Tag Archives: etiquette

Freezy Weezy Rising

Okay, look. Once in a while, we all get…a little soft. Soft in the middle, soft in the pants or soft in…the heart. This isn’t your usual First Loser pull-my-finger and tug-my-womprat blog post, this one’s for my bud Speedy Weezy. He’s my skating hero.

Speedy Weezy transitions to ice at seven. Say hello to Freezy Weezy.

We started the new year with a new competitive sport. If you’re a parent, you know that with a seven year old, that’s not too hard to do. With year-round opportunities to play soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, cycling, football, lacrosse, curling, swimming, phart boxing and Pokemon, I was pleasantly surprised when Speedy Weezy said he wanted to do competitive short track. Not wanting him to specialize with anything at such an early age, even my beloved inline speed skating, for fear of causing burnout, chronic repetitive motion injuries and a host of other reasons, Horseypants and I actively encourage him to try as many different sports as we can find. That he keeps coming back to skating on his own makes me happy. Inline and now ice, the kid obviously enjoys it. And in my mind, while they’re essentially the same sport, as many of you know, ice and inline are such completely different disciplines that I really do consider them separate, but mutually supportive, sports. (That’s my “avoiding specialization” loophole for the more astute observers amongst you.)

Converted Rollerblades with custom "Hairy Monster" blade covers.

Having spent Christmas vacation getting our ice legs under us in preparation for the Mile High Open on January 2nd, we went into it with no expectations other than to just have a good time. This is actually just like we approached our first trip to Wichita last year for him to compete on inlines in the Team United Inline Speedskating Classic, so in retrospect I’m not surprised by his performance on ice. He did really well. Better than what we could have prepared him for. He just got out there and skated his heart out. He’s a natural.

Freezy starts his competitive ice career.

It’s a father’s pride that starts to step on my journalistic objectivity here. I even have to put my inline coach role to the side on this one, because a couple of our really talented and hard working skaters were competing too. All great kids, but now I’m speaking as Freezy Weezy’s Dad, and here’s the unvarnished truth…I wanted Freezy Weezy to WIN at this. Not just win, but CRUSH IT. Beat everyone, friends and strangers alike. And I say strangers because I don’t believe in foes in all of this.

But back to my cleansing…deep breath…when it comes to my boy I wanted to see him win everything at this meet and for once I want to drop the pretense of political correctness that says I need to tell EVERY kid who skates how great they are. Just once, I want to look MY kid in the eye and say, “Damn Dude, you’re the best!” I want to do it and not worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. Just like every other parent. There, it’s been done. As a coach, I’ve just committed a carnal sin. So that’s why I’d never in a million years say such a thing when wearing my coaches hat. But I’m not now and it is what it is. I know at this point I’ve pissed a few people off. So it goes…

Freezy Weezy did great for his first meet. Really. Not a “fish tale” here. He was out there skating against quite a mixed group and qualified for every final in every distance. He came in First Loser in many of the races behind one of the Brothers Speed.

Ohno! We got photobombed! At least he got the FirstLoser hand salute right, but placed in front of the forehead would have taken the gold.

It’s great to see him competing with his friends and have it be a healthy competition. Freezy and the Brothers Speed have a great friendly rivalry that pushes the three of them to really try and do their best. Freezy almost won a race straight up, but slipped in the turn. It was a final, so at least he’d gotten to skate the full set.

The organizers of this event, Colorado Gold, did an awesome job from soup to nuts. In the end, Freezy took home a First Place ribbon for his age group and a really sweet Hersey’s bar. All of the participants got something, and in my heart I know that was a good thing. And all of the kids and skaters who went to this meet did great. Really, they all skated well, had a great time and fell deeper in love with the sport. All great outcomes, and truly what I want for all of them. But…

