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Speed Skating Forum Most of the discussions in this forum will be about inline speed skating but discussions about ice speed skating and quad roller speed skating are also welcome.

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Old September 23rd, 2015, 09:56 PM   #1
ajasen
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Red face A2A first-timer Q's

I searched "A2A" here and didn't find much in the way of logistical advice, and there's even less on a2a.net so here goes....

This will be my first point-to-point race, my first time in Ga, and I won't have any support to bring me supplies etc. My only goal is "to do it"/experience it. Without serious injury! And on a low(er) budget. I'm a bit nervous about logistics.

Where to stay? Ideally, I'll find aquaintances who can put me up in Atlanta or Athens. If it's Atlanta, how do I get to Athens on the morning of the event? Is there public transport that time of day? Likewise, if I'm lucky enough to stay in Athens, is there public transport to the startline?

Equipment Obviously grease bearings and Storm Surges just in case. Bike lights in case it's gloomy. What else?
Edit: it was bone dry this yr. I was on Atom Boom Matrix X-Firm. I'm 135lbs, and these wheels are rather soft. They really help me to roll over any rough stuff, and therefore I skated more confidently. They got really worn down due to T-stopping for red lights, but I'll take that over feeling less confident on harder wheels.

I generally use an Osprey Talon 4 Fanny pack that can hold 2 water bottles (usually I just take one 24oz bottle instead), gels every 45min-hr, and a Salt-stick every time I refill my H2O. That got me through two back-to-back 6-hour skating days in Montreal, so it should work here?

EDIT: it was perfect weather, starting cool and went up to the 70s I think. I used one 24oz bottle, and grabbed water or Gatorade at 4 checkpoints. Carrying one large bottle with space to hold the small bottles they give out is plenty, if you are taking it easy and don't mind stopping to get water.

Clothing What whether conditions should I be prepared for? Especially if it rains and is cold (for Atlanta), will I want a water-resistant shell, or will I be ok just getting wet?

Phone I want my phone to work just in case I get lost or crash or whatever (plus Stravabragging o/c, lol). I'm currently on MetroPCS, which tends to have spotty coverage outside of major cities. Anyone have experience with MetroPCS along the A2A route? I'd probably get a prepaid ATT SIM as the alternative.

Edit: Metro-PCS (and therefore also T-Mobile) worked fine for cell service in athens and atlanta. Along the route, data sometimes dropped, but GPS tracking (on android) was fine [i think some iPhones require data for gps, while android does not? ]. I had an external battery pack.

Route I've been warned about super-fast downhills already. Are there any hazards to be aware of? Like especially bad pavement, blind corners etc? I'm assuming if I'm in a pack, I'll be with ppl who know the route, but if I get dropped...

StartHow do they determine start placement? I have no idea what my pace is, but I'd like to be with a good cooperative pack that's looking to finish, rather than to finish fast. People who aren't above chilling out at a checkpoint for a few minutes to get water, refuel and stretch.

On a flat course (Montreal) by wheelsucking fast skaters, I managed about 84mi in 6hrs. On my own I just did a marathon on rolling hills (1400ft total climb) in 2:02:30.
Edit: I did just over 7hrs for a2a, including about 20mins total resting at checkpoints. So 6hrs (inluding stops for food + water) on a flat closed course seems to translate to 6:30-7:00 at a2a. If you can do 12hrs solo at Montreal, and practice some hill, pack, and street skating, you'll have no problem finishing a2a!

btw resting at checkpoints really messed me up! (legs tightened up badly, took a good 20mins of skating to get any sense of feel or technique back! Get water, pee, maybe swallow down a banana, and get going.

Anything Else?

Thx so much and hope to see you there (in 2016)!
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Last edited by ajasen; October 18th, 2015 at 05:34 PM. Reason: answered own qs
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Old September 24th, 2015, 12:36 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajasen View Post
I searched "A2A" here and didn't find much in the way of logistical advice, and there's even less on a2a.net so here goes....

This will be my first point-to-point race, my first time in Ga, and I won't have any support to bring me supplies etc. My only goal is "to do it"/experience it. Without serious injury! And on a low(er) budget. I'm a bit nervous about logistics.

