Monthly Archives: January 2010

Peter Doucet in Verizon ad!

Ladies & gentlemen, the honorable and most distinguished Mr. Peter Doucet of for Verizon. Peter is the guy with the beat phone in the blue suit.

How cool is that?

1/27/10 Training: Did an hour on the elliptical, level 5, 6.2 miles. Took it easy due to the crud. As I type this the snow is falling again. Looks like slideboard tomorrow.

Strike a pose

There are few sports where the camera is as unforgiving as it is with inline skating. Particularly outdoor inline skating. I’ve seen some pretty horrendous “nut shots” in soccer, but nothing like the limbs-akimbo contortions I’ve seen looking at inline race photos. Honestly, the camera captures us in some positions I find utterly impossible to recreate in a staged way.  


Some of the less-than-flattering shots of my illustrious skating career are presented here for your snickering pleasure in this brief (quasi-)photo essay. Don’t just skate there, let’s get to it, strike a pose there’s noting to it…looking like a loon while skating that is.  

The funky white-guy dance.

Getting caught in really poor form is one thing, but it’s really the faces that tell the story, don’t they?  

The many reasons I shave in the dark.

I think I’ve been caught making every phonogram face. Why is it that all of my pictures look like I’m taking a social call from Rectal Rooter? 

My friends end up in some unfortunate shots too. I made the mistake of posting a picture of a friend of mine to the old Inline Fitness site and got the smaller inset picture in my email the next day. 

Bib & skate blurred to protect the !@#$%.

Lesson learned – never post pictures of your friends pronating online without their consent.  

But for all the lousy shots my buddies and I end up in, there’s always one in the local skate club who never takes a bad picture. Always in great form, always smiling, always smooth, Mr. Cool. Every damned picture…  

Mr. Speed Weasel - Titanium Tone. Just add camera.

Some of us wait years for a good skating picture. Seriously, this dude has a scrapbook full of them. I’ve figured out his secret. You wanna know why he’s always caught looking like he’s having a good time? Because he IS having a good time. That’s the only reason Tony skates – to have fun with his friends. No matter what kind of race he has, and like all of us he’s had all kinds, but no matter what, he’s smiling at the finish line. There’s a lot to be said for that. When this guy’s on wheels, the good times roll.  

This game is nuts...

But hey, all things considered, I guess funny face pictures aren’t all that bad. It could be worse. GOALLLLLLL!!!!! 

1/24/10 Training: Stayed up all night with the kids watching NSC: Tribulation so slept in a little. Dragged myself to practice but had to leave early to attend my nephew’s birthday party in Denver. Was able to get 80 good laps in with “the fast kid” and the coach before I nearly coughed up a lung because I’m dealing with the crud. I get so conflicted when I know I shouldn’t push myself too far. I probably shouldn’t even have gone to practice, but I didn’t want to miss the 2nd to last 100 lap drill of the season. Nuggin’ futs I guess. 

1/25/10 Training: Day of Rest. The Lord said unto him – skate today and I shall smite you. Skate I did not, and here I sit. Guess that’s called good listening? 

1/26/10 Training: Led the Rink Rabbits around tonight and I think we had the best time ever. I did this thing where I’d just shout GREEN LIGHT GO at the top of my still raspy lungs at moments they didn’t expect it. They went nuts! The kids are really coming along. They’re all learning their cross overs and getting very low in the corners. Lot’s of laughs and good times. But also learned a couple of things tonight – some kids need to know you see them at all times, and parent’s phone numbers are probably a good thing to have on hand at all times.

Team Flintstone

It’s been a great week! I’ve been outside nearly every day, rollin’ through run-off, mud, goose poo, slush and ice. And of course I’ve been putting my skates away wet, so each day when I start out I have to crack my wheels to get them rolling, and I look like Pig Pen from the Peanuts with a sulfurous dust cloud coming out of my wheels for the first mile. My wheels don’t really start rolling free again until I hit the first puddle and grab a bit of moisture. 

Hugo Chavez looked at me twice when he got a whiff of my freshly cracked bearings.

