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I've Made the Leap to 100mm Skates; Plus How to Make the Transition to Inline Speed Skating Boots

It seems after last year's skate boot issues and needing to replace my skates, I have made the break to 100mm skates.  I have recently purchased a pair of X-V racing FOX Skates.  I am not sure what to think about them yet.  They are much lower cut than I am used to and they have 100mm wheels. 

They arrived last week just before the snow storm, so I have not had a chance to test them yet.  I have been waiting very impatiently all week and griping about the snow. Wish me luck. I will be putting them on the road later today for the first time.  I can't wait. I'll let everyone know what I think later.

Kenn

Comments

roadskater's picture

So How Did it Go?

Hey kensun. Hope you got to skate. We went out to Bur-Mil and puttered about on the trails and culs. It was pretty good.

Went good.

I went out for around 10 miles along the High Point Greenway, found some wet spots and mud.  As far as the skating went, it went better than I expected, faster on the downhills and really hard on the uphills.  I could keep my heart rate down. (not skating since Sept. will do that to you.)

After adjusting the right frame a little, I went out for about 10 miles today. I had a real control problem with my right foot.  I was pronating really badly.  I am going to try adjusting the frames again.  The Left skate feels great.  The right seems to have less support than the left. On the whole I am very happy with the skates.  For a low end pair of skates, they seem to be pretty darn good.  I think my problem is I am not used to a true (low cut) speed skate. After I make some more adjustments, I will try and get on the road again sometime this week if the weather holds.

I'll let you know how these X-V Skates hold up.

JonathanS's picture

transition to a speed boot advice

Any advice kensun, or anyone else, for making the switch to a speed boot. I have a speed boot on order, and previously have been on a K2 Radical boot. Any bad habits to avoid learning, drills to help, etc. Jonathan S
eebee's picture

A few points come to mind

Congrats on your new speedboots purchase, Jon!

Not sure how much professional skate instruction you may have already received, but here are some points that come to my mind (and all will become clearer with instruction and/or workshops):

Pronation/Supination: you will lose power in your stroke if your feet are collapsed too far out or inwards. General philosophy there is to try to stay 'on top of your wheels' as much as possible. You'll use the inside and outside edges of your wheels in various maneuvres but while skating along a straightaway in the beginning, try to be conscious of being 'on top of your wheels'. If you just put on some new wheels and skated a rather flat course, you can flip the skates upside down and see where all the wear is: inside, outside or directly in the middle?

Weight back on heels/no 'toe-ing off': If you take an Eddy Matzger speedskating workshop (or a Skatey-Mark one for that matter), or take some classes from the Bohemian Skate School in Atlanta, you will learn to push your pushing leg straight out to the side (not backwards behind you) and to have your heel-wheel be the final thing to leave the pavement at the extension of your stroke. If your toe wheels are always the last things to leave the pavement before the recovery part of your stroke, you'll lose a lot of power there too, and probably get some horrible blisters (disclaimer: you may get horrible blisters anyway...but let's hope not!).

I'd say the biggest thing that helped me was gliding on one skate for as long as I could - which helped my leg muscles adapt, and remembering to keep my supporting-leg bent at the knee when learning proper classic technique or other drills. Boring though it may be, I prefer to do these drills in a park or car park, rather than on the open road. Workshops or professional lessons are the best places to actually learn the different drills.

From what I remember, you're already a good skater and during A2A I don't remember thinking you pronated or kicked backwards when you skate - these are just things that come to mind when the ankle support changes. I'm sure I'm forgetting something major here. Not sure if any of this helps! I hope others chime in.

Seems to me that the hardest thing about transitioning to speedboots is getting some that fit well!

JonathanS's picture

thanks eebee

That is all great help. I am signed up for a skatey-mark class at the end of the month, so that should help. I will focus on the heel pushing and gliding on one leg.
skatey-mark's picture

gliding on one leg

I agree with eebee -- practicing your one-legged gliding is probably the best drill anyone can do. Skating is all about balance, so the more you work on it the easier the other bits become... - SM -
eebee's picture

Elaborating...

