El Dorado Challenge #2
Long Beach, CA - May 20, 2001     T   R   S  
San Diego Street Elite

El Dorado Inline Challenge #2 May 20, 2001 (12.25 miles, 7 laps)

The sky was overcast and the temperature comfortable without much wind. I had a nice warm-up skating from my in-laws' house in Artesia along the San Gabriel riverbed bikepath to El Dorado Park. The race was easy to find with the impressive number of sponsor tents (Explore, Crazies, Verducci, Bont, Mogema, Hyper, and more). Registration was quick and easy, with Barb Berry sitting behind the table but wearing skates. SDSE had a good representation including Howard Yeh, Joe Prescott, Bob Minami, Rodney Friedman, Lineal Pelton, and A.J. Comer. Andy Pele and Nicole Marsh came up to volunteer and lend encouragement.

The start of the race was pretty crowded since the road is relatively narrow and there were about 85 racers starting at once. I was in the third row but behind some pretty quick skaters and was able to get away cleanly into the lead pack. Joe was in the 4th row, however, got tangled up, and hit the pavement. After the traffic cleared he got up and chased but it's not easy starting a race way behind.

For the first few laps the pace was fairly fast overall with some surges and some slowing, I wasn't counting but the lead pack seemed pretty large. A couple times Joey Flesher and Julie Glass pulled away 10 yards or so but then drifted back in.

There were several crashes despite pretty good pavement. Jeff Neal was looking strong but clicked blades with Joey Flesher and went down ahead of me, however I was able to swerve around. On one of the corners I heard a skater wipe out behind me. Turns out it was Howard who said he was coming up on me fast, decided not to give me a push or try to pass due to concern about my crossover abilities, and ended up off balance. I felt pretty bad about this since it took Howard out of the lead pack and he injured his thumb along with the usual road rash.

Maybe I should pin a "CAUTION - WIDE LOAD" sign on my back because Richard Nett also tried to go around me at one point but I had no idea he was there until he ran out of room and had to slow down. After that I started warning people I was passing with an "On your left" or right. Not that I'd recommend that for surprise attacks, but it worked well for overtaking lapped skaters.

At the beginning of lap 4 or 5 they rang a bell letting us know that the first male and female to cross the line on the next lap would win $30 cash. The pack slowed a little for most of the lap and then shattered in a mad sprint. I sprinted too, with no chance of winning but not wanting to fall too far behind. After the sprint there were four skaters way ahead drafting each other and the rest of us less organized. I tried to bridge the gap and lots of people fell in behind me. I made up some of the gap and then pulled off to let someone else take over. But I had waited too long and had used up all my speed. I kept falling off the chase pack for about half a lap and then got dropped for good with about 1.5 laps to go in the race. The chase succeeded with out me, however.

There was nobody within sight behind me to wait for so I skated as hard as I could alone, which was not very fast. I finished in 17th place, really tired, but happy with my effort. I don't remember how everyone else did, but A.J. again earned points for a top-ten woman's finish, beating her rival Michelle Gaylor from Arizona. Lineal and Bob made podium appearances in their age groups. The overall race was won again by Joey Flesher followed by Troy Atwell, and Christian ..... The top women were Julie Glass, Peggy Girgenti, and Helle Carlson. Dana Eads was in the top 10 men too as I recall, and second in his age group.

There were lots of great prizes for the fastest skaters and lucky raffle winners. I was picked at random and won a free entry to the Long Beach Marathon this fall, courtesy of Rollerblade.

Joe Prescott was in great demand after the race for his first-aid services treating those who had crashed. Thanks Joe!

This was a great event, and I hope everybody plans to attend the races on September 30 and October 28.

Carl Yee

The El Dorado II race was another great success for the local inline community. Having arrived in the area on Saturday Howard and I stayed at Barb's house so we could be at the race early and rested. Along with Howard and I at Barb's house were a ferocious pack of Predators from phoenix. The registration was quick and easy and in no time I was out warming up on the course.

I remembered how fast the start of the last race was so I wanted to be warmed up for another fast start. I did two relatively fast laps around the course and finished with a slow lap arriving at the starting line right on time. The skaters were starting to line up and I ended up a few rows back from the start. There were quite a few fast skaters in front of me and I wasn't too concerned about starting so far back. I was ready for a fast break.

At 7:00am the race was started and the swarm of sprinting skaters took off for the gold...all except me... I had taken two strokes before my left skate was hooked and I quickly found myself on my hands and knees. Not wanting to cause more trouble I stayed in the praying position for about four seconds to help prevent others from tripping over me. I then jumped up and started my sprint. I was 4th from last at this time and had a lot of ground to make up. The field was wall to wall skaters and I was having great difficulty getting around the rec skaters. I eventually got out in the open and picked up speed.

I caught up to another skater making good time and trying to get ahead. I think it was Kim? I pulled in behind her for a little. We were passing everyone. As we worked our way out in front we soon discovered that the skaters were getting harder and harder to pass. We had the number two pack in our sights and we would settle for no less. We joined the #2 pack on the far side of the loop and were only about 100 feet behind the leaders.

The lead pack was not pulling away at this time and I wished I had the energy to bridge up to them but I couldn't. I was happy to be with the familiar faces in the #2 pack. I race often enough to recognize the skaters and feel comfortable being in a tight paceline with them. I was tired from catching up and was resting near the tail of the line. We were approaching the last corner before heading up the hill to the finish of the first lap. The lead pack was still close ahead. As they rounded the corner, I saw Howard tumbling on the ground. He got right back up but was stuck in between the first and second packs. After about half a lap we caught up to Howard and he pulled in with us. He looked in server pain and was well rashed up and holding his arm.

I think it was on the fourth or fifth lap that James Brady made a break to thin the pack. He went on a hard flier followed by me and a couple others. He went so hard that when he finished and pulled off we were all spent and the break was eventually lost. This had put me in the front rotation and I finally allowed myself to start pulling. I was still recovering from the breakaway attempt so my first pull was kinda pathetic. On my second pull I had rested in the pack and was now ready to put forth some energy to pick up the pace. I started with a relatively hard pull to see how the pack was doing. The pack started to fragment a little but there were many strong skaters still with me. I did a few more hard pulls and not so hard pulls.

On the final lap I had positioned myself happily in the middle of the pack. I was hoping to be rested on the final sprint but as it has happened before, I was suddenly promoted to lead workhorse in the final section of the final lap. I didn't really want to loose position toward the rear at this point so I took it easy and watched for the break. The break was mostly simultaneous and I had a good start. Coming out of the final corner found Richard Nett heading for the finish line. He had just crashed and doing his best to gain speed again. A few of us passed him since we had the speed already. I was trying to catch James Brady for the finish but then Arica Armitage started edging past me and got the line ahead of me... Roooooger was breathing down my neck but couldn't quite do it this time. You gotta watch out for him!

Carl was the SDSE victor this time finishing strong in the lead pack and AJ picked up a bunch more points also. Bob Minami placed in his age as did Lineal. Rodney was out racing and gaining experience. Karen, a Predator from phoenix had a crash just before the finish line and got a good helping of race rash also. I finished 25th overall but was about a minute faster than last time. I look forward to the next El Dorado Race.

Joe Prescott

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