Monthly Archives: June 2010

National skate to work day…interrupted

Nothing like a National Day of “Boogie Flicking” (“insert sport/activity here”) to get a nation of weekend warriors off their collective duff and out on the roads and trails and in the way of those of us who’re out there everyday workin’ it.  Like so many couch-commandos that flock into the gym every January 2nd to stink up the place for three weeks of paying their resolutions lip service, these people are generally a menace to society, my senses and themselves.

"I SAID ON YOUR LEFT ASSCLOWN!!!"

I mean, come on, even most of of the regular recreational cycling crowd are a laughable lot. (Dramatic note: here I take on the role of elitist inline skater snob…the speed weenie.) Most of these guys, and unfortunately some gals too, cut an impressive Big Bad John figure in their phantastic spandex get-ups. They seriously believe that 2 hours a week spent pedaling around town clipped onto their $7,000 carbon-fiber, rolling 2nd mortgages with a long and firm leather saddle jammed up their crack is akin to a healthy, active lifestyle. God bless ’em, I don’t know how some of them do it…

Screw that biggest loser diet, I'm making progress with this bike, one mile at a time. Mmmm, is that Burger King I smell?

While it’s true that I foster a general disdain for cyclists of all sorts, it’s the “roadies” I’m speaking of here. It’s only because of their own arrogance, ineptitude and outright stupidity. I’ve witnessed Lance-wannabes doing some very dangerous stuff on the trails, and I’ve got friends who’ve met a few of these crank-wankers up close and personal-like, with blunt, traumatic force and righteous indignation.

I don’t deny the Rancor-like brute strength of the need for speed, but left unchecked by reasonable restraint in the hands of Johnny Sprockets and the Saddle Stains and it’s a recipe for rec-trail run-ins that you end up reading about in the police blotter. It’s the hot dogs who zig-zag in and out of everyone’s path going 30 miles an hour that are the single greatest cause of bad reputations, poor inter-sport relations, unenforceable trail speed limits and unnecessarily perforated colons. (Actually, that last one is a twisted revenge fantasy not unlike the NYPD/Abner Loima incident that I indulge every time I see a cyclist in full-moron mode.)

At this point, responsible adults would start to wonder about this public display of unbridled hostility…after all, I do coach a team of younglings. My skill at outsmarting nationwide criminal background checks with Force abilities that some would consider “unnatural” notwithstanding, I like to think of myself as a reasonable, safety-minded person. By that I mean that when I’m on a multi-use trail during high-instance of human encounter hours, I have a healthy respect for limits, personal space, common courtesy and trail etiquette.  I can’t say that for most of the Tony Trek-offs I see on a weekly basis. And today was the icing on the cake.

Can you say copyright infringement? Go get 'em Team Rollerblade Legal, LLC!

National Bike Your Slack Butt Into Work Day always brings out the fork-flakes. It’s bad enough when Schmucky Shimano thinks he owns the trail when you come up on him and he’s out there by himself, but put him out there with multiples of other pedal pushing pecker-heads that dust off their seats once a year for “the big two mile ride!” and you really see some amazing stuff. Really – these folks are driving cars the rest of the year, I think that’s an even scarier thought. It’s as if their IQ drops 40 full points just clipping one foot in. All knowledge of basic road safety and decency evaporate quicker than Lady Gaga’s popularity in the Seinfeld home. In the 6 measly miles I skated from my start point to my office I saw 2 stem-rods in Discovery Channel jerseys terrorizing young children and a new mom, a dog walker, a jogger and an elderly woman by flying by unannounced, then flipping the bird when one of the spazed-out victims had the unmitigated gall to call them on it. It’s pedal-power-tripping and it’s disgusting. Really fires up the ‘ol Irish in me. That’s why I enjoy dusting them when I can, every time I can, just because I can. I was able to get one chain-grease choker, and it felt good. Could have been the good Reverend Smedley out there for his morning 5 mile ride, I could give a rat’s tail. No more Mr. Nice Guy. From now on with all of these guys, you see me coming, you’d better move…over…as far right as you can. On your left, Louima!

(Editorial note: Please be sure to start flaming me when I begin posting that I’ve begun cycling cross-training later next month.)

