Tag Archives: rollerblade

Happy Tanksgivin’

Like the repentant death-row con granted clemency in his eleventh hour, I’m very thankful and grateful for second chances, not to mention all this life affords me.

Fresh-molded and right to your table this Thanksgiving!

Fresh-molded and right to your table this Thanksgiving!


So many times it’s easy to get wrapped up in first(loser)-world problems, that I need to remind myself of the simple things that make life worthwhile:

– Family
– Friends
– Life itself
– The Universe
– Everything else

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

For all you brothers and mothers

Like Sylvester Stallone’s 1983 sequel to Saturday Night Fever, I’m Staying Alive. After a shockingly poor attempt at a blogging comeback earlier in the year, I’ve dusted myself off and I’m ready to try it again. Looking to pick things up where I left them off, my goal is to give the inline community reason to keep coming back with quality, in-depth, thoughtful and well-reasoned inline commentary, not embarrassing, unnecessary, uninspired and self-indulgent rants. Oh wait…that’s what I’m known for. So it goes…

You can try to understand, but really, why?

You can try to understand, but really, why?

Making my way back to the indoor, 100m oval, has been…interesting. I’m not the skater I used to be, and I’m about as far forward in the pace line as I ever was. Having gotten over the idea that I was once one of “the fastest” in my group, I’m satisfied at being counted among one of “the faster” these days in the pace line hierarchy of fast-to-fastest. I’m focusing on my form and trying to catch my breath. I’m sure none of you can relate.

In addition to my forgetting just how different indoor is, what’s happened while I was away is that the line’s gotten faster, from front to back. Those that have been faithfully suiting up and showing up have moved on up in the pecking order. The line’s gotten thicker in the middle – in a good way, not like I have. But the back of the pack has grown a longer, faster tail too. There’s new, old blood that’s been showing up, creating an air of excitement and higher expectations.

Ummm, OK. What THE HELL was that?

Ummm, OK. What THE HELL was that?


Yeah, that pic is blurry, and for good reason. Check out the color scheme in that suit. Look familiar? Look like the colors of domination, and long standing outdoor records? Anyone who recognizes the colors in that skin suit knows that whoever may be wearing it would be someone to be reckoned with. This one in particular is none other than four-time Olympian KC Boutiette.
Don't call it a comeback, call it a reconnection.

The Skin Suit of the Age of Greatness.


Having been the first inline speed skater to make their way to ice, the man is a legend among us mortals. Well, a legend shoulder to shoulder with the other legend we get to skate with, two-time Olympian Jondon Trevena. Jondon went to ice right after KC, and as the story goes, many others have followed them both. KC and Jondon paved the way for what Joey Mantia is doing today, and have a long history together. Getting to be a part of a group with them, sharing the floor with them and learning from them is, for me, inspirational and an honor. And for a guy like me, who’s been looking for the inspiration to get out there again myself, to give it my all and do my best, it couldn’t be happening at a better time, ’cause you know, it’s all about me…
From left to right Dude 1, Jondon, Dude 3, KC

From Left to right Dude 1, Jondon, Dude 3, KC


Both of these men love skating. And the thing is, they’re both at very different places with how they’re approaching it these days. But no matter how long they’ve been doing it or how high they’ve soared, they’re here among the terrestrials, giving it all they’ve got, and smiling every stride of the way. They’ve reminded me that it’s a relationship we have with this thing we do, each to the depth of our own commitment. My skating means just as much to me as theirs does to them. It’s our relationship to do with as we will, as we must and as we can with the lives we live today. If you want to skate with Jondon, come on out to Rollerland any given Sunday morning. No matter how long you’ve been doing this, how many World or NSC races you’ve skated, who you skate for, what configuration or how many wheels you have on each foot, he’ll gladly share the floor with you, and tell you what he can to help you get more out of this. And if you want to skate with KC, come on out, but know this, he’s here, working. He’s not pleasure cruising. He’s testing equipment, wearing weight vests, skating extra laps and nailing his form. He’s friendly and all that, but he’s got his game face on too, so be prepared to get over when he comes screaming by. And if you don’t want to come to Fort Collins in the winter, just wait a few months…he may just be on his way back out there to skate with you.

Yes, I was looking for inspiration, and I found it. These guys, just being around them, inspire you to seek the next level. And now our group has a World Team member too, with the Fast Kid having graduated to the World Class Kid while I was away. It’s a rink full of top talent, that’s fo sho’.

KC, The World Class Kid, Jondon

KC, The World Class Kid, Jondon


Yep, I’m in the right place at the right time. I feel the city shakin’ and everybody breakin’ and I’m stayin’ alive. Now I just need more chest hair, a wider, whiter smile, bigger hair and some medallions to go with. Look out world, here I come.

