Why I Skate

Every couple of weeks, I review my exercise log and update my planning for the remainder of the year. This time, I noticed that my running mileage is somewhat close to my skating mileage this year. With the inline skating season just about over, the gap will only close. When considering the hours of training and months as a primary sport, a case can be made that my primary sport is running. I like to run; but my first love is skating.

When I skate, I feel free. Unshackled from the bonds of mere mortals and able to glide smoothly and quickly through the universe. Whether I’m tucked into a paceline of skaters hurtling downhill at speeding-ticket velocities, or sneaking through the underground malls past security cops, the feeling is the same. I grin inside and out, this is unusual, unnatural. And fun.

Make no mistake, I have my share of falls. Hell, I probably have more splats than just about anybody in the sport. My friends simply just roll their eyes unsurprisingly when I recount my latest spill. They might raise an eyebrow as I show off the topography of scars on my leg, recounting my skating mishap history like rings in a tree trunk. I’ve resigned myself to wearing those big, honking, hot kneepads that the derby girls use. They look a bit silly, but damn, they work. I suspect I must one of the world’s leading expert on critical factors of successful crash pad design. I can, with a straight face, tell people I have multiple helmets. But each time I fall, I bounce back up, because I want more.

I close my eyes and I can see those wonderful moments in a fast paceline, strides in perfect synchronicity, using slight nudges to conserve and transfer momentum within the group. It is an amazing feeling to collectively work together to move swifter and more efficiency than a single skater. It is a beautiful, rhythmic dance. Skating for many, is relatively easy to learn, yet requires continual practice. It is a sport with a multi-dimensional solution. It requires movements of multiple body bits in three spatial dimensions, over time. It is the crazy confluence of physics, biology, geometry, time and other knowledge that defines our physical world. From finely tuned elite speed skaters to fluid freestyle slalom skaters with immeasurable grace and rhythm, I marvel at those in the sport with infinitely more skill than I. Yet for all of us, mastery is an asymptotic slope that we keep skating towards.

It’s not just speed skating that I love. The Friday Night Skate is an instant adrenaline rush, like a shot of espresso via exercise and adventure. I smile at traveling to Florida and meeting 400 of my skating friends on the streets of Miami, closed by police for our exclusive use. I have sailed along the north shore of Lake Superior, taken off at top speed on a runway in Berlin, rolled through the Philadelphia Subway and bombed down Broadway, for the world is simply more fun on skates.


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