Tag Archives: pace line

The Third Day of Inline Christmas

The anticipation is getting intense…

T’was the Third Day of Inline Christmas…When I looked in the mirror, what looked back was a skater, who’d grown chubby and plump with a little round belly, that when tucked into base position hung like a Hefty sack full of jelly. Too many cookies and holiday treats, would make for slower times the next few skate meets. To maintain not gain was my holiday goal, by mid-December t’was on a roll. But in these last twelve days I’d somehow lost pace, with so many cookies and cakes and tempting treats in my face. But with a wink of my eye and a twist of my head, I’ll turn tonight’s speed practice from work to a party instead. ‘Cause Christmastime is all about fun, and laughter and joy not how many races you’ve won. A few extra pounds this week doesn’t phase, for holiday fun’s what’s important these days, and I know that next week I’ll be shedding the weight, by pulling the pace line, not drafting the skate.

Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom

We’re getting down to the wire…and thank God for that. I’m starting to rhyme everything and I’m getting fat. I love Christmastime, don’t get me wrong, but this crazy twelve days thing has gone on way too long. It’s taking time from my skating, I’ve blown a few days, looking at words and thinking of ways, to make skater rhymes meaningful and snappy, but honestly I know, some are just crappy. And as I sit and I write I keep eating these treats, when I should really be out skating the streets. A Poet Laureate I’ll never be, just First Loser the hack blogger…yep, that’s me.

Greievous' Tsmeu-6. Catch me now Kenobi...b!%#h!

Drawing upon a robust history of development that began with an original design conceived in Marseilles, France in 1869, and perfected by Z-Gomot Ternbuell Guppat Corporation in the Zug system, the Tsmeu-6 is the motorized monocycle made in the Netherlands that propels a single rider up to 25 MPH. While it probably wouldn’t outrun a varactyl beast named Boga, it’ll be fun to draft behind on the skate trail. Powered by a 31cc, four-stroke 1 1/2-hp engine, the wheel operates by using a centrifugal clutch on its inner steel frame to engage the larger 67″ diam. outer flywheel that actually makes contact with the ground with a rubber tire. The ingenious device is steered by leaning to one side or the other, and it can safely negotiate any dense surface such as pavement or grass. A fiberglass frame encloses the engine, drive train, and fuel tank, and provides a cushioned seat and convenient footrests for riders up to 6′ 3″ high when in a sitting position. The hand-holds have a finger throttle that provides progressive acceleration and a brake that provides confident stops for riders up to 275 lbs. (minimum weight of 110 lbs. suggested for proper counterbalance during acceleration and braking). It can run for up to two hours on less than a 1/2-gallon of gasoline. Not a street-legal vehicle, but neither are skates here in Northern Colorado, so who gives! I’m getting one of these bad boys. Oh, but wait, there’s that price tag…67″ diam. x 14″ W. (110 lbs.)

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The Fifth Day of Inline Christmas

This post will make your brain bleed…

T’was the fifth day before of Inline Christmas when…And then with a twinkling my kids came to me, and said “Your count is all wrong, we’ll show you, you’ll see.” With calendar in hand, and a smirk on her face, my daughter said “Dad, you’re just a little off pace.” “No, no!” I cried foul, this just couldn’t be. “My countdown to Christmas is on track, can’t you see?” The 25th is the day I count as day one in my countdown of twelve days of Inline Christmas fun. “But Dad, said my son, Mom said your posts start with “before,” so on 12/25, you’ll still need one more…” He held up his hand and counted on fingers…when Saturday came there was one left to linger. Alas, they were right, the posts as positioned, would leave an extra day for which I hadn’t provisioned. And so, from henceforth each post shall begin, as it should have, with “day of” not “before” in lead in…

The only 5 Golden Rings in my future...pass the ketchup.

I love this time of year. Even when things aren’t exactly like I want them to be, it doesn’t seem so bad. There’s nothing a little Christmas spirit can’t overcome. I can’t wait for Rink Rabbits practice this Thursday. We’re gonna crank the Christmas music, get sugared up and just have fun. The kids have been working really hard all year, so it’s time to bust loose and jam. Plus, a lot of them have been getting deeper into the ice program that our Olympian coach runs, so their skating schedules have actually increased here in the “off-season” for inline. They deserve to enjoy this time, but it’s a surprise so don’t spill the beans. (There will be a full practice on the 26th for all of the advanced skaters, so bah humbug effective 12/26 forward.)

