By: Candice HeidenAlthough I do most of my roller skating at a skating rink, its always a treat to combine my love of four-wheels with my desire to be one with the outdoors. I’m talking about rolling outdoors people, it’s exhilarating!
From the change of scenery, to the spontaneous obstacles, having the wind in your hair while you roll down the street is something you all should try. Skating outdoors is a great way to incorporate roller skating into your daily fitness routine and for some, your commute!
As you go from being a rookie to a veteran outdoor skater you will enjoy the excitement of being on your skates without boundaries and to get you started, here are some basic tips I’ve come up with to help make the outdoor skating experience a smoother one (pun intended).
#1 Convert Your Skates: Outdoor wheels are a must, they are softer and more absorbent than those you would use in a skating rink. I skate on Sure-Grip Motion wheels and they ride like a dream. There are many other outdoor wheel options with prices ranging from $30-$100 depending on your budget but basically just go with a soft wheel with hardness of no more than 90A (durometer). To accompany your outdoor wheels I also suggest having a set of bearings to be used outdoors only. Because this set will be exposed to the elements they may require more frequent cleaning and lubing.Helmet, pads and guards are also a good idea for skating outdoors. The terrain alone can be rough enough to take down the most experienced skater, so err on the side of caution when skating outdoors and invest in safety gear that you wouldn’t necessarily need at a skating rink.
Toe stops or a heel brake (if using inlines/blades) are highly recommended because you never know when you will need to stop quickly to avoid an accident or an unexpected obstacle.
Be aware that downgrades may be more severe when you are actually on skates with momentum, having adequate brakes are vital to avoiding serious injuries.
#2 Check Your Equipment: As much as the thrill of hitting the open road can get you out the door in a flash, be sure to take the time and double check your skates before leaving. You want to make sure your toe stops are well adjusted and well secured. Be sure to check all of your axles and wheel nuts (hand tight will not do), they should be secure as well.
Tie your skates appropriately before you leave so that you don’t have to stop along the way to adjust them as you may find yourself in a dangerous situation in doing so.
#3 Avoid Distractions: As you become familiar with skating outdoors and among other pedestrians and motorists your comfort level will increase but when starting out, I highly suggest leaving all distractions at home. Being alert is of utmost importance when skating outdoors and we must be sure to have full use of all sensory input (hearing, seeing, smelling etc.) in order to avoid unnecessary accidents. Once you are an experienced outdoor skater you might like to incorporate your personal music device or even your pet on an outdoor skate, but always use caution.
#4 Know Your Route: It’s a good idea to have your route planned out before you start your skate. Drive it beforehand and look for easy access to sidewalks, road work being done, inclines and downgrades, overlying brush etc. All of these things can cause even the most experienced skaters to crash if they are unaware and unexpected, so it’s always best to know and plan your route accordingly.
#5 Basic Skating Skills: Do not attempt to skate outdoors without knowing how to skate, unless you are in the safety of your own drive way. Some skills you should have mastered include, forward skating, forward cross-pulls, stopping with a toe stop or heel brake, carving (slalom skating), and curb stepping.
I also recommend being comfortable with doing small two foot jumps as well, since you may have some larger cracks to hop over in the sidewalk.
I hope that these tips have helped to prepare you for skating outdoors, it’s one of the most enjoyable experiences, but always use caution as with any activity among motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. We Rollerskate coordinates group outings periodically that take place outdoors, and we would love to have you join us!