Roll to me

I have always found feet a disappointment. I mean, they work and everything but life is so much more exciting when you have alternative transportation as footwear. It seems I am not alone in this desire and with the snow and ice gone, many Canadians have switched blades for wheels. Skaters pass me on the way to the University, around town and along the tracks surrounding the lake. Since I possess a pair of roller blades (two actually, for various reasons) I am totally up for joining them ... except for the fact I haven't the foggiest how to stop.

On ice, the sharp sideways pivot hockey stop can bring you to a direct halt almost instantly. On wheels, such a maneuver would result in full body contact with the ground which, while technically fulfilling the intended purpose, lacks a certain something. This restriction is reflected in the rules of roller hockey where the game is played four-on-four, rather than five-on-five, and with no off-side rule. Recreational skates have a back break, but how do you use this without falling on your arse?

This issue is exasperated still more by the difference in intended skating location. In the rink, if I didn't stop I ended up crashing into the barrier or a member of (hopefully) the opposite team (did I take out your ringer? My bad). Here, I would likely end up sprawled in the middle of the highway. Not cool, free health care or not.

There was really only one thing for it and I signed up with a competitive roller blading guy who was offering lessons in Toronto. The class I joined was for beginners and he did warn me over email that they might not get onto stopping in the first lesson. But, he said (and I quote):

"I can make you more confident and stable so stopping won't seem quite as important."

Yeah! If I'm confident I can just go play chicken with those cars! Bring it on! .... I dug out my helmet and pads from the basement.

There were five of us in the class ranging from raw beginners to people lacking in confidence and needing a bit of advanced instruction. It was actually very good and I learnt a bunch of techniques for stability over rough surfaces. I also found that I could stop slowly; when approaching a wall, I stepped inwards to slow myself down. One of the other girls in the class noticed and commented:

"You stopped. How did you do that?"

".... I don't know."

"I think you know more than you realise."

Possibly she was right and it's probably likely that a few years ice skating plus a few more on quad skates helps with the learning process if not technique. I am still, however, going back next week. Life is full of surprises, but I'd rather mine didn't involve a dog's leash (horror story from our instructor), a small child armed with a bicycle (horror story #2) or a large truck (what I'm trying to ensure isn't horror story #3).