Here’s one I could have used a few years ago before I started doing all of the core building exercises and plyos…

Better than taking Midol before a race (if you're a dude.)

This easily adjustable back brace contours to the unique shape of your torso and back for a customized fit that can relieve lower back pain and improve spinal stability. Made by Bell-Horn, manufacturers of orthopedic devices since 1842, the brace has a patented pulley system that allows it to contour to wider areas around the hips and narrow areas around the torso, ensuring consistent, proper compression from vertebra L1 to L5. You can adjust the tension of the brace with one hand; simply pull the cord and fasten it to the front of the brace when your preferred level of support is achieved. The pulley system exerts 5X greater compression than a typical back brace for superior spinal support. The flexible, 1/4″-thin brace can be worn under clothing and won’t inhibited movement while you perform everyday activities. Waist sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL, or XXXL. 11 1/2″ W x 9″ H x 1/4″ D. (12 oz.)

The Seventh Day of Inline Christmas

As before, there’s more…

T’was the seventh day before Inline Christmas…I was off to speed practice so lively and quick, the pace line was swift, even the Fast Kid felt sick; it’s silly t’think at my age I’d compete, with kids twenty seven years younger with much faster feet. But try as I may, try as I might, I hold onto that pace line, I put up a fight. Then with ten laps to go after 90 we’ve burned, the Fast Kid and Coach remind me I’ve much to learn. As they pick up the pace and start pulling ahead, I give all I can to not being lapped instead. Alas I pushed it to fast when it was my time to pull, and at seven to go I dropped off like a fool. When they catch me and lap me with four left to skate, I push through the pain and don’t let them escape. As the speed starts to climb, legs and lungs start to fail, barely finish the drill, this stuff never gets stale.

I came upon this group of seven Swan Uppers when I hit a stray swan that meandered across the Thames River Bike Path.

Here’s one of those bizarre things you learn when using Google to come up with fodder for daily blog posts (I’ll never do this s#!t again)…Swan Upper. No, it’s not a new kind of shoe leather for making exotic inline skate boots, or a strange new type of rare male-enhancement suppository, it’s a job title. These guys count swans on the River Thames for Her Majesty once a year. Seriously…the job dates from the twelfth century, when the Crown went and boldly claimed ownership of all mute swans, because, well, they could. Supposedly, the things are regarded as a delicacy. They’re not supposed to be eating them anymore, as there is a serious conservation effort at the heart of the ceremony these days. But I bet you’ll find the blue bloods in a small, dark, back room off the kitchen at the country house, stuffing their faces in quiet desperation. “I say, finger licking good, eh old chap?” It’s not hard to imagine, considering how close they are to the Frenchies, who still engage in the preposterous practice of eating Ortolan.

So, my Santa list for the day…

For the skater who has everything except the horse he rode in.

This is the low-impact mechanical exerciser that methodically tilts across five axes to strengthen your core muscles, helping improve your balance and posture and relieve back pain. The saddle tilts back and forth, left to right, up and down, and twists in preprogrammed sequences, strengthening your thighs, buttocks, back, and deep abdomen–core muscles that are neglected by traditional training regimens. The gentle swaying of the saddle changes your center of balance and, as you attempt to regain your equilibrium, your core muscles expand and contract. Ideal for both physically limited and experienced exercisers, the device allows you to conduct a 15-minute exercise routine while seated without creating excessive pressure and stress on joints. The exercise routines also provide a beneficial aerobic workout ideal for those who need to maintain low target heart rates. The seven programs (easy, light, moderate, advanced, waist, hip, legs) and nine speeds are easily controlled on the pommel’s LCD panel that also shows calories burned and the muscles being worked during each routine. I wonder if it comes with an expansion slot for the Foo Manchoo Mechanical Bull card. I’d beat 2.7 seconds, that’s fer dang sure. With a set of stirrups and handle to provide stability. (Wonder if the wife and I could come up with some other “excercises.” Hmmm…)29″ H x 18″ W x 35″ D. (77 lbs.)

Bet you’d love to know what this Santa list is costing, huh? We’ll add it all up at the end. Cause you know, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it! “All hail, Her Majesty The Queen, Seigneur of the Swans.”

