Why Does The World Smell Like Onions?

I will be celebrating my 22,000th mile on inline skates next week, it’s safe to say that this is my sport.

It was a workout day.

I gathered my things together and tossed them into the Jeep.

Skates.  Three bottles of water.  Skate pads.  Sun Block.

I am in South Florida after all.

All the rest.

These days, it includes extra water because it is high summer.  90 Degrees F, 32 C in sun that is literally less than three degrees from vertical at its highest can be punishing.

I have racing stripes on my wrists, elbows, and knees from the pads blocking the sun.

Getting to the park, I put my skates on, and step down allowing the grass to stop my free rolling down hill.

Not much of a hill here, Florida “Below I-4” is flatter than anywhere else I have been.  Flatter than Kansas.

I distractedly put on the mask that has to go on after headphones and helmet, and step onto the pavement.

Heart rate monitor is on. I check to see that I am below my personal speed limit of 165 BPM.  I can easily get myself going faster than that simply by pushing a little harder, getting a little more air into my lungs, getting a little more exercise, but I don’t.

I don’t want to “overdrive” the trails and leave a large smear after a bounce.

The Emergency Rooms down here are filling up again with COVID-19 cases, and having me come in on a gurney because I landed badly and sprained or broke something would end worse.

Lets not.  Slower heart rate means slower skater.  I’ll get enough of a burn anyway.

I get going, and push.

I noticed it.  Someone is cooking Onions, early.

Fair enough, I’m right by the restaurant, Galuppi’s, at the golf course.  The wind usually comes off the ocean though and I am just to its east side.

Mentally shrugging, I enjoy burning off another sweaty 1600 calories on a short workout.

Getting back to the Jeep, I get on my way back home.

The Jeep doesn’t smell as strongly of onions.  I’m not going to crave a cheesesteak with fried onions here.  But it is just about lunch time and I have a very empty stomach to fill once I pull into the house.

Strangely, now, I put things together as I enter the house.

You see, these confounded Masks that we all wear?  I pull mine up and down when I am approaching someone on the trails.  My mask protects you.  It is a statement that I respect your humanity, or something less self aggrandizing.

If I had “it” and I cough inside of that mask, your chance of getting “it” drops significantly.  In this case, “it” is frighteningly transmissible.

Unlocking the door, I step in.

The house smells like onions.

I look at my right hand.  Keys and Mask.

I realize what it was.  Sloppy Joes.  We cook from scratch here.   The house is sealed tight here to keep the air conditioning inside.  All that onion that we needed to get into that Sloppy Joe let out a lot of scent into the air.  The synthetic fabrics…

THAT IS IT!

Ok, time to toss that mask into the hamper.  I was breathing Onion from the Mask, not the atmosphere.

Still and all, Galuppi’s is a pretty good restaurant even if the Sous Chefs weren’t grilling onions at 9 in the morning.

But while you should wear your mask, wash the thing.

Even if it is your Workout Mask.  They get kind of stinky and sweaty too!

Sloppy Joe anyone?  Ok, I’ll make beefy mac with the leftovers!  CYA!

When Deleting Your Spare, Whether Jeep or Inline Skate, You Just May Need Them

Ok, so it’s a weird collision of things that happened.

I was thinking of how My Sport was back in the 90’s.  Inline Skating was one of those things that grew rapidly and massively, and I mused often about how fun it would be to open up a Pro Shop for Skating.

Then, the market changed, people left the sport, that dream vanished like the team that I was friendly with over the years.

I still skate, and people are coming back but not like before.  The meets are gone, the teams are terminated, but still I roll on.

I was out skating at the Pompano Airpark the other day.  I looked at the car, and leaned against the spare while trying to get all the crap set up to be able to “Skate At My Level” in this day and age.  A pint of ice water per 4 or 5 miles of South Florida Heat.  Two spools of surgical tape.  Scissors.  Allen Key.  Phone, headphones, padding to be able to listen to music.

 

Spare axles and bolts wrapped in plastic sit under the water in the “fanny pack” to carry all this nonsense.

I need to find another one that large.  While Fanny Packs are ludicrously out of style for most people, if you’re on a trail working out, they can be a requirement.  You don’t have enough hands to carry three sport bottles of water, and a Camelback Bladder gets “spoiled” after a couple uses.

When I was competitive back in Philadelphia through to the mid 2000s, I would skate 33 miles, three times a week during season.  100 Miles.  162 Kms.  April to November.

That is why I have all that equipment.  I used to carry spare wheels in case I threw an axle or a wheel or…

“SNAP!”.

What is going on?  I’m only two miles out. This is nothing of a distance.

Vibration transmitted from the back wheel of my right skate boot.

“Something is going on with the push wheel, got to check at Three Mile Bench”.

I was in limp along mode until then.  Vibration got really bad.  I was worried that push wheel would lock up and I’d be 100 KG of Moose Meat slamming onto the pavement.   Slowed down and sat.

I was presented with a wheel that had literally shattered and the hub had disintegrated into trail dust.

“Ho Lee CRAP! and no SPARE!”.

Yes, I deleted the spare.  Just like the people who like to mod their Jeeps to go with those tires that resemble donuts.  I was stuck on the trail and no spare to roll on.

8 wheels is now down to 7.  I removed that push wheel and moved a similar one on that boot to that spot.  I was using up my leftover wheels from the competitive era.  Down to the last of the 20 year old wheels, I was now using something I removed from a pair of cheap skates, literally.  They were set on top of a trash bin on bulk trash here.  While those boots were shredded, I was able to rescue the bearings and the wheels and use them both.

But that was years back.  I ran through all my “trash skates” and back catalog of old wheels.  They were from so long ago that the rigid plastic hubs turned into magic trail pixie dust that would trip some other poor soul if the hit it.

“Sorry!  On Yer Left!”