C’mon y’all

Yep…like a great ball of North Korean bluster-cluck, I started the year with a saber-rattling bang. Man, did I have plans. This was going to be the big year of the First Loser comeback. Well, um, no, that’s not happening any time soon. I’ve been busy man…busy packing it on and skating less and less.

But, unlike New Jersey’s Donut Swilling Governor, I’m not revealing any short-cut gastric surgeries to undo the damage of a few months over-indulgence in Russell Stover’s Pectin Jelly Beans and Pizza.

Yes, I have no plans to run for anything. Or to anything. Imma gonna eat this skate - nom, nom, nom.

Yes, I have no plans to run for anything. Or to anything. Imma gonna eat this skate – nom, nom, nom.

Yes, I’m tired of watching my mid-section gyrate like Shakira’s hips when I brush my teeth shirtless. I’m not going under the knife or making the same mistake I did a few years ago with shakes & supplements. No, I’m shedding the belly shimmy the hard way…healtier dietary choices and Shaun T’s Insanity.

The program is freaking awesome. Really. No weights, no supplements (although they’ll try and sell you a recovery drink), no BS. Just a straight-up, 60 day course in plyos, cardio and sweet pain. Yes – a mainstream plyo workout, 100% skater friendly!

And it’s working. For me, at least. Going into my third week, here are my unvarnished Fit Test results:

C'mon y'all

Now, granted, I’m not quite as out of shape as I make myself out to be (or AM I?) But the chick in the DVD does better than I do so I still have a way to go. Nonetheless, the graph you’re looking at represents eight minutes lived the hard way. But they’re eight minutes that leave me with an incredible sense of accomplishment, so they’re totally worth it. In fact, every workout I’ve done so far feels that way, not just the bi-weekly tests. You get to the end of a daily workout and you’re totally amazed that you’ve done this thing. Even if you can’t keep pace with the hot-bods on the screen (oh yes, there are a few that even Speedy Weezy is looking at saying, “Dad, I think she’s sexy, if that’s what sexy is.”) you go your own pace and feel totally spent at the end of the workout. Spent in all the best meaning of that word. You’ve given everything you have, nothing left in the tank, and it’s good. Look at some of the regular exercises:

Power Jacks
Heisman’s
Power Knees
Globe Jumps
Level 1 & 2 Exercises
Suicides
Mummy Kicks
Moving Push Ups
C Sits
Butt Kicks
Mountain Climbers
Floor Sprints
Log Jumps
Switch Kicks

The list goes on and on. It’s not insane, it’s freaking NUTS. It’s high-intensity interval training. It’s pounding it out as hard as you can, with 30 seconds rest at the end of a series of exercises, then do it again, just, you know, harder and faster than last time.

Another great aspect of the program is it doesn’t take a lot of time. 30-45 minutes a day, 6 days a week. I tell you this, I’ve never looked more forward to having a day of rest as I do now. But really, that rest day is 26.2 mile trail skate day, and believe me, after spending the week putting on the hurt, the trail seems like a trip down light-weight lane.

So this is where my training is this year. I’m committed to Insanity for the next 45 days or so. Or should I be committed for doing this? I’ve been looking at the month 2 schedule, it gets worse. Or better, depending on your sadomasochistic tendencies. We’ll see in a couple of months if I’m as excited about it as I am right now.

Tell you what…if I do stick with this thing, I’m gonna post those unflattering “before” pics with my buff “after” pics. That way, this site will finally get pulled down for obscenity and I’ll be done with it and have more time to skate.

Smoking J’s

Like a blue-meth head tearing out the carpet looking for that elusive last rock, I follow odd notions out to extreme ends. It’s not like I’m sitting here smoking play-doh, nylon and carpet-cleaner, but that’s not something as far out as this theory: If you want to be a WINNER in this sport of ours, you need to change your name. But only if your current nom-de-skate doesn’t start with the letter “J”.

I got it where it counts now, boyee.

I got it where it counts now, boyee.

Being a pareidoliaphile (pron.: /pærɨˈdoʊliəphile/ parr-i-DOH-lee-ə-phile) I’ve discovered the best kept secret in the sport. I’m tellin’ ya, where there’s smoke, there’s crack:

Joey Mantia
Jim Larson
Jordan Malone
Justin Stelly
Jarrett Paul
Jake Powers
Jorge Botero
Jeremy Anderson
Jondon Trevena

All champions. Coincidence? I think not. Perhaps it’s the testosterone fueled phallic nature of the letter itself, but seeing this list, one thing is clear: my uncanny ability to take vague and random stimulus and perceive it as something significant is finally gonna pay big dividends. I’m officially changing my name to Jagger, so I can bust the moves that’ll land my butt on the podium, ahead of you.

Off to listen to some Dub-Step backwards and find hidden messages that’ll unlock the secret that’ll enable me to become the first male roller-girl in the NSC. Dream big.

Trailway To Heaven

There’s a skater who’s sure,
All that’s paved’s made to roll,
And he’s buying a trailway to heaven.

