frantically, but straight out of the pits the skater faces a 600m uphill which is gruelling for any skaters. There follows a very steep right hand down hill which separates the wheat from the chaff and gives London skaters the opportunity to really deal with ‘speed wobble’ (an uncontrollable shaking of the skates when they reach high speeds, this is greatly reduced by wearing speed skates which I do not have). Then with dead legs you have the rest of winding course until you finaly catch a glimpse of the pits again and look desperately for your pink Tshirt wearing team mate. (I’m tired just thinking about it). The race begins 4pm Saturday 25th and ends 4pm Sunday 26th. Please send us your thoughts and motivations, we will need them!
I have been nominated to skate the 300m sprint which will decide the starting order for our team. Then I’ll be handing over to Matt Bowden (of Caitlin and Matt) who will have the honour of skating the first two laps and doing the famous off skates, run up to your skates and do them up fast and start to the race. Only at Le Mans!
It has been many years since Skatefresh had a team at Le Mans (we competed in 2002 and 2003) but with Skatefresh’s number 2 instructor Matt getting seriously into speed skating last year, he managed to convince me to return. Skatefresh members in past teams have included, Duracell Dave, Mark Davies, Skatefresh Maya, Nina, Andy, Jason, Naomi, Slalom Steve, and Vish. I have not done the skating training I had hoped to, but I have been intensely practicing Bikram Yoga for the last year and am in better shape than 2003 for sure! I’ve been strengthening my back muscles particularly in preparation for the killer speed skater position (deep knee bend and lowered upper body).
The weekend includes camping near the track and I shall be looking after my team by cooking them three wholesome meals throughout the 24 hourr period. I want to make sure everyone has fun and doesn’t run out of puff due to eating sports cereal bars alone (and track side junk food). No dairy, no wheat, but high protein quinoa, miso, tofu and slow release sugar sweet potatoes. My outstanding porridge will be Sunday’s offering (with stewed apples, berries, nuts, seeds and some oats).
I shall have a full report by Tuesday and am planning a trip to my mum’s next week to recover. Good luck to all those competing and thanks in advance to everyone’s pit crews who do an amazing job on the stop watches, shifts and general mothering of all concerned.
I look forward to catching up with skating friends from all over Europe. MadridPatina my friends from Madrid will have thre teams so I will try and find some friends out there on the track (so I can hitch a lift). Let the craziness begin.
These two videos show a superb speed skater doing a lap of Le Mans in true style. Look at all the slower skaters he is overtaking and you get a realistic view of how hard it is.