My buddy John’s skates are in equally bad shape. Rolling on wheels this crusty feels like rolling on rocks, something akin to what I imagine Fred & Barney would have skated on in the Bedrock Classic. 

"Swing me out wide and I'll clear that ice patch at the trailhead."

Once we get moving it sounds like Freddy Kruger scraping his knives along a rusty pipe. But we’re so happy to get the break and be outdoors we plow forward like dream warriors, Freddy be damned. Our times are strong for this early in the season, and we’re riding winter rigs, which are about as brutal as they come. 

Getting to the point and staying there all winter, these wheels have seen really good days.

Skating on really bad equipment all winter has become “the routine.” If I skate outdoors on new, clean wheels in the winter I feel like I’m cheating myself of the base-building benefits derived from long, outdoor skating on, well, crap. 

Water is the only lubricant these bearing know.

Trying to get back up to the same pace that I hit toward the end of the season on finely tuned equipment is my current goal. It takes time to get back up to season-end speeds, but by the end of February, if the weather holds out, I should be able to do it. I want to break my Colorado “Altitude PBR” before April. As long as the damned snow stays away and an off-leash Dino doesn’t take me out on the trail, I should be able to do it. 

1/19/10 Training: 10 miles out at Boyd Lake solo. Took The Schneid’s 110’s for a spin, had a great skate. Weather was really great. Later in the afternoon we had a blast at Rink Rabbits practice. I introduced a couple of new game drills and the kids had a lot of fun. 

1/20/10 Training: Day off – planned to go out but duty called at work and I couldn’t get away. 4.5 hours with a spreadsheet & a PhD. Joy! 

1/21/10 Training: 12 miles out at Boyd Lake State Park with John. A little colder but the trail was in the best shape it’s been in all week, more dry than wet. 

1/22/10 Training: 10 miles out at Boyd with John at lunch. The weather was only slightly warmer than the day before, but it was still in the 30’s. We were at a loss to figure out how some pretty large pieces of snow and ice ended up in the middle of the trail in a lot of places that it wasn’t the day before. Kinda like crop circles… 

1/23/10 Training: 1 hour on the elliptical, level 5, 6.2 miles. Went to bed feeling like I was getting the crud my family has had all week so I knew I’d need to get up and sweat if I wanted to beat it. So far so good. Did Rink Rabbits this morning and @SpeedyWeezy was able to spend some quality time with “the fast kid” and John in preparation for the meet in Wichita next month. I took some time at the end of the practice to light it up on the 110’s indoor and I’m definatly feeling more control. That’s progress.

How cool is that?!

I never win anything. Really, you don’t call yourself First Loser because you brought home the gold, right? But this morning I got a really cool and unexpected email from Geert Plender at Cado Motus. I’ve been selected as one of five people world-wide to test drive their 2010 line of speed skates as a result of entering the contest in the last issue of their Pure Skating Bulletin. I’m stoked!

From Pure Skating Bulletin Jan 2010

I hope I get to drive one of the 110 models! More info to come in March. I can’t wait – like a kid waiting for Santa! More to follow…

But that said – how much do you know about Cado? I didn’t know that a lot of the folks that run the company have extensive histories on wheels and ice. So cool to see a successful skating company run by skaters, for skaters. I knew Cado from watching James & Chris Springer for the past few years, but I’ve not really known anything about the company behind the brand. Check out their website, it’s a great read.

1/17/10 Training: 2 hours indoor practice and my first attempt at active humility. Held with the coach and “the fast kid” for 125 laps. At 5 to go with the pace dropping into the 10’s I waved “the fast kid” around me so she could sprint it out with coach for the last five on her own. I have mixed feelings about it, which of course is fodder for a future post. Great session, skating strong, feeling good.

1/18/10 Training: 10 miles outdoors at Boyd Lake State Park. Almost bit it by slipping first on some goose poo, then into an ice chunk. That’ll get your heart rate up! Beautiful day for a skate though.

“Yer all wet, kid.”

