A much smaller medal hoard than previous years. I'm still enjoying the races but I've reduced my participation with race events as I wanted to focus on other on other life events besides active ones. Yet I still had the opportunity for new experiences such as the original obstacle race Tough Guy, 6 hour Endurance Race at Gravesend, Make the Future Live eco event, a Ninja style competition, 6 hour Endurance race in Paris and finally got to roll along for the annual Skate Fresh Party.
I hope to keep active in 2018 with lot more fun, exciting, active experiences however they may be.
Every year Asha Kirby the founder and owner of the skate school SkateFresh throws a party to celebrate another year of rolling. The party is an open invite to all skaters whether or not you have been a past pupil or not. I some how have managed to miss it every year but was glad to have finally made it today. Asha held the party today on the promenade in Brighton.
With never being content to just stay where I'm at I somehow came to the idea of trying out a move that combined rolling from inline skating to an ab roller style work out using one freeline skate. This took a few attempts. Unfortunately I came off shot on my first successful attempt, but unknowingly I had an audience in the background who vouched my accomplishment with an applause! I included another successful roll on the video clip, it's difficult to tell with my baggy trousers but my knees were off the floor the whole time.
For next time, could have straighter legs and would be good to be rolling the whole time!
I like to think I'm the first person to have done this, just so I can name this move the 'Transformer!'
"I could never run a marathon." So I've said many times. Yet today marks a new turn in my sporty pathway, I've signed up for Berlin RUNNING Marathon! (Exclamation mark multiply a thousand). If I am successful with the ballot I will be doing both the Run and the Skate full 26.2 miles on the same weekend.
As I was growing up I was always the sprinter, running the 100m and 200m for my school. Anything longer was painful and I hated cross country. I've always admired people who could go the distance and wanted to be able to do the marathon, but at various stages have ruled out the idea. So on reflection it makes we wonder what has changed in my way of thinking to get me to where I am today. Here I list all the things that's made my change of heart..
Running does requires commitment to maintain your level of fitness. I remember during the summer of 2004 my friends Tim, Richard and I did some forest runs after work. At my peak I ran 8 miles in 50 minutes. (That particular run was when I suddenly realised I took a wrong turn down the wrong route and didn't want to keep the others waiting).
I stopped running after my inappropriate cheap trainer began giving me Shin splints. (Only later finding out what the technical term was). After giving it time to heel up I returned for a run only to discover that my fitness for running was back at the start. That run was painful and I gave it up. Underlying was the fact I had a taste of the good side of the run.
In 2007 I joined the London Street skate scene. This is probably one of the best things I've ever decided to do. I was able to enjoy a sport I've done for years but in mass, but with the comfort of the marshals involved. My skating improved a lot and the fact it was exercise was just an added bonus at the time.
After a year I was comfortable partaking in their faster Friday routes and I felt I could still go on after we finished the session. Their weekly newsletter at the time advertised the 2008 Goodwood Skate Marathon and it seemed like something that was achievable. At the time I didn't know anyone else who had done this so I just rocked up and skated the whole 26.2 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes. My naive approach meant it was a painful experience and vowed never to do another skate marathon again. (I'm forever eating my words, good thing I like eating).
In 2011 I began to befriend more regular and experienced skaters on the London roller scene so the skate began to be a more social experience for myself.
Early 2012 I was unable to attend the weekly street skates but was able to attend the Easy Saturday Skate. The predominately beginners' skate group is very friendly and always open to new people, regardless of level. A lot of them at the time were excited about going to Germany to complete the Berlin Inline Skate Marathon. My debut 2008 skate marathon experience seemed like a distant memory and I got caught up in my friends' enthusiasm one afternoon in the pub. Usually talks like this would trail off after leading to nothing actually being done, so I have my friend Alex to thank massively for being über efficient in making this trip a reality and so wholesomely enjoyable.