Thanks, Skatey-Mark! I have been a bit worried that I probably left Jon with 100 questions, since I didn't explain much about the one-legged drill.

Staring for hours despondently at the workshop instructor and several other proficient little workshop pupils, I was able to see what they were doing to be able to glide so far, so controlled, on one leg. But it's hard to get it from reading someone's inadequate instructions (i.e. mine). I think I executed the first year's worth of my own, personal one-legged drills completely wrong. I was stopping myself from overbalancing by leaning my upper body and flailing my arms. A few more years and workshops later, I got the hang of the hip-dippage and knee-bend combo, enabling smaller movements to keep me on top of my wheels. Not sure if Londonskaters' Mike wrote this, but after a quick search I found a useful exercise within a post-Eddy-Matzger-workshop article:

 

 "Brush your teeth whilst standing on one leg, barefoot and obviously no skates!  I tend to balance on my left leg in the morning for the whole two minutes of brushing, and then my right leg in the evening. My goal is not to have to hold on or put my other foot down for balance. I also vary the amount of knee bend at which I balance, some days standing at a recreational knee bend, and some at a speed skater bend, and some in-between.  Doing this every day and every time you brush your teeth will soon make a big difference to your ability to balance."

Once you get good at that you can bend and straighten your leg to reinforce the skating-balance muscles. I need to start doing those again since my quads have turned to mush over the winter. 

 

JonathanS's picture

one legged gliding drill

Is this one of the drills that will be covered at your SkateStrong workshop skateymark, and if not, can it be? I love the teeth brushing idea. Thanks for that eebee. It's always nice to find little ways to improve your skills without taking even more time out of the day. And since your already standing there...
skatey-mark's picture

SkateStrong workshop drills

Oh my yes...  :-)  We'll definitely be doing the one-legged glide.  We'll also be doing some dryland drills (i.e., in sneakers instead of skates) to work on balance.

 

One thing to keep in mind with workshops, whether it's mine or someone else's, is that it's unlikely you'll be able to do every drill perfectly at the workshop.  Eebee's experience matches my own in that there were some things (like one-legged gliding) that seemed like everyone except me could do easily.  But the important thing is to see the dills and be able to work on them after the workshop.  With practice, you'll eventually master the drills. 

 

The teeth brushing idea really is great...  Eddy always talks about doing another drill (dryland skating) while waiting in line at the grocery store...  But certainly the more you can work on balance and get your body to recognize the subtle changes that happen depending on hip position, upper body position, knee bend, ankle bend, etc, the easier everything else will become.

 

