Road or trail skating?
by PBLsQuad450 (Jan. 3, 2011)Hey all, just wondering about how may folks skate on the open road vs. trails. Seems like mostly trails. I have a few good options for trail skating, so I am kind of lucky, but honestly, I want to do more road skating. I am almost exactly 11 miles from home to work. Great skate each way right? I'm lucky, I work for a University and double lucky, our new (brand new, this year) athletic center (4,200+) has a gym, showers and the like readily available, so that is covered with some good planning anyway... I do get worried that I have my back to traffic and most of my trip is really excellent, but I have one long bridge and a stretch of very narrow road (about 2 miles) and no rear view mirrors! Cyclists at least are narrow, in a classic or DP I am using a lot of lateral space.
If anyone has stories or experience or tips or warnings or opinions on road vs. trail skating please send along. I realize I'm not the first post on this subject, but it is a valuable point of discussion, at least for a newbie like me, to hear from the more experienced...
Thanks all, PL
by speedysktr (Jan. 3, 2011)This year we skated roads almost exclusively for our summer training, despite having a massive trail very conveniently located. If you're racing outside on a road course, you simply have to train on similiar terrain. The bulk of our training was directed towards our team's participation in A2A which is all hills. You can't train adequately for hills on a flat bike trail.
For road skating, my general feeling is that it strictly depends on the road and time of day. There are tons of roads around here that I won't even ride my bike on, much less be caught skating on. Just too much traffic going way too fast. I think it's important to bear in mind that there is already a fairly decent prejudice amongst drivers towards cyclists. My sentiment is that skaters are even more likely to incite their rage. Why? Skaters are slower, take up more space and just different. If you go out there alone I think you become a much bigger target for, um, everything. I absolutely do not ever skate roads alone and I sternly advise my team to do the same. We have an awesome network of country roads that we skate and ride on regularly, but solo is a no-no for us. I feel road skating alone makes one a much bigger target for random acts of stupidity and the times I have wound up alone during A2A are a perfect example. Way more honking, dirty looks and nasty behavior. Folks in the city may have a different experience so let's hear it, but for us it would be a crazy idea to road skate alone. I'm sure there are plenty of folks that aren't bugged by it in general and if you feel safe, have at it. I think some states it's actually against the law, so check that out.
I'd cycle your route a few times and try to get a feel for it. There are plenty of drivers out there that are consistently reluctant to move around things like cyclists, the postman, etc. If your route is one that aggravates this condition regularly AND you're doing this in busier traffic times, you're likely to encounter a much higher percentage of road rage. Not good.
Developing a sense for cars passing is clearly vital for safe road skating. The mirror is a good idea, but making sure you can hear clearly is critical. Generally speaking, we shorten up our strides and/or close stride altogether and coast to allow cars to pass. This is also a gesture of courtesy that may not always be acknowledged, but it doesn't hurt. If you're crawling up a hill with traffic building up behind you, it's a good idea to step off the road altogether. One thing that is critical for managing your road space is that you do not yield the road while in motion without a clear continuous path ahead unless you are prepared to stop. Case in point, if your route has shoulders of varying widths and it widens at the point of a driveway and you step onto that wide part, the cars are going to fill the vacuum of the space you just vacated and you won't be able to get it back until an opening occurs. Being in traffic is one danger, entering and reentering the flow is another. Try to minimize these occurences. It's better just to stay in traffic sometimes than to try and zig in and zig out. This is critical for cyclists as well because of the debris on the road that could cause a flat. The closer you get to the edge, the more likely you are to encounter a hunk of something that could give a cyclist a flat OR cause a skater to trip.
Make yourself visible. A headlight and a blinky for your backside would be a part of my regular accoutrements if I was going to skate commute. We don't use them on our country roads for skating, but on the bike we are regularly pushing the limits of daylight and it is a must.