Lucky number 13

The skating of the 15th Annual Northshore Inline Marathon is now complete. I was there when the start sounded, and I’ve earned my finishers shirt. While I’m savvy enough to not hang a banner that says “Mission Accomplished” off the tailgate of my Sequoia, I did achieve what I set out to do. I skated with some of inline skating’s all-time and current best, I actually kept pace with them for most of the race, and I finished with the lead pack. That makes me a winner in my book, and it makes me 13th in the race standings for Masters 35-44. I’ll take it.

Yep...it was the luck of strategery...

All in all it was a wet experience. The road was wet, my feet were wet and I was wet behind the ears. This being my first year skating pro (as in, Professional Speed Weasel…at least to you that is…) I made a few, how do you say…rookie mistakes.

My design for the 2011 Speed Weasels Skin Suit. Unleash your Speedo Weasel...

I also did a few things right, I think. Maybe. Whatever. In any event, I’m skating away from NSIM 2010 with a great experience, knowing I can do it again at this level next year.

Honestly, it felt like I dodged a bullet when we woke to rain at 4 a.m. on race day. I’d adopted a different training regimen this past year, and while I know it was awesome for me in many ways, it was unfamiliar too. I had a sense of uncertainty leading up to this race. This was the first year I’d skate with the Pro Masters, and I’d spent very little time on long distance skates. Yes, I’d done the 100 mile thing, but in years past I’d spent nearly every Saturday & Sunday morning pounding out 26 to 32 miles for months in preparation for this one event. This year, I could count the number of times I’d done 26.2 miles since January on maybe two hands. While they were quality training sessions, they just didn’t add up to what I’m used to.

This year I listened to my coaches who said distance wasn’t the only key. Each was supportive of the other in their own ways so that the message got through: intensity, precision, intervals, rest, and recovery all mattered just as much and distance skating, and that I needed to pay more attention to all of the elements in order to successfully meet my goals at the Pro Masters level. They also gave me a bit of strategy advice, and admittedly, this is my Achilles heel. (Could insert nasty partisan joke about “W” here, but that’d be too easy and might offend some friends. Heaven forbid!)

In fact, it was my inability to commit to a “tough guy” strategy that was the first of the mistakes I made. I don’t remember exactly where we were mile-wise in the race. It was probably just before the half-way mark, when a guy in a Twin Cam skinsuit made an easy mark of me. I was cruising right where I wanted to be, about 5th or 6th in the line behind Norm Kirby, Ryan Chrisler, Jorge Botero, some dude in a Synergy skin suit (nice guy) and maybe one more guy when Twin Cam moved up on left to cut in. I stiffened up, left my hand up and told him to move in behind. Push came to shove and I said something like “WTF, DUDE?!’ before bending over like Eeyore and letting him slip me the Tigger. Then he started letting his buddies in line in front of him from the right. I knew I was pooched with this guy for the rest of the race, so I rode it out a while, then when I saw the four or five leaders make a break I jumped out and on them and took off to get back where I wanted to be. And of course, later on I’d find myself in situations where I needed to catch a break and get back in line, and would inevitably find myself next to Twin Cam so I’d just have to look forward and work harder to get further up in front of him.

Go ahead, slip on in. Everyone else is doing it...

In the end it all worked out OK but the lesson was learned: don’t piss people off too early. It just makes your life harder when there are too many other things to worry about. That early in a race, all you need to do is stay focused on what’s happening up front, and what’s coming up the rear.  People jumping in and out really shouldn’t be too much of a concern if it’s not pushing you too far off the leaders so that you can make a move if they do.

As a side note: this Twin Cam guy unfortunately went down really hard as the pack mad-dashed in a mob-like way up the service road to the off-ramp at 5th Ave right at the end of the race. It was like going to see The Who in Cincinnatti in 1979. I hope he’s OK, as I hate to see anyone get hurt when we’re all out there just having a little lively competition for fun. If you’re reading this Twin Cam dude, sorry I was a prick too early in the race. I should have played nice and let you in without a fight, at least till I35. At that point, the pin stripping on the highway would have given us both something more to consider than jockeying for position too early in the race.

