|How to skate on Rough Ground
Many of the uphill tips will also work to make it easier to skate
over rough surfaces. If you live in London, you'll know all about
rough road skating. If you live and skate elsewhere, chances are
you'll only think you do. LOL, sorry, I couldn't resist that after
travelling to the continent and seeing so many skaters struggle
to deal with what for us London skaters was actually pretty easy
and smooth terrain. It is a double-edged sword though, some of our
roads are very rough and not so pleasant to skate on, but it's great
for our skating ability.
I'd recommend treating rough road with great respect, as there's
a very high chance of falling, with a corresponding increased risk
of injuring yourself. If you have to skate over it, then I hope
these tips will help make it a little easier and safer for you.
Here's how to do wiggly toes: Stand still in your skates, bend your
knees more than usual, and then subtly shift your weight back towards
your heel, but not so far that you fall over backwards. You should
be able to lift your toes and wiggle them, or play an imaginary
piano with them. Bring your weight forwards towards your toes, and
you should feel your toes press into the bottom of your boot. Notice
You want to have wiggly toes pretty much all the time you're skating
forwards, but especially when skating over rough ground. This is
the single most important tip as your skates will deal with rough
surfaces much more easily now that the toe is lighter than the heel,
since it helps your skate to pop up and over bumps in the road.
It has some other important effects as well - it helps to make your
stride more efficient, and makes your skates much easier to steer
and control. Lastly it also reduces the chance of getting speed
wobble at high speeds.
Shorter strides are great because your skates don't get as far away
from your centreline at the end of every push. When skating rough
ground, often your skate gets slowed by hitting an especially rough
patch or a bump towards the end of your push. The shorter stride
means you're less likely to be torqued off balance and towards that
skate because it's not so far from your body and doesn't have as
much leverage over your balance.
It's also good for your street cred if you can avoid that arm flailing
when trying to keep your balance if this happens to you, LOL!
Having a higher cadence will help your recovering skate (the one
that's in the air and being brought back under your centreline ready
for the next stride) come underneath your body more quickly. If
you do lose your balance on the other skate, at least this skate
is now under your body and ready to catch you.
Secondly, quick changes in weight from one skate to the other also
make it easier to swap feet if one skate gets caught on something.
More knee bend
Again gives you better balance and helps to keep you on your feet
and ready and prepared. If you watch any action sport such as rugby,
football, etc., you'll notice that at the start of play players
stand with plenty of knee bend. Not only do they have good balance
in this position, but they can move quickly and powerfully in almost
any direction. That's equally useful when skating over rough pavement
and having to quickly manoeuvre through other skaters, manhole covers,
etc. Lighter feet and quicker steps can do marvels for going over
Going a little faster is almost always better than going too slow
since the vibrations start to affect your balance and skate control
much more at lower frequencies. Keep the speed medium-high and your
skates will average out the vibration much better, a little like
driving a car on a gravel road with corrugations.
At all costs avoid slowing down so much you end up having to "walk"
in your skates, since this is often more likely to cause a fall
than skating over at speed.
More practice on rough ground will also help. Some skaters start
out life skating indoors, and then have a rude awakening the first
time they skate, even if that's on a reasonably smooth road. Don't
go straight for the roughest most badass surface you can find to
practice on, but rather try something that's only slightly more
challenging than what you're used to skating on normally. This way
you aren't as likely to fall, and yet you still get to work on your
rough surface skills and improve.
Bigger wheels and longer frames
The rough stuff is much easier to deal with if you have larger wheels,
5 wheels, and/or longer fitness frames. All of these reduce the
effects of gatorback and make life much easier than going over it
in hockey skates, for example.
Depending on your weight and skating wheels, it may also be worth
trying different wheel hardnesses. Since I'm a fairly lightweight
skater, I tend to like softer wheels, but those may not work for
a heavy skater.
When it gets really rough?
Hope you have enough speed to make it to the other side! Stop striding
and scissor your skates just as in one step of the how to heelbrake
stop here. This will give you great fore-aft stability and make
it that much safer. If you feel unsafe, then by all means take your
skates off and walk in your socks/shoes until you get back to safe
Be aware that scissoring to cover a short patch of rough ground
is great, but it won't help if you have a longer stretch. Then you'll
have to either skate or walk if it's too bad to skate on.
Don't forget that rough ground is a significant hazard, so treat
it with great respect. Also rough ground tends to reduce the available
traction, and even more so when wet. Be careful out there!