Monthly Archives: December 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

This will be the year I make more time for skating.

Be safe. May you enjoy health, love, life and good leftovers.

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Skaters do it in-line

Opinions are like bearings for inline skaters. We’ve all got them; we push them hard and they’re a part of what makes us roll. Some are smooth as swiss chocolate; others have been cracked open and squeak like a mofo. In the end, they get us to our point, and online inline skaters like to make their points loud and clear. Pace line etiquette is a topic that sparks some excitement as it turns out.

"BACK OF THE PACK JACKASS!"

I set out to get some feedback from dedicated skaters on rules of decorum for indoor pace lines to create a short list of “Do’s and Don’t’s” that could be used to make “practice” pace line skating safer and more civil. Well, the trail to hell is paved with good intentions, and there ain’t no stop signs or speed limits when you turn some topics loose on the online, inline skating community. Anything goes in the ether, and it usually does. Fringe fanatics like us with narcissistic tendencies thrive in online forums, where we’re free to be our inner Emperor, only a flaming post away from imposing our dogma on the inline faithful.

What follows is a compilation taken from a hearty discussion on the matter at hand, use it as you see fit. Or, not.

“We’ve upped our manners, so up yours!”

LAWS OF PACE LINE ETIQUETTE

Pleasant words, agreeable manners and safety for indoor inline skaters.

  • It is good form to announce your intention to pass someone in the line ahead of you. “OVER!” works most of the time. “MOVE IT FAT ASS” is only a last resort.
  • If you have dropped from the pace line, wait until you are lapped and join in at the rear of the pack. You don’t try to jump into the middle of the pack.
  • If someone who has dropped tries to jump back in line in front of you, and you have not dropped yet, kick their skates out from under them and roll right up their rear.
  • Regarding the previous point, another alternative is to use your arm to block their re-entry by laying it up on the skaters back in front of you.
  • If you are going to quit then get out of the way.
  • Don’t go wide on the corners because the pace slowed.
  • If you make a bad pass move to the back without being told to do so.
  • If it’s a pace setting pace line, keep a steady pace.
  • If a “move” has the potential of causing you or someone else to fall, don’t do it.
  • Have and show respect for yourself, your sport and your teammates.
  • Shut up & skate.

If you haven’t yet read the post that led to this list, it’s here. The online discussion was…interesting to say the least, like a game of telephone gets interesting when the last in line needs to spill the beans and reveal the collective retard in the room. Some highlights, somewhat edited:

ADDENDUM TO THE MOST RIGHTEOUS LAWS OF PACE LINE ETIQUETTE

  • People who consider themselves to be exceptions to the rules won’t obey any rule you come up with. Just block them out.
  • Anyone that is struggling or already been dropped/quit from either an indoor lapping paceline or overtaken by a passing outdoor paceline should be viewed as someone to be in front of.
  • Even if you’re hanging on for dear life sometimes you need to push yourself and make that move as long as you can do it safely and intelligently.
  • As soon as that gap opens just a little it should become second nature to just take it. If you’re wondering, “gee whiz, I wonder if they’re gonna close that back down” then you’re thinking about the wrong things and letting someone else race their race instead of you racing your race.
  • Anything that would be called foul by a referee you should not do, anything else is a good practice.
  • This is not a tickling competition, this is speedskating now PICK IT UP!
  • You workout hard to make your competitions easy.
  • You have to put in the hard work to achieve excellence. There aren’t any shortcuts.
  • If you are faster and stronger you belong in the front, if you get dropped, you don’t belong in between the people who haven’t got dropped yet.

Thank goodness I have a thick skin, or I’d be as tender as a rink-rashed hiney with all of the inference and innuendo of some of the more colorful replies to my simple, humble query. If I were that kind of crybaby, I know just how I’d handle it…

Hammer time.

…and it’s all legal till a ref calls you for it, right?!

12/23/09 Training: Late afternoon practice, spent an hour rolling the 110’s indoors. Wow – that was brutal. So this is what everyone else is rolling these days, huh? Seems like a lot of work to get them going, but once you do, there’s a definite pick up in speed. They’re a lot heavier than my other set up, so being aware of lazy steps is absolutely critical. I don’t know if I’ll stick with this. Lot’s more to feel out with this.

12/24/09 Training: Day off. Get my Christmas cookies on!

