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Skaters in the News:

Skater Battles Mountains, Winds As He Chases Record
Danny Dannels finishes 1st phase of Trans-USA skate

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Danny and Hillary Dannels at the Granite Mountains in southwestern California.

[Editor's note: This is the first of what we hope will be several reports from Danny Dannels as he attempts to set a Guinness World Record for skating across the United States. The current record of 69 days was set in 2002 by Rusty Montcrief.]

By Danny Dannels
Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2007

Well, so far it's been the adventure I thought it would be. In the last six days, I have skated 205 miles of the toughest terrain I have ever faced.

Current calculations put me on track to complete my trek in about 39 days. That would put me 30 days in front of the current record.

The Start

Getting out of California required a steep learning curve. I had to struggle. In the end, that is the only way I learn.

We did as much planning as we could. We created every check list that we could think of. But even this was not enough.

Despite spending two days packing the car, we forgot the charger adapter for my GPS. That cost me a day's skating while we tracked down a replacement for this necessary item.

That day culminated in an emotional breakdown, on my behalf, two hours before we found what was probably the only adapter left in Southern California.

I had to earn the right to leave SoCal.

Proving Ground

California became my proving ground. I knew from the topographical maps that it was going to be arduous at best.

I had to reach in deep and find my reason for being. I have been faced with mountain climbs that took a toll on my body with every stroke. There were sections where I had to climb up the side of the road while wearing my skates. I found myself staring down ravines that would frighten a base jumper, not to mention a skater.

The final descent reduced two brakes to nubs and devoured a set of wheel used as drag brakes. I descended 2500 ft., starting at a peak of 4200 ft, over the course of ten harrowing miles.

Although bike lanes were plentiful, so was traffic. And don't confuse bike lanes with skate-ability. As any trail skater knows, cracks in the road hurt. And these roads could only be described as rugged. Kudos to the California athletes who brave those conditions to pursue their dreams.

The Storm

As many of you know, a particularly vicious storm settled in over California over the weekend as I fought my way across the desert. Ominous dark clouds crept closer and closer as I made my final run out of San Diego County.

I'm not sure what a wind gauge would say, but I would estimate the gusts were blowing at 50 mph. I was repeatedly blown left across the road as sand and tumble weeds did their best to hinder my progress.

The wind peaked as I reached the Carrizo Badlands. I stopped to pick up a rock, as I have at every important point, and took it to my wife. I told her, "I own these badlands now!"

I turned around and resumed my low ducked position and continued on to Ocotillo, CA. Those last 26 miles took me 3 hours and 30 minutes. If anyone has ever earned a marathon, I earned that one.

Provisions

Before starting the trip, my wife and I saved to the best of our abilities. We found as many sponsorships as we could.

In the end, we have the product we need to do this. What we don't have is a lot of money. We have less than $800 to complete our trip. We think that we can do it; however, we have spent twice as many nights in our car as in a hotel, and hotel rooms are now a luxury that we cannot afford.

We have faith that this will work. We have brought our camping equipment. We have learned the art of the rest stop. We will make this work, because it has to, because we will make it so.

Daily Bread

I am particularly thankful for Clif Bar. I have been provided the nourishment that I need on a day to day basis. So far, I have not been plagued with cramps, and that can only be attributed to the food.

I am also thankful that my wife is willing to eat from the McDonald's dollar menu. We have also packed our car with staples. We have tuna, bread, peanut butter, jelly, cookies, trail mix, etc.

I get up every morning and put the food into my body that I know I will need, plus a cup of coffee. I have found that I am just not right without a cup of coffee. My wife usually won't talk to me until I have one. We all know how that is.

We have been connecting to the internet through our Wayport account that is available at McDonald's. We have spent many an evening holed up in front of one typing away.

It is all part of this journey. Nothing good in life is easy.

On the Road

I have met so many great people every where I turn. I have had so many people stop me and show support. I have tried to pass along the great vibes that I have received from the skating community.

I am also trying to accept an ambassador's role for our community. I answer as many questions as I can. I shake as many hands as I can. I wave at the people passing and honking and yelling for me.

I will do my absolute best to accomplish this record. I will also do my best to share my love for this sport.

I wish that I could share with you the things that my eyes have seen. Instead I will share a picture of me and my wife standing on the side of the Granite Mountains as we descended to the desert.

I hope that you can feel the sense of accomplishment that I felt as I conquered the mountains of California. I will continue to keep you updated on our progress. Keep us in your prayers as we begin our trek across Arizona.

Danny and Hillary Dannels

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