In a naked attempt to ride in my blog traffic draft, we’re revisiting the subject of wet bearings–a topical subject that gets people talking. Sounds like a lot of us are in pursuit of a quick, tailgate solution to saving our bearings after a long wet roll. 

Clean trails are for sissys.

Since the skating out at Boyd Lake State Park with John the day before wasn’t so bad, I figured the Loveland Recreation Trail would be skateable too, so off I went. There were some pretty deep puddles, but this was day two of balmy 50° temps – it was 55 when I head out, with just a hint of a breeze – so I expected the water. At least it wasn’t thick icy water. So far, so good. 

You've really got to want it.

I got about a mile into the trail when I found the first “Whoops!” in the plow pattern. The trail suddenly veered off into the muddy grass, and because my wheels were wet and I was going too fast coming out of the turn so did I… 

Never put the green-horn on the John Deere.

Makes me long for my LandRollers or a pair of used Rollerblade Coyotes.

…at least I stayed upright and dry. At this point my inner genius piped up and I started to have doubts about the rest of this trail. It goes on for 10 miles out to Boyd Lake, and I wasn’t sure I’d get my heart-rate up long enough (in a good way) to make this a very productive workout. Sure enough, just up under the first overpass, the first of three, the ice and snow and water made it too much to want to deal with. I turned back, and since I had my camera with the timer on it, grabbed a couple of shots of myself winter skating…

People usually smile as I pass them. Turns out they're laughing at my sweatshirt.

At this point a couple of new moms and their strollers came along and I heard one of them say, “Don’t laugh, neon is actually coming back.” Bamn… 

"Say Jim! That's a baddd out-fit!"

Here’s a shot of the Big Thompson River. Comes straight out of the heart of the Rockies. It’s one of the reasons this is my favorite trail to skate. 

Crystal clear, Rocky Mountain fresh. You could reach down and drink that...and end up with pathogenic microorganisms like protozoa, viruses, bacteria, or many other intestinal parasites. A pretty picture though!

Rode hard, put away wet.

So as I sat on the tailgate I started to think of all responses I got when I asked friends and Speed Skating Forum users to chime in with out-of-the-trunk solutions for stowage of wet skates. Here’s their short list: 

1. Many agreed on WD40. The “WD” stands for “water displacement.” Hit your bearings with this right after the skate to remove the water from the bearing surface. My problem with it is the industrial odor combined with the foot-funk. I drive the family truck, so this just won’t do. Can’t blame that smell on the dog. 

2. Pack your bearings with Mobil 1 synthetic automotive chassis grease. Here’s the narrative from skaterdog: 

“A few years ago I wanted to slow some bearings down (add resistance) so I packed a set full of Mobil 1 and the bearings didn’t slow down a bit. They actually maintained speed better than they had prior to the greasing. This grease is a high temp grease so you won’t have to worry about it melting and running out of the bearings even in hot weather.” 

I’m going to try this one. 

3. Skate on ceramics. $$$ 

4. Put the skates on the dashboard and turn on the defroster to dry them out. I did something similar in Duluth a few years ago with the heater in my hotel room. Let’s just say my skates have fit a lot differently ever since. Again too, I’m afraid I’d create a lingering stench that the next owner of my truck will have to call Click & Clack to try to describe and figure out… 

Caller:…something like the smell of a dead field mouse that’s been eating the salty neoprene liner out of a pair of inline skates or some such thing coming from the ventilation system. It smells worse than Staten Island in August.” Tommy: “Aw geezzee, that’ll cost $1,000’s to get rid uh dat stink! HAHAHA!” Ray: Do yourself a favor, just get a bottle of Fabreeze and a small fan! HAHAHA!” 

4. Micro-ShamWOW inserts! (O.K., I just made this one up.) 

I used to work with an old-school guy named Vinny. He was known as The Beast of the East. He used to tell me I was “all wet” when it came to new ideas and “dat outta-da-box crap yous guys is always talkin’ ’bout.” He was a believer in hard work and being slow and methodical; the tried & true. In Vinny’s world, I’d be breaking my skates down after every roll, and cleaning ‘dose bearings good. Well, I’ve no time for that at lunch Vin, and I’m rolling on Buck Bearings, so I’ll rest easy knowing that if some of these tips don’t work, I can call Glenn Koshi and get another set on ‘da cheap! 