12/25/09 Training: 40 minutes on the slideboard at the invitation of HorseyPants. I guess she can see where I’ve been hiding all of the Christmas cookies she made.

12/26/09 Training: 2 hours at the rink on Saturday morning with David, John & the kids. Took it easy, working the 110’s indoors.

12/27/09 Training: 2 hour indoor practice – 100 laps, plyos, isolated pushes. Was a tough practice because of personal reasons, some of which will be making it into a future post on how to keep kids interested.

12/28/09 Training: Day off. I’ve taken more days off this month that I have in like three years.

12/29/09 Training: 1 hour indoor practice. Sessions cut short because the rink is open for extended Christmas Vacation hours. Was a good practice. The kids help me find ways to keep them interested in coming back!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Skaters - You're All Winners to Me!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanza, Happy Holidays

Pace line etiquette

Welcome to my whine tasting post. Cut some cheese and grab your crackers, I need to bust loose… 

That grown men shouldn't compete with children seemed obvious in hindsight.

Our Sunday indoor practice sessions are pretty grueling. To start the session, we line up fast to fastest and we’re supposed to set a pace we can keep steady for 100 laps, with the pull rotation on each 5th lap. What usually ends up happening is that the pace starts gradually building until the elites rotate through the lead, usually somewhere around the 30th lap, then we try to maintain that pace, whatever they set, through the rest of the 100 laps. (For background – our elites are the coach – a speed skating Olympian – and two nationally ranked girls, aged 12 & 13.) If you can’t hang with the line, you either drop to the middle of the rink or clear to the outside and keep skating till the line is done with the drill. Sounds simple, right? 

Before I fell and hurt my rib, I was hanging with the elite pack for the full 100 laps. Near death when it was over, but I was hanging. And it was fun, because at 2 laps to go, it turns into a race. The biggest thrill I had was after having busted my butt for 99 laps, I was able to come in on the heels of our coach after sprinting it out. If I could have hawked I’d have had him. But a week or so later I fell, and I’m still recovering. That and I’ve also changed my set up with some new frames that are heavier and have a higher center of gravity, so I’m just getting used to them too. Working hard, not quitting, not whining too loud at practice…till Sunday. 

Seems people are always pulling crap in front of me in a pace line. A sure way to cause a pile up.

We got up to elite speed and we were flying. I really felt like I was getting myself back up to pre-fall performance. At about 40 laps to go, it was just the three elites and me. I was feeling great! The coach was even commenting on my form, and it was positive feedback for a change! I finished a pull and got on the back of the pack. And truth be told, that’s something I’ve had to work on too, being able to stay with the pack at speed as I rotate out of the lead. And I did it! I was right back on without missing a stride. But then one of the other skaters, who had bailed on the pack when it started to speed up to take a 10-15 lap breather in the middle of the rink decided she wanted back in. So in she came, and aggressively cut in front of me… 

At first I was taken back by the blatant disregard for my hard-earned position in the line. But then I thought it would be fine because she could take a pull before my next turn. No biggie. What I didn’t expect is that after a lap, 1 freaking lap in 4th position back, she quit again. Right in front of me. There was nowhere to go, and the elites were getting away. 

I was able to get around her and catch the pack, but it took a lap of sprinting to do it, and when I did catch them, they were keeping their same, steady, fast pace. There was to be no rest after all that sprint work. Then they started to get faster. Having spent too much energy catching them, I was struggling to hang on for the next 10 laps. I was cooked and knew I wouldn’t be finishing this one with them. My stride being broken and with nothing left in the bank, I stood up and watched the train leave the station. I was torqued. 

Is it too much to ask the coach to enforce some etiquette out there? If you’re going to drop from the pack, fine, skate at your own pace in the middle. But if you want to get back on the pack after taking a breather, you need to get on the back of the pack, in the tail position, and work your way back to a lead pull. Seems fair enough, don’t you think? I said as much to him and he agreed to lay down some rules. 

This is why practice is great, because you learn some important lessons. For me here, I should have pulled a quick leap frog after she got in front of me. Because when you’re going that fast, a quick burst is going to be a lot easier to recover from than a lap worth of sprinting. Good experience, despite my inner cry baby. WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH

12/18/09 Training: Day off. The big cookie contest at work. First Loser took first place with a Scandinavian almond cookie cake! No skating, but I’m going to need to – these cookies have 2 cans of almond paste and 2 1/2 sticks of butter in them. YUMMMM

I skate so I can eat things like this. THAT'S motivation.