Got back on the trail and went a half mile.  Vibration started up again.  My Right Leg was vibrating enough to be an annoyance and looking down I saw I was back into that same problem again.

Sat down at Kevin’s bench.  Wheel 2 is now shattered.  I had to scavenge a wheel from the left boot and do a trail repair to be able to roll back to the jeep to get the spare skates.  Now down to Three Wheels On Each Boot.

Yes, I thought that having a spare pair of skates two and a half miles away was a good idea.  Usually when an inline skate wheel dies, it’s due to the Urethane pulling away from the hub.  Not ancient plastic shattering away from the bearings.

Got back on the trails again and you guessed it.  I replaced that shattered push wheel again with a wheel from the left boot, and moved things around.  The Two Front Wheels were from an older set of wheels that strangely were holding up.

My last mile was in Limp Along Mode.   I had two wheels out of four on the right leg, three on the left.   Speed was shot, I was hot and tired from sitting in the sun repairing skate trucks and moving wheels around.

I rolled back to the Jeep and thought about that deleted spare.  That’s why when you rework your skates, and remove one from the Truck, Rails or Frames to you noobs, you save two of them.

In my own experience, you rest on your heels, push from them and sweep the leg so that the foot leaves the ground from the toe.

The Push Wheel ends up being the back wheel on an inline skate and wears out fastest.

Save that one in case of emergency…

Like this.

I won’t delete my Spare again.  More crap to carry but it’s worth it.

Now that I am home, I have work to do.  Each boot needs two wheels each.

COVID-19 Killed My Outdoor Workout And It Killed Yours Too

Hey!  You!  Listen to The Coach, stay the hell home!  You don’t want COVID-19.

Great, now that we have gotten that out of the way, if I’m a little grumpy I’m trying to remove 500 calories a day out of my daily diet because I am home and can’t workout.  I will be dusting off the Bowflex home gym today.

It’s all because I got a lesson in Social Distancing.

I workout at Pompano Beach Airpark.  It is a 4.5 mile outdoor loop around an airport and a golf course here in South Florida.  It has benches and three water stops.  Flat as a pancake even if they did put speed bumps on the trail itself for the blind.

Whoever made that decision, needs to have a talking to.  The speed bumps at the .6 mile marker (1 KM West of the southern start of the loop) are enough to make an elite inline skater fall down.

Can you file them down a bit, they’re excessive!

Never the less, I have a complicated set of maneuvers that give me a 14 mile workout without ever hitting a street or that particular speed bump.  There are people Skating, as well as Bikers, Runners, Walkers, and people out strolling to enjoy the setting.

I have been going there for a year and a half and it shows.  I’m in markedly better physical condition than the average person in the US at my age group.  A workout is 1700 to 2200 calories, generally twice a week.

The last time I went there, I went specifically to ask the question “Is it safe to continue skating“.

The answer is a resounding NO.  Emphatically.

First, about half of the people normally working out are staying away.  I have a few people I know well and all of them were gone.  The Canadians are heading back North, and the locals are skipping it too.

Second, that Golf Course?  Easily half of the old duffers were missing.  The line for a Golf Cart was gone, there was nobody sitting on the bench that I use at mid workout.  Even the Pro Shop was idle.

Finally, the parking lot was down by about 2/3.

While we all make decisions that effect ourselves, the decision to employ Social Distancing effects others as well.  If you have COVID-19, it does not pass it to someone if you aren’t there to do that deed.   Also you can’t pick it up if you aren’t drinking from a contaminated water fountain or sitting on a contaminated park bench.

I’m done for the duration.  The skates will all be “refurbished” for the next workout, hopefully sooner than later.

 

But, Stay Home.

 

Walk your dogs longer.  Go out before dawn and get some exercise when nobody else is awake.   There were a few people still out but this morning’s one mile walk was completely alone and I live in the middle of a populated area.

Your health will thank you.

If you are an outdoor workout person, I did think that you can do it safely if you do a few things.

  • Bring what you need to keep yourself safe.  Sanitizer and a mask are helpful if you have enough.
  • Obviously – Social Distancing – Stay away from others.  If someone coughs and you run through it, you’re exposed.
  • Don’t touch anything or anyone.
  • Don’t use the facilities.
  • Don’t drink the water, bring your own and bring extra.
  • Don’t use the benches unless they are in full sun and consider wiping them down with full strength rubbing alcohol or other sanitizers.

 

Don’t fall.  That’s just good for any other normal day.  Falling hurts.

Maybe this autumn I will see you all again but for now, I’m looking for my skate box.  I have bearings to tear down and re-lube.

DIY Addict Goes On The Hunt For A Special Skate Screw With A Rare Thread

(Stands up)Hi, I’m Bill!

(Hi Bill!)

I’m a DIY Addict!

And here’s my story.

Not to minimize other’s challenges in life, but this should be easier.

I’m that guy.  I drive a 19 year old Jeep Wrangler.  I still have and use radios, some of them have tubes in them.

Yes, actual Tubes.  Orange glow, hot musty smell, and so on.

They may smell like old wood, but they really do sound much better than the internet feed I’m listening to at this moment.

That would be Valves for my friends Ol’ Blighty.

Why is that?  Simple, I fix things.   Always have.  All the way down to soldering individual components on a printed circuit board.

I remember deeply annoying my father because before he had a chance to get his tape player fixed in the car, I did the repair for him.  It was just a thrown belt off the tape mechanism.

I could see him wind up to get loud and start a shouting match but “Hey, it works now, go play your tapes” was all I said.

Then I walked out and hid in the bedroom where I kept the shortwave radio and tuned in Radio Canada International.  9625 MHz.  They aren’t there anymore.  Too bad, the news was always better there.

That era was where I got hooked on listening to the World Service Of The BBC and the time signal “pips” from the relay in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada.

