Saturday, February 4, 2012

Feb 4th, 2012, Water Filtration Plant Slide Sesh

       I promised myself that this year I'd figure out how to slide, so I joined the Kamloops Longboarding Club crew once again to partake in some sliding today and to snap a few more shots for the Facebook group page. The results? One destroyed set of pants, a few bruises, and I still can't slide, but I did get some good shots!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Unboxing the Subsonic GT

       A late Christmas present arrived on my doorstep a week and a bit back. It just so happens to be a board I'd been lusting after for quite awhile after both catching my own long distance bug from Push for the Cure, and spending far too much time on Chris Vallender's blog, Here & There. There's been a fair bit of buzz about this board on Paved Wave and Skate Further, so for you distance skaters wondering what to expect when cracking open a GT's cardboard sarcophagus, here ya go:

       So, unlike the LandYachtz boards, this one comes wrapped in a fair bit of heavy duty paper instead of cardboard, foam, and shrink wrap. There' wasn't anything else in the box either, aside from the invoice; no stickers, no longboarding magazines, but I'm not complaining. I have enough longboarding magazines on the back of my toilet tank as it is, and stickers... well... if you read the post below...

       Since taking these pictures, I've popped some Holey Trucks with 90mm wheels on the board, a bunch of risers, and taken it out for it's first spin. Already got a battle scar on it too, it's quite shallow so I might see if I can disguise it with a splash of polyurethane... There's still a fair bit of ice and snow on the ground here in the great white north, so I'll give a performance review of the board if we have another week or so of warm air.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gotta Love Switchback Longboards

       When you go through the online checkout process with Switchback Longboards (Nanaimo company) there is a plethora of prefixes for you to choose from. They have the usual Mr, Mrs, and Ms, but they also have "Human" and "Alien" to name just a few of the options for customers to select. I got a laugh out of this and decided to pick one of the crazier options that was available, just to see if they would do it, and guess what...
They really put it on there

       I also do a fair bit of longboard riding to go to and from campus, sometimes several times a day since I live close by and can go home between some classes. Every once in awhile I'm asked by curious pedestrians where I get some of longboard stuff from so I asked Switchback to send a few extra stickers along with my last order so I could hand them out when asked and they delivered on that front too!

       To top it off they ship for free on orders over 25$ and orders always arrive quickly, and they have a great selection of gear to boot!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Push for the Cure 2011, Day 3 Finale

