The Push, On the Road: An Interview with Andy "La Maquina" Andras.
Andy Andras: coming to you from somewhere in Nebraska. About 50 miles from the border of Wyoming. We had to back track today because of a tornado warning and a huge storm. But tomorrow we're gonna crack 2,000 miles.
The East coast is super busy, intense and gruesome. I think Jack was really smart in doing this East to West. Baptism by fire. We started off in Williamsburg on 50 miles of back path. Dipped our board tails in the Atlantic. And for those 50 miles everything was great. Just what you're used to. But 50 miles goes quick with a crew like this. And then you're in the cities, in traffic, full intensity.
First 2-3 days was probably the worst of what we're gonna see. Getting that behind us makes this feel like more of a gravy train.
On the road you get a heightened awareness of vehicles. You hear the sound and you know what kind of vehicle is coming. The speed they're coming at. The size of the vehicle. And an awareness of traffic in front of you. The person behind me can't pass me and there's a car coming at me. And it's five pm and the driver just wants to get home. There's times when you just got to jump over the barrier or your gonna get smashed. And sometimes you just gotta get off the road for a few minutes and let traffic be traffic and then jump back on.
When we started the trip, Jack Smith told us all: Step off when things get crazy. We all took that message and ran with it and naturally adapted a friendly wholesome skate style. We're not trying to piss anyone off. We've created a rhythm that focuses on being ambassadors of distance skateboarding.
You know what I'm walking away with from the trip? I'm not flinching anymore when a semi-truck passes within inches of me at 55 miles an hour and could disintegrate me.
It's been humbling. I came at this as a distance skater that skates competitively. But always in controlled environments. You're thinking about pace, competitors, etc. But that's totally thrown out the window when you're dealing with traffic, road conditions, weather, missing turns, etc. I know I can hold a pace in a controlled environment. But this is a completely different beast. A whole new monster with a whole new set of parameters. So you got to think differently about how you're gonna accomplish 3,200 miles. This is longer, harder, more intense. Mentally and physically. It's a real trip for me as a competitive racer.
I went into this thinking that it's gonna be amazing to see the country outside of the bubble of your car and 55-65 miles per hour. I thought I'd be more aware of so many more things. But the repetition of skating on the road, jumping in the van, skating on the road, jumping in the van--it all blends together. It's one big story line. All of it so far I guess is the greatest part. I am absorbing it in pieces but the main takeaway is the trip over all. It's one long looping experience.
One day I was itching to get a big day of skating in. I left the team at 5 in the morning. We were in western Ohio. Bread basket of America. The bread basket blows my mind but that's another story. I left the city and got into farm lands. Empty roads, majestic sunrise. And I hit these couple moments that were soul cleansing. It brought me to tears. I had an awareness of everything I've done in my life. Right and done wrong. And everything that will come. And the symbolism of it. The most happiness and sadness all at once. It was very very special to me. A realization of what is happening here with my life, society, the planet, and the challenge I was taking on. I did about 30 miles before the guys caught me and we resumed our regular rotation
I love this group. Love being together. Van life. Comradery. Pushing each other forward. We're a unity. A nucleus of energy feeding into the effort. Being separate, by myself, in that moment in Ohio is what made this so profound. Because that's normal for me. Getting in my own head for hundreds of miles on my own. But going into a team environment and then separating out. That's a trip.
The Vandemic: we all got sick on days 2-6 or something like that. Poor Jack. Dealing with us nut cases. But we made it through. Luckily though: as much as we've been skating and beating our bodies, we're all eating our vitamins and healthy food and we're now all feeling good and on the other side of it.
Grin and bear it: I've prided myself on always skating safely in smart areas. All my training has been in places I'm highly aware of. I've got it all dialed in. But on this trip I'm just skating whatever I'm on. Sometimes we look at the road and it sucks and we can find better options. But sometimes you just got to suck it up and go through the river or on the gnarly pavement. It's been a serious learning curve. Let me get it done and stay alive.
And here's a bio on Andy:
In 2009 Andy discovered the grassroots movement of “Distance Skateboarding” on longboard skateboards. With his experience in running Ultra marathons, Ironman’s and Adventure races and his love for skateboarding, he excelled in this new sport that combined both his passions. What started as 5k or 10K races quickly turned into full marathon and multi day Skateboard races, but he found a special allure when it came to longer distance races like 24 hour Ultra-Skates.
Andy was crowned Tour champion for the most points in The SkateIDSA (International Distance Skateboard Association) for 2013, 2014 and 2016,
His biggest accomplishment came in the 24-hour Ultra-Skate race where in 2013, he broke a longstanding 24 hour world record with a 261.8 miles performance. Then bested that with a 283.2 record in 2015. In 2016 he was the first person to break the 300-mile barrier in 24 hours with a 309.5 record. Because of these performances his peers in the sport nicknamed him “La Maquina” (The Machine) — due to his ability to skateboard at the same pace without stopping during the entire 24 hour skateboard race. In the summer of 2019 he was a team member of a 4 person relay team which set a 24 hour record at that Dutch UltraSkate of 371 miles.
In 2020 Andy took on a new challenge in Distance Skateboarding by moving into the Paddle (SUP Skateboarding) discipline at competitions. Competing in the 24 hour UltraSkate in events, he was able to break the World Record in the winter of 2022 at the Miami UltraSkate with a 232 mile performance. In the summer of 2022 he was able to extend the record at the Dutch 24 UltraSkate with 274 miles
Andy joined the US Air Force after graduating high school and became an Air-Force Firefighter. After completing his military service, he began a career as a Firefighter/Paramedic in his adopted home state of Florida.