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.

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.

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!

Skating with the Goodyear Blimp at the Pompano Airpark

A couple miles north of me, a couple miles in from the ocean in Pompano Beach, FL is the Pompano Airpark.

When they carved up the flat swampy ground and drained the soon to be populated area of South Florida, there was this large plot of land that was once out where nobody lived.

People eventually back-filled their lives into the area, there are homes surrounding the park in the large sprawl that is what is the metropolitan area.

Goodyear got there first and bought that plot before we all moved in.  They put in an airport, landing strip and the hangar for the Goodyear Blimp.  There are two that I know of, the other being in California.  San Diego I believe but I could be wrong.

It’s more than a square mile of land serving light aircraft and the worlds largest flying billboard, the Goodyear Blimp.

When I was growing up in South Jersey, we only ever saw it once or twice so it was a curiosity.

Moving here, I have put that plot of land to my own uses, skating on the “black ice” trail that encircles the Hangar and the civil airport.

It is 4.6 miles around, if you are needing a place to skate here that you won’t get hunted down by the ferocious drivers.

If Boston has the reputation where driving is a contact sport, they need to come down here and see how hunting down others is really done.

That is why I went back to the Airpark.  I had some moron from Townhouse Isles in Wilton Manors pass me on NE 7th Avenue more than once in an all fired rush to get out to whatever their lives had in store for them, and as a result nearly take my own life with them.

Trust me, don’t skate or bike on the roads in South Florida, it’s dangerous.  This coming from someone who has ridden a motorcycle in Manhattan, drives a Jeep Wrangler, and skates a lot.

But, the Airpark and its trail is safer.  Even if it is a bit short at 4.6 miles, and totally flat, you can get miles in.

I needed to get back skating because, while it is not fashionable, inline skating is probably the best sport for me that I can come up with.  You might have a different one, go and enjoy, but after skating 21,000 miles since 1992, this is mine.

I did notice that when I started that workout, the blimp was practicing maneuvers, and that can be entertaining.  Once sitting on a bench near the end of the landing strip, I watched that giant cigar coming in for a landing at what looked close to a 45 degree angle.  In the wind.

Snapping a picture, I started skating around the trail.   The hangar sits at the midway point, 2 miles in, and there’s a shaded portion at mile marker 1.  When I came out of the shaded portion, I noticed the blimp hanging overhead coming into the approach for landing, along with a small civil fixed aircraft.  At that same time, there was a bird heading into the view.  Most likely flushed out by the fans that push that blimp around, no doubt.

This was not going to be a fast workout.  I had for all intents and purposes, stopped skating a few years ago, rolled to a stop.  It was much more fun to skate with the team, and there just weren’t any people around.

Life moved on and, Life is better on 8 or 10 wheels.  Someone else in the neighborhood knows that too because slowly more people started dusting off their skates and are skating around town.

By the time I got to where I wanted to turn around, after all this was a “Get Reacquainted” workout, I got to the back of the hangar.  I’m right around 2 to 2.5 miles anyway, and I wanted to see what was going on.

Well really, I was trying to skate at my old competition speeds and my fitness levels weren’t up to cruising at 16 mph (4 minute mile) so I slowed to stop at the back of the Hangar.

Sitting there on the ground, visible through the fence and the back door of the hangar was the blimp being stowed after a landing.

Cool!  Firing off a couple more pictures, I left with a grin.

I needed that pause.  While I did finish the lap plus a half mile, this workout told me I slacked too much, too long.

So Instead of doing my usual training workouts of 33 miles at a shot, yes, three times a week, I am doing a 5 mile loop, and starting over.

After all, you can’t skate 100 miles in a week if you don’t skate 5 first.  I’m back at a steady pace, skating the airpark and wearing out my wheels.

We all need a sport, this is mine.