Tag Archives: Speedskating

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.

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Afterburner engaged

My Facebook newsfeed is cluttered with status updates from a lot of those “I have nothing to do all day but post memes” profiles that I jump on to steal from and re-post sos I looks *relevant* to all my FB Friends. The memosphere I subscribe to is a vast wonderland – a colorful playground of the glib and snarky. Well-selected images of cunning pets, maniacal babies, Victorian drunkard folk art, 50’s commercial kitche, fools in unfortunate situations and teenagers standing in the bathroom with their iPhones wearing facial contortions that look like they’ve been sucking Atomic Warhead Sour Candy dipped in peanut butter. “Yeah. Uh-huh. Gonna show her my Jiffy Face.” Mmmwwwaaahhhhh!

How you like me now?

How you like me now?

Moron, oh, I mean, more on memes later. So…I made the decision right before New Year’s to go vegetarian for 4 months, as a test. A colleague suggested I watch Forks Over Knives, a documentary about how with what we’re eating we’re lining our pipes with enough sludge to make the New York City Sewer System look like a clean, un-crowded out-of-the-way-place you’d want to take a first date to impress her. I’ve never been one for watching medical footage on television, but when I saw the scene when they extract a tube of plaque from a guy’s main artery, and another scene where they conduct a bypass operation, I couldn’t help but think that maybe it would be a good idea to consider what the filmmakers were saying – namely that animal fat & processed foods are killing us and that maybe I should consider healthier eating alternatives. So, being a guy who likes to jump right in on the next great idea, I did what any red-blooded meat-eater would do starring down the barrel of another hasty decision, I celebrated by going out for one last burger with “The Fam” to Five Guys Burgers & Fries. That was the best damned burger I’ve ever had…

3 days into it, had a Marshmallow Peep and blew the whole thing. Damned things have Gelatin in them. According to Wiki-Know-It-All, Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle (when dry), flavorless solid substance, derived from collagen obtained from various animal by-products. Not just for breakfast anymore! So much for the technicalities. I didn’t realize till after, so it wasn’t like I ran stark raving mad for the nearest In-N-Out Burger to gorge. In my mind, that’s not a reset. I’m in this to win. Or wind, I should say, which is the point of this post…stereotypes about vegetarians and truth in memes.

Here’s a surprise…the vegetarian diet gives you gas. I knew this beforehand, and it didn’t scare me off (“PullMyFinger” is my middle name) butt wholly shite, I had no idea HOW gaseous I’d become. Gaseous Clay is my new boxing name. I break like the wind and stink to high heaven. My farts were never particularly odiferous, but now, bow-wow-wow-yippy-yo-hippy-stench do they reek! Seriously…no pinching a loaf on the sly in my office anymore. It’s my busy season at work, and I’ve already had a few unfortunately timed “drive-by’s” by key executives right after I’ve popped the cork on a vintage veggie boof-bouquet. Gotta get up and get myself to a safe place before the spoiled slippage seeps. Seeping isn’t quite right. I mean, yes, sometimes. But they’re packing more force, like the Psi has been cranked to 11. Hard to control and man they break bad. Really. Freaking. Nasty.

It was the same week that I sniffed out a “FART FACTS” meme that was loaded with fun nuggets of intelligence on flatulence…

– Vegetarians fart more than non-veggies (I now have proof)
– Termites fart most of all (buggers)
– Most humans fart 14 times per day (that’s an average and I’m a high-end outlier)
– You cannot suffocate in a chamber filled with your own fart gas (time for a Dutch oven, baby)
– SBD’s smell so bad because they’re produced by bacterial fermentation, which produces small amounts of noxious gas that doesn’t build enough pressure to create noise upon release (ain’t that some shite? Yes, actually.)
– Women fart just as much as men (and they smell just as bad – butt you knew this)
– Yes, farts are flammable (strike a light homey)
– Fish and turtles both fart (apparently there was some debate)
– It is not possible to get high from inhaling 2 or 3 farts in a row (butt I got a serious buzz huffing a bag of 12 – try it)
– Farts travel out of the anus at 10 feet per second (7 mph)
– You can, in fact, taste a…

Jeez, I could go on all day. But it was that second to last one – farts travel at 10 feet per second, 7 miles per hour – that got me to thinking…how could I use my newfound super-power to help my skating?

Lucky me, I’ve got a physicist in the family. I hit him up on Fartbook:

Still waiting to hear back from the lab in Cern.

Still waiting to hear back from the boys at Cern.

So there’s your proof from The Prof – Farts Make You Faster! The meme was right. I don’t need to do the math to know that I can convert a tailwind to a headwind with a right old toot of the heiney horn. Yessiree, my heat-seeker sphincter song will propel me to the top of the podium, where I’ll be smelling like roses, or at least the King of the Heap! I knew this new diet would pay off – yeah boyee! And hey, if my butt-cracked-pot theory doesn’t help boost me ahead, at least it’ll keep people off my tail, ’cause, you know, who’d wanna be there?