And when he gets there he knows,
If the rinks are all closed,
With a word he can skate like he came for.

BLASPHEMER!!! Eh, I never understood this high-concept cover anyhows...

Laugh it up fuzzball. It may sound corny, but I’ve found skaters Nirvana. A place where the trail goes on forever, and the season never ends. I’m literally five minutes off my first trail skate as a resident of Santa Clarita, California. Without a doubt, this place was made for me. Seriously, made to order, as if directly from Buddy V. the Cake Boss himself. Imagine…

Triple layers of the firmest, smoothest sponge cake, held together with layers of chocolate ganache, dirty iced in butter cream and covered in smooth black fondant. For detail, we add yellow fondant dotted lane lines, pipe in some green grass, use a little granular brown sugar to create a dry creek bed, a little spun brown sugar to create some dry brush, and all along the path we put up white picket barrier fences, trail mile markers, water fountains, stop signs and cyclists, all made out of modeling chocolate. A slice of awesomeness. What you have is a work of art, completely edible and on your plate every living day. Yeah, being out on that trail, it makes me wonder…what have I done to deserve this?

"Mauro! NOT ONLY are these speedskates, NOT ROLLERBLADES, but geez man, this cake smells like the dump on Staten Island! Woah! Hot Ga'bage!"

Before moving out here, I’d only skated one trail that I’d found when searching the web for trails to skate. The only one I’d found was the Santa Clara River Trail. If it were the only one in the area, I’d be happy to have it. Smooth, black and long, just the way the freaky girl from Airplane likes her men. That aside, it’s good but not the greatest. Parts of it run along a pretty heavily trafficked road, and more than once I was fielding cat-calls from Chicano’s in low riders, which gave me a queasy feeling that made it hard to focus. I mean hey, I know, if you’re gonna wear spandex on public streets, this kinda stuff should be expected. It’s one thing to think you can handle the ridicule, it’s quite another to actually go through it. I ain’t going back on that trail in my skin suit, period. Ah hem…

So. That’s yet another reason why I’m glad I found the San Francisquito Creek Trail. It’s mile upon mile of interconnected skating bliss. More glide for your stride, baby. So good, only pictures and video can really capture the essence of how perfectly picturesque, hell, how absolutely pornographic, this trail system is. So close the door, put out the lights, light some candles and grab the Kleenex cause you’re in for some eye-candy…

Point of Entry. From desert plains I bring you love.

I sat in my garage and strapped up. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect as I ventured out to see this new strip of trail. I’d expected to make my way into this little park, find a feeder trail, and maybe find one skatable mile of good trail before hitting a crossover or dead-end. Or worse yet, maybe a crumbling, pothole laden, chip-seal patched rumble strip like what you can skate in old town Fort Collins, only there’d be no scenery to soak in to make the numbing in your feet more bearable. And hey, that’s not slagging my old turf. Not at all. I never liked the trails around old town Fort Collins, always opting for Greely to Windsor or Loveland.

At any minute I expected to see the cast of Grease cheering on Konicki of the big win.

Wow! Was I in for a surprise! What I found was nothing short of heaven. Freakin’ died and gone to freakin’ heaven I have. I tell you…it was so freakin’ good, I don’t ever say this but here I will, at one freakin’ point, after the first hour and a half of exploring, I found myself wishing it would end! No joke man, this trail, it goes on forever, in every freakin’ direction! You get to a major intersection and you got at least four choices to make. Should I continue straight on this side? Maybe cross the wash and head up the other side? Take the other side in the opposite direction, or head back where I came from? Any choice would yield a great skate experience. So, being a trail freak, I did it all.

What part of the word "perfect" do you not understand?

At one end, there’s Magic Mountain. You know, the real-life Wally World from National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Rusty, may I call you Rusty? I had a bad experience on this trail once. I threw up.

Truth be told, this is the end of the trail I’ll probably skate least, as it’s intended to loop at this point but the bridge completing the circuit is closed till March. So I got to that end of the trail and almost found myself on the ground, with the trail stopping abruptly underneath an overpass.

Oh yeah...the sign really helps.

Judging from the rubber skid marks, I can see I’d not been the first to almost find the end of the trail the hard way.

The skid marks are the only visible sign of empathy a cyclist will ever get from me.

Having made my way back to one of the cross streets, I decided to venture onto another section. Wasn’t expecting much till I got around the corner, then I found this:

Another slice of heaven.

When is this going to end? Seriously, it’s almost too much. But as I keep rolling, I develop the plan. I’ll break this trail up and use it to keep things fresh. I can skate all or parts depending on how much time I have. I won’t need to worry about getting a lesser workout on any route, as it’s got such a great mix of ups and downs, lefts and rights.

Rails to Trails converting an old trestle into a skate/ ped / and, ok, a bike path.

