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Carolina Century Inline Skate Bike Ride 2008 Report: 102 Leaf-Catching Miles

eebee's picture

It's an idiotic compulsion of mine to buy new speedskate boots and skate 102 miles on them three weeks later. I love it so much I've done it twice: once in 2003 at Cruisin' in the Country in Claxton, Georgia, and once this past weekend in the smooth Piedmont of North Carolina at the first-ever Carolina Century to benefit MS. Other than earning myself a nice set of double-ankle-bones, I had an easier time skating for 10 hours than I had anticipated.

In spite of a three month fat-loading period, and cessation of training four weeks beforehand, I was able to complete the full 102 miles in ten hours and something minutes on new-to-me, non-molded boots.

After about three hours sleep Saturday morning, Roadskater and I made our way to the start at some huge church on the northern outskirts of Greensboro, NC. (Sorry: if I had to check all the place names I'd never even start this little write-up). To my surprise it had rained early that morning, so the roads were damp at the sunrise startline (6.49am), and the air was less crisp than I had expected. In any case, stripey orange-and-black clearance hallowe'en socks kept my arms warm, and provided faint blinky lights behind a plastic witch for fun, if not for visibility. 

We all missed the start time of the 6.49am sunrise, but 8 skaters set off together 11 minutes later. After a few hills and miles, Skatey-Mark, Northinsouth and Tomb broke away, leaving Roadskater, me, Tom from Raleigh, Clarence and Lisa on a slower pace. After about 6 miles (?) Northinsouth was waiting for us and jumped in to join us. Honestly, for the first three hours I think I was still in 'leave me alone, I don't want to know the mileage' mode. Bright autumn leaves slapped me in the face, reminding me of a game I played with my childhood siblings, where we would dart around under the falling oak leaves in the churchyard, trying to catch them as they jumped out of our grasp: if you caught a leaf as it fell directly from the tree, you'd have a whole day of good luck. Regurgitated leaves caught in an updraft didn't count - they had to be freshly falling.

Pack dynamics and personality combinations sure are fascinating! To avert my mind from worrying that we were only a quarter-way through the 102 miles, I tried figuring out a solution to the problem: if skater A would prefer not to skate in front of or behind skater B, who'd rather not skate behind skater A, and skater C would not like to skate in front of or behind skater A, and skaters D & E are too slow on the uptake to notice, what's the fastest way to get the whole pack moving in the direction of the finish line? Winnie the Pooh logic led me to the solution that we should all try to skate as fast as we could away from each other, inadvertently forming a swift pack.

Tom from Raleigh decided 42 miles of hills with mountain views were enough for one day, which is an incredible achievement since I understand he didn't train any this year. 

Our 5-skater paceline trekked along for another twenty miles - the pack dynamic now focussing largely on finding a bathroom and/or food at any given mile. I was feeling good at this point, having decided to ignore what I was convinced was a silver-dollar sized blister on my right ankle. There's a cute little town on this skride and I'm not sure if it's Reidsville or Summerfield, but I love it! The quiet crossroads in what might be the town center is surrounded by four warm brick buildings, which seem to be standing up well to the test of time. Man I hope nobody buys the town and turns it into a strip mall. 

After a few miles of Scalesville Road (I think?) at about 1.15pm, we approached the familiar crossroads with the fire department rest stop at mile 63. Happy to have come this far with no cramps, I inquired about the two leaders to Tomb's wife. I felt less proud when she said 'Oh I think they came through here about noon!'. I turned around to see Northinsouth had officially decided to throw in his skates for the day, and Clarence was approaching me to tell me goodbye. I had hoped we'd all make it the full crazy distance. 

The Dwindling Party of Lisa, Roadskater and myself set off on the lower 39, enjoying almost immediately some spectacular views, which the Summer's haze and full greenery had concealed in previous months. There were the mountains of Virginia right in front of us at the top of a mile long downhill! Who knew? Despite having already skated 65 to 75 miles I was completely euphoric at this point, and was enjoying Lisa's giddy banter and Roadskater's cramp-defying candor against the backdrop of the fiery autumn colors. Skating along Lake Brandt Road being pelted by leaves, it finally sank into my brain: any day spent trying to catch autumn leaves is a day of good luck. 

Then the confounded three mile climb up to the town of Bethany took the wind out of my sails, and not knowing whether to expect any volunteers at the local fire station, Roadskater and I tried to guess who the tiny speck was in the distance, and the even tinier, very much more animated speck running around beside it in the parking lot. It was Northinsouth's wife and daughter! Like Michael Phelps, I was at a loss for words. I was so touched that they'd still be there, and we three were most definitely last. As we rolled up to the table of goodies, we saw that Northinsouth was there too. 

The final twenty miles were absolutely horrible for me, as out-of-shape cramps kept my calves and shins locked up and my mood snappy. As Sod's or Murphy's Law dictate, the odds are good that any portion of 102 miles of smooth asphalt will be reduced to sticky tarmac and gravel within any two day period, and this happened up near Baker's Crossroads. It's funny what your mind homes in on when you're in distress. As we gritted our teeth on this fresh batch of gatorback, a line of cars decided to pass us and all I could think about was how these motorists were ruining all those chances for lots of days of good luck. We were caught under the most stunning leaf shower at the time.