1/15/10 Training: 10 miles out at Boyd Lake after aborted attempt at skating the Loveland Recreation Trail. In five years I’ve not seen the Loveland Trail this unfriendly. It’s going to be a long winter. 

1/16/10 Training: Rink Rabbits ran me around good for an hour. I’ve been skating on the borrowed 110’s to lead these classes, not comfortable enough to roll them with the big dogs at a full Sunday practice yet. But I’m getting there. It’s been great, because I’m running though these foundational foot drills slowly, building flow and speed on the bigger wheels, getting the feel and overcoming mental barriers at a no pressure pace. A hidden benefit to giving my time to the kids program!

Casting call


The King of Casting.

FORT COLLINS, CO: This just in…Glenn Koshi, you’ve seen him on the Bont Gigantathons (6×110’s), the mad caster from Duluth himself, will be here in Northern Colorado February 5th and 6th to cast foot molds for those that need them! And Glenn’s ongoing special of the month FREE SKATE BACKPACK with any skate package purchase! Contact Tony Toffoli of the Speed Weasels Inline Racing Team if you’d like to schedule an appointment. Inline, Ice or Road Bike, Bont Boots deliver!


Rink rats and run off

Welcome to the party pal! Winter outdoor inline skating in Colorado is for diehards only. It’s the time of year we toss care and concern for our equipment into the arctic wind and brave the trail, where icy snow patches and that same Rocky Mountain run-off that makes your Coors Light taste like gnat’s pee penetrates the seals of our bearings, ultimately leading to the wheel chirp that precedes their final seizure in early spring.  

Like skating in a Slurpie.

My buddy John & I hit the trail today at Boyd Lake State Park. We may have graduated into full-fledged rink-rats, but we’ve been dying to be back outdoors. It’s been in the low 50’s for the past two days, and that means wet trail conditions as the snow melt starts. But since it’s been sub-zero for longer than Barak Obama was popular, I’ll take it. This is the only time of year I could give a flying fart about how bad the trail conditions are, I’ll brave them. I just have to skate. I could have stayed outside all day today.  

The parks & recreation department in Loveland does a superb job of keeping the trails clean in the winter, but it’s been so cold that very little of the snow has melted yet. It was still a good foot deep out on the frozen lake, and ice fishers were in force. (SIDE NOTE: What on earth is the appeal of ice fishing?! John & I couldn’t figure it out…but as the John McClane’s of winter angling peer out the steamed windows of their heated ice huts and spot us skating past they probably think we’re jerkweeds too.)  


Anyway – it was a blast. Colder than I thought it would be, but a lot of fun. We kept a pretty good pace, and it was nice to stretch the legs with long, purpose-driven strides. We came up on an ice patch that from a distance looked like something we could just roll right through. At the last moment I chickened out and did a spring-loaded broad jump clearing the two foot wide muck just in time to have to do it again because it was a double road cross-over…I guess those winter plyos have paid off! Then we came up on what I thought was a puddle of standing water that turned out to be thickening with ice – Splash! Cearrackkkkk! “ICE!” was all I could shout as I heard John roll through it behind me and start to laugh. It was at this point I wondered aloud, “Does this make us diehards?”  

The rest of the skate was great. We were able to pound it out up one of my favorite hills at a strong pace. We took it easy on the way back, opting to walk over the slop we took vert on the way out.  

"Walking over it seemed the best idea." A. Einstein

When we got back to our cars I scrambled for the camera so we could document some of the trail. The batteries ran out just as I was snapping a picture of John navigating a narrow path through a snow patch on one skate like Scott Hamilton.  

The unfortunate result of too many weekends watching Xanadu.

Knowing the weather is still going to get worse before it gets better made us both appreciate the 40 minutes we were able to steal here in the first half of January. We hope to get out again this weekend with some of the other Speed Weasels. Diehards? Ya, ubetcha. Yippy-Ki-Ay-MotherFather! 

