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Inline 111
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   Rustic Course St. Gallen, SWI
   Sunday, August 21, 2005

Louis Beaudoin: "I planned to send this out on Sunday, but I walked for a half-hour in the rain in St. Gallen before giving up on finding an Internet Cafe open on Sunday. I'm sending this out to anyone I think would find it interesting, feel free to forward it to anyone who might want to see it. I will be in Europe until September 1st, and will not be checking email much until I return, so I will probably not see anyone's replies until September. Also, sorry for the length of the report, I'm not much of a writer but I wanted to get all the details I remembered in there."

Editors Note: Louis finished 21st in the Inline 111

Inline One-Eleven Race Report:

My race weekend started with some problems, I missed my overnight train from Prague to St. Gallen, and had to spend an extra night in Prague. On Saturday, instead of exploring St. Gallen and skating the course up to the finishline, I spent the whole day on a train, alternating between reading my travel books, and sleeping. The countryside between Prague and Munich is quite boring, though things got much nicer after crossing the border into Switzerland.

I had just enough time once arriving in St. Gallen to check into my hotel, lace up my skates, and hurry over to the Olma center to pick up my number. I was in such a hurry, I didn't notice the ominous clouds when I left, but as soon as I reached the Olma center, it started pouring. The half-hour warmup I had planned to do would be impossible, so I picked up my free speghetti dinner instead, and tried to wait out the storm. While eating, we watched a very well-produced video from the 2004 Inline One-Eleven race. Kim Perkins was in the video in a number of places, including being interviewed with a microphone during the race. I commented about the quality of the video to Ren, who is in charge of finances for the race, who said they might not be able to afford production of the video this year. They were expecting a few hundred more registrations the day before the race, but because of the uncertain weather, a lot of people were not showing up. Though they might not create the video, they still had cameracrews on motorcycles through the race. Ren remembered Kim from last year, asked if she was here this year.

After waiting out the storm for 1.5 hours, it was not going to let up, so I had to bite the bullet and walk back to the hotel. I was not prepared for rain, and had on skating clothes, and no shoes. To avoid having rusty bearings on race day, I walked home barefoot. Luckily it was summer rain, and I got back ten minutes later soaked, but still warm.

The Inline One-Eleven race coincided with a festival in St. Gallen that had live music playing all over downtown until 2AM, right outside my window. Even with earplugs it was quite loud, but I managed to sleep soundly though the night, and through both of my alarms. I woke up on my own about 20 minutes late, but was able to get out to the course with about 15 minutes to warm up. Though it had rained until late at night, the streets were dry in the morning, and though cloudy, I hoped the rain would hold until after the race.

The start line was packed, and the pros spilled out in a huge crowd in front of the start banner. I didn't understand what they were saying in German before the start, but right at 7AM, I heard numbers being counted down, a gun went off, and we started. The downhill ride out of town was intense. Even though it was downhill I was hitting peak heart rates from dealing with the packs, and from adreniline from the high speeds and obstacles. There were at least four to five packs formed across the road, mixed with both women and men and people attacking between the packs. Every 30 seconds or so, we would pass a short median for a crosswalk in the center of the road, that would be deadly if anyone hit it. I didn't have my GPS, but speeds were definetly in the 30's. I've never been in a race with so much pack activity, I had to get comfortable with jumping between pack to pack quickly in order to stay toward the front. There were quite a few kicked skates, and at one point I was leaning on the guy next to me before he let me into his pack.

Kim warned me about a fast downhill about 20 minutes into the race, comparable to A2A's Silver Hill. The hill can be taken at speed without braking, but is intimidating because the road is curvy and you can't see the bottom. The hill is surrounded with trees, and had not dried yet from the previous night's rain. We hit top speed quickly, and I'm glad I didn't have my GPS with me, because I would have been terrified to see how fast we were going. The pack broke up almost immediately, and skaters were weaving from side to side, some trying to find the best line, others braking, and others skating out of control. I tried to find a line that kept people away from me, and reached the bottom of the hill before it registered how insane that was.

At an hour into the race and with at least 50 skaters in the main pack, we turned off the main road onto the small single car wide roads we would spend most of the race on. The first turn was a 90-degree corner into a slight uphill. We took it fast and skaters attacked immediately. The road was only wide enough to support two skaters sprinting, and I was in the middle when the attack came. I got my skates kicked on both sides, and knew I was going to fall. I had enough time to lean my fall towards the outside of the road, and slid from the road onto the grassy side, facing downhill towards the oncoming skaters, and I ducked instinctively. I felt an impact on my helmet, and must have been kicked by a skater. I felt my helmet and it was loose on my head, but still intact. I jumped up immediately, and saw all the skaters pulling away. Without assessing my injuries, I started sprinting, not wanting this to be the end of the race. I would find later that I had only some minor scrapes, one on my knee and one on my butt, my boot was scraped up, the frame shifted a quarter-inch in the front, my helmet was not permanantly damaged but parts had snapped off, and I lost my sunglasses. Within a minute I was at the front of the chase pack that separated at the attack. Pulling hard together with these guys, we caught the front pack only five minutes later.

