The Veloway

It’s a pretty strong claim to say something is “one of the best there is” in anything. But the Veloway is truly some of the best inline skating I have ever had the pleasure to do.

But don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself via this video. It’s awesome! If you have a better place, by all means, let us all know!

As per my usual, I offer this video in both high quality quicktime & Youtube formats.

In this case, the high quality QuickTime version has a very noticeable benefit; you can easily see all the spring flowers blooming on the roadside!

Enjoy! The music is Steppenwolf’s immortal motorcycle anthem “magic carpet ride”. It seemed to fit.

I want to say thanks to all the good folks I met in Austin, they have already sought me out & commented on the last post I made. The skate world is very, very small, and in general, very friendly.

Kermit & the Veloway

Forgive my silence….

after I left Milwaukee, I went immediately to the swampish climate of Austin, Texas, and I have been helping my brother move into a new house. It’s great to share backbreaking work with family!!!

Besides, it builds character to paint rooms & haul furniture up & down multiple staircases… After 4 days of this I am completely exhausted, sore, & having a great time living off of breakfast tacos, diet coke, and pizza.

Not every possession of my brother’s is heavy. It might not be easy being green, but Kermit is not as hard to carry as other items.

I will be back in my normal blogging habits soon, I have more notes on the Board meeting, and some observations about the incredible VELOWAY.

If you love inlines, promise yourself you will skate Austin’s Veloway before you die (This & Central Park in NYC). The veloway is truly an incredible place. 3.1 miles of perfect asphalt that rolls, twists, and is full of corners you can cross through at top speed.

It’s just for skaters & cyclists, and due to the variety of the terrain it does not feel at all like a Hamster wheel. It always leaves you grinning from ear to ear.

Lots of inline speedskaters train there every day. They are even having a low-key 5k speedskating time trial on it tomorrow.

I think I will race it just for fun. Why not? Gotta burn off those breakfast tacos somehow.

Spring Board Meeting, part II

Is this an action photo? I would argue YES, it is. It’s as profoundly an action photo as any skater blasting off the line at full power sprint. It’s just not as pretty. There is a LOT happening at this meeting that impacts the lives of skaters, clubs, associations, etc.

The shoulder I am shooting over is Jim White, frequent poster on many inline discussion boards, and general super-smart fella.

During a break in the “fesitivities”, I asked US speedskating board president Brad Goskowicz what he thought were the “big picture” items that were animating this meeting. As board president, he is standing in the eye of this hurricane, and would know.

Here is, as closely as I can reproduce, what he said:

The Board has to once again deal with the idea of team pre-selections & byes. This has always been a tug of war between athletes & events.

There is a change of leadership on the short track side of the sport & several changes in coaching. There are so many things attached to every issue, pull on one string and something else moves.

Its obvious to me on the development side of speedskating we have not figured things out. At the end of the meeting how do make sure we have actionable items, so that in the next meeting the development committee can come to the board with 5 or 6 proposals. But you can’t do much with a 35 person committee because you can’t do anything between meetings.

During the meeting itself, from the podium, Brad also said:

“We want to be the premier speedskating organization in the world, we want to be like a baseball organization that tries to have best farm system to develop the next generation of talent”

We need to improve the relationship between US speedskating and it’s associations and clubs… We have not made a great amount of progress, and we truly hope to, and standing here a year from now, I hope that we do…

There are critics and supporters of US speedskating who read this blog; I think it’s important to hear the policy ideas that are coming from this meeting, no matter what your opinion of the organization.

Of course as with many “political” entities, I am somewhat disinclined to give credence to ideas & speeches, I’d rather follow the money trail to see what they are actually doing with their resources.

One thing that was said several times, and Brad echoed it here, was that the past year was focused on High Performance programs, and that this coming year will be focused on improving communications & rapport with the grassroots.

It is desperately needed.

Spring Board meeting, pt. 1

After an uneventful flight, and horrid Chicago traffic (gridlock at 3pm!) I am now at the US speedskating spring board meeting. I am literally writing this from the back row of the general membership meeting. I am here for several reasons, both personal and professional.

I wrote about this meeting last year. It’s a fascinating event, full of the best and the worst that this sport can offer. The brightest, the most passionate, committed volunteers, coaches and staff wade together through the mucky quicksand of skating politics.

It’s a wonderful, wrenching thing to see so many people, who all have invested a lot of their lives into this sport, arguing & disagreeing & tossing opinions around.

Several younger skaters I know attended, and they were amazed at the complexity of the organization required to make this sport run. Blows me away too.

Here is a quick shot of one of the committees in action. The shoulder I am looking over is Bonnie Blair, who remains tremendously active in the speedskating in a multitude of capacities.