I know, I was weird.  Still am, now it’s all in Spanish and I tell myself it helps my studies.

But all this equipment needs maintenance.

My car, My radios, and even my skates.

I just didn’t think that having “Old Things That Need Maintenance” would include my workouts.

You see, I beat myself up on the trails, hard.  Yesterday was a 2 hour, 2000 calories, 15 mile endurance skate.  Average heart rate is 170BPM, or near enough to that.

I consider that an easy morning at the park.

I have three pairs of skates that I trade off with.  Two are from the last century.  I always have a spare pair in the Jeep when I get to the park.  If the chafing is too bad from the hot spots, I can always stick a square of moleskin on the spot and go on, or if I ‘Throw A Bolt” and lose a wheel, I can swap out the skates and get back on the trail.

That throwing bolts thing.  You see, that’s why god made Lock Washers.  Oh, and Permatex Blue.  You have both of those things and your bolts won’t fly off when you’re on a corner, and at the speeds I do, falling is guaranteed to cause injury.  They just aren’t standard issue on a pair of skates.

I had found some $5 Skates at a local thrift store, still in the box with the original information.  They weren’t anything special but they were NEW.  With that new boot smell.  Tried once and tossed away.  My Good skates are from before 2003 and parts are dry rotting off of the boots.

So I snagged them, used my discounts, and eventually tried them out.

If you are one of the new people considering skating as a sport instead of just tootling around the neighborhood behind your children on the Cul De Sac in the suburbs, let me clue you in.

If your skates are less than $150, they are going to be junk.  If you don’t have a truck (frame for the wheels) that is either Carbon Fiber or some sort of metal, there will be too much flex and you will hate them.

I knew these were … ahem … modest boots, but I had skated more than 10,000 miles on similar boots back in the first skating boom.  I had modded them with a Speed Kit and Heat Molding.

Heat Molding is applying a heat gun to a plastic part to make it soft and to use something that is not heat conducting to push that part into a better shape.  I used a bamboo stick I cut from my yard, and the boots are much more comfortable.

Now, I could have a skate shop here.  Easily.  As in a proper “Pro Shop”.  It’s not a brag, I have skated total just under 22,000 miles (in old money) or 35,405 KM for the imperially impaired.

 

You don’t do that without picking up some tricks.

In this case, you replace the bearings with some faster ones.  I have a couple of old cottage cheese containers crammed with bearings that have been cleaned, lubed, and certified for use.

Next, you replace the wheels with harder and larger wheels.  80 MM wheels, at least 80A hardness, but closer to 90A is better for speed.  Some folks ride on wheels that belong on the bottom of my wheely bin out front – 125 MM tall – Five Freakin’ Inches tall!  On Inline Skates!  WOO HOO!  Speeeeeeed!  I CAN’T STOP!  (OOF!)

Now, bearings and wheels are upgraded.  What next?  What sick trick is Mr DIY going to do with this pair of (ahem) low end skates?

Speed Kit.  At least that is what we called them back in the first skate boom.

I have a different cottage cheese container with a bunch of speed kits.   Typically low end skates come with white plastic things that fit between the bearings to space out things and give rigidity.   Put them in the trash.

 

My cottage cheese container is stuffed with Aluminum Spacers.  To be fair, they’re probably good enough for “you”.

 

In my case, I need faster.   I need a pair with bolts.  They’re screwed in place to minimize friction and stiffen them.   They are set up so that the wheels run free when spun for as long as you have a mind to lube the darn things up.

I had a bunch I scavenged off old skates and closed up skate stores over the years but as time goes on, you start losing parts.  Move 1200 miles south and you lose more.

I found I have 16 speed kits, but only 7 complete sets.   A Set is a spacer that is threaded, a pair of lock washers, and a pair of screws.

So this being a precision set up, turning a Leisure Activity into a proper Sport, of course I needed another speed kit, at least.

Should be easy to find those screws, right?
WRONG.  BUZZ!  TRY AGAIN!

Apparently the two big box hardware stores, that everyone knows, decided that they don’t have the demand to carry that specific screw to hold everything in place.

Lock washers we have!

 

But those bolts.  Have you ever considered how many different bolts there are?

Mr DIY has.  There are bolts with three kinds of methods to tighten them, more if you want to be really annoying.  Regular slotted screw heads are no good on a trail.  Phillips cross head screws can work but that means you take your skate tool with you for the eventual breakdown.   The original speed kit had two “1/4 inch, 28 thread, button head socket cap, 3/4 inch long”.

Yeah I didn’t think so.  Apparently it’s only used in weird applications.  Different threads you see.  Like my soon to be upgraded cheap skate boots.

Went to Orange Big Box store #1.  Nope

 

Went to Blue Big Box store #2.  Nada, although I really entertained the folks there when I rolled in on a pair of skates to the screws and bolts needed on my skates for more parts.  They were unnerved by me being over 7 feet tall in skates, helmet, pads and sweaty from the workout.   Sorry folks.

 

Went to old line hardware store with the helpful hardware man.  Helpful but sorry.  Had a nice chat about my 19 year old Jeep Wrangler TJ.  4 liter AMC Inline six.  Never kill engine.

Finally went to the other old line hardware store with a different hardware guy.

I won’t say success.  I ended up finding a screw with the right threads and length but it has a cross head Phillips in the top.  Everything else fits.

So if you are out on the trail in Pompano Beach and throw a bolt on your speed kit, I have a spare.

Even if the Sport is getting slowly more popular, it’s doubtful you’ll spot me fly past so I’ll skate on happily.

You see, my own Pro Shop Standard is a minimum of 30 seconds worth of free rolling once you start.   I really want a minute.  I’ll let you know how that all works out.

How it got to be Kevin Puryear’s Bench at Pompano Airpark

For me, the story starts well after things were in play.

You see, I restarted a regular habit of my own, then took it on the road.