6/12/10 Training: Just did indoor with the Rink Rabbits, helping a certain someone get ready for Nationals.

6/13/10 Training: Got my butt kicked by the kids for two hours in the morning. Set a personal best 100m lap time so I’m not complaining. 110 mm wheels and better technique are helping me level the field with some of the faster guys too.

6/14/10 Training: Day off from skating. Still one of the hardest things to do of all the training, but absolutely necessary!

6/15/10 Training: 19 miles in the hood in darn good time. Happy with the way these training skates are going. Spent the evening being filmed for a music video at Rollerland with Speedy Weezy, Speed Demon and Lionheart, and a few dozen friends from work. Will post it up here someday…

6/16/10 Training: Tabata Protocol for lunch, up the big hill in 85 degree heat. Had to rush back for a company meeting, at which I was sweating profusly, coughing uncontrollably and wondering aloud why the hell I’m doing this to myself…

6/17/10 Training: 10k for lunch, just to keep the blood flowing and the motivation up. Did a special make-up practice with the Rink Rabbits in the afternoon, working on foundational drills and this. If you’re smart, you’ll click that link.

6/18/10 Training: Day off from skating, but took a one hour power-walk at lunch. Sorry, power walking is for people who want to desperately convince themselves they’re working out. Brahahahaha – NOT!!! (Someone is gonna hate me for that one – can’t shake my cycle-rant character!)

6/19/10 Training: 19 miles at sunrise. Beautiful day but I wasn’t happy with my pace. Felt like I couldn’t get out of my own way. Rink Rabbits were awesome, these kids are flying! And the rink now has air conditioning! Wahoo!

6/20/10 Training: 20 miles at sunrise followed by 2 hours indoor with the fast kids. The Fast Kid and Smiley Sk8s are burning down the barn, but of course they don’t feel ready for IDN! Father’s Day was awesome, Dadioso had a very good day!

6/21/10 Training: 10k for breakfast,20k+ for lunch, could not stop eating! Nice sunburn on the back of my arms from wearing this jersey.

6/22/10 Training: Tabata Protocol for lunch. A little easier to breath afterward this time. Rink Rabbits in the afternoon, had fun playing chase the rabbit!

6/23/10 Training: 29 miles today total. Getting ready to skate 140 continuous miles this Friday…oy vey, what have I gotten myself into?

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Inline hunters

Horseypants just emailed me links to one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen…Inline Hunters! “Finally a sport we can do together,” she said.

The bumber sticker on our Arabian...

I nearly fell out of my chair! Check this out…there’s finally a good sporting reason to own a pair of Rollerblade Coyotes!

Indoors…

or Outdoors…

Good Lord…I hope she didn’t let our son watch this $#!*. I can’t let him try this…at least till after Nationals.

6/11/10 Training: 12 miles in the morning, another 12 at lunch. The lunch routine included the Tabata Protocol going uphill. Seriously could not breath for a mile afterward.

CadoMotus Test Drive (Pure Skating)

My review of the CadoMotus Pro 110’s I’ve been testing has been posted to the CadoMotus site. You can read it here: http://www.pureskatingnews.com/2010/06/chris-howleys-pro-110-test-drive.html.

The FirstLoser story is in the works…

Smell The Skate: The New Album from FirstLoser

Suffice to say…I use *different*pictures in my story. And maybe more colorful language too.

Now…you can get the FirstLoser Special of the Month from Glenn Koshi before it rolls away…

Hyper Sidewinder 110mm (black hub) Green 86a or Yellow 84a, regular retail is $110 a set, First Loser readers SOM, $80 a set.  VERY limited quantites.  Shipping $7 per set. Sorry, no 100’s available.

Email Glenn directly to get the deal today! Click here: glenn916@yahoo.com

Glenn has been so busy he’s let me bring this back and hold this deal over a few more days. I’ve seen the posts at SkateLog…any stragglers are going to want to jump at this quickly! I’ve been using them for the last three weeks and can’t say enough good things about them…great wheels and a fantastic price!