I know Bonnie’s husband, Dave Cruikshank, fairly well, but I have never really spoken much to her before this weekend. She is really nice.

More soon…

Liam and John

Two friends of mine who I have written about here, Liam Ortega and John Loquai, have recently been in the media.

Here is the article on Liam in the Fairbanks Daily News

And this is the article on John in the Evangelical Covenant Church website

It’s worth noting in these interviews that both of them talk about what they need to do, more than what they already do well (and these two rockstars do MANY things very well).

Liam & John talk about focus, preparation, analysis & attitude. There are plenty of talented people on the ice, but this sport can crush your heart in some very unfunny ways, so these attributes become as important as sharp skates.

As athletes we spend so much time on equipment, & sharpening our skates, how much time do we worry about sharpening our attitude & work ethic?

The better you get, the more central it becomes. Liam once kept a food journal for a year, and noted how what he ate affected recovering from workouts. How much faster is he because he understands this about himself? It’s an example I have always told myself I should follow.

These two were connected in that Liam missed the world cup team last year by a tiny amount of time in the 5,000m, less than .3 separated him from John in the standings.

John was thrilled to make his first team, and learned a lot racing the world cup circuit. I interviewed John in November when he got back, but the death of my old laptop ate most of the video I shot.

One thing John talks about in the article linked about is how speedskaters, even national team skaters like him, have to struggle financially to survive. It’s a reality of many sports that demand total dedication, especially the small ones, and is a topic worth a wheelbarrow of blog posts on its own.

But John did get a job working at the Utah oval, and he now drives the Zamboni! I love this picture of him, and I’ll be cheering for both of these good guys this upcoming season.

Sunday at 172 BPM

The reason they call it “mountain biking” is because it’s one of the most efficient ways of getting deep into the mountains under your own power.

There are always moments of internal & external surprising beauty, as you struggle & crawl upward & then fly down, skipping across rocks & trails.

You can see on my handlebars, how I turned my HR monitor away from view. After seeing consistent 190’s on the climbs, I just did not want to know anymore. My HR averaged 172 BPM for a 2 hour ride, (including warm-up, down, & a few stops). My heart runs fast, like a small motor straining to power a big car.

I’ve trained & raced off-road since ’89, but have cut down drastically the past 5 years out of fear that injuries would impact my speedskating goals. But these days I am less worried about injury than about missing “the joy of singletrack.”

Or of missing views like this. That small dot far off on the trail is a fellow cyclist.

But after this ride the thing I am musing about is something I saw riding an old bike path to the trails.

The sheer effort and determination of this tree, to force and crack through this cap of asphalt, impressed the heck out of me.

Speedskating is a sport of incremental improvement. Year after year, you get a bit lower, a bit stronger, more precise by degrees, not leaps & bounds. Barriers to performance & hard caps of what you think is possible can be broken through, if you try very hard for a very long time.

However, the world can be cruel, can be random. This would be a better picture & metaphor if the tree was thriving, instead of having been reduced to a sawn-off stump.

But as a seed, it fell in an inhospitable, difficult place, and made a fantastic run of it.

Inzell & Technomads

A cool photo of one of the nicest 400m ovals there is. The Eisstadion Inzell, in Germany.

I like how the skaters are dissolving into the mist, and how the stands flow into the mountains. This is from the cool Dutch website, and yes, I asked him before using this picture.

Don’t speak Dutch? Just babel fish it.

Skating long track feels like a fuzzy, far off memory. A hazy, mythic place full of people who can do puma-like things at astonishing velocity.

On my 3rd cup of coffee, with a massive pile of work to do. I look across the field of laptops in front of me, at my “office” (the coffee shop down the hill from my house).

I’m surrounded by other Technomads & graduate students, people whose location really is their laptops; the mobile internet is a wonderful thing.

I am trying to remember exactly what skating fast on ice feels like, and failing. I’ve become an immobile coffee sucking plugged in helpless extension of my laptop.

I just know that I am looking forward again to that glide, that sound, the pressure of turns & the joy of slingshoting into perfect straightaways.

With that, I think my off season is over…. .

Sunday, sunny Sunday

Just a hint of warm, warm enough to start the ride in a jacket & finish with your skin soaking up the high altitude western sun.

Windblown clouds scatter across the Wasatch. There are still people skiing far up in the mountains, but down here in the valley, it’s 4 friends out for several easy, enjoyable spring hours on the bike.

Our small selves pale in comparison to the vast scale of sky & mountains; the rhythm of of our bodies awakening with the sing of gears, right along with scrub brush turning from winter brown to spring green.

What is it about a spring day appreciated, that makes poetry seem appropriate?

Of course poetry, (or blogging for that matter) distorts any picture through the act of capturing it. Just like the el-cheapo camera built into my phone puts a wiggle into the straight top tube of my bike.