During the planning of this trip we joked about how crazy some skaters were that actually partake in the running marathon too the day after the skate marathon. My friend Chris surprised us all by saying he'd be up for it if he'd get a place.. Unfortunately the entry for the run had sold out.
Having been better educated this time round from my experienced skate companions, I caught the skate marathon bug. I completed the Berlin Skate Marathon in 1 hour 47 minutes.
As winter set in I wanted to keep fit as skating was something that requires dry surfaces to partake safely in most places. I decided to pick up running again. My session lasted five minutes in the rain and I caught a bad cold which lasted a week. My running career was cut again. Although I stopped running for a long time after this felt like unfinished business..
Back to skating. The more you look into a topic, the more details you discover. In 2013 I got my speed skates. Bigger wheels! Now I was able to up my level. I started to look into more aspects of endurance training and nutrition.
I remember a skater friend Sinead talking about her running ways. She was explaining to me about heart rate training and how "if you're in the correct zone you could just run forever." That stuck in my head.
My friend Theresa was getting a team together for Survival of the Fittest 2013. It was either a 10k or 5k obstacle course around the Battersea Powerstation. Her team was full so I created my own, convincing my friends and myself that the obstacles would be a rest from the monotonous running distance. Most of my group said they'd do it if we opted for the 5k route.
In preparation for this event I started running, again! My first session was just 2 minutes, followed by some freelining. I slowly increased this. Eventually completing just over 3 miles comfortably. It then struck me after all this time, when people say they are going for a run they probably should say they are going for a jog.
We completed Survival of the Fittest and we loved it. I probably loved it a lot more than the others as I started looking for similar events and ended up blogging about it. Got bit by the OCR bug!
Theresa was soon organising another event, Tough Mudder. I needed quite a bit of persuasion to join this however. This event was a lot longer, 12 miles and the electric obstacle just sounded awful. My friend Harriet also invited me to a similar event called Rough Runner at a slightly shorter 10 miles. Both exceeded any previous run distance.
As a bench test I decided to just run for an hour and see how I felt. I felt great so I signed up for both events.!
During my training I started running with my friend Naomi. She mentioned a couple of times of doing a big challenge for our 30th birthday year. Naomi had Tough Mudder in mind for her challenge, but as I was doing that event this year it led me to think of what's the next step...
In 2014 I completed both Tough Mudder, Rough Runner as well as a few other OCR events. Funny how I'm essentially paying to partake in cross country now, albeit under a new trendy name called 'Trail Running.'
My friend Emily, plus just this year Theresa and Van have done the infamous Double at Berlin, Skate Marathon on Saturday followed by the Run Marathon on Sunday. These people were a huge inspiration with their achievements. Also seeing my friends Chris, Richard and again Van completing the Le Mans 24 hours race was incredible. Watching my friends achieve great things made me compelled to do the same. (maybe not 24 hours of skating)...
I believe all these things contributed to my progression to my 30th year challenge and the Berlin Double Marathon commitment, with Theresa's recent messages reaffirming that this is a good thing to do.
So now I have to wait till November 20th to see if I'm successful with the Berlin running marathon ballot as it's massively over subscribed every year, I'll work it out somehow.....
With the free outdoor skate events such as the LFNS, London Skate and ESS there really hasn't been a reason to attend a Skating Heaven event at the Newham Leisure Centre for the last year and half. I much prefer the freedom of the outside environment. Having said that I don't dislike the roller disco, especially the nice smooth surfaces!
A group of us went from the street scene to this Skating Heaven over 18's evening. The start time is now 22:00 to 02:00, so I was a little disappointed that I would only be able to stay for half the session because of last tubes. (Bring on the 24 hour tube service!). It's a shame that after my 18 month absence that the music was still the same stagnant playlist, but the place was busy and everyone seemed happy so I guess there's no reason to vary a winning formula.
