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How to Skate Safely on Roads
By Peter Doucet
I love skating the open road. It allows me to go almost anywhere while exploring the endless possibilities of inline skating.
But it's not without its perils. In fact, it can be downright dangerous.
Most drivers know how to share the road — with cyclists, at least. But many have no clue how to behave around skaters.
With that in mind, here's my tips on how to stay safe while skating on roads:
Watch your stride
Us skaters — with our push out to the side — take up more road than cyclists. That makes for close calls between cars and feet.
So be proactive. When you hear a car approaching from behind, stand taller in your skates and shorten your push. If you are going downhill, stop pushing all together and roll.
Signal your turns
Before you make a turn, stand tall, look back and point in the direction of your turn. I find that drivers respond well to this and keep a safe distance.
Use all your senses
Don't be a skate zombie. Keep actively aware of your surroundings. Look back. Look to the side. Look ahead.
Always listen for approaching cars. Listening to music can enhance your workout. But take care. If the volume is high, you won't be able to hear what is happening around you. Keep the volume low enough that it doesn't dull your perception of traffic.
Pick your routes
Don't skate past a church at 10 a.m. on Sunday or by a school as the children are getting out for the day. Both are recipes for traffic.
Pick low-traffic routes at low-traffic times of the day. And have a backup plan.
I often skate a 5K loop in my neighborhood. But between 3:10 and 3:25 p.m., I alter my route to avoid a school zone that is clogged with buses, parents picking up their kids, crossing guards, delivery trucks, etc.
Also avoid routes with cracked pavement and debris, such as rocks, sticks and gravel. These things could make you fall, which is not safe to do when you are in traffic!
Here are some things to consider when picking a route:
Wear bright colored clothes. This makes it easier for drivers to spot you. And at night or hours of reduced light (dusk and dawn), wear lights! Don't go out on the road without lights (blinking and otherwise, front and back) that can easily be spotted by drivers a long distance away. You’re better off looking silly than getting flattened!
Keep your cool
Drivers can do some pretty rude things out there, whether intentional or not. But no matter what happens, be cool. Resist the temptation to insult drivers or kick their cars. Remember you represent the sport. And also keep in mind that drivers who are otherwise nice people sometimes make bad choices. And as for not-so-nice drivers, you're better off standing down than having them hunt you down.
Take extra care in these situations:
Skating in the Rain
By Roger Olson
Puddle Push - 2006 Northshore Inline Marathon
When it comes to skating in the rain, I learned from a great teacher: experience. During my two years living in Hawaii, I rolled more than a thousand miles in the rain. I lived in the Manoa Valley of Honolulu, where it rains most mornings, and I commuted through this rain to my job in Pearl City — on skates.
I estimate that on average I skated two to four miles a day in the rain, about 300 days a year. Multiply that by 2.5 (the number of years I lived in Hawaii) and you get a grand total of 1500 to 3000 miles of skating in the rain.
Ever since I returned from Hawaii, I have had what seems like an advantage over other skaters when competing in wet conditions.
Of course, there's no substitute for experience. But here are some hints that will help keep you rolling even when the wet stuff is flowing.
1) Use a short stride.
Extend your skates no further than 6 inches past the line of your shoulders when you push. This will keep your body centered, which will help you maintain your balance when your wheels slip.
2) Use a quick cadence.
With a shorter stroke, you'll have less power. To compensate, increase the tempo of your pushes.
3) Keep your weight over your heels.
This is always a good idea, but never more so then in the rain when pavement tends to be littered with debris, some of which is covered by water.
4) Push straight out to the side.
Push toward 3 o'clock with the right skate and 9 o'clock with the left. End your push with all wheels on the ground. Then lift your wheels off the pavement simultaneously (without toe-pushing or flicking). This keeps your push smooth and powerful and helps keep you balanced.
5) Bend your knees.
A deep knee bend lowers your center of gravity, placing you in a stable position and allowing you to adjust your balance easily. Bent knees also act as natural shock absorbers. Shoot for 90 degrees of knee bend. (This is ideal though hard to achieve.) Remember to bend from the knees, not the waist.
6) Use soft wheels.
Softer wheels (82A or less) grip better and slip less.
Road paint: Lane markers and road markings of any kind are extremely slippery when wet. Avoid them!
Oily spots: Watch out for the center of traffic lanes, especially at intersections. They are often coated with a thin layer of engine oil, which becomes extremely slippery when wet.
Large puddles: When your wheels hit a patch of standing water, they slow down (due to drag). This can throw your body forward, causing you to fall. To prevent this, keep your weight over the back of your skates. (Sit back on your heels.) Then you're body will slow down along with your skates and you will roll right through the puddle.
Smooth concrete: In wet weather, this otherwise optimal skating surface can become as slick as ice.
Skating in the rain is bound to ge...
Top 10 Real World Skate Tips
By Kathy McSparran
Kathy McSparran demonstrates the scissors position for inline skaters.
1. Use It or Lose It
Keep your head up and remain alert at all times. If you don't have your eyes open, you won't be able to react to those obstacles — small and large —that come your way.
2. Attack Hazards with Scissors
When the trail gets rough, use the scissor position. Push one skate forward and the other back. Use the scissor position to negotiate rough pavement, gravel or small twigs. It gives you more stability.
If what you're rolling over is slowing you down, shift your weight to your back skate. This will keep you from pitching forward over your toe wheels.
3. Water Hazards
Avoid wet surfaces. Sometimes they are skate-able, sometimes they are not. The smoother the surface, the more dangerous when wet. (A newly mopped floor at a grocery store could easily launch you through a few display racks.)
If you must cross a wet surface, skate easy until your wheels stop leaving wet stripes behind you.
Avoid standing water. If it gets in your bearings, they'll probably rust.
4. Climbing Kilimanjaro
When skating uphill, point your toes out so your feet form a "V" and maintain your forward momentum with short quick strides.
5. Downhill Danger
Don't start rolling downhill unless you are sure you can handle the speed. Hills are deceptive and dangerous for inline skaters. What looks easy from the top can be disastrous halfway down.
Don't risk it.
Before you go down, size up the hill. Is the pavement good? Is there a curve or an intersection at the bottom? Just how steep is the hill?
If you have any doubts, walk down the hill first. Then, starting from the bottom, attack the hill by fractions. Climb a few yards up the hill. Then turn around and roll down.
If that feels OK and if you were in complete control at all times, skate up a little higher and roll down again. Keep going until until you reach the top of the hill or the end of your comfort zone.
Whatever you do, don't take chances on hills. Falls on downhills can be particularly nasty.
6. Miss Manners
Skate to the right, pass on the left. That's basic trail etiquette. Say "passing on the left" when approaching someone from behind. And smile. Be an ambassador for skating so we will continue to be welcomed on trails and elsewhere.
7. Nice Doggie?
Even a small dog can prove hazardous. All it has to do is jump out in front of you — or stretch its leash across the trail — to send you flying.
When you see a dog approaching, slow down. Smile and make eye contact with the owner (if there is one). The owner will likely respond by shortening the dog's leash or otherwise showing you that Fido is under control.
If the dog is unleashed or beyond the control of the owner, stop skating or step off the trail onto gravel or grass. That way if the little bugger jumps on you, your wheels won't roll out from under y...