       Day three was one of those days where it was hard to muster the motivation to roll out of bed. My support leg felt better after giving up on me the day before, but my left leg (push leg) was feeling funny right where it joined with my hip, a little bit like it was grinding a little every time I moved it forward and back. It wasn’t a painful sensation but I wasn’t looking forward to it complaining all day either.
       The plan of action for the day was pretty straight forward: push from the Maple Ridge fairgrounds to the Tim Horton’s at the junction of Dewdney Trunk Road and the Lougheed Highway for breakfast, two breaks in Coquitlam, one at the top of the Barnet Highway (start of East Hastings) and then one last epic push through downtown Vancouver to Stanley Park. Leaving the fairgrounds that morning was very reminiscent of the previous day, where we pushed for a few minutes and were greeted with an ugly hill. Lucky for us, this was the only one for the next 40 kilometres, minus one climb over a bridge to cross the Fraser River as we left Maple Ridge. On the other hand, this was the first day where we didn’t have great weather to push through, and it was raining hard. Hill one was an easier climb than a lot of the hills tackled on day two, as this one was clear of debris, and well sealed, making for a fast, smooth, if not slightly pulse raising push. It was also fairly short, and not overly long, taking us about 5-10 minutes to reach the summit, after which we had almost perfectly flat pushing conditions to the foot of the start of the Barnet Highway.
       Maple Ridge was a buttery smooth push all the way to Tim Hortons, and even for a ways after that. Smooth spots could be found on the shoulder of the road even when the road became a little too rough. The rain was leaving respectable sheet of water on the road which our wheels would pick up and fling on us and our boards; anyone with a dish shaped deck was pushing along with a tub of water at their feet which wouldn’t drain, sloshing back and forth and filling their shoes. One rider had the clever idea of wearing motorcyclist’s boots and had dry feet all day, the rest of us weren’t quite as bright and squelched along for the whole 60km. Beyond Maple Ridge was Pitt Meadows, and then Coquitlam, both of which were very long, very flat stretches of road that seemed to go on forever. Just short of the foot of the Barnet highway the wind picked up, as did the rain. It was blowing into our face, hard and cold, any exposed flesh felt like it was going to fall off. The wind and rain of early October isn’t intolerable, but the droplets were so small and travelling so fast that they made anything they struck sting.
       Pushing up the Barnet highway to East Hastings from Coquitlam was, for me anyway, one of the more epic pushes of day three. The entire troop was warned that if they didn’t feel good pushing up a very long hill then jumping in a support vehicle was probably the best course of action. I was feeling pretty beat up from two full days of pushing, and I was definitely feeling like I should hop in a support vehicle but after giving up just short of day 2’s finish line, I felt I had something to prove, at least to myself anyway. It turned out that the first 80% of the Barnet was pretty tame. There were very gentle uphill sections, with generous and well paved shoulders to push along, followed by flat sections which made for good spots to let some sensation return to our very sore legs. It was the last 2 or 3 kilometres before the Barnet turned into Hastings that were the real killers. The Highway suddenly curved upward into a very steep angle and a few people dropped off and jumped into the support vehicles. I started to worry about being a little too slow, being overtaken, and having to jump in myself, but I figured as long as I could keep ahead of the last guy in the line up I wouldn’t have to resort to that. The gentleman at the very back was pushing a LandYachtz Evo with Centrax wheels and was having a very awkward time pushing up the hill so I could keep well ahead of him. I couldn’t comfortably push switch yet, and had to jump off, grab my board, and jog a few hundred metres at a time to give my leg a rest before resuming pushing. The problem with this is I was drenched to the bone from all the rain we’d been fighting that morning. My pants were so saturated that even though I had a belt keeping them up, the sheer weight of them was stretching the fabric down, putting the crotch of the pants closer to my knees, real gangsta-like. All the effort I put into sprinting ahead was only resulting in taking 6 inches of ground at a time since my legs were restrained by how wet my pants were. Carlos Koppen Rolled by, pushing along with his hands behind his back, not a care in the world like this was the easiest part of the trip, and I suppose with the 6000 kilometre width of Canada already under his belt, it probably was.  I called out to ask how much longer this stretch was and he called back over his shoulder that we were over half done this incline. And so the process repeated, push push push, jog jog jog, all the way to the top of the highway where the last break of the day was to be had. All of us who gave it our all for that section were feeling pretty great and expected the rest of the trip be a gentle downward trip into Vancouver but after the break ended and we rounded one more corner, we were treated with another upward incline. Groans rose from many in the troop. I think I laughed; coming up the Barnet to be greeted to another wall of pavement in the distance seemed hysterical at the time. It was another short ascent though, like the first one of that day, but also steep, and involved lots of people doing the mix of jogging and pushing to keep up with the front of the pack.
