This is my second event at the Bugatti track in Le Mans and again I will be on the Easy Saturday Skate team. (I won’t rewrite the event details as you can find them in last year’s post).
No road trip this year. A group of us travelled by train from London to Le Mans. The Eurostar got us from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. From there we got the Paris metro line 4 to Montparnasse where we then got our connecting SNCF train to Le Mans station. (this is the station name as it’s known as when you book via Eurostar, or Gare du Mans as they call it in France). We then got a tram outside the station which took us to the last stop, Antarès. It’s then a fifteen minute walk to the campsite and entrance.
Tip. Buy your metro tickets on the Eurostar to save time later.
Or, if possible choose a Eurostar route via Lille Europe as that apparently saves the hassle of the metro, by having the connecting train on the adjacent platform.
We were lucky in that a few people had done the route before so we got there without any trouble. I couldn’t help but wonder if we were all first timers if we would have gotten lost, wasted time queuing for tickets, working out the system, etc as we only had fifteen minutes to spare when we got to Montaparnasse.
I wimped out of camping this year and opted to stay in a hotel for the Friday and Sundays nights. We stayed in Appart'City Le Mans which was just a five minute walk from Le Mans station.
On the Saturday a friend organised for us to stay in the ‘VIP suite.’ It sounds more glamorous than it was. The room is usually hired out for functions but about twenty of us clubbed together for a place to sleep during the event. It was just above the tracks so was very convenient; however it meant we were very near the event speakers pumping all sorts of music and announcing commentary of the event every five minutes. Eventually it became background noise and I was surprised to actually fall asleep through it.
I was quite excited to partake in this event once more but this time equipped with speed skates. What I didn’t prepare for was the extensive amount of rain, over twenty hours of the wet stuff for the twenty four hour event. This made it extremely frustrating to get any decent speed and corners had to be taken extra wide, with a certain amount of involuntary drifting! Quad skaters really held their own in the wet with their chunky wheels and whilst they’re not known for speed, it was somewhat depressing to see them over take me on my ‘speed skates!’ A lot of people had Storm Surges wheels on to help with traction, but everyone had to adapt their technique to battle the wet.
On my second shift on the Sunday the weather was on and off. It almost dried off a couple of times and I managed to squeeze in two sub ten minute laps. My legs were already tired by then so I knew I wasn’t going to get much more than that this year.
My favourite lap was the final in which I joined a bunch of other London skaters at the top of that infamous Dunlop hill. We cheered on the skaters who were taking the event a little more serious than us, before we had our more chilled ‘parade,’ lap. By then the track had finally dried up completely and I could enjoy the track with the technique I had practicing with tight turns and cross-overs. The highlight was as we re-entered the stadium where the atmosphere was buzzing from the crowds in the stands.
Le Mans 2014 didn’t turn out to be the speed injected race I had hoped because of the weather, but it was great fun all the same to travel down as a team and meet new people. I missed out on the happenings and sogginess on the campsite, but enjoyed the company of the others who also chose to hotel instead. Regardless of how disheartening the rain was it gave everyone the same unified experience for the race of 2014.
This is the training ground for London Skaters Speed Team. Many of my skater friends have been encouraging me to join them so I finally made the trip down to the park in North London. It's about a 30 minute trip from Liverpool Street to Silver Street station, followed by a 15 minute walk. (probably skate it next time).
It was good check out the training location which was lovely and smooth. The short track is 250 yards long but it was the first time I was using a banked track. A couple of times I deviated towards the centre of the track a little more than I intended. Towards the end I was getting used to the cross-overs on the turns which I was scared to do on speed skates having been out of practice.
People's abilities were varied, most were much more seasoned to the speed skating than myself. That said there were no egos and everyone was there to train and help each other out. In fact I knew quite a few of the guys already from the other skate scenes. The coach Adrian led us through various drills, including race starts which I've never given much thought to before.
It would be a nice thing to do this more often but the journey for me and a lot of others is quite lengthy, particularly for a week day. There are so many skate events during the week (and/or social events), so it's a case of working out what I want to prioritise..
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