I have started skating on a regular basis this year, and that meant I was going to Pompano Airpark.  I’d go, skate, fall down, and generally beat myself into a pulp while thoroughly enjoying the exercise.

I’m going twice a week, as early in the day as I can get out there, to skate a 9 mile workout. It is a great way to burn upwards of 1500 calories, and get some beta endorphins.

I guess being as big as I am, almost 7 feet on skates with helmet, the beta endorphins would soften my own appearance.

Going along on the trail, I’d have a big goofy grin on my face, while I am in my cocoon of music on the headphones.

I became a regular. People would recognize me, smile and wave.

There was one person in specific who hung out at the 1.5 mile water stop.  It’s a small stand of shade trees surrounding a water fountain and three green metal benches.  Since the park really needs more water stops, this stop became a bit of a hangout.

I noticed as I was skating by, heading past the big Goodyear blimp hangar, there was one person curiously asking me the time.

Frequently.

“What Time You Got? Is it 9 O’Clock yet?” I’d hear.

“Um sure!” Glancing at my watch.

“Have a great morning!”

I’d be confused as he was generally very friendly even if his outward appearance was on the rather scruffy side and led me to believe that he might be homeless.

As I’m going through this year, I’m testing out old equipment to prove that I can continue to use it, or that I should “retire” it.  Trust me, skates don’t age well, and my newest pair is over 15 years old.

One of those test workouts, I had to stop at that water stop.  By that I meant I was in desperate need of a rest since the skates being tested had me burning almost twice my usual “burn rate” in calories.  I was exhausted.

He was there.  Still pleasant as usual.

I got my drink and he waited.  As soon as I had finished “Is it 9 o’clock yet? You enjoying yourself?”

“Oh yes, I am!”  I fibbed, but people never want to hear bad news.  After all my third wheel had swollen and was forcing me to take way too many rests than usual.

I guess I had made a new friend.  Every time in the future, I’d hear him cheer me on or shout a loud Hello! as I passed.

This was what he did.  He would hang out with the people working out at the park.  Some more athletic than others, always greeted by him.

I grew to expect to see him there, then grew to look forward to him.  He just was there, being pleasant, sitting under the trees, never threatening, just enjoying being there as everyone would come and go.

Later, usually late morning, he’d wander off.  I never saw where he went to but I figured he had another place to go and more people to see.

Local Color is what I call something like this.  Someone who does something unexpected that brings a bit of character to the area.

I realized after a while that he had gone missing and I didn’t know why.  My mid lap greeting was gone.  Since I tended not to stop often at that water stop, I never learned why.

Except one day a small memorial cropped up on his bench.  Right where he always sat, closest to the trail on the southernmost bench.

The story explained that he had been struck by the Brightline train on June 10, 2019.  His family had invited everyone to his service and his funeral to say goodbye.

It turns out that he was an uncle, a brother, and a friend to his family and they said he will be missed.

I was telling this story to my own family the other day and realized that yes, he would be missed.  I missed seeing him there on what I had taken to calling Kevin’s Bench.

It is now two months after he died.  The little memorial is still there.  I still look every time I pass there.

Kevin has gone, we at the park still remember.

You never really know who you touch in life or how you effect others by your actions.

Sometimes those effected don’t realize that they were until you’ve gone.

 

New Black Ice Trail at Pompano Airpark

They have been working on this since April.  Planning stage was of course, before that.

But, it’s finally at a point where it’s interesting.  It being the trail at Pompano Airpark.

The entire trail is 4.5 miles plus another mile or so on the south side of the park that parallels the main trail.

For a Biker, that’s a bit of a short run.  I used to get in 50 miles in a workout which just was a logistic nightmare, imagine going 11 times around this little loop for a weekend excursion.

I’m surprised when I see joggers running the entire trail in the heat we get here, but then again I used to run 10K at Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania so I shouldn’t second guess someone else’s workouts.

Walkers do segments of this trail as well.  Some even the entire trail.

I have even seen a few, very few, skateboards but this isn’t really their thing.

Well good for you folks, it’s a good workout.

Why is this exciting enough for me to ramble on about it?

Why is this just so totally Droolworthy?

Think about skating in a rink.  If you’re on the old school quads, it’s on a rink.  Polished floors of either wood or concrete.  Flat as a plank, smooth as a pancake.

Or the other way around.

Point is that it is a very specific sort of a place.

Inline skating is done outdoors.  Usually on some truly horrendous surfaces.  Sometimes on city streets.

You really can’t skate on streets in South Florida.  The cars will hunt you down for sport.  Trust me, it has happened more than once to me.

There is a scene of skating at the beach.  Personally, I can’t see that, but admittedly I have a different goal when I am out.  Way too crowded, the surface is either textured concrete or bricks.  Can’t get any speed out of that.

Now, consider Endurance or Distance Skating.  I used to skate 33 miles, three times a week, all at 15mph average for my workouts.  Can’t really do that here.

However with this trail, I can do some distance.  That 4.5 mile loop I was talking about.

 

The City of Pompano Beach decided it was time to resurface the trail.  I’ve skated on worse but I won’t argue it could easily have been justified.  I certainly won’t miss the divots caused by subsidence at the Four Mile Mark or those repaired strips under the pavement in the second mile.

They’re all gone.

It’s currently 2.5 miles all in one trail, plus an extra “bonus” mile on the other side of the south side of the park.

But it is smooth.  I mean SMOOTH!  As smooth as some rinks I have skated.  Polished.

Oh sure, it’s flat as a pancake just like the rest of South Florida up to Titusville.  I’ve forgotten what it is like to skate on a hill since I moved here.  But this is like stepping onto an interstate highway after driving off road for so many years.

Must have been.  Every time I checked my heart rate while I skated it last, I was up above 180 BPM because I was skating so fast on it without thinking.

