Thursday, July 22, 2010

Authorized Downhill Skateboard Route in Argonay

Originally uploaded by lunatickle
Although this sign may seem intimidating, banning skateboarders from practicing on this road at any other time other than those specified by local municipal authorities, the living history of this location is supportive and promising for the riders in this sport.

This road has been transformed from a two way car route, to a one way car route that is then closed to cars for almost each Sunday afternoon so that downhill skateboarders, longboarders, can practice their sport.

This has been such a success over the past decade that four other areas in France have followed suit and have given over a road to the sport, again for a half day a week.

The flip side of this road closure is that the skateboarders have agreed to not skate in the village at all and as a mountain town, all roads are downhill--cruising around is not really possible. It seems that the riders in this community have complied and are happy with this arrangement.

They began with forming an association of downhill riders; it was then that they had a voice with council. Well done folks!

Merci de partager votre réussite avec nous, et votre colline pour cette belle course.

The Patron Saint of DH Skateboarding

Wolf is having a fantastic time here in Argonay France.  We arrived in this village on the outskirts of Annecy, two days ago for the IGSA World Cup Race, Graveyard Call.  We walked the road when we arrived to check the route when Wolf discovered an amazing thing:

Yesterday was registration and free-riding.  A very technical course with lots corners.  Everyone seems to be enjoying the challenge.

I hear the qualifying rounds have begun.  Must grab my camera and head back behind my safe spot behind the bales....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why are there so many pretty girls in France?

He asked me this over dinner, fillet perch and fries with salad, and he asked with all honesty and he's right, there seems to be an inordinate number of lovely young women, de jolies jeunes femmes, I should say.   And here I worried that he would be monocular with his skateboard race only in his mind that he would overlook the rich cultural environment we have found ourselves in... well my boy has not let me down,  not only can he concentrate and fixate on the race course, but that while still noticing les jolies jeunes femmes as well.

Medieval France is stunning, as are the summer Alps, and that is coming from a gal who is used to mountains.  The Coastals are beautiful and the Rockies are breath taking, but i'd have to say the Alps are pretty nice as well, and the towns near them seem friendly and welcoming,,, but I'll have to see how the next few days go first....
Pictures to follow.  

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Enroute to Toronto, To Montreal, To Geneva

Checked: One wheelless longboard, one very large very old backpack with a Canadian Flag stitched to it from my husband's journeys 20 years ago,  (a sturdy bag indeed) and a heavy micro-duffle bag stuffed with 10 sets of wheels, replacing the 30 dimpled field-hockey balls.

Carry-on: One blue wheeled bag containing all my attire for the next 17 days, one computer bag with camera, charger, laptop, travel documents, books, journals, extension cord and one european outlet converter, One purse (mine), one backpack containing one hoodie and one vintage notebook and power cord (without it would hold no charge at all).

Two excited travellers have checked in, all the way through to Geneva, but will wake in Toronto, and now lounge, repose, sip and sup in the very tranquil environs of the Maple Leaf Lounge... thank you aeroplan.

I have been looking forward to this trip for sometime, and finally... here it is and I could use a nap;(... but will wait to board the plane first.  no photos to report, and it is unlikely that wolf will let me take his picture sipping his sprite and tapping on his computer... I'll save the photos for something actually interesting.

au revoir mes amis!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Journey Begins

We've had weeks to prepare, to gather documents, tickets, passes and gear.  My gear consists of computer and camera; his includes a virtual crate of wheels, a board, leathers, etc.  I have had some difficulty convincing my son that this is not the same as camping where one set of clothing will do for the week.  It is France. We will be a week in Paris.  Camp clothes won't do, not if he's going with me, and he is.  One pair of well loved and worn jeans and a set of three-year-old swim trunks won't get you smiles when you try to get a table reservation at a restaurant, or entrance into some of the cathedrals.  So as much as he hates it, I have convinced him to go shopping and to buy some new clothes.  Wicked, controlling mother, I know, but too bad.

