This is my third year taking part in the 24 hour skate event at Le Mans. I decided to mix things up this year and organise an Endurance team, the next category up, comprising of a 6 person team. We still raced in green and black colours, contradicting the original group name Easy Saturday Skate.
Our team were registered as London ESScapade.
I was really fortunate in that my fellow ESS friend was coordinating the two main ten person teams so I could piggyback on some of the organisations. This allowed me to learn about some of the essentials of running this trip whilst I could concentrate on other areas of my own team.
Previously as a ten person team we've gone with a rota of
3 sub groups, each of 3 or 4 people.
You have two 4 hour shifts.
Plus two 8 hour breaks.
There’s no perfect shift pattern but I got a lot of generous advice from my fellow London skaters, especially Lenka from The London Galactics and Edmar from the London Skaters Speed Team. Sometimes opinions clashed and I had to make the best of all the information to what I believed would work for my team. Here are key things to consider:
So there’s a lot to think about and I like how Edmar sums it up as “It’s an art form getting shift patterns right and even if you’re Picasso, given that everyone is different, it won’t be perfect for everyone.”
Here's what we did:
We opted to drive from Central London to Dover. Ferry to Calais. A five hour drive to Le Mans followed which was quite demanding for our driver. The ferry cost was a lot less at the time compared to the other options.
This year I camped Friday and Sunday evening. On race night our friend Muhayman organised for us to use one of the rooms above the pit lanes again, which was brilliant for our short breaks rota. It was a lot more pleasant this time around camping as the weather was hot!
Our team did fantastic for our first Endurance attempt, 122 laps officially (someone forgot their chip for one lap), which equalled our team effort of my first Le Mans experience as a ten person team!
Rotations worked well on the whole. Quite early on a team member had to sit out due to an injury. So for a large part Richard and I were doing a duo. We held back our pace in order to conserve energy for the longer battle.
Two and a half hours sleep. Yes that's all that I clocked up during our 'longer,' four hour break. I must say I managed to keep more energised and enthusiastic than I thought I could. Some of the others were really beginning to flag towards the end whereas I seem to almost relish in this strange state of physical and mental demand. This was a relief as the previous years at the same point in time I was at breaking point.
So what did I do different from previous years? I’ve been doing a lot of running lately in preparation for my first marathon so I guess that helped with the endurance. Also I’m better educated with nutrition and hydration. I was snacking between laps, usually on droewors and celery sticks; also bananas, energy gels
John West Tuna Light Lunch Pasta and Merchant Gourmet ready to eat Spelt.
Before the event I said to myself this would be my last Le Mans for a few years. However I really enjoyed 2015 after pushing harder than previous years. I smashed out a lap record of 8:56, even though I was not pushing to the max on that lap. (I was being conservative with energy for our high lap load).
It’s not just about what you can achieve, but what your friends do too. There’s friendly competition, but you’re happy that someone has got a fast time. Watching the super speedies is inspirational, such as Bart Swings breaking the lap record of 5.32 mins. Two of our London friends Markus and Richard came 3rd in their Duo category. Other incredible things included our friend Van clocking up 113 laps solo!
What I also really like is that how everyone comes together, your own team as well as others to help each other out. Such as my friend Liz on the London Mayhem team offering to help cover some pit crew duties for our team. Or like when Laura offered me food first thing in the morning. Or Natalia whilst looking after Van, would also shout out to us on every lap. It sounds really trivial writing about it now but it’s all those little nice things which really make Le Mans an amazing experience.
"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