|El Dorado Inline Challenge #1
Long Beach, CA - April 28, 2002
The start/finish line has been moved about 1/3 mile further counter-clockwise from last year. This gives the racers a longer and wider area to start their final sprint. Some construction along the far side of the course left the road a little worse but still very skateable. The tree roots might be a problem in the future though.
There were many familiar faces and a few new ones while everybody geared up and set out to try to warm up. I skated a few easy laps in a sweater until I built up a little sweat then I was fine. The sun had risen and started to warm up by the time we were ready to start.
I was not feeling too strong so I decided to start third row back. This might not have been a great idea. When the "GO" was given about 90 skaters took off like lightning. Even though there were many skaters behind me, I still found myself about 50 feet from the front. A skater fell about 150 feet into the race but nobody else tripped. I was working hard to stay near the front all through the first lap. There were two parallel pace lines throughout most of the first lap but we were still going hard.
In the first couple laps, there were countless surges and I was working hard to stay behind Brandon. I eventually lost sight of him behind me. Somewhere on the third lap I trailed off behind the lead pack and took about 15 skaters with me. We formed the chase pack.
Unfortunately this pack wasn't working well together. Critter, a few others who I don't know very well and myself did most of the hard pulls. Critter attacked a few times but we were all victims to a couple skaters who would work hard to get in the lead and then pull slowly. It was if they were blocking for someone but nobody was in sight in front of us. Critter and I formulated that maybe they were going to try and out sprint us for the finish, but that was still a few laps away. Well anyway, a few of us would pull hard and then rest while the other guys slowed us down for a while. This "Resting" gave me plenty of Photo-ops so I took more pictures than usual.
On the last lap the pace picked up a little and the final sprint started before the corner into the incline. It slowed up a little near the crest of the hill but picked up to full speed on the smooth and wide roadway near the finish line. Critter and I were giving it our best at the finish but the video camera at the line wasn't working. I think he got a wheel ahead of me but it's not worth arguing over 18th or 19th place. Someone mentioned the oddity that the chase pack was so far behind the lead pack but what the heck...
No official times were kept for the race. The finish line camera did cause some delays in the results but that seems to happen in this sport. Overall this race was every bit as fun as the previous ones last year.