Todays training ride was the longest journey I've done on a longboard to date. The ride I've built up to since the start of this project, when an idea came into my head last summer, while I was using up a spare hour pushing a longboard along the coastal road here in my hometown of Southport. I remember sitting on the sea wall, with the sounds of traffic passing by and young girls screaming from the funfair rides of New Pleasureland, while I looked across the bay to Blackpool Tower in the distance, and wondered if I could push my board there one day. I figured it must be around 40 miles around the coastline. That was the first germ of this idea, which I promptly forgot all about it until around September, when I was doing the same, just whiling away an hour on my old Sector 9 pintail. That was the time I took this photo, the photo that would become the first image I used to promote what has become The Long Push 2012.
|Wake up dude! Time to skate!|
Next stop, another push along the wide smooth pavements to Lytham a couple of miles down the road, and a chance to get a photo on the green, with the Lytham windmill in the background. From this bench I could see Southport across the bay.
Like I said before, the route back home is the same route I ride on my motorbike, so although it's familar to me, I was finding my way around the imperfections on the various pavements and cycle paths, working out which side of the road was best to stay on and of course, travelling a lot slower than usual. But it was such an amazing day, I was happy to be out on my board. I carried on through Warton, past British Aerospace where a Typhoon (Eurofighter) RRROOOOAAARED overhead as it took off on a test flight. There I was, thinking I was cool on my 'Switchblade' when I had my thunder stolen by Top Gun! Ghaa!
Passing Warton, I turned off the main road to go through Freckleton village. This takes me off the main drag that by-passes the village and will just give me a chance to let more people see me on the two days of the journey itself, and maybe drum up a few donations as I pass through with The Long Push bucket, in a 'chugger' stylee! Chugger being slang here in in England for Charity Mugger, those people with wooly hats, satchels and clipboards that you try and avoid in town centres. Struth! I have become one!!
|"A man's got to know his limitations!"|
So there was no choice but to yomp along about a mile of this sector, but I always knew that, and it was unavoidable. But as soon as it was better the 'Blade was on the ground again. Well, I say as soon as it was better. I'm pretty sure it was here that, just before I came out onto smooth pavement again, I heard a nasty sound and stopped to check I hadn't broken a truck. I hadn't, but what I'd missed were some deep gouges into the base and one edge of the 'blade. Damn! But...this board was made for riding and that's what it's being used for,. Never worked a board as hard as this before and to be fair to Landyachtz, the 'Switchblade' has been awesome. A smooth long downhill sector followed, running alongside the bypass down into the Riversway area of Preston. I was starting to feel the affects of the heat, with a bit of a headache, so I decided to take some time out at my next stop, McDonalds on Riversway. That was when I found the damage to my board.
By now it was about 4.45pm, and I'd abandoned any ideas I had about getting home for 5.00pm so that I could ride BACK to St. Annes on the Triumph for the Monday night bike meet! It was still incredibly hot, so I took a good 45 minute break at McDonalds. Rested, fueled and hydrated I set off on the next sector, which took me up the hill into Penwortham and then downhill to the roundabout at Hutton. Fom here, I did this sector previously on day 4 of my training (which doesn't seem that long ago!), so I knew what to expect. It's the cycle path that runs alongside the A59 and apart from one pretty gentle uphill section, it's a flat, smooth path with a lot of scope for pumping to take the pressure off my pushing foot for a while. I was soon at my next sector marker, the roundabout at Longton. I was lasting OK, better than the battery on my phone at least! I'd been alternating between isotonic sports drinks and water all afternoon, which seemed to work well and I'd re-applied sun block while stopped at Riversway.
I was desperate to keep my phone going because I was using it to post messages and videos on Facebook, so that Rachael and others could track my progress. I stopped just past the Longton roundabout to attach a solar charger to the phone. I'd never used it before, but thought it was worth giving a try. I found a way I could leave the charger in my backpack to get the benefit of the hot sun. It was touch and go, but it worked and the phone kept enough charge the rest of my journey home. I carried on to my next sector marker at Tarleton traffic lights. Just another 10 miles and I would be home.
I've done this 10 mile stretch on several training days now, but never in heat like this. Even now, by 6.00pm it was still 72 degrees C, but there was never any thought in my mind of stopping. I got to my 6 mile marker, the roundabout at Banks, and stopped to buy more water and post another update on Facebook. Then it was back on the road, the final sector, though Southport and all the way to my front door. Quick wash and change of T-shirt and a final video to sum up the journey...
Some of the hardened distance skaters among you will be wanting to know my time and distance. Well, after mapping my journey out on Google maps it came out at 39.2 miles, my longest skate ever by a long way, and only 10 miles short of my Day 2 journey on the full 100 mile Long Push itself. My time? Listen, I don't care about my time. I'm not doing this as a race. I'm 48 years old now. Just the fact that I can actually DO this is enough for me. I took my time today, stopped where and when I wanted to/needed to and stopped to take photos and do bits of filming along the way. Time wasn't a factor for me. So whilst I admire those of you who can push and compete in skate marathons and races, I'm happy just achieving my own personal goals.
View Day 21 Training. Blackpool to Southport in a larger map
I LOVED this journey and felt fine the day after, despite the heat and pushing my furthest distance to date. My plan now, between now and the full 100 mile journey, is to do a full dry run of both Day 1 and Day 2 and between those two long distance training rides, to just get in as many shorter training days as I can.
And I'm already starting to think about potential routes and distances for The Long Push 2013.
Skate Further :o)
Thanks as ever, to THE LONG PUSH 2012 sponsors, www.bigwoodys.co.uk uk.dcshoes-store.com www.sporting-sails.com www.orangatangwheels.com www.jandrsports.co.uk