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Skating Cures Stomach Ills

Champion Roller Visits Portland

Digestion bothering you?
Then grab your roller skates and take a trip. The process has changed John Balazs of Los Angeles from a man who couldn't handle two doughnuts for breakfast into a man who can eat 15 times per day without recourse to the bicarbonate.

1940 Postcard of John Balazs aka "Flying Shoemaker" aka "Hustling Hungarian"

The 42-year-old Californian, known as the "Flying Shoemaker" or the "Hustling Hungarian", revealed all this Wednesday night as he rolled into Portland from Salem, completing the leisurely 50-mile trip on this heavy-duty skates after about eight hours on the road.

Balazs left Los Angeles on his oversized rollers April 25, and is bound on a 25,000-mile trip around the United States. He'll go from Portland to Vancouver, B.C. and thence to New York, where he hopes to enter a world's fair endurance contest. He estimates he can be there by July 15. As for endurance, Balazs once made Ripley's cartoon by skating 231 hours without sleep.

"I have spent 18 months of my life outside on roller skates, and gone 28,000 miles," explained Balazs. "I had indigestion so I took to my skates again. I can go ten miles in 45 minutes on a good road. Once on this trip I made 137 miles in a day from Merced to San Francisco."

Heal Hurt in Training
He has been bothered by headwinds lately, he said.

He carries an 18-pound pack on his back. The skates weigh seven pounds apiece - their wheels are large sections of bowling pins covered with steel rims. Balazs skates in shorts, and his legs are nut brown from exposure.

He is suffering from a heel injury that may keep him in Portland for a day or two, he said. In his zeal to "keep in shape," the Flying Shoemaker does "road work" in his bare feet at night after a day on the road, and he cut one heel on a tin can the other night. He usually sleeps in the open.

And when he skates into town he usually heads for - you guessed it - a roller rink.

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Updated 12.02.2014 |