Go on, pull my finger, I dare you.

Let ‘er rip.

When the lights are out, it’s less dangerous

Like a Resuscitation Annie CPR doll and a cold sixer, my speedskating life and this blog go hand in hand. Or like *something* in *something else*. You get the picture. For years, I was having lots of fun poking fun at myself and our sport in ways that let my inner deviant spread its satanic verses like a jihadi suicide bomber’s inerds, at a least-expected moment in a well-populated marketplace, and all over the front of an innocent’s Shalwar-Kameez.  Yes – Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and Blessed Festivus – Santa is answering prayers this year and yours just came up on the underside of a urinal cake: First Loser is back.

Forcast is calling for sin. Leave us.

The prognosis is sinful. Leave us.

It’s been with me for a while, the idea of picking this up again. Like a festering serving of pop-radio drivel that’s tunneled its way into your ear, onto your brain and taken up residence in your every-waking thought. For weeks, the idea of breathing new life into First Loser has finally come to a place where I need to deal with it head-on. Since the only way to rid oneself of an ear-worm is to indulge the id-terloper…here we are now, entertain us.

Be warned, my Super-ego is showing no signs of intervention here. We’re coming back full blast, like a Mexicali truck driver on his 84th hour behind the wheel, fueled by 5-Hour Energy and jalapeno poppers. Gas-masks are advised.

It’s been a while since I put any meaningful time into this thing, that’s if you consider what I’ve published before and up till now anything like “meaningful.” There’s a simple reason for it…namely, it’s that my relationship with my skates has changed, again. And again and again and again it changes again. I love them, I hate them, but never really hate them, love them and hate them again. It’s on, off, on, at least five to seven times a week. I’ve never really stopped or left the sport, but I still feel like I’m away and that I’ve not even yet really come back. And, I’m serious, I skate all the time. But my head’s not in it. It’s constantly a struggle. At this point, I skate to keep myself in pizza. That’s really not the ethic that got me to where I was. But it’s a motive that’s hard to shake…especially now that Christmas Cookie season is upon us, and my belly.

The reason for the weezin' at mile 24...

The reason for the weezin’ at mile 24…

At one point, it ceased being fun and it became work, every damn day. And that got to be too much, especially for where my “inline career” was headed. At 40, it really wasn’t going anywhere, fast. Silly-Wabbit, Gold-On-A-Rope dreams are for kids I told myself, so I decided to just tone it down, go low-profile and take a much-needed break. I mean, I was looking for inline fart-jokes wherever I could find them for this blog, and it all started to stink up the place in my head. The noise around me, the blog and my skating was too loud and not very well directed, so I had to peel-off the pack and put it on cruise control for a while. But I guess if Soundgarden and Nirvana can get back together, I can start blogging about this thing I love to hate, and live to do, still, this thing we do called Inline Speedskating.

I’m coming clean here: I haven’t been able to shake the Christmas weight from last year – about 13 pounds. And it’s not that I haven’t tried. But I stopped working as hard as I used to, and my body has said, “Get back! I’m alright Jack, keep your hands off of my stack,” when it comes to my efforts to shed. Ellipticals and bikes, weights and running, all on top of all the regular “heart-rate” skating. But it’s not going anywhere, and I’m getting tired of lugging it around again. So it’s time to hit the training like I used to, if for no other reason than to trick my metabolism just long enough to think I might compete again. Cause if I’m thinking about going to Duluth in 2013, and I believe that thought, then my body will respond, and I’ll get back to where it was.

But the reality is, I don’t think I’ll go again. Not in 2013 at least. I’m in SoCal now, and it’s just too damn far and too damn time-consuming to even think about seriously. So I need to figure something else out. It ain’t gonna be competing indoors, because the nearest indoor teams and practices are over an hour away. And ice is no-bueno muchacho. Fuggedaboudit. Where the pavement giveth, the ice taketh away, and I’m not into being THAT technical about anything. Ice ain’t happening.

So maybe it’ll be a few inline races in SoCal next year, but honestly, I’m not even excited about that idea. I mean, I think about it, and if I’m on the trail when the thought hits, I’ll peel off on a three-mile flyer and pat myself on the back when I’m done and cruising with my hands on my knees for a half-mile in recovery. But right now, I can’t maintain that pace like I used to, you know, before Louie Lovehandles took up residence in my mid-section.

So I guess I need to come back to the place serious skaters know – that place where it’s all live to roll and roll to live. It’s not that I don’t want to be there, I’m just not sure I’m willing to pay the price of admission.

I feel stoopid, and contagious – come along for the ride, we’ll see where this goes. Again.

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.