My favorite rookie mistake was at about 5 miles to go when you enter the residential section leading up to Lemondrop Hill. It started when we were on the downhill that leads you around the bend, over the bridge and into the town. I was drafting behind the guy in the Synergy suit and Jorge on the downhill when Jorge stood up and moved out of line to the left. It looked to me like he’d exchanged glances with the Synergy guy, who a second later stood up and moved out of line as well. Voi-la, there I was, leading the pack on the downhill, leading right up to the long, gradual up-hill that leads through the neighborhood and up to Lemondrop. I knew I was screwed and that I’d have to think of something fast. This was exactly the situation I didn’t want to find myself in, and here I was. Damn it. Then Knowl Johnson was like, “Hey, you have a witness, you led this race!” And he sincerely meant it. But all I could say to myself was, “Cha…as if” in my best Wayne Campbell. I’m so not worthy…If he only knew who’d told me NOT to do this…

Since this blog is as much about tearing down my (Gene) Simmons sized-ego as much as it’s feeding my narcissistic tendencies, I’ve got no problem telling you that my ego got in the way of better judgment and coach’s instructions. Here I was, up front, with Jorge, Norm, Ryan, Richard and several other really strong skaters in my line, and I was pulling, being the workhorse. I was told not to. My coaches told me to let the ego sit on the sideline, to just watch the leaders and take their lead. Be a wheel-sucker, take verbal abuse if necessary, but do not pull under any circumstances. Well, I skated right into the poop. They got me. I kept the pace leisurely like they had, but it was harder because we were beginning the climb. To make matters more difficult, the masters pack in front of us was making ground, and I knew at some point were going to have to push harder and attack to regain the lead. At one point, this guy came whipping out front and stayed there for a bit maintaining what looked to be the same pace as we were. So I figured, “heh, heh, heh, sucker…I’m gonna make you pull.” I pushed it up slightly to get behind this guy just as he was bonking out. Mondieu! That wasn’t going to work, and now I’d spent some energy making mistake #2. Well, at this point, my quads were starting to burn, and that’s when the usual suspects jumped out and made their attack run on the pack ahead of us. I made a break to catch them but pushed too hard and slipped with my right skate, giving the pack that remained behind me the opportunity to drop me like a spaz with bad teeth and worse smelling breath that sits on the school bus giving people wet-willies. It looked like my goals were toast.

Well, that’s when you chalk stuff up to experience, recover quickly and remember your training. I just heard the word Tabata in my head. It became a chant. Tabata and Puz, Puz Puz. Puz is a code word I share with my home team that means it’s time to kick it into high gear. I just kept my sights on Richard Cassube’s back and pushed hard to get around the pack that had dropped me and back in line behind Richard. I caught up right at Lemondrop Hill, and was happy when the pace slowed to get up the hill. It gave me that few seconds of recovery I needed to work hard again. But the beauty part of it was, this next interval would be nowhere near as hard as the standard Tabata Protocol normally was. I knew it was going to be this way and it gave me the security I needed to navigate the top of the hill, the left turn and the transition to the highway. And that was a blessing, because there was a lot to worry about on that highway.

The transition was smooth, but it quickly became apparent that this road was very much a work in progress. The road was chewed up with those vertical strip grooves they grind in preparation of a new road surface. Combined with the rain and the usual mix of cracks, potholes, bad patching attempts, sewer drains and random square punch-out holes, and this was going to be two of the scariest miles I’d ever skated in my life. Early onto the highway, it became apparent that the lead pack would use everything it knew to shake people where they could. They were very adept and getting the pace line right over the most difficult pieces of road. I was hanging pretty tight at about 6 or 7 in line, but when we started hitting the underpasses, things got very dicey. The rest of the course was pretty well oil free thanks to the rain having washed it all away. But in the tunnels, the oil and water were just waiting for us, and people started dropping like flies. It was rough, but that lead pack kept right on going while people were scrambling all around them. At some point, someone yelled that we had 1 mile to go till the off-ramp, and that’s when all hell broke lose. I could see pretty quickly that some of these other guys who’d been hanging at the middle to back of the pack were going to now make a serious run at the win. They started taking more risks, and some of them paid dearly for it too. I had to jump out of line and over into the shoulder at one point to avoid someone who fell, and I ended up fighting for dear life to get back in line without ending up in a sewer grate or on the road. I absorbed a skate bite and kicked my butt into high gear to get back on that lead pack. I was slipping and sliding quickly to catch back up.