Where to stay? Ideally, I'll find aquaintances who can put me up in Atlanta or Athens. If it's Atlanta, how do I get to Athens on the morning of the event? Is there public transport that time of day? Likewise, if I'm lucky enough to stay in Athens, is there public transport to the startline?
If you stay in Athens, there is a bus from Atlanta that leaves after the Friday Night Skate.
If you stay in Atlanta, there is a bus leaving at 5:00am.

You can sign up for either bus when your register or directly from the www..a2a.net at any time (click on "extras")

The most convenient (but expensive) solution is stay at a hotel in Athens. Commonly used hotels in rough order of conveniences are:

1) Hilton Garden Inn
2) Holiday Inn
3) Holiday Inn Express
4) Days Inn

The first three have sketchy availability this year but they do seem to be opening up a bit.

Days Inn is cheapest but you will need get yourself and all your luggage and check point stuff up hill to the to start line in the morning. Probably best to use a taxi.

Quote:
Equipment Obviously grease bearings and Storm Surges just in case. Bike lights in case it's gloomy. What else?
Other than a skate tool, I would say that is it for the equipment. I don't even carry a light. It will be often be gray at the start but there is little traffic at that point.

Quote:
I generally use an Osprey Talon 4 Fanny pack that can hold 2 water bottles (usually I just take one 24oz bottle instead), gels every 45min-hr, and a Salt-stick every time I refill my H2O. That got me through two back-to-back 6-hour skating days in Montreal, so it should work here?
It should work assuming some willingness to stop and refill. In many years, the bottles handed out at the checkpoints have been rather small and in a couple of places the checkpoints are 17 miles apart.

Quote:
Clothing What whether conditions should I be prepared for? Especially if it rains and is cold (for Atlanta), will I want a water-resistant shell, or will I be ok just getting wet?
It's hard to imagine a shell being useful. If it is a heavy rain year, you are going to get soaked no matter what you do. 87 miles will do that. If the rain is not heavy then it is fine to get a little wet.

In six years, I have only experienced one proper rain year. Cold was not a problem last year. Traction? yes. Cold: not so much. And I'm one who gets cold.

Quote:
Phone I want my phone to work just in case I get lost or crash or whatever (plus Stravabragging o/c, lol). I'm currently on MetroPCS, which tends to have spotty coverage outside of major cities. Anyone have experience with MetroPCS along the A2A route? I'd probably get a prepaid ATT SIM as the alternative.
I haven't much clue. I briefly powered up my T-mobile phone to check the route near Silver Hill last year but, otherwise, I keep mine turned off to conserve battery life.

Quote:
Route I've been warned about super-fast downhills already. Are there any hazards to be aware of? Like especially bad pavement, blind corners etc? I'm assuming if I'm in a pack, I'll be with ppl who know the route, but if I get dropped...
Krog Tunnel (near the end) is terrible. Stick to the left side of the lane if traffic allows.

When you pick up your packet, you get several pages of maps, turn sheets, and lists of known hazards. The hazards are mostly just "be careful". No special action required.

The night before, Henry gives his "rant" at the Classic Center in Athens. There known hazards are discussed and anything new since the printing of the skater packet will be explained.

Quote:
StartHow do they determine start placement? I have no idea what my pace is, but I'd like to be with a good cooperative pack that's looking to finish, rather than to finish fast. People who aren't above chilling out at a checkpoint for a few minutes to get water, refuel and stretch.
Everyone starts together. There are no controls. Your best bet would probably be to ask on the mailing list or the Friday night bus from Atlanta.

Blake Lambert (roadskater.net) is always good for a cooperative pack. But I think you are faster than he has done it in recent years.

Patrick M Thompson assembled a pretty good crew last year, mostly from the Boston area. I spent a lot of time with that pack last year.

I always wing it. Sometimes I get in a good pack. Sometimes I don't.
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Old September 24th, 2015, 09:57 AM   #3
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I have read reviews that Atom Boom wheels skate awesome in the wet, and often out perform storm surges. goo Perhaps putting greased/stainless bearings in set of booms knowing you will be right regardless of the weather would be a better bet than taking two sets of wheels.

I haven't got first hand experience with the booms to verify the information in the review however i have skated in storm surges when the track has dried out and it sucked real bad and I would never want to be in that situation in a race.