I can't emphasize enough how critical it will be to make a few dry runs on a bike before you hit it on the skates. Cars communicate if you're listening. If you are getting more than 1 in 4 giving it the "standing on the accelerator" as they pull around just to let you know how urgent their trip is, then it might be too busy of a route to skate on. If someone buzzes by you closer than they need to and your spidey instincts are telling you that they did it on purpose because the road was clear enough for them to give you a wider berth, then they were likely doing it on purpose. It happens a lot on bikes. If you're getting frequent honks, not good. There are different honks on the road. If you get the light "toot toot", that's usually some one with some measure of decency politely letting you know that they're passing. Without turning to look, I generally try to give a wave to acknowledge the toot and as a gesture of courtesy. Courtesy typically begets courtesy and we all could use a little more of that. On the other hand, if you hear the blaring, "look out I'm an a$$hole, but I want to make sure you know it in plenty of time so I'm laying on the horn", then you can bet the farm that this person truly is an a$$hole, at least behind the wheel.
Just some food for thought. It's all I got for now. Good luck and be safe. For commuting, I'd weigh heavily the value vs the benefit of skating and would encourage biking instead as a rule of thumb.
by Roto (Jan. 4, 2011)Some advice I'll give based upon years of skating both roads and trails:
Trails are usually a better surface than the roadways, as they are not subjected to the loads of cars/trucks driving on them. But skating on trails brings in some considerations that you may never have to use on the roads.
Most trails I have ever skated on have been between 8 and 12 feet wide (2.4M-3.7M). Whether you skate with a DP technique, or a classic technique you will easily be using 6 feet of the trail width (1.8M) as you skate along. On trails you will likely be sharing the trail with walkers, runners, and even cyclists. To stay safe, you need to announce yourself as you approach walkers and runners, as you will be moving considerably faster than they are, and you will be moving relatively quietly. I always carry a referee's whistle with me when I am skating. As I approach walkers or runners, I can toot the whistle a couple times to forwarn my approach. The whistle works very well because it will register with walkers/runners who have their iPods plugged into their ears. The whistle also works when skating on roads to get the attention of drivers as you approach a corner, but for that situation you have to blast the whistle to be sure the driver hears it.
One other thing to be very aware of when skating on trails are walkers with dogs. Two things to keep in mind about dogs: 1) a dog that would be considered good natured, calm and friendly, may want to give chase after you because you are moving along reasonably fast. Just as you should announce your approach to walkers, runners, cyclists, it is very important to do this to walkers with dogs. This is the second reason- if someone is walking their dog and they have a Flexi-lead or a long leash on the dog, that dog might dart across the trail in front of you just as you are about to pass. By announcing your approach, any responsible dog owner will make sure their dog is under control, and the leash is not long enough so that the dog could dart across the trail in front of you.
by Dev Gnoll (Jan. 4, 2011)I'm in a mostly-rural community with lots of farms, commuters and summer tourists. Since the nearest trail is the better part of an hour away, road skating is an essential part of building the distance I need to hack through A2A. Here are my self-inflicted rules
for road skating:
- Never Skate Solo if:
- You have a definite time of arrival - Gotta-get-there-itis can be deadly
- You haven't scouted the entire route on bike at the same time of day and week - A road that's less traveled in the evening can be crowded Sunday morning. Fixed gear is best for scouting - it tells you about both up and downhills.
- It's a holiday assocaited with enforced family contact and/or heavy drinking. - Too many folks with their "heads in the cockpit"
- it's before daybreak, or after dark.
- You don't have a bailout plan Cell phone and some to call, safe houses en route, quarter for the bus, etc... I've used them all...
- Away from the winery after a "rest stop"
- Be visible and predictable
- If you can skate as fast as the cars, you must
- Never follow skaters crazier than you are.
- If a dog chased you last week, don't worry about that one this week Loose dogs don't last long on the roads.
- Respect traffic signage, Obey traffic signals, Fear traffic circles.
- No music, no peeking at the GPS on the road
- If you're going to skate on the road don't skate on the sidewalk, crosswalk, parking spaces, etc
Where I live, if you're going to stay in shape, then you're pretty much going to have to use the roads. Fortunately there's enough of them that go somewhere slowly or have shoulders to put together a few real distance and hill courses.
- Respect pedestrain control signals at road crossings Cars don't expect people to pop out from the trail at speed. That's where I really worry about watching one of my skating partners end of a grease spot.
- Pass cleanly and quickly or not at all The trail's always too narrow to rotate pulls.
- Accept that good form isn't going to happen Trail's too narrow for a full DP
- Sight the distance before sprinting
SkateLog Forum: Road or trail skating?