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Blake's Athens to Atlanta A2A 2006 Journal 2 of 5

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Saturday A2A Preparations in Athens 

Saturday we slept until we woke unalarmed, then slowly stoked the fires until we had some Pilon espresso in a slightly rich mixture even for my tastes (or at least I did). We started looking at wheels and bearings and decided to go with what we had for bearings, with me opting for new wheels due to the totally dry forecast and for whatever that might help me with regarding changes in my boots.

This was a good thing because it was then I noted my skate frame on the right side looked bent inward at the front, as viewed from above. For ten minutes I believed this to be an optical illusion, but after measuring and asking Elizabeth if I was just seeing things, we agreed: the front wheel was offline at the axle from the other three by about 3mm.

Being at times and Empire Skate and Empire Speed member, I called Marcia to ask if she knew anything that could be done, but K2 didn't have any frames with them available it seemed, and they apparently had a sales type rather than a techie with them at the booth. So I called Jared, another Empirista, and he was from moment one encouraging me to try for a loaner from Josh, who reps TUSA carbon frames.

Now Josh is another A2A stalwart and I wanted to try the carbons, but I'm also financially challenged and I didn't want to abuse his generosity, as I knew he'd be hoping to make a sale, and I was dead certain no sale was forthcoming no matter how much I liked them. We called Mark S and others and he thought, “get a rubber mallet,” but I was not so sure I was ready for that the night before A2A.

On the way over to Athens we traveled along GA 316 which at that point is also US 29 (which goes all the way to Greensboro). Along about Bethlehem, GA, I think is the name, there was a little crossroad with a Subway in a convenience store. Elizabeth went on in while I tinkered with skate wheels and parts, and I saw this guy and gal who looked vaguely familiar, but I looked at them and they didn't immediately speak so I did a double take, then said “How're you guys?” in that hello if you want it to be DMZ between being unfriendly to friends and too friendly strangers.

Well it turns out it not only looked a lot like Lisa B and Kenny L, it was!

Lisa was dealing with a clacking frame of her own, and thinking of trying it as is, perhaps, to which I responded with a hope that she not, and a few unsolicited suggestions: Zapagap, T-nut, all that. I gave them a T-nut and bolt in case they needed it, but it turns out they used abundant amounts of glue for their fix, about which I know no more. She was doing 38. Oh and Kenny was driving the A2A luggage truck; how cool is that? Thanks for your hard work, Kenny, not just that, but with graphics and much more for A2A!

Once we arrived at Athens, we checked in quickly at our modest Travelodge, which was sadly a room on the third floor, but with a refrigerator, a coffee machine and an ice machine. Clean and simple and no lobby, which is bad and sad but good if you tend to be as scattered as I am around pals and you don't have your kit grooved for the big day!

So we went to the Athena statue and the first thing Elizabeth noticed was the new hotel had her in its dark shadow. It's sad that there will be no more sunsets for Athena, no more golden hour on her face as we take our Roadskater.net/InlineNC photo. This year's photo had a guest who as far as I know has never posted on InlineNC or RSN2.com but he's a cool dude always counted on for sarcasm in Atlanta's lists! He couldn't resist getting in a photo and that's just one more thing that makes him who he is. Well done, amigo, and it sure was fun riding up to see the Tour de Georgia at Nell's Gap a couple of years back.

After a few discussions before the rant, I still was unsure what to do. The most I did at the time was provide some humorous entertainment for our friends from Toronto (“Tronno”), who laughed at me as I placed the frame on a curb and stepped on it a few times to no avail.

Overall, the consensus was you could bend it back with pliers or straighten it in a vise or bang on it with a rubber mallet, but all were afraid I might be frameless come morning.

So into the rant we went, after seeing a gaggle of gals from Detroit on the street outside, happily met. We saw Bethany M for the first time in a few years, who was volunteering and just along to support her Detroit crew. Sweet! It was great to see her again and to know she might be skating with us all again next year.

On the way in we saw Erica O and Mark C. Erica said she'd gladly wear the Roadskater.net jersey when she skated, and Mark was planning to also. Of course I forgot that Erica didn't own a Roadskater.net jersey, and I had somewhat absentmindedly not made any plans for one she could even borrow! I had simply not realized she'd be happy to wear it!