       There were two more climbs like this as we made our way deeper into Vancouver, and then one long and very gentle upward incline as we approached the entrance to Stanley Park. These uphill climbs weren’t as rewarding as the climbs from the other two days since we were in the middle of a busy city and couldn’t very well bomb the other side of each hill, disregarding traffic lights. As Lori Dixon, the event organizer, had said earlier that morning “Society has a love-hate relationship with the longboarding community.” Good cause or not, there were those motorists who would love to get us in trouble and get us folks on “those damn things with four wheels” off the road for good. We had to be on our best behaviour. There were several volunteers at the Push 6, affectionately named “The Assholes” whose job it was to control traffic by keeping ahead of the lead support vehicle and hold up their boards at intersections, the decks of which has stop sign stickers on them, and they controlled traffic as we passed through the major cities on our way to Stanley Park. Once the troop had past, they would be at the back of the pack, and only they were permitted to bomb to front so they could continue the leap frog pattern to direct traffic. One particularly experienced volunteer put on the show for the rest of us as he bombed down the hills while doing nose manuals; it was hard to take your eyes off him.
       Vancouver was a lot like Mission, passing along through downtown yelling “Push for the Cure!” all the way. The looks we were given by confused homeless people and drug addled east Vancouverites were worth all the hills and rain we’d pushed through that morning. Hastings street began to narrow the closer we drew to Stanley Park and we passed the Marriott Hotel, the chefs of which had been kind enough to donate a few hundred burger patties to feed us. The buildings were changing around us quickly, we’d passed by run down looking one and two floor shops, followed by older buildings which were several stories taller, even more immense buildings which looked as though they were made of nothing but black glass in the commercial areas, and now we were pushing past residential high rises. Every time we saw a gap between these buildings we could spot the masts of sail boats tied up in the marinas. A quick zig and a zag later and we were on a new road, coasting toward a “Welcome to Stanley Park” sign, and were only 1200 metres away from having completed the 173km trip.
       Stanley park was covered in buttery smooth pavement, as one would expect, and it helped us fly to the parking lot at the north end of the island which was the finish line. Spirits were high on the last sprint through the park, and judging by the speed we all carried there, everyone had forgotten about any aches and pains, spurred on by the proximity of the end of the trip. Some people were in tears upon our arrival, others looked as though they were crying just because of the sheer amount of water dripping down their faces. But everyone was in a euphoric mood for pictures, left over hamburgers, and most were in even better form after putting on a change of dry clothes at a nearby restroom facility. People trickled out of that parking lot in Stanley Park rather abruptly after that, some on their own, others in packs, bound for home, and the Salmon Arm crew I’d been with destined for the Greyhound station. We’d arrived an hour ahead of schedule and I was waiting for my ride, my father, after the rest had disappeared, sitting on my overturned LandYachtz Switch in that Stanley Park parking lot.
       It’s true what they say about the journey being more important than the destination. Getting to where you’re going is a great feeling, but it’s a bit of a buzz kill at the same time especially when it’s all over so quick. The actual push was better than the finish line. All that time on the road with a bunch of new and exciting longboarders was great, partaking in my first long push like that made for one of the more memorable weekends of my life, and I knew as soon as the push was over that I’d want to document it somehow and share it here. I also know that I’ll be attending again next year, and that since I know what weekend this yearly event falls on, I’ll take some extra time to do my fair share of fundraising for the occasion as well. I’ve already collected 20$ for Push 7 from one of my university profs come to think of it…. Maybe I’ll see you there too!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Push for the Cure 2011, Part 2