There are some really cool sights too. The mountains, the wash (dry riverbed that serves as a drainage ditch if it ever rains here), the cliffs, the trail itself. This is my new home.

Like the Grand Canyon, just not as deep or as beautiful. But the trail rocks!

Palm trees and cactus, sand and sod, there’s so much to see along this trail, but that’s not usually what I’m in it for. I promise, at some point, I’ll do a slide show of all the great horticulture and topography. The pictures here don’t really do that stuff justice. Because right now, for me, it’s all about getting to know these trails like the back of my hand, so I can know when to hold the speed and when to let up. One thing I’ll say for whoever built this path, they knew what they were doing with the lanes.

The worst part of the trail...I'll freakin' take it!

Skaters and cyclists get a dotted yellow line, joggers and walkers get the white. Plenty of room for everyone, and they all take their lane markings very seriously out here. Just like they respect jay walking laws. (Go ahead, dare cross between signals.) But all this to say, that means that so far, I’m getting along with the cyclists. But that’s only because I have my handy Five Guys Inline Speedskating Burger Bell, an early warning system I use to alert those skin-suited weenies that they’re about to be passed…by a speed weenie on eight wheels! Hells yeah!

Thanks Team Bosch - Works like a charm!

Yes my friends…welcome to paradise! OK, so who wants to eat some cake???

Been Sk8n?

Dateline: 22 December, 2011. I started writing this post back in the beginning of November on my laptop, on a plane out of Vegas. I’m wrapping it up tonight, on a couch bound for LA LA Land, thumbing away on the WordPress App for iPhone. A lot has changed between then and now…as it tends to do when you’re busy bumpin’ and bangin’ your way through this mad world.

>>>Been skating much? No. Not really. Not much. Not like I used to. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been at all, but man, it hasn’t been a lot. Or, it hasn’t seemed that way. Life’s been busy. Crazy busy. And nothing ever used to get in the way of “me time” and my skates. But it ain’t like that anymore. I’ve been making different choices. I’m reaching more for Skittles than my skates, and that’s making me blow up bigger than a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float. Just get a few dozen linemen to hold me down and you’ll see me bounching off the walls down the corridors of babylon here in a few weeks, right behind Sponge Bob and Mr. Monopoly. Hmmm, wonder if they’ll be blowing him up in or near Zuccotti Park…

Team Butterball. We Round. We Roll.

This season came and went and it’s like I wasn’t even there. No goals. No Garmin. No PBR’s. No 100mile enduraskates. No NSIM. When I did skate it was just…skating.

This is where all the high rollers hang out.

Took my skates to Vegas. What the hell was I thinking? In the land of free drinks and free, public smoking, there wasn’t a workout to be had for less than $15, and that was in the hotel I was staying in!

<<<Wow…flash forward to this quiet Winter Solstice night, and I pick up where I left off…haven't been skating much, but I've been skating more than writing, and that ain't sayin' much. I've got eight posts in various states of limbo. Actually, decomposition is more like it. Maybe they'll be published, maybe not. I meant to write more, but the trail to hell is paved with good intentions…

When writing that earlier post, I spoke of life being busy. That was a classic understatement. I've been traveling a lot for work, and in classic First Loser style, I'm sitting here on the eve of doing something I said I'd never do…moving to California! So I've sacrificed my training in anticipation of this move, knowing that I'm heading to the land of the never ending outdoor season. I guess it was inevitable, and knowing how well I do with the "We'll I'll never do that!" statements, I'd be willing to bet the last time I said that about Cali I had a twinkle in my eye.

So as I sit here blogging from my iPhone ("You'll never catch me with one of those!") waiting for the moving truck to show up at noon tomorrow, I feel like Bilbo Baggins, on the verge of another great adventure. To all my friends at Rollerland Skate Center ("I'll never become a Rink Rat!") on the Rink Rabbits, with WestWind Speed, Rocky Mountain Racing, and Colorado Gold, it's truly been my honor and privilege to come to know you and skate with you. I've made some friends for life, and I know we'll skate the same pace lines again together someday in the future. You all now have an official excuse to bring your skates to LA the next time you visit!

To all the miles of trails I've come to know…I like some of you more than you know, and others more than you deserve, but all together it was here on these trails that I began this inline journey that ended at the finish line somewhere in Duluth, and I will forever remember fondly our time together, striding and gliding toward a faster tomorrow. The sun sets on this chapter old friend, but our time wasn't spent in vain.

20111223-013917.jpg

When the sun rises on my first full day in the Santa Clarita Valley, I’ll think of you as I get that first whiff of foot-funk while lacing up, knowing exactly where my skates acquired their putrid aroma. Through the miles of sweaty determination we skated together. I’ll honor the memories by getting back to that place I know and love so much. That zone I’ve only ever known skating the trail, point to point. Yes…it’s time to pound it out.

Merry Christmas to you all and I wish you miles of bliss in the coming new year.

You’ve really gone and done it this time, haven’t you?