One thing I'm glad they still held is the short speed skating session so we can really stretch out our legs. The practice with LSST the previous week was still fresh in my mind, but this time I was on my recreational skates so I could comfortably get low to the ground as I was crossovering. I was nearly touching the ground with my hands as I shot around. Well in my head I was, would be good to see a photo or video to compare that feeling to the actual reality. All the same it felt good!
In fact the whole evening was good and it was great to see some familiar faces I hadn't seen in a long time.
(Just please update that playlist!).
Having heard about the Redbridge Cycle Centre I have been eager to test out the track as they invite skaters to use their facilities too. This place is also much more convenient for myself to travel to than the regular training grounds my fellow skaters go to.
It cost me £4.10 for 2 hours use of the full road track. They also have a mountain bike track and bikes for hire. For latest costs click here.
It seems like this location is very popular with clubs as so many evenings and weekends are fully booked for private session. So if you’re planning a visit it’s best to check here or even give them a quick call to make sure it’s free for public use!
The nearest tube station is Fairlop on the Central Line with a 27 minute walk, or Hainault where you can catch the 247 bus for a bit of a detour but gets you a bit closer to the location. I opted for Fairlop station as I am never one for waiting for busses. Next time however I’ll probably skate the route instead of walking as the pavement is fairly flat.
There’s lots of parking space if need as well.
In the main building there are plenty of changing rooms which are clean and well kept. A few showers were accessable too. There were lots of lockers, even the small ones had plenty of space inside. A drinking fountain was handy but vending machines offered more if you wanted. Conference rooms were available for the more organised folk as well.
Usually you ride in a clockwise direction but this can change depending on the day. The track starts with a steep left decline which was a little hairy the first time down, which you can’t appreciate from their Youtube video. It was really fun though and you get used to it after a few laps.
The track has a few junctions so you can opt for a more casual loop at the bottom which I found nice for practicing technique. I chose to do the full 2km loop to start with as it gave me a chance to do some hill training on the way back up the circuit. The hill seemed to have a comparable incline to the hill at Le Mans, (I hadn’t fully recovered from my Le Mans weekend event when I went so my judgement may be incorrect !) but of a shorter in distance.
It took me just over an hour to complete 11 laps of the full circuit to complete a half marathon.
My trip was midweek from 11am, so I thought I may be the only one there as I had a day off work. However there were also a retirement cycle club, a small school group as well as a few solo cyclists. It was nice that they didn’t seem to mind a skater using the track either and some gave me the friendly nod.
Redbridge Cycle Centre is a really nice place to skate and I will no doubt be attempting to use this facility in the future, especially in the lead up to any events incorporating hills. My only gripe is one I mentioned earlier about clubs pretty much hogging all the key accessible hours of the week. I can understand why bookings are done which means there is a demand for locations like these. Hopefully more cycle track centres like this may be constructed in the near future.
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..
Today I tried an old pair of skates which still has the heel brake attached. I managed to pull off a 'one wheel heel brake stop,' and also a variation with two heel wheels also known as the 'Wile E Coyote stop,' which was actually quite fun. Probably not the most stable way of stopping but one of the more comical at least!
I would never have attempt this before slaloming. Braking on a single wheel almost feels like you're doing heel wheeling with stabilisers.
This review came about after a post on a Facebook group post. I've written a lot of this for friends previously so I collated it all here for all who want to know my own thoughts on this unconventional skate:
I got a pair of Powerslide Doops last year. 84mm wheels version. The selling point of these skates is that you can wear any flat shoes with them, so it reduces the need to carry your shoes whilst you skate. Previously I had a Salomon Chill LX which had a similar design, I really loved them but they started to fall apart after years of use. Sadly they stopped manufacturing them so I was hopeful the Powerslides would compare well to the Salomons.
Surprising the Doops are still quite heavy even though it’s missing the boot. (My Seba FR1 are about the same weight). This might be an issue for some people but I don’t mind giving the legs a little extra weight to work out with!
They do feel very secure and responsive. People often question this but remember they’re based on an aggressive skate, Xsjado, so it’s going to be able to take some punishing!