…you know, there are times when I think we’ve lost something as a culture when we can no longer sing We Are The Champions without worrying about losing friends, hurting feelings or trying to make everyone feel good about themselves. Does that make me a schmuck? I think not. It makes me a sports parent, and human. It’s all about having fun…yes. But winning is a lot more fun than losing or just doing your best – WE ALL KNOW IT! For me, I’ll take First Loser and truly be good with it. But for my kid, it’s nothing less than world domination and gold on a rope. I’m very proud of him. He’s working hard, he’s got talent, and he’s applying himself. It’s hard when you’re seven. Hard to control the urge to goof off, hard not to be distracted. But he’s doing his best and he’s doing great. Sometimes he needs help, and that’s why Horseypants and I are here. He’s fighting against natural and powerful forces to become better at something that’s really difficult to master. He’s well on his way and there’s nothing anyone can take from him. He’s got the world ahead of him, and nothing but good times in the rear-view mirror. At least for now. I hope he can keep it that way, but at the end of the day it will be up to him. I’ll support him through it all, by being honest and being there. He’s my hero, and I’ll love him forever no matter what.

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Smells like (team spirit)

Sometimes I’m amazed at how clueless I am. (No comments from the peanut gallery please – this is about self-realization, not your quick-witted ability to snark at will.) I coach the kids speed skating class at our local rink – the mighty Rink Rabbits Inline Speed Club for Kids. During our practices, there’s often so much going on around me – kids being kids, parents being kids, people not paying attention to rink traffic rules, someone falling down, someone asking for water, someone asking to go to the bathroom…sometimes there’s so much going on I fail to see some of the most important stuff happening right under my nose. It’s like trying to focus on a cornstalk getting spun up in a twister cloud of debris. Good luck focusing on anything for more than a second! But last night, on the way home, Speed Demon shared a glimpse of something that made me feel like a million bucks, and it had absolutely nothing to do with my favorite subject – ME!

Speed Demon and π (pi) showing the coach the meaning of teamwork.

Speed Demon and π (that’s the mathematical symbol for pi, which is cooler than a nickname like “approx. 3.14” and might someday be a cool tattoo for the kid…I’m sure her Dad will love reading that. But I digress,) Speed Demon and π are pretty equal in terms of their ability and speed. Both have been skating for a while now, and while π has been speed skating a bit longer than Speed Demon, she’s not quite hitting the times that Speed Demon can these days.

As it turns out, one of the big reasons that Speed Demon is hitting better times is that, unbeknown to me, π has been helping Speed Demon work on her speed. Sometimes it’s in the open warm-ups – that 20-30 minutes where everyone is getting their skates on before class, which to me is nothing more than an exercise in herding cats – in the pace line when we do active warm-ups, or in the cool down times at the end of class.  Apparently, being close in age and since they’re friends, they’ve been looking out for each other.

Last night during the cool-downs, I noticed they were doing their own drill. Something they’d made up on their own. When I asked Speed Demon why she was having a hard time keeping up with π in what I thought were 200m races, she told me that they were doing a drill to help π get back up to speed. It was a simple chasing drill with a very specific goal for speed skating, but it was so much more than that. It was one friend helping another be the best she can be. A little payout of Good Karma, and it warmed my heart to hear it.

Here we are now - entertain us...Going fast, low, to the left now, yeah!

Speed Demon told me, “She’s helped me and I appreciate it. I want to return the favor and help her kick butt too!” In this class that’s pretty well dominated by boys, these two have a team spirit that’s unmatched. When they’re out there racing against each other, they both give it all they’ve got. But at the end of that race they’re always congratulating each other, regardless of how they placed. They’re being there for each other and cheering each other on, even as they’re trying to steal that cone and that line, each from the other. Pushing each other to be the best they can be, and show us all that everyone gains when you’re a good sport. That’s team work in inline speed skating, Rink Rabbits style. Good job girls!

As luck would have it, the pics in this post were taken last night, when this was all happening. Look in their eyes – we actually caught the heart of their friendship in these pictures. The shot at top is the drill they were doing, and the second shot is the net result: SBFF (Skating Best Friends Forever.)

Girls rule, boys drool, indeed.

5/11/10 Training: Spent about 30 minutes doing “super-secret” workout stuff. Spent an hour and a half tooling around the rink with the Rink Rabbits on the CadoMotus Pro 110’s I’m test driving. The MPC Road Wars caused a bit of a stir with the boys. “They’re light red, NOT PINK!” Shut up and skate boys…

Razorblades

I’ve become…um, thrifty as I get older. I struggle with the word “thrifty” because it conjures up images of early bird buffet lines, the Ford Focus and reused coffee filters. Yuk. But OK, I admit it, I’ve become a cheapsk8.  

