Ted Coombs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ted Coombs (born 1954) is an American technology author, futurist, artist, and scientist. He set a Guinness World Record for Roller Skating across the United States in 1979.


Born on June 19, 1954 as Ronald Alvin Schlemeyer, he was adopted on July 11, 1956 as Theodore James Coombs. He was an early author of the "...for Dummies" series as well as over a dozen computer books, and a portrait artist. He is a futurist for the web site Futuristyx (formerly known as Future News Network) and information security expert at Risk Mitigate.[1]

Roller Skating[edit]

In early 1979, Ted was living and working in the Hermosa Beach Animal Hospital in Hermosa Beach, California. One evening, while practicing roller skating, he had the idea that he would like to roller skate across the United States to protest the 1979 energy crisis that was causing long gasoline lines and gas rationing in 1979. He contacted KZLA Radio in Los Angeles, then an adult contemporary format station, and told them about his idea. They contacted United Artists who was then marketing Lorimar Productions' first movie, Americathon, a movie starring Harvey Korman and John Ritter. United Artists saw this as a way to promote the movie and sponsored his venture.

He later learned that Clinton Shaw had already roller skated across both Canada and the United States breaking world records. He decided to skate further, returning across the United States. He left in May 1979 from a Hollywood gas station,[2] converted to appear like a restaurant attended by stars from the movie, including Harvey Korman, to begin his trip across the US and back. He was followed by a van driven by his friend and musical partner, Brian Douglas.

Along the way he broke the record for miles skated in one day by skating 120 miles (139.121 kilometers) non-stop from Breckenridge, Texas into Dallas, Texas. He headed North and was given a parade in Chicago followed by Playboy Bunnies skating in costume to greet the mayor of Chicago, Jane Byrne. (Dorothy Stratten, Playboy's Playmate of the Month for August 1979 and Playmate of the Year for 1980, appeared uncredited in the movie, Americathon as a stage dancer.) He headed East again through Columbus, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He fell for the first time in the dangerous curve fronting the Pennsylvania restaurant, Noah's Ark, on a hill where you can view several States. With only minor injuries he headed to Washington, DC where he spent the day with Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, presenting him with a pair of roller skates.

The biggest event on his trip was entering New York City. The New York Tunnel Commission closed the Lincoln Tunnel for his trip into the city. Accompanied by a police escort he was the first person ever to roller skate through the Lincoln Tunnel. He was the guest of honor at a Central Park concert given by Eddie Money and later attended the premier of the movie Americathon.

His trip was not complete. While he had fulfilled his agreement with United Artists to make it to New York, his goal was the distance record. He headed south to Richmond, Virginia and then west into Missouri, where on September 13, 1979 he broke the World distance record in the small town of Mt. Sterling, Missouri. That night, the driver of the van, (someone other than Douglas who had left earlier in the trip) stole the van, abandoning Coombs in Mt. Sterling. Ted continued skating into Sedalia, Missouri where roller skate rink owners in Missouri and Leavenworth, Kansas, had skate-a-thons and raised money for his continued trip. Coombs continued until Yates Center, Kansas where he stopped his trip,[3] having skated 5,193 miles (8,375.33 kilometers). He took a bus to Las Vegas in order to retrieve the van and then returned to his home in Hermosa Beach.



  1. ^ "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Ted Coombs web site. September 16, 2009. Retrieved January 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ Pattie Reilly (November 26, 1979). "It's the Skate of the Union for Coast-to-Coast Roller Ted Coombs". People. 12 (22). Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  3. ^ Julie Mooney (September 4, 2004). Ripley's Believe It or Not, ed. Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Encyclopedia Of The Bizarre: Amazing, Strange, Inexplicable, Weird And All True!. Black Dog Publishing. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-57912-399-4. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Guinness Book of World Records (1981, 1982, 1983, 1994)
  • Rollerskating Magazine

External links[edit]