Train Pass Mix-up

I was writing up my itinerary yesterday so my husband would be able to get in touch with us during our journey when I discovered a most disconcerting error.  I had purchased rail passes for me and Wolf several weeks ago, one adult 4-day pass and one youth 4 day pass, each clearly marked with the correct name, but when they arrived via courier, the tickets had been transposed.  I should have taken photos of them for humour: Lorrie Miller youth pass: ages 16 through 24 inclusive... just a few years out of date.  With much wrangling I managed to get it straightened out with Rail Europe (still waiting for the refund), and have new tickets issued and printed at a local dealer with the correct names.  Phew... close, I imagined the stress and embarrassment trying to explain the mix-up on a train in France, in French-- not fun.
Argonay, France (location of IGSA's Graveyard Call)

Lonely Planet Phrasebook French

I have been to France, but that was over two decades ago, and I was a poor French speaker then, and was determined to improve my French following that trip.  I improved some, but that was again twenty years ago.  I've been practicing with Wolf and my husband (who is rather fluent--despite his denial) and it's coming back to me.  But all the same I thought I'd pick up a language support, but not a full on thick dictionary.  I chose the Lonely Planet phrasebook French.  It is a thin blue book with a reasonable front illustration and has 3500 words and phrases with easy to follow colour-coded categories:

  • rust: tools
  • teal: practical
  • olive: social
  • orange: food
  • aqua: safe travel
  • green: sustainable travel
  • plum: dictionaries 
The 'social' category, included 'meeting people, interests, feelings & opinions, going out, romance sports, beliefs, and outdoors.  This seemed very helpful to me until I began to read some of the helpful phrases to my husband over a glass of wine.  I could hardly stop laughing.  
Meeting people: " Tu es de quel signe?"  what sign are you?
" Est-ce que ta un fetiche?" Do you have a fetish?

Two phrases I will NOT be needing on this trip, but those and many others brought lots of laughter to our evening.

Shortly we will be on our way to....
Annecy Prison in Annecy France

(both images from Wiki commons as I am not actually there to take my own images... yet)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Death of a Rider: A mother's nightmare

The tragic death of well known and liked artist and competitive longboarder, Glenna Evans, has shaken the local longboarding community, and stirred public debate.

As a mother of junior racer, Wolfgang Coleman, I took the news the way mothers do, poorly.  I didn't know who it was when the news first broke and imagined all the beautiful faces of the female riders that I know or have met through Wolf, and then thought of her mother, and my heart cracked.  It doesn't matter that she was no longer a child, she was still her mother and father's daughter.  Their pain must be great.

This sad loss has made me reconsider my stand on this very fast sport and my complicity with Wolf's participation.  My first reaction was, never again; I must protect my boy.  Luckily that lasted for mere seconds.  My longer feeling was a quiet prayer to never know such loss myself.

How many people find a true passion in their lives, something that brings them joy beyond textual description?  How many young people find purpose and challenge in what they do? How many are able to compete at an international level?  How many find community in the physical face-to-face type that extends beyond any virtual network, friends to high-five, to trade trucks, to swap road-rash tales?

Some sports are riskier than others, but consider life-altering knee injuries from basketball and soccer, the bends and death in sea-diving, paralysis and death in horse-back riding, in snow-boarding, in skiing, in motor-cross riding, in mountain biking?  How about rodeo sports in general? If we look at the negative and very dangerous effects of lack of sport and passion in one's life, perhaps it outweighs any inherent risk?  I don't know; I'm just putting it out there.  Not everyone can be passionate about badminton, or table tennis, or golf... but golf has it's heart-failure risks apparently, but that may have something to do with the age and health of some of the players.

I also don't want to see a short-sighted public knee-jerk reaction with any sort of a ban on skateboarding.  This would be a step backwards.  Should we try to avoid death by closing hospitals, because it is in their walls where most deaths occur?  You get my point.  Riding usually results in fit, well transported and happy people.  And these are good things.

I will not take my son out of the sport.  But I will continue to insist on safe riding and safe training, and that means in a group, all the time.  Like in diving, and swimming, and sailing (usually) 'buddies stick together'.  We've adopted that diving rule and applied it many areas of our lives, and here is just one more.

In a few short days Wolf and I will be jetting to the French Alps for him to race in IGSA's Graveyard Call, and then to take in the cultural scene in Paris before coming home.  The race goes on, but I do know that Glenna Evans will be remembered as she has touched the lives of many with both her life and her death.  Rest in Peace Glenna, though I never knew you.

links: igsa's memorial page
Glenna's page