|El Dorado Challenge #2|
Long Beach, CA - May 20, 2001
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
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.
The El Dorado II race was another great success for the local inline
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
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.
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
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.