 

So if you do come to South Florida looking for a safer place to skate than at the beach, bring a lot of water.  They do need to get the water stops sorted out.  A part of the improvements is to add restrooms at the beginning of the trail at NE 10th and Federal Highway.

Besides, that sun is almost directly overhead and in our humidity and heat it gets difficult to make that run between the too few water stops.

But you will enjoy it.  How often do you get to skate black ice for 2.5 miles uninterrupted.

Now when they do the other two miles of the trails, it will be rather nice until the sun eats that asphalt away.

Taking a Break From Windsurfing on Eight Wheels

I have a couple very hard and fast rules.

Never in the rain.

Never in the damp.

Never if the wind was more than a 20 MPH gust.

Call that last one 30 KPH for the metrically endowed.

I had a routine that I fell into back in the days when inline skating was hot.

Which was to say that everyone, their grandmother, and their dog was on some sort of wheeled contrivance at the time.  Yes, the wonderful time that was the 1990s.

While many of us found ourselves on inline skates, others looked upon it and laughed.

I used it as a sport.  Big time for me.  Most of my dry and calm weekends were spent with my cruising skates on.  I’d be wearing a groove in the trails in and around the fabled city of Philadelphia and all the way out to west of Valley Forge.

I say groove because it was about 30 miles per workout.  Lord, Europeans, I can’t Math… 1.6 Times 30, er… I make that 48 K’s give or take a meter.

Peak was 54 miles in a single morning, 200 miles in a week.

But Geography is your friend sometimes.

The trail, Schuylkill River Rails to Trails trail, or similar was built on an old railroad line.  That means that the road was flat with a one degree rise or less for the most part and along the river.  Oriented on a Northwest to Southeast direction it also was in a valley.  That focused the wind down along the river.  It was always windier in the valley than it was just outside of it and if the wind was right, you could skate out fighting the winds and use that same wind home to Windsurf back.

I did that often.  I fell into the habit of bringing along two liters of water, about 400 calories of snacks, and looking forward to that mid workout rest in Oaks, PA right over the Perkiomen Creek.  It was a hangout there and you’d meet up with us regulars.  Bikers would continue out to the Reading (PA) trail, or stop with us and chat for a while.

This was where I had met up on the way back with a Deer that stopped me dead in the

middle of the trail.  Just West of Valley Forge in a beautiful forested area before you hit the big power lines, it spotted me, I spotted him.  He was just off the trail, moved to the middle of it, and approached.

Yes, a Deer.   Came to visit me.  Looking in those big brown eyes, I said hello, and asked “what would you like to do?  Feel like a bit of a run?”.

It did.  With that wind at my back, a clean trail, I started off.   The buck joined me and we trotted along for about a solid mile, er, K and a half or so, toward the water stop at Valley Forge.  He veered off and watched me go on my way.

The rest of that ride was very gently downhill and very gently breezy.  I windsurfed back to the parking lot just within the city of Philadelphia where the trail turned to gravel towards Manayunk and Center City.

Freaky huh?

While it has to be one of those “things were just right” occasions in Pennsylvania for me to be able to windsurf, especially with a torso tall tawny buck trotting along for the ride, here in South Florida it is much more commonplace.

The trail at the Pompano Airpark is laid out in a slightly more than a mile per side square.  We predictably get a wind off the ocean here.  East To West.  That means that you windsurf one side of that square, are cooled on two sides, and get to battle the winds on the fourth.

I’ve been known to peak out at about a 20MPH (30Ks) on my skates, especially with the winds at my back.  It’s a broad back, I have to have a broad chair, and my favorite Poang Chair is as wide as I am at the shoulders.

Got the picture?

The trail is best done heading West on the southern side of that square to give you a boost from the breezes on the first leg to give you a good Warm Up Mile.  This particular day, winds just below my own speed limit, I managed to stand bolt upright instead of the more normal racing skate crouch to avoid the wind.

I captured that wind and flew down the trail.   Really all I had to do was get going and it was a free ride toward that western edge and the 90 degree turn that I had to brake to get around.

Falling on skates is not fun, I’ve done it too many times.

Luckily the wind was just a bit more North of West that day, and I got a boost out heading northbound on that second leg.

Sitting on the bench I had just enough of a runner’s high to smile at what I had just done.  It was a second hop actually, this was my second time around the square, and come April, that second mile on the park would be closed for repaving.

Looking back, south, at the scene it was what I consider heaven.

You see anywhere I would travel to since I started skating in 1992, I would plan to take the inline skates with me.  Most of these trails are about a car lane wide, split down the middle.  Nondescript grey asphalt, and a great place to get a runner’s high.

Hence the smile.

Not a bad place to sit in the sun and enjoy a half liter of water before getting up to finish the last lap.

Getting my heart rate down from cruising at 173 BPM, to about 140, I stood up and thought I could refill the water at the three and a half mile water stop before heading home.

A good day on skates is better than just about anything else I can think of.   No wonder why people are coming back into the sport.

The Anatomy of a Severe Wipeout On Inline Skates – Or Why I Am Selective About Who I Train

I am sitting in the middle of my living room on the most comfortable chair in the house for my current condition, an Ikea Poang from the early part of the century.  It’s proportioned for a man of my size, a fit 6′ 4″ or 193 CM man.  The Recliner, a Lazy Boy, won’t do.  I need full support.

It’s because I wiped out last week.   Bad.  I have skated 21,000 miles.  33,800 Km.  Add a few hundred miles for what I have done since January.  Most of that was in marathon workouts, as much as 50 miles a day and 200 a week.

I have trained people, and been paid for the pleasure.  The sport now is down to a core of us who truly love it, a few new folks, and a lot of people staring at their skates and wondering if they can again.

Yes, you can, but pay attention.

If I can fall, so can you.

