187 miles on a Longboard….
Hey ho folks, Meet Eric Lowell (Chris’s cousin!) who pushed 187 miles on a longboard in 24 hours, please read about his experience.
Written by: Eric Lowell
The moment I stepped on a longboard, approximately four months ago, I fell in love with idea of propelling myself forward in a way I never thought possible. In a sense longboarding set me free, and the “Whirling Dervish” video started it all. In my mind there is not a better feeling than knowing that you are twenty miles away from your car and the only way back is by surfing an endless concrete wave. Running once provided that rush for me, but running can be hard on your body. In a short period of time I started testing my physical limits in terms of how far could skate. 15 miles lead to 30 and I began to wonder if these types of distances were normal for a longboard. Every single time I got back to my car I never wanted it to end, and without a doubt, I always knew I could do a lot more.
When I read about Adam, Nat, and Sheldon, and their New Zealand adventure on this blog, I remember thinking, “This is the coolest thing I have ever seen.” I must have read it 100 times. These guys are super heroes to me. Its funny how this all started or maybe it was just destiny. But I started toying with idea of really trying to do some long distance skating on the OMA (Old Man Army) Forum. I was so stoked just to be skating and Nat picked up on that. He told me about James Peters and the Ultraskate. After learning of James and his previous Ultras I still didn’t fully understand what it was about, but I knew if I was going to test my physical limits then this would be the ultimate test.
James is nothing short of amazing. His passion and love for the sport show in every way. I contacted him in Seattle and he was excited to have me come all the way up from Houston to skate with him. Our first race together turned into a 14 hour rain day marathon. It felt more like a big slip-n-slide than skating. There where a lot firsts for me that day. Rain can be a major mental challenge but skating with Sheldon motivates. Even with the rain I still managed to push out 166 miles on my beloved Dervish. At the end of that race I remember talking to Sheldon and thinking “I don’t know if I want to do this again.” Even though I had not done any pumping because of the rain I knew in dry conditions it would play a major roll in body preservation. James Peters is truly a master when it comes to this, and I was grateful to spend some time talking with him about it. The day after the race James showed me a deck he had been toying around with. A hybrid – something that was low to the ground and yet pump-able. He was still working with it and the board uses something I had not seen before, a set of brackets created by an engineer, Mark Groenenboom. The moment I stepped on it I knew this would be part of the future of longboarding. Even though I had murdered myself just the day before, all I could think about at that moment was “You will never get a chance to ride this again. Enjoy this moment.” I think James was a little surprised that I was even stepping on a board.
When I got back home I contacted Mark, and as politely as I could, I begged him for a set of brackets. When he found out what I was trying to create he told me about the Loaded Fathom that is in the works. Furthermore, because he was stoked that the brackets could contribute to distance skating, he said he would get me an extra board that he had for some testing. When he told me this, I just about lost it, in fact doing kart wheels down my office hallway. In a short period of time I received the board with a set of his brackets. I was able to get it dialed and geared with a set of trucks better suited for pumping. We worked back and forth for all the weeks prior to the Ultra 4 and I must say it was a joy getting to know him and becoming his friend. I ended up cutting my Dervish to the same size as the Fathom Proto deck that he sent me, hence the reason why I called it the Fathom Proto. The Dervish was pretty beat up after the Ultra 3 but who knew Mark’s brackets would bring new life to such a beautiful board.
Building up to the next race the rumor that Barefoot Ted was going to participate lingered heavily in my mind. I first saw Ted jump on a board at the last Ultra. He only did a lap but he had this look in his eye that said it all. Ted is what I consider a world class athlete. He runs Ultra Marathons barefoot, and he is in peak physical condition. Facing him at this race felt like climbing Mount Everest. Ya – people can do it but you might die trying. Then there was James, the world recorder holder. He is solid muscle. I’m just an average guy that just loves to skate, but I had huge desire to do well, if not set a new record. So what do you do? Well I started asking a lot questions, which resulted in vague answers from James. Up until this time I’d never even seen James pump other than in videos. I was truly going into this blind. The day I got there I was eager to skate with James and show him my Fathom Proto. Truth be told after I saw him pump, I thought, “I’m in big trouble”. I trained back at home in 100 degree weather skating almost 20 miles a day. I would even skate up 9 story garages just for the fun of it. I was ready, I knew it, but seeing the best can really be a mind job.
