Rolling into the Off-Season

Red roses against yellow leaves
Summer to autumn to winter

As the harvest hues of autumn overtake the jewel tones of summer, another busy holiday period approaches. For many, thoughts turn from outdoors pursuits to arranging cozy family get- togethers and bracing for cold days and dark nights, knowing that outside the monochromes of winter will reign for months to come.

This turning of the seasons not only signals the end of fun in the sun for most skaters, it also significantly hampers their skating-related workouts and favorite form of socializing. But to me, the colder the weather and the more it rains, the more excited I get.

Few of my roller buddies know my original inspiration for buying inlines back in 1992 was a magazine article that suggested skating on hills was a great way to cross train for alpine skiing. It took a couple of years to learn how to make inline ski turns, but every moment I spent in that pursuit contributed to the solid foundation that serves me so well in both sports today. I must confess that my love for skating is not quite as strong as my passion for spending hours with Dan on the ski slopes every winter.

Skater on autumn street
Ski poles, dry pavement and gravity!

In the fall, I like to grab my rubber-tipped trekking poles and skate from home to my favorite neighborhood street. It has sweet, smooth pavement and just the right pitch — not too steep that I get going too fast, and not so tame that I have to stride for speed.

The delicious feeling of carving asphalt turns is so similar to the motions of skiing that every skate run I make in autumn hones my technique, balance, and confidence for dealing with the wide variety of snow conditions we’ll find as winter evolves. I feel the results of my efforts in my very bones the first ski day each year. Better yet, the vigorous stride and pole work on my climb back uphill delivers an added training benefit because I usually approach my anaerobic threshold as I get to the top. This is my favorite form of interval training, and I know it will keep me going stronger and longer at 8,000 feet altitude as I hit my favorite mogul fields and black diamond runs a few weeks from now.

One of the best parts about living in California is that we can skate year round, even during winter. Once we’ve had a couple of dry days, we simply dress in layers, gear up, and head outdoors. I really wish everybody who loves to skate and ski as much as I do could have a California Dreamin’ kind of fall. Since that’s not possible, I promise I will enjoy this one for you while I wait for the inches of precious white stuff to accumulate and my favorite ski lifts to start turning.

And I’ll try not to resent the first blush of pink blossoms when they appear on the bone-bare tree branches next spring.

2 Responses to “Rolling into the Off-Season”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Do you have any suggestions for great trails for rollerblading in Fremont, CA or near the East Bay? Thank you!

  2. Liz Miller says:

    Well, yes Rebecca! Since I’ve lived in the East Bay since I started skating I know them all! And lucky for you, they are listed in my website The trails are rated by scenic beauty, smoothness of surface, and skater ability. Have fun!