But sometimes, even through this distortion, something essential, and maybe even wonderful can be communicated.

Like sunshine, the mountains, good friends, & the joy that spring cycling can be.

Zen 10 Questions: Trevor Marsicano

During Master’s Worlds, a number of Europeans came up to me and said “and who is this Trevor Marsicano??!?!?!”

I did not understand why they were asking, but then I saw a printout of results from Junior World Champs, AND TREVOR HAD WON THE 3K!!!! AND SET THE INNSBRUCK JUNIOR TRACK RECORD!!

Trevor went on to finish 3rd in the overall samalong; here he is on the podium with Dutch skaters Sjoerd de Vries and Tim Roelofsen, (pic from

Junior world championships are often an indicator of tomorrow’s stars. Just looking at the list of who has placed highly in this event over the years, you can see some amazing names. It’s also been 14 years since a USA junior man stood on the final podium.

After his accomplishment at Junior worlds , racing a 3k at the Pettit during the America’s cup, Trevor broke Derek Parra’s 3k track record, (Derek skated a 3:55, Trevor a 3:51).

This is running with some heady company! Do we all have ringside seats to the arrival of a new force in long track?

I know Trevor somewhat, as he skates in Saratoga Springs, and is an Alumnus of the snows of Lake Placid. So first of all, Trevor, welcome to the blog!

Thank you Andrew for giving me this opportunity. I’ve had an exciting year and it’s great to have a chance to share my story.

1. This is your first time on the podium in a major international event, what was running through your mind as you stood there?

I was just like “WOW!” When they announced “from the United States of America” I was so proud to have the opportunity to represent our country. It was also a moment where I realized that my thousands of hours in a skating position and hard work had paid off.

I couldn’t help but thank God for providing me with this opportunity to have this great experience and I was thinking of everyone that has helped me get to the podium.

2. Junior skaters face many challenges; For example; how do you balance being a student and trying to excel at the top level.

I worked really hard to finish high school my junior year. It was a goal I was able to achieve. This year it gave me a chance to see if I could take my skating to a higher level and think about what direction I want to head with my education. A summer goal of mine is to find a way to bridge the two together next year.

3. You competed in both the world junior short track champs, and the world junior long track meet. How different were those experiences?

As far as the competitions go, in long track, it’s just you and the clock. You’re trying to be the fastest time. Also you may have either 1 or 2 races and that’s it. In short track it’s you against the other skaters in your heat trying to advance through to the next heat or final. If you’re successful you have many more races. If you advance to the next heat, you have very little time to get ready for your next race. You have just enough time to cool down, sharpen, warm-up and race again.

4. There are many Elite US skaters who mix long & short track, Shani Davis, Tucker Fredericks, Charles Levielle, etc etc.

It’s a unique aspect of how American skaters approach the sport. How do you combine training for Short/long track? How does it help?

Well the off ice training is the same for each sport. Of course, the on ice training is very different. Whichever discipline my next competition is whether it be long track or short track, that’s the one that I will train for on the ice. Each sport helps the other one in many different ways. I believe my short track history has made me strong in long track. For example, short track has made my long track corners very strong. Long track has helped improve my short track skills. For example, it helps with what little of a straight away there is. I could go on forever on how each sport helps me in the other.

5. Here is an image from the always excellent website OhnoZone:

Those are some pretty phenomenal skaters that you are blasting off the line with! You are on the left, then we have Shani Davis, Apollo Ohno, Misi Toth, whoa! Were you a little intimidated going to the start line?

Yes I was (haha). I was scared to be honest. Once I got off the line it felt like a huge explosion from everyone bursting off the line. I was excited to be on the line with them but petrified all at the same time. It was a great learning experience!

6. It seems to me that in speedskating, an excellent season is often earned in the arduous training leading up to the season. In your pre-season, can you give an example of a super hard training day that helped you earn these fantastic results?

I would wake up and go to the weight room and lift super heavy for 2 hours. Then I would come home, get something to eat, go to work for the afternoon.

Then I would have a 3hour dryland workout filled with dryskating, jumps, turnband and other various exercises with a weight vest on my back for the entire workout.

7. Speedskating can be a physically, technically and emotionally brutal sport, what do you find really hard & have to work on all the time?

Making the best with what you have to work with (i.e. a bad race, lack of ice time, and/or sickness) and no “excuses”. You have to decide in your mind that you are going to overcome every obstacle in your way and still achieve success.

I feel like that is what I am constantly working on. Not just in skating but in life also. You have to keep forging ahead despite the adversities you have to face.

8. Tell us something about yourself or your life that those of us who meet you through skating might never suspect:

I had a difficult middle school experience. I was a good kid, had good grades, and never got in trouble. I was quiet and shy (quiet people can be misunderstood).