- SM - 

roadskater's picture

Expectations, Patience, Repetition of the Good

Yeah, JonathanS stayed with us because we knew all the turns in A2A by heart. Otherwise he'd've rolled on just fine without us! But we really enjoyed a very find day, eh? First off, try not to think those skates are going to create a new you, at least not immediately. You'll be taking a step back to eventually leap forward, but often we buy because we think something will instantly make us much faster. Sometimes, sure, but I think that's mostly when someone has had a speed boot that wasn't working for them and they get one that is more suited to their body and style of skating, rather than the first day out from rec boots to speed boots. It's a glorious day, though, that first day with those shiny new boots! I absolutely agree with the learning to be on one skate at a time advice, and the learning to glide longer on either leg (try to work on your weak side more). This is really good for your balance and for the stabilizing muscles. We always say it because it's always true that along with this is frame placement. Start with the front of the frame between the big toe and second toe, and in the middle at the back, most say. But the best thing to do next is to stand on your skates with them maybe a bit loose and see if you can stand there without caving in or out. Also grab a telephone pole or some such and try just on one leg. The idea is to find a position that feels stable without a lot of muscling or shifting around and without relying on the stiff sides of the boot to keep you from caving in or out. On one of my boots, I have to move it outward at the back a bit to find that spot. I'm made perfectly, so it must be the boot that's to blame! Ha! Perfectly ridiculous I admit. Yes to avoiding the toe-off as much as possible, realizing that when going uphill this will be a bit more difficult perhaps. Get up the hill however you need to, but push off flat with your frame as much as you can to get power from all wheels, and concentrating on heel push helps with this. Also your back two wheels are more directly in line with your leg so it's likely they deliver more power, in general. I also agree that leading with the hip or sliding the hip to balance is in general better than tipping outward with the shoulders. There are some skaters like Chad Hedrick who sort of weave with their shoulders in a figure-8-like motion, and this certainly works for them, especially in shorter distances. But I've gotten more stability and control on days when I could remember not to lead with my shoulder but with my hip. A good thing to try is to put your hand outside your hip on the opposite side you are pushing from, say 3" or so, and try to make your hip go out to your hand. Another good thing to try is to skate on a straight line, trying to land on the line as your body weaves along the line. This helps keep your center of mass going straight efficiently. I noticed in long track classic style there's more weaving, but I think that is because the glide is so much better and more important on ice. I notice Jack can do that glide thing because he's so balanced and steady (and light and solid), so he makes very good use of a different style of skating that uses his particular skills and body type and joy in skating. One thing I've noticed lately is that right after a layoff of some weeks, I thought my skating was way better. I was not trying to beat the clock or keep up with anyone or my previous lap times. I was just enjoying the movement of skating. Once I started to press or tire, I lost that lovin' feelin' for the day. As the season goes on, I think it's hard to stay in touch with the movement of it all without worrying about training goals or speed, but I think it would be a good idea to try to have some form days. I thought those might be rest days, but now I think it takes as much or more muscular effort to maintain good form in drills and this can't really be a rest day. It's hard to get a rest day on skates unless you're on a track I guess. Certainly not usually in hills or among traffic! OK. Hope this helps some. Oh yes. I think you can improve your workouts as you make your laps along where necessary by saying something beyond "on your left" or "down the middle" or whatever. I get tired of it and don't always do it, but I know how I feel when a cyclist surprises me or barks a command at me, and it's not as good as when they say they're coming by with some sort of hello attached. I have and will repeat this belief, along with the idea that your first lap could be a warm up (slower) and greeting lap so people know you'll be coming by and can get control of their dogs, kids, phone, ipod volume, anger, argument with cowalker, loneliness over no cowalker, heartbreak from former cowalker, jealousy of pretty skaters with sweaty muscles, ha! 1. Balance your frames. 2. Learn to glide on one leg. 3. Balace with and lead with your hip. 4. Push off flat, thinking heel push. 5. Skate your body down a line (set down on the line) Bonus... 6. Say "I'll be coming by on your left. How are you today?" or more like I say "I'll beown yurleft. How'r'y'all t'day?"
JonathanS's picture

New skates!

So I have gotten my new skates, and wow. It is different from the rec. boots, but so much fun, and much lighter. I have a pair of Pinnacle Vortex boots with a Gatorback 4x100 frame. I have a little bit of heat molding to do on the heal area as it is too loose right now, but otherwise they feel great, so stiff. I am realizing that any issues with my form seem to be self correcting because the boots are rather unforgiving. So either do it right or hurt I guess. But so far I have logged about 30 miles over a week and am really enjoying them. I have found that crossovers are more powerful, I guess because of the lack of flex in the ankles. I will try to post more as I log some more miles.
roadskater's picture

The Skates Look Great

Your skates looked great at the 44 miler of Tour de Lions. They seemed comfortable on you and balanced right frame-wise. You were certainly rolling well in them indeed. I could tell you were having to soft push to keep back with the rest of us! Congratulations on getting good equipment and keeping your love of skating going through the winter. If you skate wisely at the next A2A I think your time will be much faster (if you choose to go for that instead of just taking it easy).
Jack's picture

RE: Expectations, Patience, Repetition of the Good

Blake,

Once of the best write-ups about skating in general I've ever read. I've always admired your pure enthusiasm and unbridled joy for the sport. We're all the better for it.

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