I like the ratchet system in the middle that makes it feels nice and snug. Two of the other tightening mechanisms are just Velcro but these can be replaced if needed. I've substituted the mechanism above the ankle with a more standard skate strap just so it's that little bit faster to tighten.
The break is a standard Powerslide setup which in my opinion is really badly designed. It’s difficult to and fiddly to put on. You need to keep an eye on the wear and adjust it every now and again. Salomon’s break pad was so much simpler and easy to use, which I’ve also heard repeatedly from other skaters and even skate shop staff.
I’ve tried swapping the break system with a Seba breaking system. This is easy to install but the break pad is very small, which will result in it being replaced often. Also it makes a horrible squeaking sound that doesn’t do much for my street cred. On the plus it ensures everyone around you are aware you’re coming!
Usually the wheels that come with any skate are basic. The ones that come with these are absolute rubbish. Rock hard wheels which I could feel every bump on the London roads. It made hard work of the ‘Sunday Stroll,’ skate.
The frames that come with them are also of poor design. I have to pull and force the wheels on some sections of the frame to get them in and out.
Since I’ve bought them I’ve swapped the frame for some Sebas ones. I’ve also got some nice Gyro wheels in combination to the horrible wheels. The horrible wheels are just on the toes, which I use as a break. (Good to find some use for them). Because of this I’ve got a semi rocker wheel layout. The setup is now great.
Are the Doops fast?
I’ve been asked this a lot, but they're only as fast as the wheels you've got attached, or more importantly the skater using them!
I used the Doops for the Le Mans 24 Hours Skate relay race. The starting skaters are required to have their skates on the other side of the track. When the race starts you run across the track and put on your skates before racing.
Now I thought the Doops would give me a nice advantage but even though it took me 25 seconds to put on both skates, there were people booting up a lot faster. The benefit for me however is that the mats we were standing on at the start of the race were wet, so no soggy socks for me whilst I skate!
What shoes can you wear with the Doops?
Most flat shoes work well. I’ve managed to use my formal shoes and even some wellington boots with them. Chunky Vans don’t work; they’re just too wide.
The thing for myself is that I have really wide feet. Last year I bought some cheap New Look sneakers, however the tight fit of the shoes started to become a problem for me. This problem only started when I began changing my skating style, skating more like a speed skater and hitting the outside edges of the wheels. So my toes felt most of the impact in my tight shoes. (This problem wasn’t particular to these skates as my speed skates gave me similar issues until they were heat moulded).
I tried using the shoes that worked previously with the Salomons and similar pains still happened that never occurred with the Chill LX. For most people the shoe fitting wouldn’t be an issue but having wide feet has often been a problem for me. There are definitely shoes that would fit my feet and would work with my Doops but I’m yet to find it.
Powerslide Doops vs Salomon Chill LX.
Both have plus and minuses. Weight-wise the Doops are slightly more heavy but not a huge amount. Salomon just seems to be made of better quality material but the buckles eventually gave way. The Doops already has some fraying with some part of the fabric. However the main ratchet on the Doops just feels so much more secure. Salomon loses out massively by the fact the frames cannot be changed, as they have been riveted into the boot. Doops can fit most frames, it can even attach to those mountain skis!
As with most skates the frames can be removed. I personally don't know much about the common frame setups as I've only ever swapped the frames once before. For my Doops the shop assistant suggested the Seba GT frames.
However here is an image of the baseplate which will give you a general idea of what you can fit on to the Doops.
Regretfully I’ve stopped using the Doops for now and gone back to my nice wide fitting Seba skates, until I find a suitable shoe. However I really miss the convenience the Doops offer whilst street skating, especially hopping on and off public transport, or popping in quickly into the shops.
"Any tips, reviews and advice are my own opinions and are not to be taken as professional view points. The information on this site is what has worked for me and is here for guidance only, but I hope you gain insight into the various activities I partake in." Jonathan Chen