12/19/09 Training: Indoor practice. Wasn’t really into it. Some laps I felt really strong, others I was wondering why I was out there at all. Slight burn out day I guess. On a high note, my daughter is coming out of her shell and starting to be very competitive with David’s daughter. It was fun watching the two of them duke it out in a 200m race! 

12/20/09 Training: Full indoor practice – 100 laps, plyos, lap the pack. Rib is feeling much better and I’m more confident in the new set up. 

12/21/09 Training: 14 miles outdoors on 110’s with John. This was my first time on 110’s. Lot’s to talk about with that experience, post to come. 

12/22/09 Training: Snow is coming so I did a quick 10 miles outdoors solo on the 110’s in the wind. Light indoor practice, lots of work on staying low. Quad burning drills and wall sits when I got home. I’m going to feel this tomorrow…

A Sentimental Skate

There’s nothing quite like trail skating in Colorado in the winter. This is life inside a Hallmark card. Join me… 

The snow lies in cool, pillowy blankets to either side of the trail. White, clean & neat. There’s hardly a soul out here; we own this trail. 48 degrees, sunny and no wind. A gourmet recipe for outdoor winter skating. 

Poudre River in winter. This is God's country.

The mallards gathered in a hole in the ice, their bright green heads made more luminous in the reflection off the water and snowy backdrop. Christmas is next week, and this feels like an early present.  

Whew…I needed that. 

I love skating. 

12/17/09 Training: 10 miles on the Loveland Recreation Trail. Absolutely perfect.

Slippin’, Slidin’, Electroglidin’

I was reading the Old Farmer’s Almanac today and, there’s really no kind, old-fashioned way to put this –  it said I’m screwed. It’s going to be a long cold winter here in Colorado this year. The snow that comes early usually melts pretty quickly. We don’t shovel here on the northern Front Range, we sweep. Not this year though.   

"There's an 80% chance you're pooched till March, Buddy. Take up ice skating, there's more of a future there."

Temperatures here have been frigid, but they’re warming up. It was in the 30’s today. With the sun at high noon, it’s really not that bad to be out and active in. I was going to try to hit the rec path at lunch but that just wasn’t in the cards.

SIDE RANT: I do not refer to the Recreation Path as the Bike Path for obvious reasons. Skater’s Rule, Cyclists Drool. Up yours – I’m faster than you anyway, Lance. ON YOUR LEFT!

I digress…We’re fortunate here in the Loveland / Fort Collins area in that we’ve got something like 40+ miles of paved rec path, and during the winter months the Parks & Rec folks do a darn good job of keeping the paths clear. They’ve got the mini-me of snowplows and they use them! So other than the occasional spot of ice under one of the overpasses, we’re free and clear to skate year-round if we can brave the cold. I’m hoping to get out at Boyd Lake with my buddy John before Friday. We’ll see. 

In the meantime, there’s the slideboard. You know, the skater’s version of a dry-hump. It’s almost as good as the real thing, and it leaves you just as spent and wet in the end. A masterblader’s dream, it’s truly a wonderful invention. I put in an hour on it this evening, and I’m happy to claim a little progress: I’m finally able to do it like Derek  does in this clip:  

down in the heel, belly on thigh, with a tight arm swing. It wasn’t this easy last year. And hey – no (severe) back pain. I guess that’s another benefit of all the indoor training. I’ll take it! 

Or there’s always ice skating. What with that little party up in Canada in a few months, everyone is talking about it. But Speedy Weezy and I tried it, and we both decided it’s not for us. But I really bailed because he didn’t like it. Maybe we could get all geared up like hockey players, but do ice speed skating instead. Or, better yet, Roller Derby On Ice! Really high-speed, super sharp blades, and really cool armor. 

A few years from now, post-apocalyptic Canada will come to know the meaning of Toecutter.

A few years from now, post-apocalyptic Canadians will come to know the Toecutter of ice.

OK – I took the inspiration for that one from a blog I read earlier. The writer said her son likes to skate for the gear. In his case it’s hockey. He can wear a chest protector, shin guards, elbow pads, gloves, and helmet when they go grocery shopping. He does this because “it makes me look like a Transformer.” Should have thought of something like that for Speedy Weezy. 