      Come day two, I was realising that carrying a DSLR camera to take pictures was not a very bright idea, and so ditched the camera the night before day two and for illustrative purposes, have hijacked some photos from Andy Russell’s page on Facebook. One must give credit where the credit is due!
Day two, preparing to roll out of Agassiz
       I knew before going to Push for the Cure, that days two and three were going to be pretty long and brutal pushes; 60 and 73 kilometres respectively.  Day two was the 73 kilometre day and the one I was most fearing since I knew some of the hills we’d be tackling thanks to frequent previous visits to the south coast. The morning started with a wicked breakfast provided by Tim Horton’s and a somewhat later start than planned around 9:30.
       The most notable hill day two was just 5km outside of Agassiz, across the bridge from Harrison Mills. The road we had to climb first thing that morning was so steep that if it was a walking path, I can guarantee it would have a staircase all the way to the top. It was an immense climb, and some attendants were ballsy enough to push their board the whole way, this was one particular hill which no one gave you grief for if you chose to jog it. Spirits were high first thing in the morning and everyone made it to the top of the hill with energy to spare. It was a hell of a lot of vertical to climb, but the actual length of that climb was surprisingly short. The other side of the hill was a very long and gentle bomb, with a steep incline at the very end. Before departing, riders uncomfortable with speed were encouraged to jump in the back of a support vehicle if they didn’t feel they could handle it, and I’ll admit, hearing that spooked me a bit, but I decided to go for the bomb anyway. Near the bottom I footbreaked just a little before a bend in the road, but the rest of the trip down was great. A support vehicle remained behind with a volunteer with a stop sign so we could bomb down the left had side of the road without mingling with traffic and caught up with us a few minutes after the last of the troop reached the bottom. Traffic from the top of the hill passed us, with plenty of honks to go around, and one very aggravated looking old lady giving us the thumbs down. Ah well, there’s always one person who wants to poison the mood.
Bombing the backside of day two's first hill
      Second break of the day (the first was at the foot of hill one) was at a place called the Sasquatch Inn, just north east of Lake Errock. This stop would have been entirely unremarkable if it weren’t for a certain “mo-ped pirate” who visited the liquor store while we were in the parking lot. I’ve never seen someone quite like him, not even in a movie. He came rolling down the hill behind the inn on a beat up looking moped, a real janky looking homemade contraption which literally was an ancient peddle bike with a lawnmower engine attached. He had long, grizzly looking grey hair, as well as a beard, and was sporting aviator sunglasses, a black leather jacket, and a red bandanna as though trying to look the part of a biker but the part that really grabbed your attention, was the parrot he had riding on his shoulder. I’m dead serious, you can’t make this kind of thing up. He purchased his choice of alcohol and came back to his moped and looked at the lot of us, as if only just realizing 50+ longboarders were in the parking lot with him. He glanced about nervously, mounted his mo-ped, and sped off, growling a loud “YARRRRR” as he left; definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
       The next stop was lunch, in Deroche, where we chowed down on hot dogs and leftovers from the previous night. It was another lengthy break where the lot of us began to feel a bit sore and dopey from the time laying around. We then hit the trail, bound for Dewdney, Mission, and then our final destination of day two: Maple Ridge’s fair grounds. The flat stretch of farm land we entered now was one of the more hellish stretches to push. The shoulder was narrow, and we had to push along in single file. Not having a push buddy next to you made it a little challenging to have a conversation with anyone, and it became quite silent along our stretch of road, save for the sounds of the 50 sets of longboard wheels rumbling along. The pavement was also in rough shape and it was a fair bit more work to push along it compared to the surface we’d had for the 70km prior, if felt like the road was trying really hard to drag you toward the ditch, and there was a lip where the road ended and foliage began. Many people came too close to that lip, had a wheel slip over the edge, their trucks biting the asphalt, stopping them abruptly, and causing a pile up of riders. This stretch of pavement wasn’t very long, just over 10km, but it was such a rotten stretch to push along that it felt like it was taking forever.
      Once we arrived in Dewdney, the road changed to a really nice push surface, and the outskirts of Mission were visible. I knew of two short but steep hills in Mission, as well as two just beyond there and figured they were probably the sort of hill we were going to be expected to push up and not jog. I was also beginning to think I might not be able to make the final 30 kilometres without at least a little help from a support vehicle at some point. The nice flat push into Mission was over to quick and we were faced with the day’s second unpleasant climb. It was short, and would have been quite pleasant had it not felt like we were pushing through a gravel truck accident. The road above was clear, the road below as well, but the shoulder of this hill and only this hill was a surface that felt like pushing up something between a gravel pit and a cat litter box. It was a very taxing push.