Workin' it...photo stolen from DuffManOhYeah - Inline Planet Member Forum

I got as far as getting in behind Richard Cassube again, we’re in the lower left in this pic – I’m coming in from outside, Richard is in the orange Simmons suit – which at this point was 7 or 8 back. It was then that I realized that we were coming up on the off-ramp, and that I wasn’t willing to commit to those three turns at high speed on a wet road. They had just put fresh blacktop down on the service road leading to the off-ramp, so that made it easier for a lot of folks to get up to speed and up the ramp faster, but I didn’t think a lot of them would be ready for what was waiting up there…chewed up slick road and a tight turn. I purposely went as wide as I could to avoid the falls, and manage my slide. To my surprise no one went down, but plenty were sliding out right in front of me. I jogged hard around a couple of guys and picked up a sprint over the bridge and down the other side. I came at the lead pack from a 45° angle on the downhill. I was within striking distance of the 4th or 5th spot at this point, but I also knew that this next turn was a disaster in terms of the road through the left tight corner, and the barriers jutting out on the right. Not willing to bite it, I went wide again and just slid through the turn not even attempting a crossover. That cost me, as a bunch of guys came screaming through on my left. I was distracted and worried that someone would broadside me. When I regained my courage, I started pounding the sprint again, and made up some ground, just to give it back on the last turn.

Fighting to make up lost ground from turn 2, going into turn 3. Photo by Cher.

Going wide killed my top 10 placement, no doubt. By the time I was able to get my footing and make my final sprint, I’d given up about 7 spots and finished 13th.

I finished the race and heard Horseypants calling my name. There she was, standing over by the docked William A. Irvin ship. She’d just finished her first half-marathon, and she looked great! What a smile – and a sight for sore eyes. It felt so good to have her there when I finished. She’s my million dollar baby! And as it turns out, she took 9th in her age division in the half, only having trained a little over a month, in her first race, on 100mm wheels in the rain! Yes, I’m bragging. (More about the trip to Duluth as an experience and Horseypants’ race in the next post.)

We had a 2 p.m. flight to catch out of Minneapolis, so I said thanks to a couple of the guys I’d skated with, then we grabbed our Bont anniversary wheels, finisher’s shirts and made a line for the car. I poured about a quarter cup of brown water from each skate, changed my shirt and hoped in. Duluth 2010 was over. Yo…we out.

The most fun I had was all in my head. I’d done what I’d set out to do…skate and hang with the best. I had no idea that Jorge was in our group until the night before when Robert Burnson made a big deal out of it when we were chatting. I thought he was kidding, but Jorge was like, “Nope, he’s not kidding.” Nearly shite meself, thanked Robert for what was about to be a completely sleepless night and moved on. Anyway…my fun was in skating with these guys and matching their strides. Trying to keep their cadence and not fall behind. Trying to figure out what they were going to do, if they were going to break or not, then try and catch back up when they did or when I’d make a mistake and fall behind. I’ve never thought more about skating form in a race as I did in this one. I quote Joey Mantia here when I say that for me, it was, “perfect.”

I had to chuckle and shake my head a few times when the 2nd pack would make a run past our line. They’d look over and keep going. I was incredulous. Did they NOT recognize the tall blond guy in the red Bont uniform or the low form of the guy with the mean profile in the Powerslide suit? I laughed, but I guess maybe I make too much of who these guys are. After all, they’re all skaters, just like the rest of us. They LOVE this sport. All of them. There was a shared passion in that line that didn’t allow for my usual goof-off antics. They’re SERIOUS about skating. They don’t whoop it up under the overpasses, they’re too busy…skating. And that made it fun for me, to be in a pack where they train hard and show up to give it their best. Skating in line with them is the best form of instruction a skater can hope for, and I learned a lot that I’ll use to train with this year. Because doing this race and coming in 13th hasn’t filled me with an overwhelming desire to come back and win it in dry conditions next year. It’s revealed a greater truth for me. I’ve learned that I’ve forgotten how to lose. That’s a big win where I come from.

We came. We rolled. We out.

I win by losing, and I’ll continue to be the First Loser…a legend in my own mind.

