Monday, February 16, 2009

Rollerblading - a cautionary tale

A little while ago, I sat down and tried to think of an outdoor activity that we could all do as a family. Something that was new for all of us, that would be challenging for the girls but would also be of interest to both my wife and I.

I thought about horse-riding. I was sure we would all get a buzz out of it, but we don’t have horses and it’s not really something that would be spontaneous. Hiking? Also not bad, but a bit boring perhaps for the girls. They get bored of walking after about 10 minutes. I thought about rollerblading. Now that sounded like fun. I could not see any reason why we would not all enjoy it.

I ran it by the troops and it was well received. We marched off to the shops and picked up some blades that were on sale. Apparently, they were last year’s colours. Big deal. Armed with our blades, we set off to the waterfront to try them out. We were excited. It was sunny and the bike path looked perfect for blading on.

Our family is a bit bonkers. Most people, putting on a pair of blades for the first time (well in fifteen years at least) would be content with skating around for half an hour or so. We decided we would take the bike path and skate all the way to downtown Barcelona and back – a distance of about 15 kilometres (just under 10 miles for those of you who are non-metric). In retrospect, this was not a good move.

All was going well. The sun was shining. The view was awesome and we were getting to grips with propelling ourselves at ever increasing speeds along the path. Life was good. We were feeling confident. It was then that we encountered our first descent.

On the back of just one of the rollerblades is a little square piece of rubber. It is about the size of a marshmallow. This is supposed to be a braking device. It is highly ineffective. Trust me. Do not rely upon this to stop you. This product design ranks up there alongside those waxy napkins that you get in a motorway café. The ones that cannot soak up any spilled coffee, that serve only to smear liquid all over the table. Like the rollerblade braking device, they are useless.

Rollerblades gather speed quite quickly on a hill. It was manic. It was absolute chaos. None of us could stop. We began to yell at people to get out of the way. I was fixated upon a large group of old women standing on the path. They were all staring out to sea and were blissfully unaware of us hurtling down the hill towards them.

A particularly large lady, complete with headscarf and walking stick, positioned towards the rear of her group, had left a two-foot gap between her backside and the fence. I was committed to shooting the gap, there were no other options available. I zoomed through, praying she would not take a step backwards and wondered if the rest of my family would avoid wiping them out like pins in a bowling alley.

Thankfully, we all zipped through and came to a stop when the ground had levelled out. We were laughing like idiots, enjoying the buzz, enjoying being together as a family, doing something fun. We almost forgot how tired we were.

For those of you out there who blade regularly, I am sure 15 kilometres is not a great distance, but for us, it became a challenge. The return leg was hard work. My youngest daughter started to complain of blisters. My eldest daughter complained of blisters. My blisters complained of blisters. My wife was fine. She was the only one wearing thick socks. Rule number one – wear decent socks. Rule number two – don’t bite off more than you can chew.

All in all, I would recommend it. Blading, I mean, not blisters. It is fun and it is good exercise. Just make sure you practise stopping first. We came home and looked up a few YouTube videos to figure out the best way to stop. Now, all we have to do is put what we have learned into practise and be sure to avoid groups of large, elderly women. :)


Anonymous said...

What a brilliant story, Ted. You paint such a vivid picture, I almost feel like I'm there with you.

I'm even tempted to dig out the old rollerblades buried in our garage. Better just check the medical insurance first!

Thanks for sharing a wonderful picture of fun, fitness and family.


Susan J Sohn said...

Too funny Ted. You make me laugh every time I read your stories.

Roller blading hey???? Think I'll wait til the snow melts and like Deborah will do my checks before heading out.


Anonymous said...

Very funny Eduardo. Your writing is really compelling.

catherine jayne said...

I grew up in a home where we'd ice skate all winter and rollerblade all summer. Unfortunately the two are quite different in regards to stopping. I've had to retrain myself in that area every season change. What a humorous reminder of the work ahead as the snow begins to melt!

Rebecca said...

I am glad you made it through "the gap"!

Anonymous said...

Too funny! Reminds me of the time that I nearly took out an entire family of four while roller blading on summer vacation when I was a teenager. I was having such a lovely skate and it never occured to me that I might need to stop while hurdling down hill towards other people. I actually managed to grab onto a light pole to stop myself from crashing into the innocent family infront of me that was enjoying a nice walk together.
Thanks for sharing that hilarious story!

Anonymous said...

That's great. I'm thinking Balmoral or Hyde Park for Sydney-siders would be fun, or even Manly. Maybe we'll give it a go, although I fear I may break my ankle!


TheCleanseCoach said...

Hilarious and I can so relate - not to the distance but to the going down hill part! I had a small hill to master and the only other person nearby was an elderly gent waling slowly down the path, cane and all. I was going at a fairly decent clip by the time I reached him. I grabbed his elbow as I went by and man, could he move! He ran to the bottom with me and didn't even drop the cane - lol

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