I will let Roadskater tell the tale of the nice Christian man who stopped to wish us well, and destroyed all faith I had in anything as the sun was rapidly sinking. Ten miles before the finish had me doubting I could complete the journey, as if seven years of 87 mile A2As had conditioned my legs to think it'd never get any worse than that - and then I go and slap another fifteen miles on the end. Lisa had kept her mind occupied with thoughts of mph averages and whether we'd make it back to the finish line before sundown or not, and after a few miles of that, used it to egg me on into believing I could actually finish. And by the way, Lisa pretty much had an easy time of it skating at our speed, and could have gone much faster if she had wanted to. But safety in numbers, etc.  

Half a mile from the finish, on a moderately busy road, I swore to my two companions I was not going to finish and I didn't believe it was a half a mile and they must be lying. But then of course there it was, the huge church on the northern outskirts of Greensboro. I could hardly believe there were about ten of our friends and Roadskater's family still there, waiting in the cold to greet us, and take photos of our goofy-skated international finish. It was three minutes after official sunset, at 5.15pm.

What can I say? Hot chili for those who waited or skated until the sun went down!! Hot coffee! (Thanks Maggie May). 

I am amazed at Roadskater for his oomph, vision and conviction to create this event, and I am deeply grateful for all the volunteers who showed up happily and lovingly to help out, either on the day or in the weeks beforehand.



MikeB's picture

Congrats to you

How did you do it? 102 in one day, on new skates... simply amazing. And to be a part of this inaugural skate is quite special. Congratulations.


Eebbee, Thank you very much for the report. Wow, unbelievable – I would have liked so much to be part of that journey, it sounds just liked something “crazy me” would do. I hope your ankle is healed up. Do you think the special “Ezeefit Ankle Booties” would prevent blisters on your ankles? I love your game with the falling leaves. Have to remember it for next year since all our trees here dropped their colourful robes a few weeks ago. Now they are standing around bare waiting for the white furry like coat to keep them warm through the cold Canadian months. (Next day add on – it snowed over night) I hope roadskater took some pics and will post them soon. Got to love his passion to the sport and the cause. Not only is it a lot of work to put something like that on, it also takes a lot of guts – a big round of applause I am always blown away by the big hearted volunteers that so generously give their time to make events happen. Congratulations to all skaters, bikers and volunteers for a successful first North Carolina Century Ride.
eebee's picture

Heel Bone Bruise, or Spur

Hey Marianne! Wish you could have been here too. Thanks for the reply. Yes, courage and volunteers are essential to putting on such an event, and I can only claim experience from mostly watching as Roadskater devised his Carolina Century plan. I was happy to do whatever task he needed me to, but the guts were all up to him.

Here's a really gross image of what my heel looks like (it's somebody else - I'm somewhat less hairy). Heat molding my boots would help the most, which I will have to get around to doing. In the meantime I plan to only skate a flat track, so I can push out to the sides, because if I'm doing hills I'm pushing somewhat backwards and exacerbating the issue. Walking and running in anything other than bare feet also make it worse.

I bet your surroundings look beautiful with that snow covering.

From all the photos I can

From all the photos I can tell that you all had tons of fun on that memorable day.

Ohhhh, it hurts just by looking that heel. Let me know how the heat molding went. I still have not purchased new skates, but I just found out from Julie Glass that one can mount brakes on Luigino’s. That’s a bonus. I don’t know what’s holding me back now…

The white gold has since left the Bow Valley and we are performing the legendary snow dance 24/7. There is somewhat enough of the white fluff on the slopes to ski, but everybody is on their “rock skis”. The Canmore Nordic Centre is bare except for the man made stuff. A loop of only just 1 km has been prepared to accommodate the first Biathlon races already underway this weekend.  


eebee's picture

Vocab lesson, please

Ok Marianne, I give up. What is a 'rock ski' and what does your local version of a biathlon entail? I saw something about different cross country skiing, and shooting stuff. I guess it makes sense for you to buy some new skate boots when it's thawing outside, so you can be instantly gratified after buying them. Speaking for myself as a long-distance outdoor skater, I don't think doing circles in a rink on new boots would give me an accurate first reading of how the boots fit out of the box. Having said all that, if you see a great bargain...go for it...and then tell us about it so we can experience the thrill of new boots all over again through you.
roadskater's picture

A Guess About Rock Skis

Having grown up near the ski areas on North Carolina, I'm going to hazard a guess that rock skis are like rain wheels...the back-up or old model skis from years past that you now use when conditions are poor, with not enough snow around, and patches of grass and rocks that may be uncovered during the day of skiing in conditions above freezing temps. This may not be right, but I remember many of those days in NC of course, where often it's cold enough to blow snow overnight but the next day is gloriously warm and sunny (for winter). It's a bummer to get wet if you fall, but if you're past falling pretty much or have the right clothing, these days can be lots of fun...good for your soul, if not good for your ski bottoms.

Rock Skis and Biathlon?

 Yes, that is exactly what Rock-Skis are. A pair of old boards that saw better days with more powder and now don’t might end up in the recycling bin, should one take them beyond skiable. People used them to reconstruct something else out of it. Like a bench, or in some parts of the world (e.g. Switzerland) they are cemented in to walls along the highways that go through cities to keep the noise level down. Biathlon: once you know what the heck you are actually looking at, it is much more interesting then just the classic cross country skiing events.  If you scroll down on the page  http://www.answers.com/topic/biathlon  you will find the history and the Basic concepts along with the rules of the sport.  -Much easier then me trying to find the right words to explain it- The Swiss Army is still training soldiers in the mountains equipped with skies and riffles.  If for nothing else, they all stay fit and have fun doing it.  LOL 

In the meantime we got some snow; despite the blue skies, it is very cold. This morning minus 19C

I love downhill as much as the free styles cross country skiing and I am out there every chance I get.

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