So getting to an elite level in any sport means concentration, repetition, and a little bit of skill.  The first thing I tell anyone interested in skating, including Inline Skating is “You WILL fall”.

Included in that is you will get hurt to some degree, learn how to take it, I can tell you what I do, but you won’t fall enough to develop that muscle memory to stop major damage unless you do it a lot.

If you make it past about 1000 miles, you probably will be able to be a skater for life.  It’s an awesome exercise, makes your heart unbeatably strong, lowers your resting rate from a normal 72 to a very leisurable level.  Mine was 42 resting when I was competing.  My doctors always asked.

But losing concentration is bad.  Really bad.

I’m now returning to a regular level of workouts.  Not a marathon, but a more leisurely 20 miles a week.  Heart rate is dropping, weight is dropping, clothes are changing.

No really, the pant legs get very tight as the waist gets loose.  You have to go up a pant size.  Yes, it’s strange.

Most of those miles are with earplugs screwed in my ears.  It blocks out wind noise, and I already have enough ringing in my ears.  It always is fast music since my heart rate while exercising will synchronize with the music and you get this fascinating runner’s high where it can even be an out of the body experience.

Competing I had a runner’s high from April through November every year.  Runner’s high make you really mellow.  I mean amazingly “chill”.

I can be kind of intense normally, rather competitive.  Always have been even if it is focused towards specific behaviors and challenges.

When I was skating I pushed myself hard.  Competing I would cruise at more than 15 MPH on skates.  Good music will add another 10 percent.  I would schedule my first rest and water stop at an hour in, minimum, and then every half hour thereafter whether I needed it or not.

Armin Van Buuren, Classic Disco, lately some Mexican Norteño or Grupera music too.  The fast music is awesome when cruising, you just have to trust me.

The trail here is a 4.5 mile square aligned on the compass rose or close to it.  My broad back would catch the wind coming off the ocean and if it’s with me, I can wind-skate and peak speeds are as high as 20 MPH without really breaking a sweat.

Well it caught me, without my realizing it.  I came around the corner, and noted a barricade way off in the distance.  I looked down to check the music, and all the sudden I clipped that barricade.  The wind had pushed me to full speed and one foot grabbed the one corner.

I went down hard on my tailbone.

Being at peak speed is a funny thing.  Your muscle groups are doing their things, they’re working hard to move your mass along.

Hitting the ground sent a shockwave through each one of those groups.  When my body stopped sliding and the world came back into light as well as color, I could tell you exactly where each muscle group was on my body because they were all shrieking in pain.

Left and right side of the neck, lower back, right upper leg rear, every one of those abs that are hiding behind Thanksgiving Dinner of years past, Pectoral muscles.

Every blessed muscle that I worked so hard since the accidents that threatened to turn me into a quadriplegic in my teens and again in my early 30s screamed to taunt me.

About the time I was able to reboot myself, I saw an older man and his workout partner.  The first one was talking to me to try to get my head going again, the second had his bike shoe on my left foot’s boot front wheel to stop me from sliding my leg.

I did an assay.  Yes, my muscles were screaming in pain, focus was returning, however nothing was broken, my own First Aid certification from years past told me that.

These two French Canadians helped me back on my feet after too long and I was able to skate the two miles back to the Jeep and get home.   They may drive strangely on our roads, but they are always helpful and polite.

When asked why did I fall I said “I was distracted by the music and I was trying to translate a song from Spanish into English”.

I need to leave the Spanish tracks at home I guess.   Maybe stick to instrumentals?  That and pay better attention when I skate.

After all, if I can screw up that badly, then so can you.

While nothing is broken, it took me four days to get flexible enough to be able to do a full look over my own body.  This was one of those falls that make you look like Nick Nolte in the first scenes of North Dallas Forty where this utterly worn out football player is shown slowly lowering himself into a tub of water while cutaway scenes of him getting slammed on a football gridiron over and over show you why you may want to consider a non impact sport.

My lower back has a deep black bruise where my body made first contact with asphalt.

Skating is non impact, unless you fall.  And hey, you can get a tiddly stuck in your eye if you are too competitive in Tiddly Winks too, right?

It took four days to be fully mobile, for the muscle groups to be smooth enough that I was able to roll in bed without screaming out in agony, for my digestive tract to relax and be “regular”.

Never had that happen before.

But anyone in any sport, especially at a beginners level or an elite level can injure themselves.

Take an elite level participant starting over and you just might want to leave the music off and at home.

The skates, helmet, pads, and skate pack all hit the floor.  Everything but the skate boots made it into the closet.  I left the skates out to tell myself I will be on the trail again.  Just not today.  Maybe the day after tomorrow.  Maybe next week.

That’s the thing.  Recuperate like you need to but get on the trail.  Besides, I have a 25 year old Xmas dinner to work off next time out.

A minute on your lips, a decade on your hips, a workout leaves it on the trail.

Trust me on that one.  All at 100 calories per mile at my level.

So how about it?  Ready for that training session?  Yeah, give me about a week, I’ll be starting out slow.

Canada Geese and Inline Skates do not mix well

(All Pictures are from Wikipedia.org – hopefully I got the attributes correct!)

Once upon a time, there was a boy.

He lived in the fabled land of Philadelphia, PA.

Philadelphia skyline (2015)
By Mefman00 – modifications by Maps and stuff (Brian W. Schaller) – Wikimedia file – cropped bottom to make it a 3:1 ratio panorama for use in Philadelphia article infobox; also cropped a bit from top, left and right; increased contrast, CC0, Link

 

He grew up to become the Police Commissioner and later the Mayor of that fabled land and his word had a lot of weight.

He enjoyed driving through one of the most beautiful places in a major city, and the largest municipal park of any city, at least at that time.  Fairmount Park.

Fairmount Park stretched from the Art Museum and the Rocky Statue along the Schuylkill River and out to the City Line.  The actual green belt stretched well beyond the reach of the city for quite a long way.