Feeling destroyed at the top of the gravel hill
       We had an additional break just past this hill before heading into our first real push through a city. We commandeered a lane of the road through Mission for ourselves and gave ‘er all the way along the Lougheed Highway hollering “Push for the Cure!” Then came the hill that still makes my legs sore every time I drive past it. There’s a particularly steep uphill climb which bisects the Abbotsford-Mission Highway on Lougheed which we had to push up. It was a rough stretch because people were giving up on the hill, left, right, and centre, and often would abruptly stop right in front of you and force you to stop and lose all the momentum you had. It was quite aggravating and inconsiderate of them not to at least shoulder check and it was causing me to fall further back in the pack, near to where you begin to have no choice but to jump in a support vehicle or be left behind. I jumped off my board, sprinted as best I could ahead a few metres and began pushing again. I must have been looking quite worn out because the gentleman in the RedBull truck rolled up and asked if I wanted a lift the last hundred metres or so to the top of the hill, but I was still feeling stubborn and determined, and politely declined. The top of the hill was glassy smooth, but my push leg was feeling like a bucket of rubber bands now so catching up with the troop felt like it was taking more effort than it ought to. I caught up just in time to make the bomb down the other side of this hill, past Missions Springs Restaurant, with the whole crew and thanks to my weight and some aggressive pushing prior to hitting the hill, I managed to gain a few spots and not find myself at the back of the pack. There was more glassy smooth pavement outside of Mission, but it turned into a construction zone and we were suddenly rolling on sand, which, of course, was impassable by board. Without a shoulder to push along due to construction, we had to pile onto the support vehicles to make it past the next kilometre and a half. I can’t recall exactly how this happened, but the support vehicles weren’t on the road, but were on the dirt inside the traffic cones, so the lot of us were safe from traffic though we may have been breaking a handful of municipal laws. 50+ riders and their boards piled on top of 3 vehicles trundling along a bouncy dirt road. My only thought was that this is what Call of Duty would be like in real life, and in truth, we were riding these vehicles towards a fight. One kilometre after pushing up the hill that almost made me tap out, we were about to push up another long upward stretch before passing Silvermere Lake between Mission and Maple Ridge.
       There was a short smooth stretch before the hill, and when the lot of us dismounted the vehicles and hopped on our boards, I made doubly sure to start as close to the lead vehicle as I could before we began the assent. I would certainly need the buffer zone. Keeping as close to the right hand edge of the road as I could so as not to disrupt those who would pass me, I started to give it all I had to get up the hill. It was long, but not nearly as steep and gruelling as the last hill, and once we’d all made the climb, there was a really great bomb to have down the other side past Silvermere Lake. At this point, I began to feel something very strange in my (right) supporting leg; some very attention grabbing numbness going all the way up to my knee. It wasn’t my push leg that was starting to fail on me, as I suspected it would, but my support leg. Pushing past Silvermere Lake into Ruskin where the last hill that gave me the willies was located, I began to get the distinct impression that if I pushed the next hill, I was going to fall flat on my face because my right leg had nothing left to give. I chatted up the RedBull guy, “I think I’ll be needing a lift to the top of this last hill here.” That was my hope anyway, that I’d only need some assistance up this hill and would be good the last few kilometres into Maple Ridge, but it was not the case. Hopping out of the pickup truck at the crest of the hill, I met a headwind, nothing strong, but unrelenting and enough to prevent me from coasting downhill. I clocked another 2km before having to jump back in the RedBull-mobile because I just couldn’t keep up with the rest of the pack. I felt dreadful for having to throw in the towel, but felt better due to the fact that the third support vehicle, an RV at the very back of the pack, was full of guys in much better shape than me who’d already given up around Mission.
       There was one final hill bomb 2km from the Maple Ridge Fair Grounds. Everyone who’d already punched out for the day and jumped in a support vehicle piled out for this one. It was long, straight, and on freshly resealed tarmac. We all tucked, and flew down the hill, all of us clocking in somewhere between 50-60km/h and it was looking like an awesome way to end day two as we passed by Bruce’s Market. There was a moment of alarm halfway through the bomb when an errant driver decided to cross two lanes which sent him right through the middle of our procession, all of us still at very high speeds. Fortunately, no one was struck, but an ignorant driver like that was an unnecessary blemish on another otherwise epic day of pushing. One more kilometre of pushing and the troop rolled into the Maple Ridge Fair Ground, where a bottomless pizza dinner was just a few minutes away.