1/6/10 Training: Did an hour on the elliptical. Level 7, 6.3 miles. I’ve been reading An Artist in Treason. Incredible true story… 

1/7/10 Training: Another hour on the elliptical, level 7, 6.6 miles…the story is about General James Wilkinson, head of the U.S. Army under Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison… 

1/8/10 Training: Back on the elliptical with my book, 1 hour, 6.4 miles, level 7…and spy for the Spanish! Amazing, the worst spy in our history that we’ve never been told much about! 

1/9/10 Training: Lead the Rink Rabbits around the rink for an hour and a half. We’re having a great time with these game/drills and they’re more focused than ever. 

1/10/10 Training: We upped the reps for the plyo set, was feeling that on Monday & Tuesday! The 100 lap drill was great, and because of the size of the class we extended it to 130. We pounded the last 60 at a really good clip. The coach and kids did a full-out sprint for the last 4 laps that I couldn’t hold on for. My side started hurting big time and I couldn’t breath. Thought I had injured myself again. I didn’t get lapped but I just didn’t have what they did. They were easily in the low 9’s after 126 laps. Amazing. And the class was huge – lot’s of new faces. I hope they keep coming back! 

1/11/10 Training: Back on the elliptical with Gen. Wilkinson for an hour at level 7, 6.2 miles. 

11/12/10 Training: Ran the Rink Rabbits through some new foot drills that they were absolutely nutz over. This is working out really well! They’re getting solid foundational work, shown by great times for the “Chase the Rabbit” drill! Thanks to everyone who has given me ideas! Will post pics of our practices soon!

Thanks to Bill for sharing this video, so many great drills the kids love!

1/12/10 Training: 10 miles out at Boyd Lake State Park with John.

Cool Link: A really cool blog you can get lost on for hours.

The lost art of snipe hunting

We’re losing the kids. I’m not talking about leaving the baby-carrier at the Rockband 2 for Wii display in the electronics section at WalMart, (like THAT’S ever happened!) but the kids who test the dry-land with indoor speed skating. It’s really unfortunate, considering the countless benefits kids can take away from this sport. 

Can I get fries with my insulin shot?

I’m going to sound boastful, but it’s in the interest of the story…My son is 6 and he’s a natural with inline skating. He’s been on speed skates since March ’09 and has hit a PBR of 11.4 seconds for 100m from a rolling start. His crossovers are tight, his footwork is fast, and he can get down low and stay there. I’m very proud of him. He’s done it on his own. 

My daughter is 9 and started speed skating a little later than my son did. That said, she’s coming along quicker than he has! She’s still very tentative on her crossovers, but her form is improving weekly and her speed is building to the point where she’s losing control in the corners and will need to crossover out of necessity. Just in the past two weeks she’s gotten strong enough to be competitive with the other girls in our group, and she was so proud of herself. She’s right on the cusp of that moment when it all comes together and it just “clicks.” So close… 

We planned on 2010 being the year we’d get my son carded and start attending regional events. My daughter was going to spend the year picking up some skills and building her core strength to help with horseback riding, maybe to race in 2011. But these best laid plans are in jeopardy because they’re both losing interest. 

It’s been gradual. We practice 3 days a week, and over the past couple of months, it’s been harder than herding cats to get them in the car to go to the weekend practice sessions. Then a little over a week ago, the bomb dropped. They don’t want to skate anymore.  At first I was heartbroken, because I’ve really enjoyed having them with me and watching them grow into the sport I love. But I’ve come to learn that it’s not the sport they’re losing interest in, it’s the practice sessions that are, well, in their terms, “suckish.” 

As I’ve thought more about it I can see their perspective. Our sessions are geared toward older kids who compete nationally and adults who are trying to shed the Christmas cookies. They’re up to 2 hours of laps, passing drills and plyometric exercises. The rink is in a steel building that colder than a witch’s teet before the heat kicks in, and when you end up in the back of the pack your face is butt-high to the skater in front of you who’s been eating too many spicy foods. It’s grueling for us older folks, I imagine it’s much worse for little kids. Kids get relegated to skating in the center of the rink until the grown-ups finish skating the big 100 lap drill, then they get the priviledge of joining us for some leg-burning exercises before having to get back out on the oval with us for a butt kicking lap the pack. As I write this I look at the words…bamn! – that sucks. 

