I have a couple very hard and fast rules.
Never in the rain.
Never in the damp.
Never if the wind was more than a 20 MPH gust.
Call that last one 30 KPH for the metrically endowed.
I had a routine that I fell into back in the days when inline skating was hot.
Which was to say that everyone, their grandmother, and their dog was on some sort of wheeled contrivance at the time. Yes, the wonderful time that was the 1990s.
While many of us found ourselves on inline skates, others looked upon it and laughed.
I used it as a sport. Big time for me. Most of my dry and calm weekends were spent with my cruising skates on. I’d be wearing a groove in the trails in and around the fabled city of Philadelphia and all the way out to west of Valley Forge.
I say groove because it was about 30 miles per workout. Lord, Europeans, I can’t Math… 1.6 Times 30, er… I make that 48 K’s give or take a meter.
Peak was 54 miles in a single morning, 200 miles in a week.
But Geography is your friend sometimes.
The trail, Schuylkill River Rails to Trails trail, or similar was built on an old railroad line. That means that the road was flat with a one degree rise or less for the most part and along the river. Oriented on a Northwest to Southeast direction it also was in a valley. That focused the wind down along the river. It was always windier in the valley than it was just outside of it and if the wind was right, you could skate out fighting the winds and use that same wind home to Windsurf back.
I did that often. I fell into the habit of bringing along two liters of water, about 400 calories of snacks, and looking forward to that mid workout rest in Oaks, PA right over the Perkiomen Creek. It was a hangout there and you’d meet up with us regulars. Bikers would continue out to the Reading (PA) trail, or stop with us and chat for a while.
This was where I had met up on the way back with a Deer that stopped me dead in the
middle of the trail. Just West of Valley Forge in a beautiful forested area before you hit the big power lines, it spotted me, I spotted him. He was just off the trail, moved to the middle of it, and approached.
Yes, a Deer. Came to visit me. Looking in those big brown eyes, I said hello, and asked “what would you like to do? Feel like a bit of a run?”.
It did. With that wind at my back, a clean trail, I started off. The buck joined me and we trotted along for about a solid mile, er, K and a half or so, toward the water stop at Valley Forge. He veered off and watched me go on my way.
The rest of that ride was very gently downhill and very gently breezy. I windsurfed back to the parking lot just within the city of Philadelphia where the trail turned to gravel towards Manayunk and Center City.
While it has to be one of those “things were just right” occasions in Pennsylvania for me to be able to windsurf, especially with a torso tall tawny buck trotting along for the ride, here in South Florida it is much more commonplace.
The trail at the Pompano Airpark is laid out in a slightly more than a mile per side square. We predictably get a wind off the ocean here. East To West. That means that you windsurf one side of that square, are cooled on two sides, and get to battle the winds on the fourth.
I’ve been known to peak out at about a 20MPH (30Ks) on my skates, especially with the winds at my back. It’s a broad back, I have to have a broad chair, and my favorite Poang Chair is as wide as I am at the shoulders.
Got the picture?
The trail is best done heading West on the southern side of that square to give you a boost from the breezes on the first leg to give you a good Warm Up Mile. This particular day, winds just below my own speed limit, I managed to stand bolt upright instead of the more normal racing skate crouch to avoid the wind.
I captured that wind and flew down the trail. Really all I had to do was get going and it was a free ride toward that western edge and the 90 degree turn that I had to brake to get around.
Falling on skates is not fun, I’ve done it too many times.
Luckily the wind was just a bit more North of West that day, and I got a boost out heading northbound on that second leg.
Sitting on the bench I had just enough of a runner’s high to smile at what I had just done. It was a second hop actually, this was my second time around the square, and come April, that second mile on the park would be closed for repaving.
Looking back, south, at the scene it was what I consider heaven.
You see anywhere I would travel to since I started skating in 1992, I would plan to take the inline skates with me. Most of these trails are about a car lane wide, split down the middle. Nondescript grey asphalt, and a great place to get a runner’s high.
Hence the smile.
Not a bad place to sit in the sun and enjoy a half liter of water before getting up to finish the last lap.
Getting my heart rate down from cruising at 173 BPM, to about 140, I stood up and thought I could refill the water at the three and a half mile water stop before heading home.
A good day on skates is better than just about anything else I can think of. No wonder why people are coming back into the sport.