Meet Joe Flames
Greetings fellow pole vaulters, my name is Joe Flames. I am a Vaulting Pole from the elite ESSX Vaulting Pole Family. My bloodline dates back many generations to the clans of Sky-pole MFG. CA, CATAPOLE, FiberSport, and EssxSport. My friends say I am a revolutionary, but between you and me, I am almost identical to my ESSX brothers and sisters, and though I hope to one day fulfill a glorious destiny I must first find a worthy master that can lead us to victory…. But I am getting ahead of myself.
My story begins far removed from my ultimate fate, in a depths of a cold, dark and lonely storage facility. Like all other poles, I did not come into the world as a pole… no, I found my start as a roll of high-performance fiberglass cloth sitting on the shelf of a sub-zero freezer at ESSX Factory, Texas. I remember my birth as if it were yesterday.
The door to the cooler opened, and out of the light appeared my creator. His name was Bruce, and upon our first meeting he told me I was destined for something special. Straight away, I got a haircut which he measured to exacting specifications following specially designed patterns created by a few innovative men (later I discovered these men to be Earl Bell, three time Olympian, Rigoberto ( Beto) Marin an engineer and Bruce Caldwell himself). Bruce gave me unique serial number, and told me I was going to become a famous World Class Vaulting Pole with a glorious future because of my special traits that no other pole had:
1. Consistency from one pole size to another
2. Little or no low-bend into the landing system
3. Excellent roll-over with great timing for my vaulter
Naturally you can imagine that I was overwhelmed with such a lofty outlook for my life, and as my temperature began to rise after leaving the cooler I dreamed of glory as Bruce laid me out on his rolling table to be fitted for my future very flexible structure.
Moving up to the ranks to become a World Class Vaulting Pole is no easy feat, and it requires a lot of perseverance and dedication as I soon found out. First, Bruce measured and then re-measured me for my initial quality check, while inspecting my special weave of glass to insure that all of my strands were aligned lengthwise. When he was satisfied, he said I was now ready to become a pole. My fiberglass cloth patterns were formed into the shape of a pole using a special steel rod called a mandrel. As things were heating up in the bright lights of the workshop, Bruce had other plans as he smacked me with an even warmer heat iron that made my surface sticky and helped attach me to the mandrel. Bruce and his team wrapped me in several layers of fiberglass cloth, beginning with a hoop wrap that was rolled on to the mandrel to provide structure so I will have enough strength to recover from the elliptical shape I get during flexation. After that I received a body wrap that was rolled on top to provide the stiffness, power and speed I need to return to vertical. Next, they placed a critical piece of cloth around me called a sail wrap. This allows me to roll with strength, and control the shape of the energy flowing into my structure. Then there was the last piece…the butt wrap. It was a funny looking piece, but I didn’t mind because when they added this strip of lightweight carbon to my feet it really improved my carry-weight, strength and stability!
Before going further I have to say thank you to a very special person. His name is Beto Marin, and throughout the whole process of getting wrapped around the mandrel, he made sure I stayed in tip-top form. Beto was at the helm as I was being placed into the special roller which laminated the various layers of my surfaces together to ensure that all of my fibers lined up with the length of my structure to give me the best possible strength and performance. Raymond another pole maker who has made poles for many years works close with Bruce and offers a cellophane wrap to my body! This wrap allows more pressure and keeps the pole from sticking to the forming bag in the oven. Kudos Beto and Raymond… Thanks for everything!
With my special fiberglass and carbon pattern pieces in place on the mandrel, and my entire body coated with Beto’s Secret Sauce, it is time to go for a bake in the custom designed Fusion Oven made especially for me. The oven helps all my layers fuse together and my shell cure into a strong and resilient Vaulting Pole. Before heading into the fusion oven though, The process requires me to wear a coat, called a forming bag, to protect me and help create my unique form. After being so cold , I welcome a coat! Think of this coat or they call them bags like hollow rubber bands inside a tunnel over 18 feet long. A vacuum is used to open them up so I can crawl inside and get cozy, and then after a few more poles (brothers and sisters) settle in next to me, the vacuum is turned off and the bag contracts over my surface to provide constant pressure.
Now firmly seated in the fusion oven, my insides heat up as a special oil heat transfer system controlled by a sophisticated automated computer control kicks in and sends the temperature, up, up and away. The pressure gets really intense as the mandrel grows inside me from the heat and pushes hard against the forming bag on the outside of my surface. The heat skyrockets from 195 degrees up to 280, and then finally I reach a blistering 350 degrees! Amazingly, as the heat rises, I feel my body changing; I am morphing from a few layers of cloth into a hard but very flexible tubular structure. Then, just when I think I am going to explode it is over. In an instant the heat begins to fall. The pressure decreases. After a few minutes, the vacuum is turned on to draw the bags back and I am removed from the fusion oven. I feel amazing!
One thing I forgot to mention previously, is that before I got to Xlogic Sports, Bruce had my special glass fibers impregnated with a unique resin formula that creates a smooth finish when the automatic computer control system turns up the heat and pressure during my curing. This system does not cut corners like most fast cure systems used by other pole makers. XLOGIC takes their time flowing my resin to make sure I am silky smooth and that my fibers stay perfectly aligned as the heat is ramps up! Good show…XLogic!
Now out of the oven, I feel really strange. Though I am still extremely hot, and in a “gel-like” form, I can feel that I have come out of the fusion oven stronger than when I went in. Remarkably, I am rigid, strong and flexible all at the same time! After I have cooled down a bit, Bruce comes over and slaps me on the butt a few time and my body pops off the mandrel. I am still hot and a little gel-like, but I am cooling down quickly and as I do I feel that my body becoming stiffer and stronger.
My ends are ragged from the left over resin that flowed out of my fibers to make me leaner, but Bruce takes care of this in a snap; trimming the rough area off and sanding my ends to make them smooth. After the trim, a 50 lb. weight is placed on my belly to see how much stiffness I have developed in the oven and then retained after I cooled. Bruce gives me a bar code, and then snaps my baby pictures while I am naked (how embarrassing) before sending me to the dressing room for my clothes.
You know, the life of a world class vaulting pole is not easy, and one must certainly look the part. I am not one for formal attire, but I have to say that my flames suit is outstanding! The exquisite black and white jacket are complimented perfectly with a flame tie down the center. I have a mark on my back to show where my back side is away from the box, and my shoes are a specially designed flames pole tip to help my vaulter fly higher… Awesome!
What a momentous day… Bruce inspected me and said I looked great. I was totally stoked when the Xlogic Sports Staff christened me an “Official ESSX Vaulting Pole” before placing me in my storage bag to stay clean.
I guess the only question now is when will I see my glory day in the hot, hot sun? I wonder who will ride me to victory? Maybe it will be a High School State Champ, or an Elite Collegiate Athlete, or even an Olympian or World Record breaker…hey, maybe if I’m lucky it will be YOU!