I pulled my skating stuff out of the plastic tub I’d stored it in over winter and got in a 5 mile skate yesterday. I wore my slow skates with the soft 80mm wheels so I could work on my form and fall down more slowly. Fortunately I didn’t fall down, I had a pretty uneventful skate session, and I found I didn’t loose much skill over the winter. My feet were a bit sore and I could tell my ankles were getting a bit more workout then they are used too, but it was easy to remember why I enjoy it so much.
I ran across this 16 minute documentary today and really connected with it. Slomo is a local celebrity in the Pacific Beach area of that strange land known as California. From here in Southern Illinois Oz seems closer then this bizarre SoCal world. Slomo is a doctor who retired and now spends his days skating in slow motion while listening to classical music. His skating technique emphasizes a maximum of economy. He uses a fluid and smooth push then will glide for as long as possible on a single skate, he can often glide for minutes at a time on one skate.
He’s skating on K2 Radicals which have 100 or 110 mm wheels. I was a bit confused about this because the big wheels are meant to go fast, but as a person who has now skated on a few different setups, including a 4×110 I can tell you that they really, really, resist slowing down. Once you get these things rolling its a challenge to get them stopped. They are an obvious choice for someone wanting to glide.
While Slomo does this he has a huge, almost frightening grin on his face, like he’s in the middle of some kind of drug high. Slomo goes on to explain in the documentary that when he exited the rat race and begin “doing what he wanted” he found so much pleasure in skating in very slow motion that he was sure he was losing his mind, but he seems to think that society may actually be the crazy one and he’s just gone sane. He also claims to regress his mind to that of an 11 year old while skating, which might explain the crazy grins. It’s fine for a kid to walk around and be happy all the time, but an adult, especially an old man, isn’t suppose to be happy, unless he just told a dirty joke.
In the video you can tell that in many cases the sidewalks are so crowded that he has little choice but to skate slow, yet he still gracefully glides through traffic. In many respects Slowmo is the exact opposite skater from me. I lack any kind of form or grace, I just thrash about with my legs pushing, pushing, pushing. I rarely ever glide, and if I tried to glide on one foot I’d most certainly fall down. When I skate I’m not smiling but grimacing in concentration, trying to stay focused on the surface and traffic.
Skating has left me with blisters so painful I can barely walk, and worse road rash from falls then I ever got cycling, yet I kept doing it. Skating combines the speed and grace of cycling with the direct feel of running, and it is a very fun activity. I can’t understand why no one does it anymore. When I was a kid I really liked going to the skating rink, just going around and around and around with no real purpose other then to flow.
I suppose I’m far from the level of zen that Slowmo has achieved. I can’t simply enjoy the sensation of gliding slowly on skates. I want to improve my speed and figure out how to go faster. Ironically I’d probably become much faster if I worked on the skills that he so effortlessly displays.