Like a noobe sausage factory worker who leans a bit too far into the auger to see how it works, I’ve gone and done something I’m probably not ready for…I’ve registered to skate the 2011 USARS Road Championships. WTF was I thinking???

This will be my first real speed meat.

I could rattle off a half-dozen or so reasons (future excuses) as to why I’m not ready for this. And that’s what ima gone do…

One: and it’s not the least of all my reasons. It’s the impressive “Body by Five Guys” figure I cut in my skin suit.

Being 10 lbs. over my race weight is usually where I’m at when the training season starts, not when race day arrives. But wait a minute…the longest race I’m going to skate is the 5,000 meter points race. I’ve been skating 26.2 miles pretty damn near where I was at the beginning of the season time-wise, so I haven’t lost much time or cardio-response with the extra poundage. And I was able to size up my competition yesterday when we went down to the 7-11 Velodrome in Colorado Springs to watch the 300m time trials. Most of the field is physically larger than I am. So I probably shouldn’t worry about the extra baggage slowing me down. Maybe the extra weight will help even the odds a little when the bumpin’ and bangin’ starts. Hmmmm…that’s a fine way to justify poor dietary choices, eh?

Two, or “too” as in “also,” I haven’t really been training for this. Yes, I’ve been skating but I’ve never skated a closed-course road race before. Or is it called a criterium? Honestly, I haven’t a clue. Nonetheless, I haven’t trained specifically for this type of racing. But does that matter? What I know is that we’re skating on a 1/4 mile oval in the infield of the Pikes Peak International Speedway. It’s a wide oval on asphalt. Oh…so wait. I’ve been training indoor and skating the trail. Hmmmm…sounds like I can’t use this as an excuse either.

Thirdly, what the hell is a sunrise start? I mean really. I’ve never even really tried a standing time trial start (for real) till two weeks ago when I went to a practice with a couple of new friends from Synergy Racing. And at that point, I wasn’t planning on skating these races, so I haven’t really been practicing what I learned since then. And as the video above shows, I’ve forgotten a few steps in the set up process. I got as far as what I’d call a Slugrise. Talk about bad form. Oh…but wait. I’ve actually had a little time to practice this since last Thursday when this decision to race was made, and at least I know there are six points I need to cover before I decide it’s time to go. Hmmmm…other then getting a deep outside edge on my left skate when I’m in wind up, I’m a lot more comfortable with this very awkward contortion. This will be a challenge to do well, but that’s more than half the fun I keep telling myself.

Then there’s number four. The distances aren’t something I’ve ever been serious about: 200m Time Trial; 500m, 1,500m and a 5,000m. When I go out to skate I just pound it out. The shortest distance I’ve trained with any consistency for is a 10k. What do I know of these distances? Zip. Nothing. Butttt…a quick check at MetricConversionForUSAmatureAthletes.com says 5,000m is just about 3.1 miles. That’s just about 2 laps around my neighborhood. And there won’t be any hills. Hmmmm…there goes another excuse I can’t leverage.

Five: there’s the field. A bunch of seasoned pros who’ve been doing this far longer than I’ve even known that wheels were measured in millimeters. Guys like Jim Larson and Norm Kirby. I’m “friends” with both of them on Facebook, but I know them much better by the records they hold than their status updates. Then there’s Curt Labeda, the father of Hyper Wheels. Oi! And it looks like there are a couple of other skaters from South Florida in my division too. My son has skated against that team before, he tells me they’re tough. I know there’s a lot of world-class talent that’s come from that team. Well…I can’t think of a better way to start a new discipline than skating with the best.

That leads me to six, but that said, I think I’m falling short of excuses. All these things are really turning out to be somewhat positive. I mean, I’ve even got the right wheels. Two sets. Guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

Honestly, when Horseypants brought this up late last Thursday, I didn’t think it was something I could do. I don’t know why. I’d just set my mind to not racing this year. Since I’d decided not to make the annual September pilgrimage to Duluth about two months ago, I’ve focused my energy on learning Short Track and preparing to compete indoor on inlines in 2012. But Horseypants helped me to see that it would be silly for me not to go and get the experience. To just have fun. To take advantage of the fact that these are actual races here in CO that I can skate. (Something I’m forever bitching about.) That my family can come watch and actually see me on the course, not just at the finish line. They’re stoked to be my “pit crew.” They’ve been making sure I do two-a-days since Friday morning! Yeah, I’d really be a real (speed)weenie if I didn’t go…so it’s official then. The most righteous folks at USARS have carded me and allowed me late entry. So I’ll be there on Wednesday, ready to go. And it’s all thanks to the love, encouragement and support of my wonderful wife and mostest totally awesomest kids. I’m the luckiest loser I know.

