Skating: San Francisco Friday Night Skate and the Napa Valley Inline Marathon

Lisa’s Trip Report “ San Francisco Friday Night Skate and Napa Valley Inline Marathon 2004″

Ahhh – nothing like a cool one, sittin’ by the dock of the bay. Christine, Ty and I began race weekend sitting at the outdoor patio of Lou’s Blues Bar down at Fishermens Wharf, watching the Bush Man scare the s__t out of all the unsuspecting tourists walking his way. Later, a stroll along the waterfront produced a fire eating street performer all the way from New Orleans and a Merry Go Round ride at Pier 39, followed by a Thai dinner near the hotel. Friday saw us shopping in Union Square, strolling through Yerba Buena Gardens, munching goodies in North Beach, and riding along the water front in a Surrey with a Fringe on top. We met up with Barb on Friday night for dinner at Pompei’s Grotto before the famed Friday Night Skate. After having geared up in the parking lot across from Denny’s at Fishermen’s Wharf, Christine, Barb and myself were off, followed by Ty on his rental bike.

We cruised down to the Embarcadero and met up with all the Frisco skaters at Pier 39. Accompanied by great tunes, all sorts of people with all sorts of wheels skated, danced and did tricks until we were ready to roll at 9 pm. Off like a shot, the pack zoomed down the Embarcadero sidewalk towards Pier 39 and the park. Ty and I lost them at first, but caught up at the second pit stop at the top of the hill in the first park. About 50 or so skaters cruised through the Presidio area, stopping first at the Palace of Fine Arts, then for refreshments at the ice cream store in the Marina district. It was great rolling with so many people, as we took over the lanes through the streets. The Broadway tunnel was horrendous – I went through it too slowly, I guess, and lost all feeling in my legs. Through another tunnel, down another hill, tricks at Union Square, and then Ty and I left the group to return his bike and they carried on until midnight. What a great experience!

After a late night drive, we arrived at the Calistoga Village Inn and Spa at 2 in the morning, and after a morning wine tasting at the Silver Rose Winery, we hung out pool side Saturday, a fabulous, hot afternoon. Sunday morning we were up at 5:30 am to cool, overcast weather; we knew that the cloud was going to burn off later but conditions were perfect for the race. I’d estimate that there were about 125 skaters all hanging out in the parking lot of the Silver Rose Winery, impatient to start (129 racers started the course, 95 finished). Teams present included the Phoenix Predators, Tucson Speed, Monterrey Area Speed, Bay Area Inline, San Diego Street Elite, a group from Austin, Texas, Team Safe, and several others whose names escape me. Then – boom – 7 am and the race began.

The course was a 6.5 mile stretch of the Silverado Trail, winding up hill and down through wine country. We positioned ourselves about 2/3 of the way through the pack and moved out steadily. After about ten minutes, after having gone up a hill, we lost Christine.

Barb, Billy from LA, and I continued together in a small pack. The uphills were horrendous, real leg killers, but the downhills were great. We really got up some speed on some of the long curving downhill stretches. Along the flat areas we were also able to make up some time, which we lost again on the next hill climb. The Trail was closed to traffic, which was great, so we could take the entire lane and move around when necessary to avoid rough pavement. We saw the first several packs moving fast on the way back as we completed the first quarter of the race.

We had to slow down quite a bit to negotiate the turn around but picked up speed again along the flat. About half way along the Trail back, we picked up Diane from Tucson Speed and near the end of the first half, Roy, who looked as though he was hurting. I felt good during the first half of the race but the second leg was bad. About mile 15 I lost contact with my feet and couldn’t feel anything and my back was starting to ache. We still had our little pack of five and picked up another woman for a little while but lost her on the last turn-around. The last leg of 6.5 miles was tough for me with an aching back and sore feet and the clouds had burnt off by this time so it was starting to get hot. On the last uphill before the finish Barb and I couldn’t stay with the pack; it pulled away, Barb pulled away and I limped along for the finish.

Our aim was to try and finish under 2 hours, and I had hoped to stay on my feet for the duration. I was successful in the latter but not the former. Barb rolled in at 2:01:47, I was 2:02:17, and Christine finished in 2:06:06. Given the hilly conditions, we felt good about our times. Christine emerged victorious in her age group, and took the podium for the silver, while my time was good enough for 4th in the Master B Women. Initially, Barb was going to receive a medal in the Grand-Master A Men category – apparently the name “Barb” didn’t clue in the time recorder as to her correct category. So close and yet so far! Great food and tunes at the finish, and a great time was had by all as far as I could tell. We had just enough time for a quick dip in the hotel pool and spa before heading back to catch our plane home.

Check out the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association website for race results, Napa Valley Register newspaper coverage and (coming soon) video and pictures. www.cora.org.