Plus, we’re in Colorado. Our little speed club IS the skate scene here. There are no races we can go to each week or month, unlike seasonal soccer or baseball where you’re playing with your friends against other kids in town weekly. It’s hard to build camaraderie or win some bragging rights when you’re constantly skating against the same kids on your own “team” week after week. There’s no promotion system like you have in martial arts; no “belt-tests” recognizing and rewarding the work they’ve done to acquire new skills (or trips to the ice cream shop after a test well done.) And the drills are hard work. They’re not games, and the older guys get cranky when kids just want to be kids and bust off a few fart jokes in the pace line. Couple that with the additional attractions at the rink – the soft-play fun house, the video games, skee ball, the laser maze, the TV’s, and it’s easy to see that a kid would have a lot more fun on the sidelines. 

So what’s a skating dad to do? Since I’m the guy with the spare key and ostensibly run the practices some days (share this duty with the other skating dad that brings his kids) I need to do something. Because apparently, what’s happening with my kids isn’t a new phenomenon in our club. It’s been happening like this for years, the ebb and flow never really leaving anything or anyone on the beachhead long-term. 

So what to do?  I went straight to “the customer” – my kids. I asked them to help me understand why they weren’t interested anymore. They told me unreservedly and straight up – it’s not very much fun. Skating is cool, but it’s too much serious work – we should play more. And they really don’t like the plyos. Wow. That was easy. Now – what to do about it…how to translate all of what they need foundationally to get them solid skills and training while delivering big time on the fun? Here’s what we came up with: 

  1. No more Sunday practice. That’s the tough one with the real coach and the nasty 100 lap drill and plyos. Do kids really benefit from plyos anyway? Probably not to the extent that adults do.
  2. Let’s have fun. The drills are out, let the games begin!
  3. New club name – Rollerland Rink Rabbits Inline Speed Skating Club.
  4. Shoot the Duck, Lava Legs (skate position until your legs give out) and Clean The Yard (scoop up as many of the ten pylons as you can in skate position) for getting low.
  5. Red Light/Green Light for starts and stops.
  6. Catch the Rabbit for sprints.
  7. Jumping jackrabbits (passing drills.)
  8. Bunny Steps (assisted crossover drills.)
  9. Carrot Carry (pylons balanced on back for XX laps to get low and use hips/stay level.)
  10. Certificate program for achievement recognition (skills acquired, times achieved, assisting the coach.)
  11. Tee-shirts with a cool logo for this “kids only” club.
  12. Simple rewards for points accumulated in class good toward time in the arcade, laser maze or play structure.

We’ve done three of these sessions so far, and they’ve gone well. The kids are having a blast. My son has decided he’ll stick with it. He’ll race this year. And this morning my daughter said, “I’m really excited to go to skating practice this afternoon Daddy.” That’s a win for them and me – I’ll take it! My kids have taught me a valuable lesson – inline skating is like snipe hunting: the fun you get out of it is all in your head, and it’s ok to laugh and have a good time while you do it, cause life is too damned serious these days.

12/30/09 Training: Here are those words again – day off. 

12/31/09 Training: Magic words: Day off. 

1/1/10 Training: The weight piles on…Day off. 

1/2/10 Training: Lead Rink Rabbits for an hour & a half. It was a lot of fun to see the kids get excited about skating again. 

1/3/10 Training: Lead the adult practice for 2 hours. 100 laps at a purposely slow pace with everyone working on being down low, plyos, lap the pack. 

1/4/10 Training: 1 hour on the elliptical, level 7, 6.6 miles. 

1/5/10 Training: Lead Rink Rabbits. Biggest class to date, 6 kids under 10. A new challenge – what to do with mixed ability levels and short attention spans! This is going to be fun!