Protective gear is a must: it saves your skin while giving you the confidence to go faster and improve your skills. Ignore the momentary feeling that you look and feel like a turtle, and be glad you have the protection. There are four typical types of equipment: a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads. Published studies have shown that:
If you insist on minimizing your gear, take a tip from people who skate for a living and please wear at least a helmet and wrist guards.
Once again, Labor Day has come and gone. This time of year, signals change for just about everyone; kids are back in school, beach traffic is a thing of the past, and many of us are checking our closets for that warm, comfy fall clothing that will soon be part of our everyday wardrobe. It also marks the beginning of the fall skating season and signals all the changes that come to the skating community at this time of year.
For about three months, our days have been getting shorter. The sun that has been our companion for early to mid-evening skates is now deserting us before we get home or back to our cars. As fall rolls on into October and November, we will spend an increasing amount of time skating in the dark. Here's a news flash: Darkness makes it harder to see! All of a sudden, road obstacles aren't so easy to pick up and potholes or curbs that were easily avoided in the daylight can suddenly turn up in your path out of nowhere. To make matters worse, a skater's first instinct is to go around such obstacles. Unlike runners or bikers, who are much more likely to go over the obstacle and maintain a straight path, skaters usually opt for some kind of parallel movement. For skaters at night, the danger of dodging one problem only to find yourself in a worse one is very real.
Let me paint a little picture here. Joe Skater is finishing up his usual after-work skate. It's only 7:00 p.m., but it is already dark. Joe skates pretty well, but is not really used to the darkness, so he has to concentrate pretty hard on the road/path. Joe has no lights or reflective clothing, but figures he is skilled enough to avoid any obstacle he might encounter. Whoa! Here comes a pothole…quick swerve to the left…missed it! Look out! Biker/runner/car coming right at him! Remember, it's dark for everyone else out there, too.
Skating safely at night, seeing and being seen, can be more easily accomplished with the right equipment. Here are some easy tips on how to make your fall skating season a little safer.
If you use all red and green lighting and hang some jingle bells from your back, you will not only be safe, but you will be set for the Christmas skating season.
Recently, I fell while skating down a hill during a race at SalemFest '97. I had no broken bones, just had a lot of road rash. However, my head did hit the ground, and if I had not been wearing a helmet, I could have suffered many more serious injuries. My helmet is scratched, dented and cracked, and I can't use it any more. This could have been my head!
It doesn't matter how slow or fast you are going, if you fall and you are not wearing a helmet, you could suffer a range of injuries, some minor, and some very serious. Many people don't wear helmets because they think they don't look cool. But let me tell you that when you fall and you're not wearing a helmet, you will look a lot less cool than if you had worn a helmet. So next time you go skating, wear a helmet!