Rob Dargiewicz is a 36-year-old aggressive inline skater from Derby, Connecticut. Two years ago, he also added distance skating to his blading arsenal. This year he won the 2018 Big Wheel Challenge skating 2,364.52 miles.
What year did you start skating? How did you get into skating?
It was probably around ‘92 or ‘93 when I first put skates on at the local roller rink. By the second lap, I launched off the ramps that go from the floor to the carpeted area. They also had a race where the DJ cut the music, and everybody lined up and did three laps, and I won that. Multi-disciplined since day one!
I spent every Saturday night for the next few years at Roller Magic. In 1994 I started going to CT Bike on Friday nights. It’s an indoor skatepark that’s still there today. There was a thriving hardcore scene back then, and they had shows at the park. I was 12 –years-old shredding the vert ramp with the older skateboarders while Hatebreed played in the mini. Those were great memories.
How long have you been distance skating?
I started skating almost two years ago.
What made you want to start skating distance?
At the end of 2015, I got sober. I spent a good part of the previous 5 years struggling with alcoholism and everything that goes along with it; jail, losing friends, feeling sick ALL the time, depression, etc… Once I got clean and started to feel human again, early morning solo trips to the skatepark and distance running became my personal AA meetings.
In 2017 I got my first taste of big wheels on some Trimax UFS frames. As soon as I felt the combination of smoothness and speed that the larger wheel size afforded, I knew I had found my new passion. Big Wheel Blading was everything I loved about running, but I could go super fast with skates on my feet. I was hooked.
Were there any skaters at the beginning of your distance skating that you enjoyed watching or motivated you?
Slo-Mo. That guy gets it.
How competitive are you?
I pride myself on my work ethic and always do the best I can at whatever I’m doing. I’m constantly looking for ways to progress, so I guess that makes me pretty competitive.
How had your approach to distance skating matured since you began?
Hopefully, distance skating will be with me for a long time, so I feel like I am just beginning. There are so many techniques to master, muscles to develop, equipment to try, events to attend, and so much I can learn from other people. I knew that going in, so I’m just going to keep on that steady progression path.
How did you find the time to skate so many miles in 2018?
If you love something and you’re having fun you make time for it.
What’s was your daily skate regiment like?
A typical day starts around 5:30 am with about 10 hours of manual labor outside to warm up. As soon as I get home, I kick off the work boots and go running anywhere from 4-12 miles. After that, I would try to get in 10-20 miles on my skates unless it was Wednesday, in which case I’d be shredding whatever park we picked that week for Wednesday Night Skate. There were days with more or fewer miles, but that was an average weekday.
What was your original mileage goal when the year started, and did you achieve it?
I didn’t really have a goal, but at some point, I thought it would be cool to get at least as many miles as the distance from coast to coast across America, and I accomplished that.
What were the most challenging moments for you this year?
Trying to spread my time between multiple athletic endeavors and work full time was the hardest thing for me. I ran 3 half-marathons and the full NYC Marathon. I trained hard for those races all year separately from skating all those miles. On top of that, I’ve been out in the streets filming with the world famous Tallboyz crew.
Did you suffer any injuries?
I had to deal with a broken wrist and bursitis in my hip but nothing from a distance aside from some blisters and sore muscles. If anything, I would feel beat up from work or a slam I took, go for a mellow skate on the trail and feel a little better.
What is your weekly training regiment, workout / skate schedule?
Weekdays are for work, mellow sessions, and shorter distances. Weekends are for street skating, filming, and longer skates/runs.
Have you changed lifestyle at all with your training?
Self-improvement has been a major component of my lifestyle for the past few years, so I guess you could say the training fits right into that.
What kind of diet are you on?