I’m a freak, this I know…

In a world where it’s news that Mariska Hargitay is proud to be a size 8 – a news story that actually warranted an update 2 hours after it was originally published – I’m declaring my freakdom. I’m a skate spaz, the kind you don’t bring home to mother. I’m a skate-tweaker if there ever was one. When it comes to skating, I think I think too much.

Funkin' up your pace line, b!@#$!

It’s taken me forever to decide which skates to roll in the upcoming Northshore Inline Marathon. It’s a big deal for me. It’s the only race I’ll skate this year. Wanting to beat my time from 2009 and finish with the lead pack becomes a tall order when you consider the field I’m rolling in is filled with the best skaters in the country in this age class – Norm Kirby, Tony Muse, Ryan Chrisler, Richard Cassube, the list goes on…including my bud Noel Creager – we came up together this year! I’m truly excited to have the opportunity to start with these guys. I’ve been visualizing the pace lines, breakaways and speed all year. I’ve watched several of these guys break a few records and win a race or two this season. They’re inspiring to watch. Hell, my coach skated with and against a lot of these guys back in the day…they know how to skate. They’re truly a different class of skater. If you’d have asked me a few years ago if I thought I’d be in the same wave with any of these guys, the answer would be…ah, no.

I’ve been training hard. All with a mind to be able to grab onto that pack and hold on till the finish, just to beat my time from last year. All things being equal in terms of weather and road conditions, that’s my goal. I’ve trained religiously on my Rollerblade Racemachines modified with a CadoMotus 4×110 DualBox frame and Road War Reds (thanks to CadoMotus.) The coach downgrade my wheel size about a month and a half ago, then we ruined a perfectly good pair of Buck Bearings by loading them with axle grease. To top it off, we added in a few extra pounds of weight per ankle with some strap-on weight bands. We came to call this “Beat Feet.” It was brutal, but I did what I was told to do.

I've been training on these all year. Great training skate, at 3 lb, 02 oz.

Hills in the heat. Intervals and sprints. Tabata and Super-slow, 5-6 days a week. In Beat Feet mode my goal was to get my speed back up to where it was before Beat Feeting it. Talk about tough. But I’ve heard through the grapevine that these guys I’ll be on the line with work harder than that. Thus, I’m super obsessed with the idea of doing my best.

When I start thinking about this stuff too much, my mind is a dangerous place. I become my own worst enemy. Like Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant, I go places I know I shouldn’t, thinking things unspeakable, and smoking way to much crack…

How'd I turn my skinsuit inside out?!

Not quite OCD, it’s disturbing nonetheless. I lose sight of the original goal. It gets perverted into something Nick Cage will try to remake 20 years from now, and it’s ugly.

Last year it was all about form. Early in the season I read 10 Minute Toughness and I crafted a performance statement that I repeated as my skate-mantra (Get Low, Down in the Heel, Full Blade to the Side, Fall Forward.) It served me well.

This year it’s been form and function. Function of form and function of equipment. For me, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to focus on function of form. I’d even say it’s more beneficial in the long run. But you know as well as I do that any skate-gear-head will ultimately come around to, (ah-hem,) evaluating his equipment. And when it comes to playing with it, (my equipment,) I have a lot to learn.

One of the things I’ve learned this year…if you’re going to put 110 frames & wheels on your boots, it’s best if the boot was actually designed to be used with 110mm wheels. The Racemachines I’ve been working with were designed for a max 104mm wheel. Since everyone and their Grandma will be on 110’s this year, it’s really where I needed to be. So I got the 110 set-up and discovered that the second wheel wasn’t spinning freely under the mounting block. So, I made a simple retro-fit using slices of credit cards for shims to jack up the front deck height to get the second wheel to clear the bottom of the boot. Easy, peesy…

For most of the training season I was skating just fine with the front of my boot about 1/4 inch higher than the heel. It really helped me get “Down in the Heel” with my push. I was hitting record times! Then, I got the CadoMotus Pro 110’s and immediately learned that being able to “feel the blade” under my entire foot, from ball to heel, made a big difference in the amount of power being generated by my stride. But my heel and toes were level. This was a great discovery, but as fate would have it I would end up trashing the CadoMotus boots before having the chance to really skate in them. Bummer…but great learning experience & knowledge gained.

Shortly after this discovery, Joey Mantia put up a video blog talking about foot pressure. Another validation point along this path to discovery of a new push.