I’ve got to admit, the chance to indulge my passion in my own backyard with a bunch of other skinsuit clad skaters who’ve brought their A-game to our great state to do this thing we do is exciting! Really. I’ve got butterflies. Sitting in the stands yesterday, watching the action, I wanted to bail out a dozen times. Nerves of jelly, baby. But at the same time, and about two dozen more times, I was wishing I’d attended the banked track clinic so I could have been out there in the Velodrome gettin’ all parabolic up in the s#$%!

Whatever happens on Wednesday, it’s gonna be fun. And hell, as my nom-de-plume goes, I’ve really got nothing to lose, do I? Nope, no weaseling my way out of it now. I’m a Weasel no more. This really has been a year of mixing it up and doing things differently when it comes to inline speed skating. Uh-huh, yeah. I think I like it.

Hippy, hippy skate

The “hips-forward” position. It’s not something that comes to us naturally, particularly the male of the species, for what should be obvious reasons. Unless you’re puttin’ your junk in a box to give your baby a little something to let her know what’s on your mind, or you’re a pervert hip-reaching for a glancing rub on a crowded cross-town bus, your hips are usually hanging straight to slightly back when you walk, keeping yo junk tucked safely out of harms way. When you’re skating though, this position gives you a leg up on the field, allowing you to optimize your form and maximize your stride. Ed Grimley would be a helluva speed skater, if he’d just bend his knees…

I must say, I really don't find those skin suits to be all that flattering.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my coach say to push my hips forward. Honestly, it’s taken me about three years to finally figure out what he meant. Intellectually, I understood him when he’d illustrate the pelvic thrust on dry-land, although I’m the first to admit I was a little distracted when he put “The Time Warp” on the rink sound system and dressed like Tim Curry in Rocky Horror to show us the proper position, but that aside it was easy enough to see what he was talking about. It was quite another thing to apply it while skating, particularly in indoor speed skating. (Sorry – no visual on the Rocky Horror thing.)

I can tell you this…skating with your hip forward, or “tail-tucked” as they say, is one of those fine little technical points that immediately shaves time off the lap counter. I’ve been doing nothing but skating Grimley-style since I got clued into its true importance. Seriously…it’s one of those things I feel like I could take a year off just to work on. To get perfect. And judging by a recent post out there in the inline/online world by Bill Begg, Chad Hedrick’s hip position was the key to his massive double push technique, so I guess I was onto something after all…

Why is it so important? Because that’s where the power lives. There are some big muscles in them there parts. We’re talking butts and quads.  For me, when I’ve got all my attention focused on keeping my tail tucked way under me, my thighs come up directly underneath me, allowing me to stack my position over my ankle. For me, this makes it easier to keep everything tight and in line, particularly when I lean into the turns. Holy crap have I been doing a lot of work to get a better corner lean! But anyway…

The most obvious benefit that almost anyone who tries this will find immediately is that your stride extends more fully to the side and more forward, as opposed to dropping back and away. In the corners, it’s a wicked technical improvement. I’ve found my underpush feels stronger, and I feel more in control when I’m doing this right. Did I mention it’s making me faster as I ride a tighter line through the corners? Now if only I’d step into the damn turn a little sooner. That, combined with this, would probably help me shave another 1/10th of a second off my lap time.

Also, the falling motion seems to gain a little juice when I’m stacked up right. (Hell, if I was truly stacked I’d never leave the house, but that’s yet another tale better left untold.) This probably has something to do with having more weight forward, falling in the direction of travel, building forward momentum to carry you along at a higher rate of speed. But hey, I’m not a physicist, but I’ve had nasty cysts, and they’re just about as much fun as science class was for me in high school. So it goes…

For all this intellectualized blather, I’m still the kind of skater that tosses everything out the window when the starter pistol fires. But with practice, and I’m talking every rolling minute on skates, it’s becoming more second nature to get my hips more forward. And the more I talk about it with people much smarter than me, the more it becomes clear that this is truly important in the grand scheme of this skating thing.

I’ve been working on all of this for about a month and a half, ever since I filmed my coach using a golf swing analyzer App on my iPad2 (yet another blog post for another day.) Watching his form in slow-motion, I was able to really see the difference between his hip placement and mine. It’s one of those things that’s eventually going to lead to that one second gap closing between us. Because all of this analysis, all of this desire to improve technically, is to ultimately improve my 100m flying time by one-freaking-second. It’s the stuff like this that separates them – the greats – from us – the haters. One godforsaken second between me and a former world champ. There’s about 25 good years of skating experience in between us too, but it’s the small technical things that are keeping us apart skating indoors. With all this hip and stacking and stepping and leaning stuff, I feel like I’ve unlocked the secret to shaving another 4/10th’s of that second off when I get this stuff right.  Now…where the hell is the rest of it going to come from?

NOTE: These are just my observations. I’m not an expert and don’t claim to be even related to one. So don’t hold me up or put me down, if you know something more, share it. Constructively. Have a nice day, know-it-all.