Day 1:
Day 3:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Push for the Cure 2011, Part 1

       I’d only been riding a longboard for about a week when I had to shelf it for a couple weeks to make a trip back to my hometown of Williams Lake to help my mom give her house a much needed coat of paint. During this time, I ended up having a fair many hours of watching paint dry which I filled with watching longboarding videos on youtube. One of these videos turned out to be a full series of them presented by Loaded and Rayne Longboards (can you guess what it was yet?) about three gents who made a 2500km journey through Bolivia and Peru. This was, of course, was Long Treks on Skate Decks South America. It was my first taste of anything to do with long distance longboarding and it had me glued to the computer. Even after all the intense videos I’d watched for advertising different freeride boards, all the carving videos, slide sessions on some incredible downhills, Paul, Adam, and Aaron, slowly pushing their way along the open highways in South America was the coolest thing I’d ever found in regards to longboarding. I started thinking about trips that would be cool to do on a board, about every trip I’d tried to conceive doing on a bike and how great it would be to try it on a longboard instead. It was novel to muse about, but unrealistic for myself, but then sometimes life comes along and kisses you right on the lips.
      Fast forward two months. I’m back in school, midterms are flying at me thick as flies, and I have one weekend, thanksgiving weekend, to get on top of studying for them when a distance skating opportunity walks up and jabs me in the ribs. I’m not sure how I found out about it, but somewhere in those days leading up to Push for the Cure 6, I happened upon it's webpage and started entertaining the idea of going down and participating. A few text messages later, I’d ironed out the logistics of how it could be done and would be bound for Hope BC the coming Friday. How awesome was that going to be? Pretty awesome! But I didn’t want to be a freeloader when I joined the longboarding troop for the 173km trek from Hope to Stanley Park; I wanted to raise some funds for cause (Breast Cancer) and not show up with just my admission fee so I did what anyone would do with a week’s notice and started preying on friends and family for small donations. I scared up a little over 100$ which wasn’t terrible for my one week’s notice of the event.
       When the Friday to leave Kamloops arrived, I got off to a rocky start. For most of the day I was a jittery mess, excited about the push, barely able to pay attention to anything going on in class. I got home and packed my backpack inside my suit case to save room on the bus. Then, realizing I was going to need some more room, I took it out. I left the apartment and realized once I’d boarded the bus that I’d left the backpack at home which had clothes in it, toiletries, a hydration bladder, and a netbook for studying in it. Great start! Getting on the bus was a whole ‘nother frustrating episode as well. I’d intended for my board to be my only piece of carry-on I had with me but the driver was quite insistent that it wouldn’t fit on the bus, citing overcrowding as the reason. He assured me it could not be propped between my legs or placed in an overhead compartment, both options which it certainly could have done, and that I must purchase an additional baggage tag. Upon boarding the bus I could see that it was quite empty. Thanks dude.
       The trip was a quiet one aside from my fuming about the thick bus driver and my own forgetting of all my clothes etc. I arrived in Hope, my dad was there, he had agreed to meet me and lend me an all weather jacket for the trip and camp out the night before, as well as the next night. We ate pizza at a local pub, camped, he snored loudly in the camper, it was a typical visit with dad.
       The next morning was quite a-typical. We disembarked from the camp ground, devoured some breakfast, and headed over to the Hope skate park, which I gotta say, is pretty nice for a small town skate park. I step out of the vehicle to go pay my registration fees and sign up and promptly get stung by a wasp. Thanks dude. I’d showed up alone, without a big troop of people and felt a little awkward trying to converse with the mass of new south coast longboarders in front of me, I did my best, and by the end of the day I’d end up finding myself hanging out with a crew of five people from Salmon Arm, and one Asian gentleman by the name of Mike.
       Registration was followed by photos, which was followed by a rapid dash on our boards to Cooper’s Foods two blocks away for a free barbeque lunch. We bid a quick thankyou to all those helping out at Cooper’s Foods and jumped back on the boards to head through, and then out of Hope toward Agassiz. We’d been told to be cautious on our way out of town as the high energy on day one had a tendency to cause someone to get injured in the first few kilometres. One year the casualty had been Rob Lewis, one of the original four to make the trip across Canada 6 years ago. I was worried it was going to be me this year when my wheels bit those of anorther boarder beside me, I bailed, and my board was sent across a few lanes of traffic. Luckily, neither myself nor the board sustained damage and 1500 metres into the trip, we came to the first of three hills we would be encountering on the first day. The pavement through Hope had been gorgeous, but his first hill, which was a ramp onto a bridge, the bridge itself, and some asphalt on the other side as well, was rough business. It was eye-rattling pushing along that strip, and you couldn’t build up enough momentum to bother putting your push leg on the board after getting yourself up to speed. It just slowed you down that much. I was wondering if I was cut out for the task at this point, doubly so because I’d had the genius idea of wearing a Bell Drop helmet for the trip, which for those who don’t know, is quite a warm full face helmet for downhill mountain biking. Don’t ever wear one of those for something like this, trust me, you'll cook your brain in five minutes easy.