Then, to my horror, my wife and kids accosted me on my birthday…freaking held me down on the ground by my throat, burned me with a crack pipe and forced a new pair of Simmons Pro M1’s on me for my big 4-0. I took it like a man, but in my shock and confusion over their grotesquely violent presentation of this milestone birthday gift I made a retreat to the internet and did a lot of reading about about how the Pro M1 boot was made. Putting aside my PTSD over the gift giving smack-up, I came to learn something new about the power-points that we should all be focused on if we want maximum control and power transfer. It all dovetailed with what I’d learned on my own with the CadoMotus boots, so I knew I was onto something important. I put the trauma of my birthday behind me and moved on.

With all of this knowledge (and a seven week wait for the Pro M1’s) I resumed my attack on the Racemachines. I was steadfastly determined to wear these skates in this years NSIM as a way of saying thanks to Rollerblade for all of the support they’ve given me and Speedy Weezy this past year. So, the next mod was designed to correct the lop-sided deck height.  It was another simple one…I raised my heel with another 1/4 inch of shim. This was too easy!

My wife was very happy to see such a productive use of my credit cards.

Well, the saggy trumpet began playing because I immediately noticed a significant loss of power transfer in my stride. Having the frame separated from the boot by 1/4 inch of credit card at both mounting points pretty much opened the door to have the energy I was creating just swoosh right through the mounting screws and into thin air, leaving very little to be passed through to my push and roll. I also started getting hot spots on my ankles and insole that hadn’t been there before. I had to work a lot harder to make the skate responsive and I started going through a lot of band-aid donuts and eZeeFits (I cut holes in a thick pair of eZeeFits hoping that would relieve pressure on my ankle bone…it didn’t.) All this because I was trying to wear a boot that I was forcing to do something it’s not really designed for…

After Beat Feeting it for the last six weeks, I’d become painfully aware of how much the weight of your skate, deck height and the design of the foot bed impact you ability to achieve top speed. There was no going back on this stuff. Knowledge gained makes half-assed efforts fall even shorter, because you become aware of your massive half-assed-ness and lose ground you once held through ignorance. To make matters even worse, my Pro M1’s arrived, but they were clearly going to need to be broken in before attempting any serious distance in them. And again, being determined to make the Rollerblade’s work, I didn’t really even consider that I’d wear the M1’s in Duluth this year. Sooo…

Changing the frame .05 oz per boot.

With a firm sense of purpose, I next set out to see if I could improve my situation with the Rollerblade’s through chop-shop methodology. The first thing I did was try and shave some weight by swapping out the frames. I took the Simmons 411’s that came on my Pro M1’s and put them on. Not only did that shave some weight, it lowered the deck height and corrected some of the power transfer issues. Wow – that was easy!

Um, yeahhh…not quite. Try as I might, I couldn’t keep my foot down in the bed (the RB boot is a half size too big, which was never an issue till there was a frame under them that fit the boot without shimming) and now my heel was actually rising because of the new method of pushing I’ve been practicing. What to do…

Give in. And that’s what I’ve done. The itty-bitty committee in my head went on way too long, got too far down in the weeds and ultimately lost sight of the goal. Instead of trying to do my best and beat last years time, it became all about trying to “do the right thing” by Rollerblade. And I know that’s not how they’d want me thinking. They want me focused on achieving a skating goal, not a political goal. So here we go…ready or not, I’m rolling my Pro M1’s in Saturday’s race. The Rollerblade Racemachine’s have been an excellent training tool, and they’ll remain in the feet-fleet. But this weekend I need free my mind of the clutter I tend to create and focus on my goal. To give it my best this weekend you’ll see me on the starting line in these…

All that to get to this...Simply The Best choice I could make.

The Pro M1’s are a skate fiend’s dream. Happy birthday to me.

It's how I roll, run and tell that, homeboy.

See you in Duluth. May you achieve your goal, whatever that is!

Training Log: It’s been a lot of the same you’ve come to expect…I skate a lot. Tapering this week has been made easier by all of the smoke in the air due to the wild fire burning down in Boulder. Lot’s of folks out of homes and lots of destruction. All this skating stuff is somewhat meaningless in comparison. Hoping and praying that the fire is contained as quickly as possible and that no one gets hurt.

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!