Perhaps someone else can verify the performance of the booms in the wet.
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Old September 24th, 2015, 10:24 PM   #4
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Thanks ESE, super helpful!

Hoping to get some decent hill training in this week. :-)
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Old September 24th, 2015, 11:05 PM   #5
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For what it is worth, my calorie hydration scheme for the last few events is as follows:

1) 3L camelbak filled with my preferred and well tested sport drink (Hammer Heed)
2) Dual bottle carrier similar to Talon 4 but with a tiny center bag.
3) Lots of gu
4) Electrolyte supplements (usually nuun but also Saltstick this year) just in case.
5) Dry refill of sport drink in a zip lock bag.

I aim to not stop before checkpoint 4.

When I start, the bottle holder is empty.

In the early phase, the air is cool. I suck down gu because I am not drinking enough to get adequate calories from the sport drink. As the day heats up, I reach a point where I don't need the gu anymore.

At checkpoint 3, I pickup a bottle to cover me in case my liquid consumption is higher than expected. I have yet to actually drink from that bottle.

At checkpoint 4, I stop and refill the camelbak with 2L for the 50K that remains. Since refilling a camelbak from small bottles is slow, I send at least liter size bottles ahead to the checkpoint. (I would send gallons or 2L bottles but the Kroger never seems to have them)

For this year, I am going to make a slight adjustment. When I start, I'm going to carrying roughly 1L distributed among two squat bottles. The total volume will still be 3L and contents will be the same as well. This will be move the weight lower which should improve stability in Athens on the early hills.
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Old September 28th, 2015, 09:11 AM   #6
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How quick/slow is it to get say 2 water bottles from a checkpoint?

It's interesting that you are carrying something like 6 pounds of water from the start. It sounds like one can't grab water without getting dropped from a pack huh?
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Old September 29th, 2015, 07:45 PM   #7
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I'm not a fan of the error prone grab a bottle on the go method. With practice you have a decent chance of getting a bottle but no guarantee. I think trying to discard and collect two bottles would be pushing your luck unless the pack wants to stop. Packs generally do not stop at checkpoints one or two. A brief pause at checkpoint 3 (38 Miles/Dacula) is common. The kind of pack that you seeking will almost certainly stop at 5 and 6 and probably 4.

3L of water certainly weighs but it is only about 4% of body weight for me. Further, carrying my own lets me fill it with what I want. The bottles handed out at the checkpoints are just water. Once the heat kicks in, I get everything I need just sipping from the camelkbak. I don't have to juggle gu and salt tabs and keep track of when I need to ingest them. Leaves more brain power to ponder whether that last yellow splotch was a turn or just a left over construction market.

It's not perfect, of course. I still keep gu and salt supplements on hand to make adjustments.
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Old September 29th, 2015, 10:39 PM   #8
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with practice and understanding you can grab water and get your place in line back.

Don't try to do it all at once.

pop out of line, grab a bottle, pop back into line
stride a bit and get settled back in
open the bottle and take a few swigs
stride a bit to stay sync'd up with those around you
cap the bottle and stow it.... or finish it and toss

grabbing a bottle can be hit or miss, depending on the abilities and training of the volunteers. (let's give 'em a round of applause!)

as you approach make it clear to them you do want water. extend your arm and make a grasping motion. zero in on someone and make eye contact. Pay attention to how they are holding the bottle and in which hand. Some people hold water bottles in a way that make it difficult or impossible to grab. (I love the finger-thumb cap pinch. I think it is the cleanest bottle hold possible, easiest for us to grab and keep.) If things get desperate... don't be afraid to use two hands. At one watering hole during NSIM'15 I finally got a bottle from the last person. I tried one of the first people, but they had the bottle cap loose and were firmly grasping the bottom of the bottle. When I grabbed the bottle it collapsed in my hand as the top popped off and water spurted everywhere and I dropped the bottle. Then, the next couple people pulled bottles back from me and looked like they were preparing to offer to skaters behind me. (what the ???? I thought.) Then, I'm not sure what exactly I did... but I made it clear I did want water and made sure I got it with a two handed grab.
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Old October 12th, 2015, 04:08 AM   #9
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I'm writing this in response to your questions but on the evening after the event (which I didn't make this year ) in order to get my thoughts out there for future A2A first timers.