"On your left! The tuna casserole is mine baby!"

Last night I was in Wal-Mart looking for MightyBeanz for my son (whatever the hell is the appeal of these things, and Bakugan for that matter!?) and I came across Razor scooter wheels on clearance – 2 packs of 98 mm wheels with bearings for $5.88! Well heck – it’s winter, my outdoor wheels are shot, so this looks like a really good deal. Schweetttt!!!  

Laugh it up fuzzball - the set cost me less than twenty-five bucks.

ABEC 5 bearings, 98mm wheels and aluminum spacers. Nice little package. And cheaper than the dirt in my current wheels. But the wheels have these little plastic tabs in the core of the hub that take the place of a stronger core incorporated into a normal spacer. That little aluminum “O ring” in the picture is the spacer these wheels came with.  

I've got a bad feeling about this...

The little plastic tabs in the hub are flimsy, so I can snap them out if I need to. We’ll see, no rush there. In deciding to give these wheels a try, I rationalized that a.) my kids have beaten the crap out of their Razor scooters for years and the wheels are still in pretty good shape. They’ve got to be durable. They feel pretty stiff. And b.) with the fine-threaded axle on my skates, these hubs and spacers shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Out of the box there isn’t a lot of roll, but that could change once I get rolling. (Or it could be because of these spacers. Dunno.) Nonetheless, they’ll be good for training.  

The way I’m looking at this, even if I have to pop off the tabs and swap out another set of spacers, I’ve scored a good find cheap, and I feel like Mr. Furley scoring digits on line at the Wal-Mart pharmacy waiting from my prep-H refill. But still, there are all of those other considerations about flex and stress. Hell, I really can’t speculate on that stuff. Here’s what I do think…if these are going to work on inline skates as is, they have the best chance outdoor versus indoor, because there should, in theory, be less torque. But really, what do I know? I don’t even remember being in a single physics class let alone any of the governing laws of the universe! As if…  

Anyway, if I think too much about it, I’ll end up returning the wheels without trying them out. So I’m just going to do it. Unfortunately, it snowed again last night, so I have to wait. I hope it melts quickly because if this works out, you know who is going to be skating a B-line to Wal-Mart to stock up on them crappy training wheels real quick.  

Now, back to the buf-fay for some of that sweet looking jello log.  

1/28/10 Training: Did indoor practice with the Rink Rabbits. Introduced a few more new games and the kids continue to have fun. We’re rolling with it!  

1/29/10 Training: 1 hour on the elliptical. Was pretty tired before the workout so I tried a LiftOff tab and felt pretty good through the workout. 6.8 miles, level 7.  

1/30/10 Training: 1 full hour on the slideboard. Worked on keeping my tail tucked and nose, knees, toes alignment. Wow – the burn is exquisite. Then did an hour with the Rink Rabbits playing Schitzo-coach, getting the kids good and wound up. Fun!  

1/31/10 Training: Indoor speed practice. Last week of the 100 lap drill. I hung on till lap 98, then finished third as coach and “the fast kid” pulled it out to fight to the death. From here on out, the practices are going to get progressively harder. Had another run-in with a skater in the pace line but we talked it out during the next drill. Hopefully we’ll get this right one of these days. It makes things unnecessarily tense when we’re not courteous to each other.  

2/1/10 Training: Did 10 miles out at Boyd Lake with John. The run off made for a very wet experience, which wasn’t good because I was on borrowed wheels. And boy – 110’s in a headwind just, well, if you’ve done it you know.  

2/2/10 Training: Indoor practice with the Rink Rabbits. I’m very impressed at everyone’s ability to get down low. They have an advantage being only 4 feet from the floor, but still, they’re skating low, and we all know how hard that can be! And they’re all coming along really well on their cross-overs. Progress!  

2/3/10 Training: Day off. But did spend a couple of hours with the coach and his family at a planning commission meeting to discuss the Medical Marijuana clinic they want to open across the street from the rink. More on this later…

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!