This week's column:
How To Skate a 24-hour Event
April 25, 2012
Hi, Bill: I am going to compete in a 24-hour inline event in a team of two skaters. We will be taking turns with only one of us skating at a time. I am wondering how often we should rotate: every half hour ... every two hours? - Petr from the Czech Republic.
Hi, Petr: I would recommend two-hour shifts. That way you will both be able to get some decent rest — and maybe even sleep — when you are not skating. Getting as much rest as possible is key in a 24-hour race.
Also, make sure to drink lots of fluids. Take water with you on the track and recharge regularly with power gels.
When you finish your turn skating, eat immediately. This will help your body recover in time for your next shift. Eat easily digested foods, like bananas and bread and jam (or honey).
Also, remember not to kill yourself at the start of the race. It’s imperative to establish a reasonable pace that you can sustain for 24 hours.
By the way, I did my first 24-hour event in the late-1960s. I skated solo, without a teammate, and completed more than 400 kilometers in a pair of Hudora artistic skates.
A few years later, I was part of a 2-man team in a 24-hour race on fixed wheel track bikes. My partner and I were switching off every two hours. But then he disappeared. I tried to finish on my own. But eventually I cramped up and crashed into a wall.
My next experience with 24-hour events came as coach of the Bont team. The team finished second in the Le Mans 24-hour two times.
Another time we were poised to win the race when — after 23 hours and 50 minutes of skating — the officials disqualified us because of a problem with our paperwork. It was the biggest load of rubbish I ever encountered in skating.
That said, I can tell you this: Even with nine skaters, which is how many we had, it is difficult for a team to go full out for 24 hours.
So be sure you set a reasonable pace. You can always speed up later if you’ve got anything left.
Good luck, Bill