At this point I was exhausted from the effort of recovering my position in the pack. I tried to rest as best as I could in the pack, while still staying towards the front. At one calm point, I looked around, and was very impressed to see I was skating amongst at least 50 skilled skaters still at the front of the pack. It was a great moment, unlike any other race I've been in.

Another serious attack came at 1:30 into the race when we hit the only stretch of rough pavement on the race. I gave all I could, but between the rough pavement and my exhaustion, I saw the lead pack of about 25-30 guys pull away. A chase pack of less than ten guys formed, and we worked together pulling hard for the rest of the race. The lead pack was in sight, less than a minute away for the next half-hour, but we never gained any ground on them. Right after the attack, my back started bothering me, but I was using correct form and there was nothing I could do about it except ignore it for the rest of the race.

After being in the chase pack for about fifteen minutes, I felt a few drops of rain, that turned into a light shower, and then into pouring rain. My feet were swimming in my boots, and I saw one of the Fila-Mentos skaters balance on one foot to tip his other foot back and pour water out from the heel. After ten solid minutes of pouring, the shower decreased to light rain which stayed with us until the end of the race.

One by one the pack picked up new members who had fallen off from the lead pack until we had between 10-12 skaters. It was very organized pulling with a smooth pace, and I had a chance to enjoy the view for the first time. We were travelling on smooth pavement, though farmland with green fenced fields on all sides, some with cows grazing. Every 15-20k we passed would pass through a small town, and though it was raining there were spectators along the road yelling "hopp, hopp!" as we passed. The course moved from small country roads, not much bigger than bike paths to larger roads going through towns, and there were a lot of 90-degree corners that we took at high speed, sometimes sliding in the turns. One of the Fila-Mentos skaters slid into the grass on a sharp corner, and was able to run a few paces at 20+ mph and jumped back onto the pavement.

As promised, the final 20k was all uphill. After passing the 20k sign, there was a steep uphill section, and the road was covered with foot-wide tar snakes that were very slick from the rain. I thought if the next 20k was like this, I wasn't going to make it, but after a few minutes the road settled into a gentle incline. With about 15k to go, I tested the pack on another steep section, and was able to easily pull away, but didn't have the endurance to solo the rest of the race. I pretended to be winded, stretched my legs, and settled back into the pack.

With 2k to go, we reached a a long steep hill entering St Gallen, and I made my move. I pulled away from the pack, and only one skater was able to keep up. I underestimated the length of the hill, and he pulled out of my draft and left me about halfway. By the top I was spent and two other skaters from the twelve or so in our pack caught me. The road was narrow and I made my stroke wide so they would have to slow to pass me, and I jumped in behind them.

We stayed fairly close until 500m until the finish, when we each took a different line, but didn't sprint yet. We had to jump over a median that was paved with slick cobblestones, and I almost lost it there, but caught my balance and kept going. Nearing the finish we entered a covered garage area paved with smooth concrete, and I wanted to sprint there, but my wheels wouldn't grip. We started sprinting with the finish in sight, I was able to outsprint one of my two competitors. We glided through the empty finishline without any fanfare, the spectators were all behind a fence and underneath cover a few yards away. My finishing time was 3:28.15, and I was 22nd place.

I congratulated the guys I finished with and hobbled over to the first aid booth to get my leg patched up. They told me to shower first, as my leg was covered in dirt, and I left for my hotel. My back was incredibly sore at this point, I don't think it had ever been this sore before. Now that I wasn't concentrating on the race, every movement was painful, and getting back into my room was a big effort. I tried to stretch, but was limited in what I could do, so just decided to shower. I wanted to eat and start to clean my skates, but all I could do was just lie down, and I lay in bed for an hour and a half, until I was able to sit up.

After I was able to move again, I grabbed some food and headed back to the Olma center for the awards. Not able to understand German, and not seeing the results yet, I had no idea what was going on during the ceremony, so I went to the first aid booth to get patched up. The staff there were very friendly, and knowing that I was travelling, gave me all the gear I would need to tend to my knee during my trip.

Overall, the race was an awesome experience, and I will be racing it again, hopefully next year. Because of the rain and my back, I wasn't able to explore St. Gallen very much, but everyone I interacted with there was very friendly, and I would like to go back again. Anyone who likes the ultra-distance events should consider travelling to this race, make it part of a European vacation.

Louis Beaudoin

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