Mans 2008 : Interview of the Duo LondonSkater 2.0
Andy is Dutch, Merten is German, the club is English... lives Europe!
Why did you choose to participate as Duo ?Both of us never did any similar distance before, and going on a Duo seemed to be an interesting alternative to the usual 10 skater teams, in which we had skated several times before already. This, plus the special atmosphere of the Le Mans race, made us register. All the thinking about the consequences only came up after registering :)
What was your previous long skating experience before your Duo ?As far as I know, Andy's longest distance was a 200 km tour skate. I personally had skated up to 140km before, and participated in the German 84k championships twice. Both of us had been in Le Mans several times before.
Andy comes from the Netherlands and you from Germany, right? How did you meet? Why LondonSkaters Speed Team?Haha, good question. I joined the LondonSkaters Speed Team in 2004 when I spent several months in London, and ave stayed in touch ever since. Andy joined 2005, and I first met him in Le Mans, when we both raced for LondonSkaters as well. So racing the Duo for our common club was the logical choice, even though both of us live abroad.
How did you prepare for this event ?We prepared using a combination of long distance skating and interval based training. Also, several planning phonecalls helped us assemble lists of material and some strategy ideas. Since we live 500km apart, we met up only for one training weekend in May.
What kind of equipment did you choose ?We both raced on our standard skating boots. Andy used his 4x110 Powerslide boots. I skated on my old and proven 5x90 Mogema frames with a Junker custom boot.
Have you been supported by extra staff ?Yes, we were aided by a pit crew of two friends of Andy. Also, my girlfriend and my sister jumped in part-time when not skating, especially in the last hours. This was a huge help and allowed us to fully focus on the skating and not bother about all the other activities.
A fast start... quite gently
Tell us about the start and the first few hours...The start and the first hours went smoothly. We had agreed not to start too quickly, so during the first hours did not get an advantage over other teams. However, we also did not slow down that soon, which is why we slowly climbed up the leaderboard.
Smoothly? On the 4 first hours, your average lap time is 8'46" ! With some laps under 08', that is quite quick !Hey, there is only one sub 08' lap, Andy went a little too quick there :) But we were also amazed to see those lap times at the beginning, but since we both felt OK with this, we decided to keep the pace up.
During the 24h, did you eat, sleep ?Given our position on the leader board, we decided against sleeping and kept working on the same pattern as during day time. This was easier as it might seem if you think about it now. Of course, nutrition is very important for such an endurance event, so we used a mixture of small bites, bananas and instant snacks. Later in the race, I mostly ate PowerBar Gels and bananas, plus liters of electrolyte drinks.
Did you manage to communicate between partners over the 24 hours?We were equipped with radios, which helped to find us on the relay straight, and also to transfer a few words regarding situation and other skaters. Unfortunately, range and quality were rather limited. But in the end, having a radio was vital for me because I could then ask for any supplies I needed.
Did you find support on the track ?Yes. The coloured numbers for the Solo and Duo teams helped a lot. We'd like to thank our British teammates, plus all the unknown French sportsmen, for the drafts and encouraging words on the track.
A third of the event in solo!
Tell us about the last hours and the finish...The last hours of the race were critical for our team. Eight hours before the end, Andy had to stop skating due to a knee injury. This meant that I had to skate the final hours almost on my own. With all the support and by working hard as a team, I managed to keed ahead of the competition and preserve our 2nd position until the finish.
Woo! Alone after doing 100 laps ?! But you were not prepared for a solo ?!No. And after this experience I even more honor what those skaters achieve. I would not enter as soloist after this experience, since I now know what level of dedication you need to do this. But if you are in this situation, you just have to continue, and do what is possible. The only thing I had for these long was some mental preparation where I had gone through all the situations of the race, including what would happen if one of us would drop out. In the end I skated 380kms in 87 laps.
Don't you think Andy's injury is due to a too fast first hours?No. We believe it was either due to the 110mm skates, which might have caused problems when skating up the hill, fatigue or a hidden injury that was already there.
So you couldn't keep to the planned strategy ?No, but only since it was not possible to keep it up using only one skater. Until that point, our strategy worked very well and we would have continued with it.
Your strategy was to skate 2 or 3 laps each, right ? It gives a short break to take a shower or having massage ?We started off two laps each, but raised to three laps after a few hours. This was enough time to take off skates, get a massage, toilet, food, etc, but at the same time did not make us cool down too much or spend too long on the track at once.
What will you remember (the best and the worst) of this first Duo edition ?I will mostly remember my final passes of the relay area, the final lap and crossing the finish line. This was a very positive feeling that I am sure to remember forever. No worst memories, maybe the little crash I had in the morning.
Had you thought being on the podium when you came to Le Mans?Since this was the first edition, we had no idea about the level of the other teams. We expected hard competition, and only considered a little chance to get a podium. So we are very pleased about our result, also that the third team is from England as well. Despite our problem, many other things worked very well, so this is an optimal result for us.
Do you have other long skating project to come?Currently, nothing is planned. But we will definitely return to Le Mans next year, where we will hopefully skate together with a British team again! :)
LinksDetailled adventure on the blog of Merten
Mans 2008 : Bilan général (french)
Mans 2008 : Interview du London Duo (3èmes) (french)
Mans 2008 : Récit du duo Alex-Rick (french)
Mans 2008 : Récit du duo 8wd-Gillou (french)
Mans 2008 : L'épopée du duo Mystic et des MIL (french)
Mans 2008 : Miklc, pourquoi pas en duo ? (french)
Interview : 8wd
Pictures : all rights reserved