In fact, there was no Caldwell Park Figure Skating Competition, aside from the one my Girl Child and I made up in our heads and laughed about as we rolled madly down the river trail.
But, when I posted a photo of me skating with a caption that I was the 2013 Champion as a joke on my personal page, well, it got a whole buncha likes, along with comments about how inspiring it was. I'm hoping these were just for the joyful picture and not because anyone was under the illusion that I actually won a contest. I mean, I did, but it was only in my mind, and I was the only contestant.
Anyhoo...back to my Guide to Fun on Wheels.
Here Are 6 Important Things to Keep in Mind (before you go rolling off into the sunset):
1) Don't Be Scared...It's Fun...All the Cool Kids are doing it....
For some reason, many people over the age of say...30 tend to shy away from anything that involves their bodies and wheels, with the exception of cars, of course.
Perhaps this is because they have lost their sense of fun. Perhaps it is because they think they'll look ridiculous. Perhaps they are just afraid of falling because they know it will really hurt and cost them a whole lotta money if they break anything.
My answer to all of the above is to say "pshaw." Trust me, the older you get, the more you'll need your sense of fun. Life can suck the joy right of of you if you aren't careful, and really...as adults we're the ones who do all the work and deal with all the problems...why exactly wouldn't we allow ourselves as much fun as the kids?
As far as looking ridiculous, just see the above picture. Do I look like I care? I'm having FUN! In regards to falling and breaking things, well...here's my disclaimer (In fine print even!): I can't be responsible for any injuries sustained by attempting wheeled sports, but I do advise that you DO NOT try them when under the influence of alcohol or other anything else that might affect your ninja reflexes.
So, come on...it'll make you feel good (well, unless you fall. That will hurt, but again, to be clear, that's totally not my fault.)
2) Hills look a lot steeper (and therefore deadlier) when you are on wheels than when you are just walking on your own two feet.
Be forewarned that when you come upon a mild slope, the decline of which you had never before noticed, although you may have walked past 50 million times, well....it might just look and feel like a freaking sheer mountain, and you might feel like you are topping speeds of 90 miles per hour which can cause panic and alarm.
If you find yourself already heading down one of these hillocks / cliffs, I recommend a zig zag approach for your descent to slow you down and hopefully prevent an embarrassing crash and burn scenario. Flailing arms and vocalizing "ooooooooohhhhh shoooooooot" seems to help me feel better too.
Although, this strategy can backfire... which brings me to #3.
When you are leisurely meandering back and forth down the slope attempting a non lethal pace, you will sort of be taking up more than your own half of the trail. This puts you in danger of other wheeled riders who are often faster and more talented than you and will crush you like an insect if you don't move.
In my experience, skateboarders tend to be polite about trying not to run you down and asking / warning you to get out of the way, although I have nearly been smashed by more than one. The bicyclists however, are the worst. Not the recreational kind on a family ride~ they're usually nice enough.
It's the serious guys in the skin tight shorts and helmets who look as though they're entering some kind of race or contest~ they are they ones who tend to freak the heck out yelling "Passing on the right!!!!" in an angry and accusing tone, as if I don't have the right to enjoy both sides of the river trail, as if they don't have brakes and handlebars which can maneuver them a heck of lot more easily than what my skates offer. They are the ones I fear most.
On a lighter note...
4) Find Gear that You Love
Inline skates are just not my thing~ they feel all 1990's to me. No thanks~ Since there's really not a current 'in' option in skates, I prefer to go old school with my purple and white quad style pair.
I feel like I could be a Roller Derby Queen in those things, which I might actually try if I just got to skate in circles knocking people outta my way, but the fact that those people would also try to knock me over...well, that doesn't sound so fun. I bruise easily, and am not that well insured, and besides... some of those ladies look pretty hard core.
Anyhoo~ back to gear~ as with most things in life, you are probably going to enjoy yourself more and participate more if you have equipment that you actually like. That doesn't mean you have to get the $300 pair of pro skates that you'll only use a couple of times. I found mine for $40 on sale at Big 5. There's usually a happy medium between the top of the line expert gear and some cheap ugly junk that you hate.
The main thing is, you want to look at your gear and get that cool kid feeling. If you like something and feel good about it, you'll use it, and in my case, I became the envy of almost every 8 to 12 year old girl I passed.
Please, please wear a belt. This is really important...I mean it. Really. At the very least, make sure your pants fit well. There are a couple of very important reasons for this.
a) If you are around little kids on skates, they tend to grab you when they are falling, and if there is any chance of them pulling your pants down, they will. As one of the few moms who will don skates, I have found myself the designated hand holder for many a little one as they learned to walk on wheels at our local Homeschool Skate Day. I have almost lost my pants more than once in this role, and learned that while loose fitting or stretchy waistbands may be nice for visiting buffets, they are not appropriate for skating with little kids.
b) When low rise jeans came onto the scene, I witnessed more teen girl butt crack at the skating rink than I have seen in plumbers over the course of my entire life. I'm fairly sure that these young ladies would have been mortified if they had any idea, although the breeze on their backsides might have given them a clue.
In any case, belts are really important. They might not save a life, but they can save you from some serious embarrassment.
6) Don't get cocky
Flying around on wheels can give you an incredible feeling of freedom and joy, and if you don't wipe out, it can also give you the illusion that you have more skills than you actually do, which might make you want to get all fancy.
Stretching your limits is one thing. Thinking you don't have any is another.
I've attempted a few tricks on wheels~ some more successful than others. While I haven't hurt myself, I have been humbled a few times and found myself uttering phrases like"I'm not as spry as I used to be."
The main thing is to avoid being completely humiliated by injuries that require casts or physical therapy. For some reason, it's just more socially acceptable and less embarrassing for a kid to earn a cast through a failed tricks on wheels than for an adult to do the same. As a kid, it can even be cool. As an adult, you may look silly. It's not fair, I know, but it's the world we live in.
Also, remember that as the adult, you have to pay for those mistakes, which just adds insult to your injury. (Refer to disclaimer in #1)
Nevertheless, I think getting on wheels is well worth it, and I highly recommend you give it a try. It's fun! It's sporty! It's entertaining for those around you! You might just surprise yourself and your kids.
The next step for me might be borrowing my Boy Child's skateboard (although hills will not be a part of this experiment in any form)
How about you? Would you try wheeled sports with your kids? I'd love your thoughts and stories in the comments below, and if you liked this post, please "like" it on Facebook as well. Better yet, share it with your peeps!