This past Halloween weekend I joined the southern bound geese for a trip to Austin Texas and a weekend of skating, topped off with the fun race Tour de Doughnut. This was an amazingly positive cap to my season. I can’t remember having as much fun hanging out with skaters for a weekend in a long time. I didn’t put the hurt on anyone at the line, didn’t win any fancy awards, but man was it a good time!
I had originally been planning to attend the Houston Inline Marathon. I was even helping out Justin with some web design for his web site for a little bit earlier in the summer. I had planned Houston as my last big competitive race for the season and was looking forward to it a lot. But, after finishing Deluth I just felt that my competitive season was at a close and that the season had been long enough…time to focus on fun and recovery.
So my plans changed. For the first time I did the Defi, that was a blast, and I brought home a good pound of Montreal smoked meat…the kind of left over sandwiches I don’t get tired of! In addition Brian Shicoff offered me free hosting for an entire weekend in Austin over Halloween, allowing me to skate the Veloway for the first time (really great by the way!), have fun around Austin and then on Sunday November 1st, skate the Tour de Doughnut for fun. This was too tempting an offer to turn down, have some fun, see the sights and hang out with skaters for the weekend.
The weekend started with a slight hiccup, my connection through Denver got delayed by two hours due to a snow storm and my arrival time was pushed back from 2PM to 11PM…not ideal, I was able to wrangle up a different inbound set of flights though, and still turned up in Austin at 3PM, Brian was waiting for me and we took off from there.
First order of biz was to get some skating done! We hit the Veloway, had the grand tour and then settled in for some laps. Over the next 25K, Brian and I traded pulls, and found some local cyclists to skate with. The Veloway is a great technical course; lost of turns – both ways, and a very short and steep hill that sneeks up on you via a 90 degree turn, actually there are several 90 degree turns. Its definitely a course where you want to pay attention pavement quality is good to great, but most importantly, it was built for _only_ wheeled sports. Nice. After refueling with some spicy Indian food we hit the coffee shop to hang out with other locals.
Saturday morning was some more quality time on the Veloway. This 30K (6 laps) rolled by quick, we had other local skaters there and we broke into little groups to have some speedy fun. Afterwards Brian gave me the tour of some of the sights around Austin and in particular we went to see the Drew Barrymore roller derby movie “Whip It” at the Alamo Drafthouse.
The Alamo is, in a word, AWESOME. Unlike most theaters, there is a small counter between your row of seats and the next row. This counter comes with a menu, and the menu is a complete menu…perhaps you see where this is going? Not having to haul your ass out to the popcorn counter is one thing, but having someone actually bring you beer and pizza while you enjoy the movie…priceless.
The movie (Whip It) is a fairly pedestrian teen coming of age story. As a skater I can identify with it, but outside of the Alamo I’m not sure I would want to pay for a ticket. Still though, it was a great addition to the weekend of skating.
I also picked up a couple of T-shits, they do awesome T-shirt prints while you wait, you can pick from movie posters, album covers etc. I ofcourse went with the giant robot T.
To top off an amazing lunch/movie, right next door there was a little guitar shop that had a mix of off the shelf axes and some well used axes that had clearly seen some glory. There were at least two (priced over $2,000) that I was immediately drooling over. If I go back, I’m bringing my Amex!
The evening was a little bit of computer gaming, hey whats a great weekend without some zombie blasting? Quick dinner at the Firebowl (Asian cuisine), and then a two hour driver over to Katy Mills to stay overnight, since the race was at 7:30AM. All typical skater logistics, except that, Brian provided yet more entertainment in the form of Eminem wrapping along the way. I also have to give credit to Brian for introducing me to Charlie the Magical Unicorn…a bottomless well of potential jokes.
Skaters at the Tour (photog: Renee Coffman)
Sunday morning was the main attraction, what with free doughnuts and all Things were delayed at the start a bit, but otherwise a smooth easy start. Everyone was jazzed up and ready for co-operative fun skate. Most the skaters were local, I think I was the only skater to come from out of state (way out of state!). More details below, but if you prefer immediate gratification (like me!) check the footage from my new camcorder:
The race benefits a Charity (Make a Wish foundation), and the corporate sponsor Shipley Doughnuts provides the doughnuts. These are a key ingredient! These tasty doughnuts are not greasy and actually easy to eat and digest while your skating. More importantly they make for a lot of unique strategy. Each doughnut you eat at a rest stop gives you a negative 5min time bounus. With this race is should be possible to do a sub-hour marathon time!
Simply having the best wall clock finish time will not win the race for you. I was first across the line among the skaters, but failed to eat enough doughnuts, and so I was relegated to 3rd place. In addition there are two routes; a 28 mile route and a 55 mile route. The skaters all opted for the inner loop, but the outer loop has two additional stops, allowing for more doughnut eating. Depending on whether you decide to draft skaters or cyclists you have many possible ways to lower your time.
Everyone we feeling co-operative so we elected to stick together. Some of us were chomping at the bit to dial it up, but we all kept things in check. We also consciously made an effort to skate among the cyclists with as little obstruction to them as possible, keeping things safe and positive. It was hard to resist getting on the wheel of some of the faster cyclists passing by, but today was about fun We all stayed together until the first rest stop.
At the first rest stop I snaked a couple of doughnuts, and our train was once again chugging down the track. We found a cyclist just above our existing speed though, and some of us switched tracks to draft him, while others stayed back in a second group. I think our group at that point was myself, Robin, John, Wayde, J.D. and William. Our group drafted the cyclist for most of the way to the second rest stop. I was really surprised with how easy, comfortable and quickly the race was going. Perhaps it was just the sugar from the Shipley’s?
At the second rest stop we just kept cruising, the group had gotten paired down to just me, J.D., John and Robin. Shortly after that we hit the one section of bad pavement on the course, 5-6K of gator back. Its bad, but not un-skatable. You won’t like it, but it will kill you either
At the next turn we skated up over an overpass to get back accross the highway and make the final stretch back into Katy Mills. J.D. filled me in on who was a sprinter and who was endurance. No sooner had he given me the lay of the land then the fun and games started! John and Robin (in the Bont suits) bolted from the front, I went with them and we started trading attacks and counter attacks. About 1-2K from the mall J.D. locked up and had to drop back because of cramps. On the second last attack coming around the bend to the mall, John and I were duking it out to come up to Robin, and he pulled a groin muscle, then had to drop back. I caught Robin and we traded one last attack, but he cramped up as well, and had to stand up. I rolled past and 50m from the line we both gave it one last kick. I was a little ahead already though and was able to edge him out at the line.
I attribute my lack of cramping to the Shipley’s…should’ve had some doughnuts boys!
Congrats to Art Garcia, top skater of the day, his three doughnuts trumped my two Kudos to all the skaters who showed up and made it a fun/positive skate. Special thanks to Brian Shicoff for being an awesome host, and to Charlie the Magical Unicorn…for the all the giggling.
If you need an excuse to eat doughnuts, this is it! I highly recommend attending as a skater. If you skated with the intention of a sub-hour finish time, it would be entirely possible. If I’m there next year I’ll be aiming for that. I hope I am there next year, The Alamo offers lots of great shows.
That said, my outdoor season is now at a close. The hail/snow/rain is setting in good, and the bleakness of Canadian November has arrived. I’ve already started my indoor/off-season training. I have to say though, this weekend was a huge injection of much needed positive energy. Now I’m stoked to get my feet on to Miami pavement in February