We stopped for lunch around noon. We were in a little shopping mall of sorts that had a lot of different types of food available. It was not mall food, there were just a lot of independent eateries around.
A handful of us went into a place that was part indoor part outdoor. We were sitting at a table more or less outside. I set my helmet down in a planter I was sitting next to. 20 minutes later when I looked at my helmet it was covered in ants. My wrist guards were in the helmet, so those were covered in ants too. Was surprising how many ants were interested in my helmet.
After lunch the skating got more difficult. Harder terrain, steeper hills. Some steep climbing up hills as well as steep down.
Above is a somewhat intimidating hill. The path is not very wide — not wide enough that I could slalom down it anyway. It also is not smooth which makes t-stop or the heel break more challenging. It is steep, and there is not a lot of room at the bottom. The green at the bottom is a railing for the stairs I went up to take the picture. At the top of the hill is somebody on a bike for scale of how far back it really is.
I went down with a t-stop — I think she suggested using the new stepping plow stop, but yeah screw that where failure has some severe consequences. I went with that I knew best. She was standing halfway down watching people go by. She complimented my t-stop as I went by which felt good.
In the picture, that is the assisted descent that she offered for anybody not feeling like they could make it on their own. Gary is braced against the marshal who is stopping and Asha is assisting because he is having some issues still. He needs to be applying the brakes himself too, just braced against the marshal, but there were some technical issues doing that. I totally get why he requested assistance, the hills were very intimidating and his stopping was pretty spotty.
Nikki was the only other one to take advantage of the assistance on hills. She was reasonably new to skating, did not have a heel brake, had that issue with the strap on her skate, and was missing a wheel at this point.
I am having serious thigh pain now.
Next task is crossing the river and descending a planked ramp that has a 180 degree turn in it that goes back under the bridge we just crossed. The planks are maybe 4 inches across and they have small gaps between them. This makes the heel break almost impossible to use — at least for me. T-stop is not incredibly easy to do with all those gaps too. Catch – skip – catch – skip – catch – skip. Not only is it not very effective trying to use a friction stop, it is really awkward to lurch around like that. I used the handrail to counteract the lurching and t-stop to control my speed. That was probably not her intended approach, but I bet I was not the only one doing that.
I am sure Asha planned out the hills like this on purpose. Almost every hill we went on had drastically different terrain to deal with.
We did some hill climbing that was very strenuous. Really miserable hill to go up. It was steep, my legs were on fire, and the sidewalk was all misaligned cement, that was broken in many places. I tripped and staggered my way up the hill. At this point I am the last one in the line, other than the poor rear marshal who had to stick with me. I had to stop twice to get my legs to work. No pressure there… bunch of skaters at the top of the hill watching you lurch your way up so that we can all cross the intersections together.
This was followed by some downhill which is not remarkably better than up hill due to the effort it takes to not careen out of control. Fortunately, our next lesson was here off the side of the downhill. Nice big flat smooth area where Asha went over crossovers.
I felt less bad about not participating in this lesson since I can do crossovers already. I am sure that she could have found ways for me to improve them, but at least it is something I was comfortable with.
The flat area we were skating on linked to a bridge that crossed over some train tracks and then sharply zigzagged down the other side. This was Asha’s next grueling downhill stopping trial. With the sharp 180 turns, you either controlled your speed or you were in trouble. She asked us to do the stepping plow stop again. As awkward as it feels, I am glad she kept asking us to do it. It is so unfamiliar to me that I would not have practiced it as much if she had not kept reminding us to try it. On this hill she also stood right there at the top and critiqued your technique so there was no real avoiding it this time.
Shortly after that was a brief rest stop at a park to refill water. My legs are in serious trouble now. I am getting to the point where they are cramping a little bit as I stride. My weight shifts to the support leg so the other can push, and the support leg is starting to just fail.
After our water break I did not make it much farther. Just a few minutes after that my legs stopped being able to support me. Was not just that it hurt, that had been all day, but the muscles would knot up as I tried to support my weight. I physically could not push anymore because neither leg would support my weight by itself.
So I sat down to get off my legs. Incidentally, in another pile of ants. I am not sure if Australia has a ridiculous number of ants, or if I am just really good at finding them. Within seconds I had a dozen or so crawling over my legs.
That is the point where I gave up for the day. This was around 3:15 pm. I was told there were another 4-5 kilometers to the end and part of that was a significant climb. I knew I could not make it up another hill with my legs like that. I was on a flat path where my legs gave out.
The rest of the group was not too far away in a park. Asha and one of the other marshals came back with some magnesium tablets which are supposed to help cramping. Turns out that was from one of the other skaters, so thank you Alyssa for the meds! She is in a couple of the pictures I already posted – sitting in the park with our skates off and next to Javier in the power slide lessons.
I put my shoes on and walked up the trail. Weirdly enough, walking did not hurt in the slightest. Totally different muscles being used.
Once again the spectacle of me coming up while everybody lounging around in the park. Asha was nice and used it as a lesson to talk about cramping and knowing when to say you have had enough.
One of the women with us was also a physical therapist so we got some instruction on stretching out particular muscles.
I used my first ever Uber ride to come rescue me from the park. The driver picked me up around 3:40 so I came really close to making it through to the end of the day.
Javier told me the next day that the trip ended up being around 25 km.
I was a little disappointed that I did not finish, but I still made at least 20 km (difficult kms, not easy trail kms), and skated from 6:30 am to 3:30 pm. That is a pretty full day that I am reasonably proud to have completed. The other skaters are beasts of fitness!