       Sweating, gasping, panting for air after only two klicks, we came to our first break at the end of the bridge out of Hope. I was regretting my full face helmet very much, guzzling water, and hoping the rest of the trip wasn’t going be as rough as hill number one was and the troop was informed that the first downhill of the trip was right ahead after our break. This was both exciting news, as well as disconcerting since I’d actually never done a downhill section like what I figured was coming up, and being surrounded by other people on longboards, many of whom more experienced that myself was giving me some… performance anxiety… Remember, at this point in my life I’d been longboarding for only two months. But the downhill ended up being alright, we went down in two groups of people, and I quickly realized I could avoid wobbles if I didn’t tense up at all, but this was no reason to celebrate yet, there was a lot more ups and downs to conquer on the way to Stanley Park.
       After this, the road became much nicer to push along. There was a generous shoulder running the length of the highway, it was well paved, and it was flat for as far as the eye could see. We pushed for about another 7km and coasted down another very mellow downhill section before coming to rest stop number two. I think the rest stops were my only complaint about the trip, there were just enough of them, but they were all too long, just enough time to feel the cramping setting in, especially on day two and three. We continued down the road after this break and it was quite a gentle push along the lowlands along the river between Hope and Agassiz, the sun started to peak out from behind the clouds, and every car that passed by honked enthusiastically. We were keeping a good pace and spirits were high when we approached uphill number two for the day which we took another break at the bottom of. Uphill number two was much more manageable than the first as the road surface was much better for the most part; there was some kind of gravel excavation at one point which had left some debris on the road. This caused a pile up of people who it had caught off guard and prompted the rest of us to jump off our boards, jog around, and remount quickly to keep pace. There was another mellow downhill at the top of this peak, smoother than the first one, but still nothing to get excited about. It was fun, and the kilometre long downhill was all the payoff a guy could need to keep pushing along the flats on the other side.
       We didn’t take another break along the next stretch, and opted to power through to the next hill, climb it, and bomb the other side. Going up the third and final hill for the day was tricky, it was steep, and I was not a very quick pusher. Folks were passing me and a few other gentleman in front of me who were in seemingly better shape than myself. They were ‘those guys’ who people ran the risk of bumping into when they slowed up and breaking momentum, and I seemed to be one of them in this instance. The two immediately in front of me jumped off their boards and started to jog to keep up. I thought this was a brilliant plan and opted to join them for a jog up the hill but the three of us were quickly teased into pushing again by folks crying “Hey! This is PUSH for the Cure, not JOG!!” Ok, ok. We kept pushing on and a few cars blasted by, honking all the while. One of them terrified the lot of us as it went by, nearly to the point of wetting ourselves, since it was a semi which the driver appeared to have outfitted with a horn meant for freight trains. It was a shocker, but bad ass at the same time and spurred us onward. The top of this hill had what I think was the most exceptional downhill of the trip. It may not have been the best, but it was the smoothest for me, and most memorable since it was the first thing I could say I really, truly bombed down, smooth carving at the top and when it got too steep for that, just a smooth straight run to the bottom of the hill. WOW.
     We were at the final short flat stretch to Agassiz now, but the town was still 15km away and one final rest stop was due a few kilometres down the road. I grabbed some salty Old Dutch chips, some jerky, and Red Bulls were passed all around as they were a sponsor for the event and had sent a gentleman with a pickup truck full of the stuff to keep us all well fuelled. Once again, too many minutes passed during this rest before we departed for Agassiz. The final push of our 40km day was a smooth one. The shoulder of the road was in great condition and I was close to the back of the pack, everyone else’s wheels in front of me blasting away the pebbles that were there since the previous winter’s road sanding. One more slight upward incline and we were coasting down toward the streets into Agassiz, the setting sun making the entire valley look nothing short of gorgeous.
       The troop set record time covering the 40km that they covered on day one, and it was a wicked experience all on its own. Having a chance to go down the hills that we did in as controlled manner as we did was epic, being able to find out what covering that sort of distance in a day felt like, feeling all of the good vibes from the enthusiastic boarders there was all a really great thing and I knew after day one that I’d be coming back for Push 7 next year. Some of the boarders there still had a pile of energy left over, so a closed figure 8 race course was set up inside the fairgrounds building and we held a full contact “death race” to win a new kicktail skate deck. I was much too tired to partake in that and so loaded up on spaghetti and burgers before retiring early in preparation for the 73km push that was waiting for us the next day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

September 21, 2011, Boundary Road Slide Session

       Oh yes, Christmas is here and I'm catching up on posts that should have been thrown up about 3 months ago. These are a few of the results from a shoot I did while some of the talented fellows from the Kamloops Longboarding Club. I wasn't able to join in for the slide session that day, and since I still can't slide, I probably would only make a fool of myself if I joined at the time of posting this! Since I wasn't feeling up to the task, I busted out the camera and started shooting away. It was a tricky business with all these people flying toward me, in and out of focus the whole time. I'd never shot anything quite like this and I look forward to doing it again!