Strap on baby wipe dispenser

I wasn’t much for advanced mathematics in school. Other than the ability to grasp metric measures and dollar equivlants (grams, ounces, lids…) I was a zero when it came to questions that required computation to answer. That I came to end up working in marketing but specializing in data analysis is beyond me. There’s a lot of math involved in what I do. More than my brain can handle sometimes. There’s a lot of mystery in the art and science of analytics. But perhaps the greatest mystery I’ve come across lately is something I think Mr. Spock would even have a problem with: what algorithm is going to return “First Loser | Inline Skater” based on search input criteria “Strap on baby wipe dispenser?”

Elliptical hole in top, heated, 8 inches deep, warm and smoshey on the inside, cleans up after itself and leaves your skin silky smooth and baby powder fresh. Yep...undercover lover.

Search terms reveal a lot about why people are looking for a website. And I’m not so full of myself that I think people actually seek me out. No. When it comes to inline skating, they’re looking for one guy right now. The chances are pretty high that you know exactly who I’m talking about, ’cause that’s how you came to find this post too.

COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION…

Any in-stock Bont Patriot short track boots, normally $225, this month only, $175.

Any in-stock Bont Platinum blades (top-of-the-line!), normally $450, this month only, $375.

NEW – full custom Bont Patriot boots and Platinum blades, $1000! Note that the blades alone normally retail for $450. Shipping and applicable taxes extra, please.

Email Glenn today: glenn916@yahoo.com

AND NOW, BACK TO OUR POST…

It’s true. “Mantia” is the number one search term in inline skating. “Joey Mantia” is number two. It’s how people find this site and countless others. And as I scan the logs of my site traffic, it’s easy to see what people are really interested in reading about. Other than the picture of all the hotties dressed as Slave Girl Princess Leia that I posted around the holidays, the posts that have anything related to Mantia get the most repeat traffic. So…while it may be counter-intuitive to some that I consolidate all of that content, that’s zactly whut I’ma gone do.

Here are all of the Mantia posts, all in one place. But listen, no homo man. I’m doin’ you a favor here. So don’t go breakin’ my balls, pal. You want to skate better, then you need to study the best. So just consider this a coach’s corner…a session with the man through this twisted skater’s lens:

Mantia Post 1

Mantia Post 2

Mantia Post 3

Mantia Post 4

Read, watch, analyze and learn. You’ll be a better skater…more precise, more competitive and better equipped to help the next skater that asks you for pointers. Cause that’s the code of conduct – you’re not allowed to keep this stuff to yourself. Make the sport more competitive – share your stride techniques ya greedy bastid! Say what you will about Mantia, but he’s a guy completely dedicated to growing this sport, one skater at a time if necessary. Just look at what he and Miguel Jose are doing with NSC, that’s dedication.

Another guy who’d give you the skates right off his feet if he thought it would help you is my coach, Jondon Trevena. A two time Olympian and one of the first guys to make the transition from inline to ice, Jondon is the kind of coach that puts his skaters first. He’s the one that gave us the use of his family’s rink to host the Mantia clinic we had, and he even participated and deferred to Mantia & Co. so that his students could learn, (even when what we were learning was something he’d been telling us for years.) Visit his site JondonSpeed, and come skate with us if you’re ever in Northern Colorado on a Sunday morning.

CRAZY GLENN BACK AT IT AGAIN!

WOW! Glenn felt so bad about interrupting the Mantia Super Post that he’s back to make things tight with you…order anything from him today and get an additional 20 EFFIN PER-CENT OFF!!! Seriously, he’s serious. I’d swap my own mother with narco-terrorists to get an additional 20% off on a sweet pair of Bonts. Fortunately, you don’t have to! Just email Glenn today: glenn916@yahoo.com for God’s sake! What are you waiting for???

Doesn’t apply to other discounts.

Ice to meet you

In the course of events in this thing I call my life, I need to mix things up. I’m not the kinda guy that you can expect to sit still for more than a few minutes at a clip, at least with my pants on…

REVEALED: This is how I cop so much time on SkateLog Speed Skating Forum.

I need to be busy. Need to be doing something. And no matter what it is, if I really find it interesting, I can become very disciplined, very quickly and develop routines that I’ll adhere to, religiously, for years without interruption. But once I start getting bored, the routines get hard to maintain, and I need to find something to spice things up, or I’ll start getting lazy and I’ll start relying on anything I can find to use as an excuse to get distracted from that thing I was so engrossed with that it became a part of my daily life and part of the definition of…me.

My career as Skatey Spice was short lived...I just couldn't bring myself to shave my legs.