The only time you would use the light would be for the Friday night skate (very useful for a few parts of that ~ don't miss the Atlanta FNS because its fun and because it familiarizes you with the turns at the end) and the tunnel coming into Atlanta. If you choose to use a light in the tunnel you would just have it ready for pickup at the aid station before there, don't carry it the whole way, that would be dumb. I think I did this a year or two ago, but that's overkill, and doubt others do it.

Near the start there will be a cardboard box marked for each of the aid stations. You can put whatever you'll need in those boxes. But have a ziploc type bag with distinctive markings so you can identify your supplies quickly when you get there. Don't make the mistake of putting your supplies in the cardboard box that Eddy will be in, he may eat your supplies.

My experience with wheels in the rain is that any wheel will get the job done if its not new and doesn't have mold release compound on it. Scrub a set of new wheels with brillo pads and water, rinse them, dry them, and skate 20 minutes on them making sure that the road scrubs into contact with all of the sidewall you will ever use in the event. Done, ready to go.

As for hotels, someone wrote above that the Days Inn is downhill from the start. Somewhat true but only getting from the parking lot to the next street, after that its horizontal to the start. The Holiday Inn Express is the one that's really down in a deep deep hole. Avoid that, there'll be plenty of opportunity to do self propelled hill climbs the rest of the day.

The bottles that are passed out are small, not nearly as large as say, a standard Aquafina bottle. Not a problem from a quantity standpoint but be sure your bottle holder will keep a small bottle secure. I've seen and done this - going down a fast hill in a pack you bend over to get low and a bottle falls out of the pocket on (in my case) the back of your jersey. You need the water because the next checkpoint is far ahead but are you going to leave the pack in the middle of a screaming downhill to climb back up to get your lost bottle? Its a sucking situation that is easily preventable.

You'll be carrying a lot of used up Gu (or whatever brand) packets by the end. Have a dedicated place for that mess. A place that isn't the same place your phone is. Been there, done that, seems like A2A 2007. Not good. Very not good.

As stated above a rain shell won't do anything useful. More useful would be a disposable jacket (be nice in the way you dispose of it) for the starting line wait. I've had a $4 tweed sport coat that I bought from the Salvation Army store in my closet for this purpose for at least 5 years but the weather hasn't required me to use one in that time.

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Old October 15th, 2015, 09:42 PM   #10
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Hey Tall, sorry to see and hear you did not make it.... so, next year for sure. And, alas I will be training for it, too!

We're hoping to see larger participation in 2016 with the excitement about skating that seems to be re-emerging. There is a resurgence out there, don't let folks fool ya (that comment is directed at anyone who insist upon saying skating is dead), skating is still alive and well, it's just not back to the 'hey days' of the 90's. Let's change that!

Those are great first-timers tips for anyone embarking on this long skate from Athens to Atlanta. I may add to bring a whistle - friends suggested that years ago. It came in handy at those intersections where officers were not entirely watching for skaters.

Rain wheel tips and water proof bearings, and other stuff:
also use petroleum jelly on the exterior bearing shields to prevent water from seeping into the bearings.

Test wheel combinations before event day so you knwo what works. We always pack rain wheels, any other wheel will inevitably slide out, and on uphill pushes that can translate into more effort expended trying to avoid a groin pull then actual achieved momentum forward. You can mix 2 into the 4 of your set, or use all 4 rain wheels. You just need traction underfoot when roads are wet. Whether you will use them day of will depend on local forecasts.

Bananas fuel your body and the potassium and magnesium are usually enough to ward of any leg cramps. Sports drinks with these elements in them will also do the trick.

Can't see nothin' in all this rain.... one issue I personally have in rain skating is raindrops in the eyes, and at some point glasses are so smeared and spotted its' hard to see, but without lenses one is left squinting. A sun screen visor on the helmet can have double duty to help keep rain from directly hitting into the eyes when it's really coming down.

Staying high & dry... Can't we just spray ourselves down with water repellent?! Once wet, the body temps dip, too, and result can be cold and tight muscles. Ultra-light rain shells, and even using heat body cream on legs and arms will help sustain/generate body heat, and keep body temps up.

Getting stoked for next year, and hope to see many of you Skate-Loggers on the roads in Georgia 2016!
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