As that former Mayor, Frank Rizzo, went through the park, he noted the wildlife and once famously commented “Someone feed those damn ducks”.

And the ducks were fed.

ParkingLotMotherCanadaGoose.jpg

By PumpkinSky – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

They weren’t ducks, they were Canada Geese.  Personally I can’t say I remember ever seeing any Damn Ducks there, just the geese as well as many other birds that would stop by.  Some lived there, others moved on as Philadelphia was in the middle of the Eastern Flyway.  You can always see some wildlife among the trees and grass in that park.

Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park..JPG

By Ngilmour3Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Over time, they built the park up to have more facilities.  The boathouses were improved, parking areas expanded, a grandstand added, and a trail that would stretch from Independence Hall to the Art Museum, then uninterrupted by traffic out to beyond Valley Forge.  It would be paved with black asphalt, and that was how I got involved.

You see a ribbon of “Black Ice” is a perfect place to inline skate.

Yes, to paraphrase a theme song to a tv show, This Is Bill, And He LOVES to Skate.  (apologies to Bam Margera).

Philadelphia Museum of Art 2005.jpg

By User:Rgordon6~commonswikiWikimedia file, CC0, Link

And skate I did.  The main “city” loop, from the Art Museum to Falls Bridge and back was 8.6 miles.  All “black ice”.  Smooth asphalt to roll on with 8 and then 10 wheels, mile after mile.

While eventually I outgrew that trail and explored the trail from the city, west past Valley Forge, and out to Oaks and the Perkiomen Creek, I did eventually log 21,000 miles on inline skates in the years from 1993 on.

Those geese were still there, doing what geese do.  Eating grubs, grass, and small critters they would catch.

Now Birds in general have a quirk.  They tend to flock together and scatter in fear.  The biological response for a bird is to lighten the load before they launch and then fly off to safety.

Yes, they poop where they stand.

Canada Geese are for the most part docile creatures, being as big as a watermelon, but they do tend to stand their ground.

Take a flock of geese and if you’re on skates, it is you that is going to stop, not them.

Unless you’re a 6’4″ 225 Pound skater cruising along at 16 mile per hour, 4 minute miles, and having questionable stopping ability.

Yes, add to all that I’m stubborn too.

“Move it you damn birds!” as I am braking to give them time to leave.

Sometimes it worked.

Other times, they got ornery.  Actually more often than not they tend to stand their ground and hiss.  Oh and they do charge you.  There are quite a few times when you are flying down the trails and there’s 10 pounds of grey, black, and white chasing after you.

Stopping does not always guarantee you aren’t going to get by either.  They may decide that those loud shorts you are wearing are ugly and you need to be told that.  Flapping wings, hissing, and lightening the load for a launch, they’d come after you.

Luckily they don’t tend to corner well and are fairly easy to duck.  Or Goose.  Or whatever is your preference.

At one point I realised I am bigger than they are and would spread my arms wide and start yelling “CLEAR THE TRAIL GOOSE I’M COMING THROUGH!”.

Or not.  They’d take their time as I’m doing a break check slowing down in case I end up wiping out on their load lightening move.

That happened a few times.

Arms out wide, the goose refused to yield as it just ducked (goosed?) down its head against its body and started flapping itself.

This one time in mind the goose started flapping around my legs that were now splayed out on some questionably wet pavement to tell me it wanted me to go.  I’m flapping arms at it to convince it to move on.

A Stale Mate.  Me and Those Damn Ducks.

Eventually the “ducks” cleared off and I got up and went on my way.

I picked up one thrown flight feather and stuck it in my trail bag/fanny pack and finished my 30 mile workout.

That feather rode quite a few miles in there after that.

So the moral of the story is that if Mayor Frank Rizzo wanted those Damn Ducks Fed, you will have to watch out for them on the trails.

The current day echo of that story is that there are quite a few Muscovy Ducks here in WIlton Manors.  A woman two blocks away insists on feeding them.  So they learned that they are probably safer walking lazy circles around the neighborhood and parking under cars and shrubbery and making other baby ducks than they would be in the waterways that they belong in.

That in turn feeds the Foxes, Raccoons, and Opossums that I have seen eating baby ducks here.  So if you feed the ducks, you’re really feeding the predators.

Predators good, ducks annoying.  At least what they do under my Jeep is.

Better the predation happens than my having to learn how to spatch cook a duck.

Hmmmmm…..

Did I ever tell you about the time I walked out onto my little front porch?  A pool table sized area of concrete with 17 ducks by count making more baby ducks?  All hissing at once?

Yeah, I run them off now.  I figure if I can’t go after Those Damn Ducks in Fairmount Park in Philly, I can convince them not to mate under my Jeep here in Florida.

After all, ducks mating are violent, but that is a story for another day.

Rebuilding Unsealed Ball Bearings for Inline Skates and other purposes

Bearings are mechanical.  You need to keep them dry, and you need to keep them lubed.  No matter what they are in, wheels, skate wheels, or other purposes, they need maintenance.

I have a lot of leftover bearings from when I competed and skated 100 mile weeks like they were going out of style.  That means that in Peak Season, I would be tearing down inline skate bearings once every two weeks.

I have plastic Feta Cheese containers with lids that has my old inventory, and I am going through them.  Just before I left Philadelphia at the end of the 2005 season, I tore down every one of those couple-hundred bearings and refurbished/restored/reworked them.  Lubed and ready they sat in the Feta Cheese container until I needed them last week.

The problem is that an oil will oxidize if left alone long enough.  That was what happened to me.  I found that they slowed me down greatly, and trust me, all those 21,000 miles worth of skating meant I was tearing down a lot of bearings so I know how they should feel.

The good news was that when I did this process to my old bearings from years past, I used them today.  The process shaved a whole minute off a mile, so it’s worth it.