I’ll admit it…I started getting bored with this thing of ours. That’s right. I started to become a slacker skater. If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you’ve seen the ups and downs. What I’ve published here really only scratches the surface. And yes, my posts do tend to exaggerate the state of things, and go more for a cheap fart joke than any real substance, but that aside it’s a pretty honest portrayal of my skating life. I’ve added emphasis there because my skating life is truly more than roller skating, or, you know, inline speed skating. Ice has become a part of this thing I do. To the extent that I should really just say I’m a skater, as opposed to an inline skater, because the latter implies a singularity of purpose that just isn’t in my make up anymore. It’s like saying “I’m a road-skater,” or “I’m a trail-skater,” or “I’m an indoor speed skater,” or “I’m a marathon skater.” The label “inline skater” has become too restrictive. And since freedom is so much of what I love about this sport, I think saying “I’m a skater” is about as liberating as I can get. That said, inline is really my core so I’m not dumping the label. I’m just more open-minded about this thing I do.

We're just not coming at this from the same place.

Being one of such open mind, I decided that since nude speed skating is flat-out too dangerous and just wrong (God knows the view would be hanus trying to catch a draft,) 2011 is the year of doing things differently. By that I mean setting new goals, tackling new challenges and stretching past my comfort zone. It’s one thing to try to break a personal best time, whether it’s for 100m or 26.2 miles. It’s another to try to become somewhat competent in another discipline, and that’s what I’ve chosen to focus on. I’ve moved to ice. Not in the epic sense of a Jondon Trevena or Derek Parra or Chad Hedrick. No. Just in the sense of being me and trying something new. And it’s been a humbling experience, one that’s done the ego some good.

Taking a similar track to what I did my first year on inlines, I jumped right into the deep end of training and competing. Honestly, the main reason I haven’t been updating these pages all that much lately is that I’ve been using all the spare time I can find to get me some quality ice time on my new Marchese One boots and Marchese Zero blades. (Full disclosure…CadoMotus makes these Marchese’s, and CadoMotus is a sponsor of First Loser.)

These skates kick butt.

Yep…I’ve become a short track slut, puttin’ out on the ice as much as I can, and gettin’ my money’s worth out of the Ice Center Super Pass I bought in February. But I digress…

To really kick up the excitement a notch, I competed in my first ice meet earlier this season, The 2011 Colorado Speed Skating Championships. The meet was organized by Colorado Gold Speedskating, and they’re just awesome! anyway…this meet was a quick test of my ego-resiliency. Considering that my only real competition was a self-described “old lady” and some guys that have been doing short track for all of maybe eight months to a year, I was thinking I was on my way to gold, or at least the claim of having my First Loser status carry over in my ice debut. That wasn’t to be the case. I did pretty well, in that I got the entry fee’s worth out of the event by placing in my heats and skating all the finals, but the podium was a bit further away than I thought it would be.

Turns out I was competing in the masters division. So even though I was on the ice with the Bony Pony’s, or whatever we were being called, I was skating against those guys I was watching and going “Holy S#!t look at that!” So needless to say I didn’t come home with any medals (not even a freaking participation award or a chocolate bar) but I did skate away having had a great time and really falling for this new discipline. (Father’s pride: Freezy Weezy took third in his division!)

Freezy Weezy takes Bronze!

As it stands right now, I’m on the fence about NSIM this year. I honestly don’t know if I’m going to go. It’s a lot of effort for a little better than an hour’s worth of skating time. Yes, it’s the premiere event for me, no doubt. But I’m not excited about the idea anywhere near as much as I’m stoked to go to a short track clinic at the Oval in SLC in June, and compete here in Fort Collins at our first ice meet in October. I’m truly excited and I’m working hard to try to improve my technique so that I can show improvement versus what I did down there at the World Arena in April. That’s got me fired up man. Honestly, I miss that about inline. That same fire just ain’t there anymore.

DON’T GET ME WRONG DAMNIT! I still love inline skating more than any other sport. And now that the weather is somewhat improving here in NoCo I’ve been able to hit the trails with gusto again (94 miles logged last week!) and I’m truly amazed every time I skate in my Pro M1’s on the trail and feel truly in command of every facet of my stride, but it’s that, I don’t know, maybe it’s the novelty of new-found passion that I just don’t have for inline anymore. With inline, it’s like I have something to maintain. I’ve achieved a little something. With ice, I ain’t done s#!t, so I’ve got the world before me. And with a 1:07 500m time, I’ve got nowhere to go but up…at least I hope.

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR

Crazy F’in Glenn is at it again! Just to make things nice and tidy, he’s offered up a really schweet deal on Bont Patriot Short Track boots and Bont ice blades. Check it speed freaks:

Any in-stock Bont Patriot short track boots, normally $225, this month only, $175. 

Any  in-stock Bont Platinum blades (top-of-the-line!), normally $450, this month only, $375.

NEW – full custom Bont Patriot boots and Platinum blades, $1000!  Note that the blades alone normally retail for $450.  Shipping and applicable taxes extra, please.

Email Glenn today: glenn916@yahoo.com to get this crazy azz deal before it’s too late. Sorry Rick! (Inside joke.)