Nothing too strict. The only things I avoid completely are fast food, soda, and energy drinks. When you burn as many calories as I do, you have to eat a lot, so I try to make smarter food choices. Everyone’s body is different. Over time you learn what slows you down and what keeps you going. For instance, eggs are a great source of protein, but they give me the bubble guts. Ice cream isn’t great for you, but I’ve consumed it every day since I’ve been sober without a problem. I know my body, but I’m always learning.
What snacks/food do you eat before, during, and after skating? What do you use to hydrate when skating? How much water do you drink in your long skates?
My favorite thing before a long skate is oatmeal with almond butter, bananas, and berries. Anything over 30 miles, I’d have granola bars in my pockets, Haribo gummy bears, almonds, and plenty of vitamin THC. For water, I always carry a bottle with me and filled it up when I could. It’s essential to know where the water spot is on long skates. Also, chocolate almond milk was great for recovery when I was completely wiped out.
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How has skating distance affected how much you aggressive skate?
I’m happy to say it hasn’t negatively affected how much aggressive skating I do at all. 2018 was a great year for skating, especially here in Connecticut. We’ve had multiple park upgrades, new skaters, people coming back; if anything, I’ve been skating more.
Has skating on big wheels and doing distance benefit your aggressive skating or changed the way you approach tricks in aggressive skating?
It has quite literally changed the way I approach tricks; I always want to be going fast! Even when we’re skating a ledge spot, I prefer to come in hot from halfway down the block. I love finding spots where I can incorporate the double push on the approach.
Did you ever imagine growing up skating that you would be skating thousands of miles in a year?
Never! I skated everywhere when I was a kid, and I rode anti-rocker, so I hated it! I would destroy wheels just getting to the spot. I always knew I would keep skating but never pictured myself doing what I’m doing now.
Where there any months you skated less then others?
Running took up most of my time in September and October leading up to the NYC marathon. I cut my miles but still skated almost every day.
How do you handle cold weather skating? What gear do you wear when the temperature dips?
I had one of my scariest skate experiences recently because of the cold. It was 6 degrees Fahrenheit, and I was bundled up pretty good. Even had on 2 pairs of leggings. This proved insufficient against the constant 20 mph headwind. I got about 3 miles up the trail and started to feel the pain. I immediately skated back to my truck and spent the next 15 minutes in a terrifying amount of agony. That was the day I learned about penile frostbite and why you need to wear 3 socks on freezing days.
What moments were you proudest achievements in your skating in 2018?
Winning the Big Wheel Blading Challenge was awesome, but I’m just really proud of the fact that I’m still skating at all, let alone at the level I am. I absolutely hate hearing the phrase “I used to skate.”
What is the furthest you’ve skated in a day?
I had done a few 50-70 mile skates, but a week after I ran the marathon, I decided to go out and do 100 miles in a day. I did 85 on the trail before it got dark. I got the remaining 15 by shredding around downtown New Haven and then bombing a hill to finish off. It was rad.
Did you have to mentally prepare yourself for skating everyday?
No, I have to skate to mentally prepare myself for everyday.
What is your favorite place / route to skate?
I like the Farmington River Rail Trail for long skates, but most of my daily routes were on the roads along the beach in Milford, CT.
What skates, frames, bearings and wheels did you use during 2018?
Powerslide Swell with the 10” aluminum Trinity frame, 125mm UC wheels, and whatever bearings I had laying around.
What are you skating goals going into 2019?
First things first – I will finish filming for the Tallboyz video and start on the next project. Then I’m going to quit my job and get paid to rollerblade. I’m going to skate in the North Shore Marathon, NYC 100km skate marathon, WYII, New England Blade & Camp, BPSO, Berlin Marathon, Athens to Atlanta, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’m going to skate 10,000 miles and win the X-Games. I’m sure I’ll narrow that list down, but in the meantime, I’m just happy to stay healthy and keep skating.
Skating all those miles paid off with a sweet prize package!
Join the 2019 Challenge!
- To find out more information about how to join the 2019 Big Wheel Challenge and the 2019 Inline Skate Challenge on Endomondo click here.