To do this, I use the following – your process may vary.

  • Electric Hair Dryer with a flat metal grid over the heating surface.
  • Citrus Degreaser.
  • Paper towels.
  • Plastic container for bearings and parts of bearings.
  • A “sturdy” push pin with a fine point.
  • A container of lubricating oil.  I use Triflow and have for decades.
  • A Skate Maintenance tool – has a pusher to remove a bearing from a wheel and a hex key.

 

Understand this is a long process.  Doing this from start to finish for me took 3 hours on a rainy sunday afternoon.  Once you start, you really do have to complete the process by getting the bearings lubed and sealed up once again.  

Take A Deep Breath, You Can Do This!

Keep in mind though, this process is for UNSEALED bearings.  These are bearings where the shields can be freely removed.   If you can’t remove the shields and get at the insides, you’re done, buy a new set of bearings.  Come on back when you have got them.

Standard Internet Warranty applies – this is at your own risk.  If you ruin your bearings, well that’s on you.  I have made every effort to present this in excruciating detail to be as complete as possible by a knowledgeable amateur.  Ramblingmoose.com takes no responsibilities towards anything that you do as a result.  Sorry, but weasel words are here to protect … me.

 

First step is to remove all wheel assemblies from the skate “truck”.  Since there are variances in how this is done, I’m being general.  Find the screw or bolt that holds it in, remove the bolt from the wheel, push the axle through the wheel to free it, and set it aside.

Second is to remove all bearings from each wheel.  This gets you to where you have naked metal parts – bearings, axles, and bolts/screws.  Use your skate tool to push the speed kit or anything else in the way out of it.  That should pop the bearing out from the other side.  If no speed kit is used, then you can use the skate tool to seat inside the center of the bearing, lean it toward one side and pull back to extract the bearing.

Third, with a clean towel wipe all old grease and grit from the outside of the bearing.  I do mean ALL.  There is a track on the top of each bearing that must be visible so that you can see the retaining clip.

Fourth, Completely Disassemble each and every bearing and place all parts in the cleaning container.  I will go into detail after I complete this long process.  See below.  No really, go to the bottom of the article where I describe everything in painful detail.

Fifth, Add Citrus Degreaser to the cleaning container and water if you feel you need it.  I use full strength.

Sixth, Cover the container and shake it vigorously for enough time to degrease the bearings.  I usually take more than a minute shaking this up inside the sink.

Seventh, Pour off the solution and cover the bearings with tap water.  Shake it vigorously.  Your water will discolor.  You will see grit get dissolved into the water.  You may wonder why you even started this longish process.

Eight, Repeat step Seven until the water runs clear.  It took me six repeats.

Nine, lay out paper towels.  Bang out the bearings on the paper towels until there is no more water inside the bearings, visibly.   Place each bearing on a dry paper towel.  Repeat with the shields, bolts, screws, C-Clips, and so forth until everything is as dry as possible.

Ten, Using the hairdryer, place each bearing on the grid on the outflow or hot side of the hairdryer.  I tend to put down more than one because this is a long process.  Turn on the hairdryer to full hot and allow the air to dry the bearing completely.  All water must “bake out”, because any water left in the bearing will rust it.

I repeat – all the water must bake out because any water left in the bearings will rust them.

Go longer than shorter.   I find a minimum of 1 minute per bearing is needed with my hairdryer, your time will vary.

Eleven, partial reassembly.  Place one shield in a bearing.  Replace the C-Clamp by fitting it in the groove toward the outside of each bearing.  Repeat for each bearing, but only one side.

Twelve, Lubricate the bearings.  Tri-Flow has a drip applicator where you can get a single drop of oil if you squeeze gently.  Each bearing needs three drops of oil.  Spin it gently.  Replace the Shield and C-Clip for the opposite side.  Spin the bearing.  It must spin freely – Tri-flow is a speed lubrication oil (or so I was told once upon a time).  The bearings should spin like a fidget spinner.   Repeat for every other bearing you have.

Finally reassemble the wheels by pushing one bearing into place, inserting a speed kit where they came from, and place the second bearing on the opposite side.

Once that all is through, you can bolt each wheel into the skate truck and test for speed.   If a wheel is bolted too tightly, it will stop spinning quickly when spun.  They should be free, and the bolts should not come loose.  I use a small square of duct tape and a little “Permatex Blue” to put the retention bolt in place and keep it there under load.

Ok, now that the “general” (yeah right) process has been described, the complete teardown.  

All bearings are laid out in front of you.

Take a bearing, and look at it from the side.  It looks like a ring or a donut.

Under the outer ring, there is a notch where a piece of flat springy metal sits.  It’s in the shape of a Letter C.

The ends of the C are beveled where one side is beveled away from the rim.

That creates a notch where you insert the tip of your push pin and pull it away from the rim.

The C Clip should pull away “easily”, but you may find that some refuse to come out.  If all of your bearings are like that, you have sealed bearings and you can not or are not able to pursue the disassembly, and you will want to reassemble the wheels without washing them.

If the C Clip pulls away, set it in the cleaning container.

Under the C Clip there sits a circular metal shield.  It looks like a flat washer but is typically rather thin.  This has to be removed, and it should fall right out with a little coaxing.  I use the push-pin to get one side up then flip it upside down to get it to fall out.  It should not bend or be bent.

Wipe down the shield and C Clip and place them in the cleaning container.

You should now be able to see the ball bearings and the guide that holds the ball bearings in.  The better bearings have a metal guide.  The plastic or teflon guides are useable but will degrade with time and re-lubing.  Not a crisis since new bearings are fairly available.

Now that you have removed both Shields and C-Clamps, place all parts in the cleaning container and move onto the next bearing.

When all bearings are done, go back up to Step Five since you are ready to actually degrease your bearings.

 

Good luck!