It made me a target for kids who gained power from tormenting kids like me. Once day after standing up for a student I was assaulted. The administration did not handle the situation well and one tormenter turned into fourteen by the end of the year. As a result of the despair, humiliation, and loneliness I began to suffer with depression.

While I still battle from time to time I am proud to say I have learned how to manage it so it doesn’t control me, my life, and who I can be anymore.

9. What is one thing you would encourage young skaters like yourself to do?

One thing my parents have always encouraged my sister and I to do is to volunteer and show respect to the people who have made a difference our lives. You never know when you will have the chance to make an impact on someone, kind of like a ripple effect.

When I was in third grade, Pat Maxwell came into my class and talked about the Olympics and speedskating. A few years after that, I needed a change from hockey and something to help me through my difficult middle school years. So I remembered Pat coming into my third grade class and thought I would give speedskating a try and here I am now!

10. Even though it was your legs & lungs & soul that skate, no one truly steps to the starting line alone. Who are the people who you would like to thank, who have been such a part of your results this year?

God and Jesus have guided and carried me through all the good and bad times (I am strong in my faith and proud to admit it), a super supportive family, awesome coach, great friends and fans.

I would like to give a shout out to my sister Sam (the best sis ever, pictured here), my parents, Liz and Paul Marchese, Mark Boudreau, Pastor Buddy Cremeans and Northway Church

Zen Haiku speed round

1. Favorite post-workout recovery food


2. Current long & short track skates/blades setup.

Long track - Marchese’s & Maples.
Short track - Marchese’s & Maple Golds.

3. Do you miss hockey?

I miss the sport of Hockey

4. You brought the crowd to its feet in Saratoga Springs short track race, Lapping the pack twice in the 3k. Good memories?

I could feel the energy in the rink. That was inspiring to have that kind of support which fueled me on.

5. Do you have a myspace account? it seems as if the majority of your generation does.

Yes I do -

6. 3 songs that get you fired up.

Believe by Suzie McNeil, Rebirthing by Skillet, and Whispers in the Dark by Skillet

7. Apollo Ohno talked about his 500m gold medal as “the perfect race”. What is the closest to “the perfect race” you have ever skated?

Probably my 3000m in Innsbruck

Here is trevor’s 3k on YouTube (I am not sure who shot this, but I assume you would grant Trevor copyright?)

8. So you have a special thing for the 3k, in both short and long track. Why? Genetics? Hard work? Willpower?

It is a very character building race for me.

9. What movie could you watch over and over?

Facing The Giants

10. Magazine or book under/next to your bed right now?


11. How many times did you fly to races this year? And what do you never leave home without?

At least 12 times and I always take my skates (haha) and my bible.

12. Do you have a pre-race superstition?

A quick prayer is always a must.

Thanks Trevor for your answers!

I end this particular Zen 10 with a funny thing about one of the first times I crossed paths with Trevor.

I always talk about the fact that Metric speedskating is ultimately you vs. yourself. In 2004 I skated the Charles Jewtraw allaround in Lake Placid, and I made up some “awards” for the skaters who improved their personal bests by the widest margin at the meet.

I made the awards out of some worn inline wheels, wheels from the first pair of speedskates I ever owned. I picked worn wheels to recognize all the hard work that goes into going faster than you have ever gone before.

In one of his first long track meets ever, Trevor won one of these; as we were corresponding & creating this interview, he sent me a photo of himself with this award!

Seeing this made my day. Keep on keeping on Trevor!

Sunday at 10,518 feet

My wife, somewhere near the top of Snowbird ski resort (10,518 feet=3,200 meters)

We had just dove off the edge of a trail called “High Baldy Traverse”, a double black diamond of freaky-steep fun, and I asked Jess to mug for the camera when I noticed she was backlit by the sun.

There are moments at this altitude, where the trees are stunted & twisted from lack of oxygen & the harsh conditions, when it’s like standing on another planet.

Both Jess and I use Skiboards, instead of conventional skis. Skiboards feel more like skates, and they turn the steepest, sickest, tree & rock covered chutes into a playground.

Ignore what conventional skiers say about skiboards, it’s 99.9% wrong. If you are used to the extremely demanding balance point of ice or inline speedskating, these are a complete blast.

Drop the poles & fly free!


There is such a feeling of gravity sucking joy that skiing creates. Especially when the sun is out, it’s warm, and the slushy snow is at that “perfect” consistency.

But somehow, as awesome as skiing is, after so many years of cycling and speedskating, where you use your body to create velocity or to climb a mountain before enjoying the descent, somehow, riding lifts feels like cheating.

Incredibly fun cheating, but cheating nonetheless.