Rollerblading in 2022

A few days ago I saw someone rollerblading along one of the local paths so it got me to think about this sport that we have forgotten about other the years. 20 years ago we used to rollerskate and rollerblade before discovering easier to do sports that didn’t require carrying a large bag and spare shoes.

Back in the day rollerblades had much smaller wheels and the main sport was to stay upright. Over two decades wheels have become bigger. Mine are 80mm and some can be up to 110 mm tall. The difference between the original wheels is that you couldn’t lean as much. With 80mm and especially with 110 mm wheels you can really carve.

I thought that bigger wheels would be good for rougher surfaces, and they are, but I was thinking cross country, but in fact they’re also for town and city use.

Skates are easy to get in motion. Simply leaning will get them to move forwards and backwards but the challenge is to stop. For the first skate trip I did I didn’t know how I stopped so I aimed at walls, grass and more. I also tried to control my speed when I felt unsafe.

For my second ride I just practiced stopping. For at least half an hour I just practiced stopping over, and over, and over and over again. I eventually got dizzy.

Yesterday I parked at the Port de Crans, skated to Nyon Swimming pool and then the other way, beyond Nyon Swimming pool, until a gentle descent before stopping and turning back.

I like rollerblading again. I like the sensation, I like the freedom, and I like that we can cover bigger distances than if we were on foot. It is a nice way of doing your daily walks, but in two thirds the time. I could do them in half the time but I don’t want to push beyond a safe limit. I want to avoid injury.

I notice gradient far more than before. I look and I notice whether the gradient is steep, whether the road leans to one side or another and more. It really matters, when you can barely stop.

I watched videos about various stopping techniques and at the moment I can manage none of them at full speed. I do the 180 turn but that’s after a lot of practice somewhere flat, and at a lower speed. Yesterday I tried carving the right foot out and back to slow down and that worked. I also tried slaloming in a position similar to the snowplough and making small turns on a steeper gradient.

One of my greatest frustrations for now, is that I live at the top of two hills. This would be great if I was confident when stopping. For now it means that I need to drive or walk to somewhere from which to skate on a flatter surface. That’s why I tried the lake yesterday.

By changing from walking to cycling and from cycling to rollerblading on odd and even days we do the same routes day after day but we have a different experience. This keeps us from getting bored by our routines. We keep improving one skill, or seeing new landscapes

I plan to get more comfortable with skating, so that I can skate from home without using shoes or struggling with steep hills.

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