After a brief effort, we never got all the subgroups together for the rant, but that's cool. Everybody was just wanting a good seat to hear Henry lead us through some stories and a few tips for the day. The rant was long, but it was a 25th anniversary rant so what do you expect! Well done, Henry. And he was honored as it should be, receiving special honors delivered by Eddy M, followed by some cake in the lobby.

After the rant, I talked with Josh, who was willing to loan me a frame for the whole A2A 87 miles with no obligation. But I would have felt obligation, so I said, “let me see how tonight goes and I'll call you by whatever time you say if I need a frame badly enough to borrow one on demo.” He said, “10:30.”

So Elizabeth, Jared I, David K, Mark S, Larry H and myself went to Amici's. I felt it was fine, but honestly I've enjoyed Stouffer's just as much some nights when really spanked out hungry angry lonely tired. Jared still said get the frame; most others agreed. I felt shy.

Ironically, I had tried to buy a frame like Elizabeth's on eBay the week before A2A, just as a backup in case I needed it, and i had actually also bought a long mount frame that week too. However, as I was pondering a bid on the Elizalike one, the item was pulled from auction so I could do nothing at that point.

After dinner, Elizabeth and I went to the hotel parking lot--and it wasn't even our hotel--to put on our skates and try my boots and frame positioning to see if there was just no way. We decided way, and went back to our hotel to put our numbers on our clothes and helmets (using the shipping tape trick on the helmet to make removal easier later).

We had so much to prepare, especially with Elizabeth doing a special diet all the way up to A2A for digestive reasons, and my possible need for tools! Basically she couldn't eat fakey food but lots of natural stuff was off the list for her, too, and I knew once we were in the middle of it the rules would go, but we had to be ready for grape juice at stop 3 at 38 miles in and all manner of other things.

As for me, I was tanking up on electrolytes as the weather forecast was horrible for me: sunny and at least 80. I was using Electromix in half litre bottles and cranking my pack up with 3 Electromixes, 1 teaspoon of salt and 3 of the big size scoops of Gatorade.

We each made up two bladder mixes, with one to be put in the box at the start for stop 3 at 38 miles.

I vaguely noticed the Electromix was kind of fizzy.

I had the huge bag of PowerGel and some of those sport beans (which I hardly touched). I had bought 5 packs of gummi bears to do Haribo loading (Haribo makes the German gummis, now made in Hungary), but I wasn't in the mood but for one bag of those bears.

Because Barrie Hartman had reminded everyone in Kim Perkins' piece on InlinePlanet (Barrie had called me Thursday right before Kim called to ask about quotations for the article, and we talked about several A2A things and skateythings in general), I made a specific trip for oatmeal, and that was a really good choice.

Elizabeth has converted me to being a believer in packing the Camelbak bladders with ice and keeping them in the fridge overnight, so we made a couple of trips to the ice machine for that, trying to be absolutely ready before trying to sleep. Otherwise I knew I would not sleep at all for thinking of it all, and I was without my usual BBC Radio news overnight, which I listen to as a way to take my mind of my own troubles.

Somehow a few stories about Darfur and Afghanistan put things back into perspective for me, and while I'm not rich, problems with A2A are wonderful “problems of the rich” to have.

With all the boot and frame issues, I had extra stuff to carry:

  • 2 HeliCoils (thread inserts);
  • a HeliCoil insertion tool;
  • 2 fresh 6mm x 1.0 bolts;
  • small needle nose pliers;
  • Zapagap CA+ super glue;
  • washers;
  • camera batteries;
  • skate tools;
  • 2 extra T-nuts in case either of us had a boot breakdown;
  • maybe even a small vise grip, not sure;
  • lite salt;
  • Electromix packets;
  • mucho PowerGel at 1 per 10 miles.

Finally we were both finished with our packs weighing lots, and with our 38 mile bag ready with 2 Camelbak bladders and lots of fruit and other snacks to pick up, plus extra camera batteries and tools. But we weren't really ready for sleep as much as we wanted to be.



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