Man, time to go take a shower, I smell like Mad Max’s leather after a month in the Outback – crikey! 

12/15/09 Training: Did about 150 laps indoor with John & David. John has been working hard on indoor form and is really coming along quickly. He doesn’t see the speed like we do. He’s improved a lot in just a month back inside. Still, we’d both rather be outdoors, and hopefully we can do that before Friday. 

12/16/09 Training: 1 hour on the slideboard. Worked on staying low by keeping my belly on my thigh. It’s easier to do that when you’ve been eating cookies all freaking day.

Best left to professionals

Did’ja ever have one of those “Ah-Ha!” moments when a universal truth dumbs itself down just long enough for you to get it? The afterglow is refreshing, like the feeling you get making your own warm spot in a cold pool. I had one of those moments last week…   

Chop goes the weasel.

I tried to cut my own hair. It was one of those “bucket list” things. And I was doing so well. As you can see from the top and sides, I was able to blend a #4 & #5 with relative success. I left the back alone, because 2010 is the year the mullet is making it’s well-deserved comeback. (Long live Joe Elliott!) I’d done pretty well trimming the side-burns and over & behind my right ear. It was the passing behind the ear on the left that did me in. I always go wide…   

The starburst pattern calls attention to the perfectly formed lobe. The chicks DIG this.

Now consider, this was last Wednesday morning before work. My schedule that day called for a pow-wow with my right and left hands, and some quality face-2-face with my boss. Oh yeah, the big company Christmas meeting, where 300 of my coworkers would converge to make merry. That too. Brilliant. So I started to think of excuses…   

10. It’s a small tribute to Mr. T’s comeback.    

9. Did it on purpose, for the team.   

8. It goes with the straps on my experimental, custom helmet.    

7. Allows for more sanitary storage of chewing gum during indoor practice.   

6. Lost a bet with a vindictive stylist.   

5. The kids did it when I was sleeping.   

4. A piece of gum fell in my helmet and I didn’t notice till it was too late.   

3. !#$%^&*@ SUPERCUTS!   

2. I work hard to look like an a$$hol3, how do YOU do it?   

1. (After applying bandage with ketchup stain for blood) – emergency brain surgery.    

I actually thought for a minute or two that I could get away with it. I’d just laugh it off. Certainly, walking around like this would make me more approachable, wouldn’t it? Yeah, right. Think fast…   

Hoodie to the rescue. I'll shrug it off.

Fast feet, fast feet…I’m thinking, I’m thinking…Well hey, it’s only one more week till Christmas vacation. I’ll alternate between the hoodie and my wool turtle neck. Maybe even go polo collar-up for a couple of days. Call out sick one day in between…I can do this.   

Well, the hoodie barely covered it if I shrugged, the turtle neck didn’t reach, and the collar-up Gay 80’s ain’t never coming back. I’m screwed…   

The high-collar look updated with mantyhose. HUGE in France.

I could have tried to fix it myself. I was tempted. But having trimmed down to expose the roots of my stupidity, I decided to cut my losses. It was Shawna at Wal-Mart Smart Style to the rescue.

I was outside the salon at 8:45 waiting for her to open at 9. Sitting there in my hoodie and sunglasses, I looked like Aqualung and felt like a schmuck. $20.00 later, I’m happily sporting a high fade cut that works well for your average 14 year old.  

His parents should be shot. Seriously.

It could have been worse. So I’m looking at the bright side. This haircut is going to require me to keep my winter workout schedule up, at least until it grows back, because I start to look like the man with no neck when I gain weight with really short hair. And wow – your head is no place to try and save $15.

Now, how can I trim my nose...

12/9/09 Training: Elliptical late in the afternoon. 45 minutes, but no less sweat with shorter hair.   

12/10/09 Training: Day off.   

12/11/09 Training: 1 hour on the elliptical, level 7, 6.5 miles.   

12/12/09 Training: 1.5 hours at indoor practice. 100 laps split in two. Still getting used to the new frames and recovering from the rib injury. This is going to take a while.   

12/13/09 Training: 2 hours indoor practice. 100 laps, plyos and lap the pack. Also spent an hour in the new laser maze at Rollerland. Think Caterine Zeta-Jones / Entrapment. THAT kind of laser maze. Too freaking cool. Did the easy level in 16 seconds! (Speedy Weezy did it in 14.8!)   

Our lasers are green.