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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

Skating Safely on Trails
Eight rules for skating on multi-use paths

By Greg Major
(Originally posted March 2, 2007)

Skaters in the Cold

On the trail on Long Beach
Photo: Darlene Prois


With summer right around the corner, skaters everywhere are once again venturing outside to train on multi-use paths and trails.

These ribbons of asphalt can be found in most urban areas and provide skaters with great opportunities for recreation and training.

But as much as we like them, we have to share them with cyclists, runners, walkers, children and other users.

The mix can be dangerous. ... A dog may sometimes lunge at you. A child may sometimes veer into your path.

But following these eight rules (and using common sense and courtesy), you are likely to avoid injury, all the while maintaining your position as a welcome citizen of the trail.

1.) Wear your helmet.

I am amazed when I see skaters decked out in every pad known to man but with nothing on their noggins.

Remember: Road rash heels fast, but a good bump on the head could cause you to eat with a straw for the rest of your life.

2.) Don't expect others to make room for you.

Skate with the knowledge that everybody believes they are the king of the road. Be prepared to make room for trail hogs — and, while you're at it, set a good example by making room for others.

3.) Be polite.

Let people know before you pass by calling out, "On your left." And don't expect people to get out of your way just because you're doing interval training or trying to set a world record.

Forget about consistent speed when you're skating on a crowded trail.

4.) Become familiar with the paths and trails you skate on.

Find out where they are likely to be congested and where there are blind turns or other hazards, like hills or steps. When you know what's coming, it's easier to react.

5.) Know your ability.

Don't take chances on a crowded trail. If you're not sure about a steep downhill, start at the bottom and work your way up. When in doubt, leave it out!

6.) Don't use headphones on a crowded trail.

Skating to music is fun but risky. It makes it harder to hear the sounds around you ... like that cyclist who wants to pass or that pit bull hiding in the bushes.

Using a cell phone while skating is just … well ... let's not even go there.

7.) Don't skate alone on isolated trails.

You never know what could happen, and it's always good to have someone around if there's trouble.

8.) Remember to have fun.

After all, that's why we're skaters, right?


Greg MajorGreg Major is a veteran inline racer, a certified personal trainer and the president of Bulldog Bootcamp Co. A lifelong athlete, he played semi-pro football in the 1980s and won the Chicagoland Natural Bodybuilding title in 1992. He started skating in the 1980s on a pair of $19 Rollerblade knockoffs. Today, he is a member of Team Rainbo. He holds the course record for his age division at the Northshore Inline Marathon (1 hour, 6 minutes and 24 seconds). He and his wife, Michelle, founded Bulldog Bootcamp in 1999.

Bulldog Bootcamp

Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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