6/9/10 Training: 18 miles around the hood. The last 4 minutes was the Tabata Protocol, which seems to make a lot more sense when it comes at the end of your skate. I’m already noticing an improvement in performance…

6/10/10 Training: Eating like a horse because today is a rest day. The weather this morning was of course…perfect. As always on an “off” day.

Silly Wabbit, speed is for kids

Thanks to everyone for the warm 40th Birthday wishes. I spent the day… skating…surprise! I’d planned on doing 40 miles at speed outdoors but got cut off at 22 by the rain. Oh well. Speedy Weezy was just about to join me for the last 18 when Mother Nature let us know she had other plans…

My birthday skin suit didn't go over so well with the women and children, but the new guy Lance sure dug it.

Warmed up and washed out, I headed over to Rollerland and took in a special practice session with The Fast Kid, The Shoulder Roller, Smiley Sk8s and B-Man for 2 hours. They’re all preparing for Nationals, so it was one of the fastest 2 hours I’ve spent in a long time.

Seriously. These kids are pounding out the drills at top speed and getting faster by the day. We even had the sound system cranked. At first the kids were sweet, allowing “the old man” to reflect on glory days gone by with music from Def Leppard, Robert Plant, The Rammones, Bon Jovi, Queen, The Romantics, etc. At one point in the playlist it became necessary for me to point out that I’d seen three of the five bands we’d just heard live on the supporting tour for the albums that the songs appeared on. (To date myself, the songs were: Def Leppard “Animal”, Robert Plant “Tall Cool One” and Bon Jovi “Livin’ On A Prayer”) Well, it was at that point that the eyes rolled, their kindness evaporated and as quickly as you can say Armageddon It, The Black Eyed Peas abruptly took over the sound system, the kids picked up the pace and there was no more looking back. The last hour and a half were a speed freakin’ paradise!

I ended the afternoon with a great Rink Rabbits practice in which I put a group of 7 to 14 year olds through the Tabata Protocol BEFORE timing them on rolling and flat starts. They all either met or beat their times from previous timing sessions! This little “kids only” club is quickly becoming The Mighty Rink Rabbits. They’re a force that’ll need to be reckoned with someday soon…

All in all it was a perfect end to a perfect birthday. At 40 I’m in the best shape of my life, having the time of my life and there’s no place I’d rather be. My wife and kids allow me to indulge my passion, and they’re even sharing in it now too, which is not something I would have dreamed possible a year and a half ago. I can’t wait to tell you about my big present…but I won’t be able to for another 7 weeks!

I’m truly skating the dream, and I’m looking forward to skating the next 40 years worth of sunrises and practices with eyes wide open, getting low, down in the ball and heel, pushing the full blade to the side and falling fast forward into the rest of this skating life of mine!

6/7/10 Training: Day off. Mandatory as a part of the Tabata Protocol. (No, this isn’t the Super Secret workout. For details, check out Barry Publow’s The Science of Speed.)

6/8/10 Training: 22 miles before the rain, 2 hours indoor at high intensity, and hour and a half timing the Rink Rabbits in the afternoon.

Why relays matter

I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes. This is due in part to a tragic fall I took from a taxiing Cessna (a small, personal aircraft) when I was an infant. Dad hadn’t strapped me in and the door was ajar. We started rolling and I left the seat like an errant Weeble, wobbling right out the door and onto the tarmac. Landed right on my noggin. I like to rely on this event any time something doesn’t immediately compute. When I’m stumped I bring it up and people don’t quite know how to take it. Stops the conversation dead in it’s tracks. I let them linger on the thought as a stall tactic so I can take an extra second to grasp the bigger concept they’re trying to convey to me, like why a Medical Marijuana dispensary within short walking distance from a skating rink is a good idea…

Yep, shoulda worn a helmet. But Chubsey-Ubsey bounced like you wouldn't believe.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about why relay teams matter so much to the indoor crowd. I wasn’t really getting it. I had my own great “Sports Illustrated Cover Story” idea on how “The Relay” is the only team-play aspect of our otherwise solo sport. Because inline skating truly is a solo sport, where most records are set and broken by individuals. In my grand thesis, I was going to drone on like a certain Sports Illustrated writer and NPR commentator about how being on a relay team is really the only (allowable) time when you’re inline skating as a part of something larger than yourself, working with others to achieve a mutual outcome. How that feeling of camaraderie and a unifying, single minded purpose congeal to form a solid skating machine where timing and precision transform even skaters of modest ability into a cog in the wheel of a high performance engine. Alas, I was really just thinking out my butt…

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, right buttface?