The day of the race the reality of what was in front of me started setting in. Knowing that you are about to skate aggressively for 24 hours is mentally hard to swallow. I’m always stoked to skate a long time and I would frequently skate up to 8 hours on Saturdays, but this was different, I remember James going over some things before the start, but all I could do was pace back and forth trying to clear my mind and get myself into a zone. Once the race started, James and I jumped out in front. At about the 15 mile marker I remember skating side by side with James. I kept looking at him to see when he was pumping, in essence queuing me to pump. At times I would cut loose and pump my brains out because the trail conditions were so perfect. There were many times on the trail with the Fathom that were pure magic. The more I skated the more stoked I got. James and I knocked out 50 miles and immediately started the next 50. James had been calling me a camel because I didn’t carry a water bottle. And for the first 50 it was cool but the second 50, water and Gatorade were my sole desire to get to the end of the trial. I would race in front of James just so I could find a water fountain and get a sip without him passing me. I think he thought I was ready to bolt, but I was just trying to get a sip of water. I ran into one that had just a trickle coming out. When your thirsty you can make a little go a long ways. Rookie mistake, but I managed.
As James and I got back to the car after completing 100 miles, I remember feeling good. I had some pains here and there, but nothing that wasn’t expected. We had a real good jump on Ted so I wanted to keep it going. So we jumped in the car and proceeded to Green Lake, which is where we would finish out the rest of the race. On the drive there, James informed me that he did not think he would continue. I was in shock, which then turned to concern. I didn’t realize that we had done 100 miles in just under 9 hours. James said his pace to keep up with me was a bit fast. I felt terrible, I didn’t mean for this to happen. Remember I didn’t know how fast James was and I felt that he was holding back and about to strike at any time. In retrospect I was going way too fast, and even though I felt good I should have slowed down and paced myself more. This proved to be costly at the end of the race. I think James instinctively knew this. Pushing your body that hard and for that long, something has got to give.
Once we got to Green Lake I immediately started knocking out some laps. Green Lake is 2.84 miles of perfect pavement. The day turned out to be spectacle and the crowds were quite thick. When your skating you can be traveling anywhere from 7 to 18 miles per hour. Dodging large crowds can be tricky at these speeds, and many times I had to come to a complete stop. When you’re a bit tired already from the previous miles, it’s a challenge to be on point to dodge pedestrians.
Before the evening hit a number of skaters from the NW longboarding forum had been doing some laps around the Lake. In a surprise to me Taylor Barrett ask me if he could take some photos of me skating. We did a lap together with some additional NW skaters. I was completely stoked to be skating with them. Body pains by this time were becoming more prevalent and having someone to talk too really took my mind off of it. He ended up taking some killer photos as well, which I greatly appreciated.
As the sun set and the crowd died down, I started to wonder were Ted was at in terms of miles. I knew he was catching up with me and I knew he was still looking incredibly strong. Up until this time I had not rested much to speak of. My body was beginning to scream at me. My knees were in complete agony. Even though the Fathom was a hybrid that I was pumping and pushing on, I had pushed a bit too much and my knees were completely wasted at that moment. Although I could pump with the Fathom it does take a bit more energy to do so. My knees needed a break so I asked James if I could borrow his Roe Mermaid. Pumping is a strange thing, although the action of it can seem very simple it has a way of sneaking up on you and zapping your energy dry. Within just a few laps his board gave my knees the break that they needed. But later I found myself pushing again because I was so exhausted. I immediately went back to the Fathom and proceeded to finish the race with it. My knees got just enough of a break and I was truly happy to be back on the Fathom.
At about 1:00 am Ted had caught me, maybe even passed me. I had to make a decision, was I going to let him pass me with or without a fight. Again I still had 7 hours to skate. No matter how much pain I was in, no matter how tired I was, I had to try. I ended up giving everything I had. I even passed him on a lap. I can honestly say I left everything out there. I finished the race at 187 miles. I placed 2nd and beat my previous record of 166 miles. Ted did an incredible 242 miles setting a new world record. For an average guy to brush shoulders with two world champs is still quite an honor. Two days later, I was walking around almost completely normal. It’s pretty awesome to think you can go out and skate 187 miles and then can be almost back to normal just two days later. I attribute this all to one thing…….my Fathom Proto.