Respect Hills ... Or Pay the Doctor Bills
(By Robert "the hill diver" Burnson)
Going up hill is a slog. It's the heavy lifting of inline skating. But it's pretty safe, as long as you don't suffer from vertigo.
Going down hill is just the opposite. It's as easy as dreaming — no heavy lifting. But it will land you in the hospital in a heartbeat.
Hills Are Not Your Friends
One of the most important things to remember if you are starting out inline skating is to stay away from hills. They are not your friends! They may seem fun and even safe. But they will hurt you when you least expect it.
Sure, eventually you will be sailing down hills with abandon. But before you try even a little one, you have to know what you are doing. Which means being in full control of your speed, which means knowing how use your heel brake.
Hills Are Sneaky
The thing about hills is that they do all the work for you. Once you start rolling down one of them, gravity takes over and before you know it you are flying.
This is exhilarating, and you may get away with it a few times. But sooner than later, you are going to hit a bump or for no reason whatsoever lose your balance — and down you will go. And when that happens, it is not going to be pretty.
The Rule For Hills
So here's the rule: Don't go down hills until you are ready and never go down a hill faster than you're ability to control your speed. That means don't approach hills as though you were riding a roller-coaster. You are riding your ability. Don't go beyond it.
What To Do If You Find Yourself on a Hill?
But what if a hill should sneak up on you? What if you are skating along and all of a sudden you feel the pull of gravity and realize that you are starting to go faster than you can handle? First of all, try to slow down using your brake — assuming, of course, that you know how to use your brake!
If that doesn't work (which is likely if you are already going too fast) try to get to the dirt or grass at the side of the pavement. When you reach the side of the trail, start running as fast as you can. Otherwise, you will fall forward as soon as the grass or dirt slows down your wheels.
If you can't get off the trail, try to fall on your pads. If you can skid along on them until you stop, you will dissipate the impact of the fall and maybe walk away with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises.
OK. By now you should be developing a healthy respect for hills. Good. ... Now read the rest of the Top Seven Mistakes of Beginning Inline Skaters.
• The Beginners Guide
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson