Eat Concrete - 06.27.99

About one month ago, I wrote a piece about how I had purchased a pair of rollerblades nearly on a whim and decided I would try it out as sort of a trade-off sport with bicycling to work some different muscle groups. In that time, however, I managed to get completely hooked on the new activity and have almost completely forsaken my poor bicycle. I still ride it quite a bit when I'm going somewhere with a purpose (to the book or music store) where I'll be carrying things, but as far as exercise goes, it's been sitting in the corner of my room.

The first week I got back from my trip was my most hardcore. Even though the weather was hotter than normal, I was adamant about going out for at least an hour each night after coming home from work. The first few days were really shaky and I had a couple of spills, but I ended up finding a parking ramp downtown that was almost completely empty after 7pm. I'd skate to the top level of the garage and skate around in circles for nearly an hour, working on my cornering, acceleration and stopping. It was very nearly the perfect place to go, because there were no cars or pedestrians to look out for and the pavement was fairly smooth. I only fell a couple times, and even then I didn't manage to do much other than scratch up my forearms a bit.

By the end of the first week, I felt like I was doing pretty good and started on some small jumps and other fancier maneuvers. A friend of mine who had been rollerblading for quite some time went out with me a couple times and I picked up a couple more pointers from him. I was feeling more and more steady on my feet each day that I went out, and didn't lose my balance and fall for nearly the next week.

The very night that I was going to come home and rotate my wheels (something that's needed, otherwise they wear unevenly), I had a bit of an accident in the parking ramp. I had just skated down from my apartment and was heading up the levels when I was rounding a corner and wiped out. I managed to catch myself pretty well from damaging myself, and instead wondered just why I had fallen. I hadn't been at all off-balance around the corner and there was no gravel for my wheels to have slid on. Shrugging it off, I skated on, but my right skate was shaking almost uncontrollably and I had to sit down and stop again.

Upon examining the wheels, I found that the back wheel on my skate had a huge chunk missing from it. Literally one-eighth of the rubber wheel was gone to the hard-plastic core, and every time I rolled over it, my foot bumped around. Needless to say, I had a hard time making it home.

The very next day after work, I headed out to the local skate shop and had a chat with the rollerblade experts. Since I still considered myself a beginner, I wanted some wheels that I could beat up fairly badly and would still last me a long time. I ended up getting the hardest wheels they sold and quickly raced home to get them on and try them out.

After about 20 minutes work, I had the new wheels on the skates and was on the phone to a friend of mine. We were on the street within no time and I could already notice the difference in the new wheels. Not only was I keeping up with my friend better, but I could accelerate a lot better than before. Just four blocks from my apartment, I jumped a curb up onto a sidewalk and zoomed down a sidewalk before zipping down a driveway and back into the street.

When I looked up, I saw an SUV driving down the cross-street toward me at a speed that was far too fast for a residential street. Instead of using my foot-break, I panicked a bit and tried to do a skid stop because I thought it would be faster.

It was a lot faster, but instead of stopping upright, my skates flew out from under me, I flipped around and came down onto both of my hands and then on my stomach. The truck zoomed on by without slowing down a bit, while I slowly propped myself up and crawled to the curb. I had a shooting pain in my left shoulder and when I lifted up my shirt, there was a rather large scrape running from my lower abdomen to my chest. Although my left shoulder wasn't dislocated, it hurt like hell and I could hardly move it.

We were only about 5 minutes into the ride, however, so I decided to stick out the rest of the night and see what I could do. Every time I moved my arm wrong, though, I was reminded with a shooting pain down my left arm and throughout my left shoulder area. After a short ride around babying my arm, we came home.

For the next couple of days (over a week, actually), I completely took it easy. When I woke the morning after the accident, I could barely move my arm around, and decided to put it back into the brace that I was given last time I dislocated my shoulder. Very slowly, I could tell that things were finally starting to mend within the joint.

About 9 days later (and almost an entire container of ibuprofin), I decided to go out again. I went back to the old familiar parking ramp and took it easy for the evening. The very next night, I went back with my friend and something interesting happened; we got kicked out.

I knew that it was going to happend sooner or later, and when it finally did I wasn't even the one that got caught. I was racing along about 30 yards behind my friend when a car pulled up beside him and told him to leave. I was in their blind spot and turned a 180 before they glanced back. After getting a lecture (while I was mulling around on the other side of a parking barrier), he took off and I slid in beside him as we zoomed down the ramp.

I hope the next month is half as fun (minus the injury, of course).