According to The Fast Kid and her friend, Smiley Sk8s, relays are about opportunity. It’s the last chance a skater has to place and/or medal if they didn’t do well in their division. Even if they did do well, it’s another chance at the podium. That’s it. Wow – not much of a story there, eh?

The kids also shared with me that for kids on larger teams, it’s hard to ever know who you’re going to be paired with for any given relay event. Kids from smaller clubs that are always paired together do have an advantage, but it’s because they each know how the other one skates and they can practice together all the time. Those teams are apparently annoying because they win a lot. Hmmm, go figure.

I asked Speedy Weezy what he thought. He says relays are cool because they can make you go faster than you usually do and they’re just fun. I know the Rink Rabbits have been having a great time learning how to time themselves and get set up for the tag. Heck, I’ve been learning a lot too from the guys in the advanced class. It is pretty cool, and yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

And something pretty cool happened yesterday at the Rink Rabbits practice…I had the kids lined up in a single line doing a simple 2 lap, 3 time relay drill. Speed Demon was behind Speedy Weezy so that she’d be the one to take the pass and move on. Speed Demon was scared, but we convinced her that she could do it. That Speedy would make sure he read the timing to know if he should give her a push or a simple tag. (Speedy Weezy is exponentially faster than Speed Demon, and three years younger.) Well, the full-on push tag went off smoothly! I mean, really incredibly well. She absorbed the push without tensing up or losing balance and took off like a shot! What surprised me was what happened next. As Speedy Weezy came back into the box, he came over to me and said in a hushed tone, “Dad, I’m going just a little slower than I usually do so she can get to feel what it’s like to get a real tag since she’s going to be competing next year. I’m going fast enough so she can really feel it and get used to it.” Man – that was a million dollar moment. He’s taking care of his big sister, and actually working with her. I’d never have seen that coming…both of these kids were ready to call it quits 7 months ago! (Insert Dad beaming with pride here…)

If you’d asked me what I thought of relays two months ago, I’d have probably said I can take them or leave them. But seeing how much Speedy Weezy, Speed Demon and the rest of the Rink Rabbits are enjoying them, I think we’ll keep practicing them. If they happen to pick up a few “high-falutin” ideals about sportsmanship, team work and team ethic in the process,  let me get set up, I’ll take that pass!

6/1/10 Training: 17 miles in the hood for breakfast. Rink Rabbits in the afternoon. This is my time of year!

6/2/10 Training: Barry Publow is right – if you want to race fast you need to train fast. So I got the lead out for a 18 miles skate in the morning. Did another 12 for lunch because the opportunity was there. I’ve learned a new technique and it’s really showing promising results.

6/3/10 Training: 10k for breakfast. Not as much as I’d have liked but I’ll take it!

6/4/10 Training: A somber 18 miles this morning thinking about my friend Bill who lost his son in a car accident the day before. Hard to do anything but roll with stuff like that going through your head.

6/5/10 Training: Tried a Tabata drill within the first ten minutes of the skate. 20 sec. 90-100% sprint, 10 sec. rest, repeat 8 times without puking or crying. I did it, but then needed to finish 18 miles to skate off the 5 slices of pizza from the night before. Won’t do Tabata before a distance and speed skate any time again soon…oh yeah, then another hour and a half working with the Rink Rabbits. I like to roll it, roll it.

6/6/10 Training: 12 easy miles on the Windsor/Greeley path followed by time trials and two hours of punishment with the advanced indoor team. Took a face plant trying to avoid the spill in front of me and got banged up pretty nicely. Even with that, managed to pull off my best lap time ever, and keep pace with the lead pack through their high speed warm up and passing drills. Going into 40 with blood vessels in my check splattered, my brow bruised, my pinky looking like an Oscar Meier Wiener and rink rash on me arse. But it’s all good…this is living man, I’m truly livin’ the dream!