Archive for June, 2011

Camp Rollerblade Survey Says!:

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

I joined co-instructor Janet Miller to teach at Hilton Head Camp Rollerblade on May 14-18, 2011.

Fourteen women aged 34 to 62 met each other for the first time to share inline instruction, smooth pavement and new friendships. Here is what they had to say in a Zephyr survey taken immediately afterwards.

Overall experience

  • Camp Rollerblade was absolutely incredible and I had the time of my life. Liz and Janet were phenomenal and very supportive.
  • Very good camp, perfectly suited for beginners and those with just a little experience.
  • The instructors are excellent and have an incredible amount of patience and knowledge about teaching. I really loved them–they made the entire experience a great one.
  • I would encourage anyone interested in rollerblading to take it.
  • Was a lot of fun – plenty of laughter along with very patient and caring instructors.

Favorite moment

  • Meeting my roommates. I’d never really done any sort of ‘camp’ before (as a kid), so this was my first experience with that sort of thing. Second would be our first dinner as a group.
  • So many to pick from… but getting to know this incredible group of women was truly inspiring. Oh yes, and when I finally learned to stop.
  • Dinnertime conversations were fun!
  • Too many to describe; the entire trip was Wonderful!! The instructors were both excellent, their styles were complementary to each other, and the group mixed very well.
  • Doing a spin stop.
  • Getting out to skate on the beautiful trails.

These ladies had so much fun, and bonded in so many ways. The most gratifying outcome to me goes beyond what I was able to do for their skating skills: it’s the frosting on the cake that this group is already planning a “Reunion Weekend” next year.

Sk8 FAQ: Why do my legs and feet hurt?

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Burning calves and tingly arches are very common for the beginning skater. Your muscles need time to get used to any new activity.

Your arches may cramp if:

  • your feet are tensed up inside the boot,
  • the boot is laced or buckled too tight, or
  • you haven’t skated for a few months and your skating muscles have gotten out of shape.

A dull pain may also be the result of feeling a little scared. As a beginner, your knees may be too straight (very common) and that causes a tendency to bend forward at the waist, which forces your lower legs to work harder to support that weight.

If this sounds like you, try to get your torso more upright and drop your hips towards your heels to keep your weight lined up over your arches. Crouch by bending your knees, rather than leaning forward. By doing this, you flex at the hips, ankles and knees instead of from your waist.

Another way to feel the proper stance is to try to tuck your tail bone forward (think of rounding your spine) rather than back which results in sticking your rear out.

Leaning too far forward  also causes calf pain (not to mention your lower back). The muscles on the fronts of your shins are unaccustomed to skating in the first place. Bending forward at the waist tips a lot of weight over your toes, and the fronts of your shins must work along with them to support that weight as you try to stroke. Other calf muscles may get a bit sore when you’re just learning to skate, too.

My last bit of advice is to take a deep breath in and out and pretend like you’re relaxed. Imagine the good skaters you’ve seen, and be them in your mind as you skate. This does help for brief moments, really! The more time you can skate with a relaxed body, the less your feet and legs will burn so you can build up the muscles and the confidence that will help you maintain the proper ready position shown in the image above.

From Spin to REAL Biking

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

For the past 30 years, I can count the times I have ridden a bicycle out in the world on one hand. That’s one reason I got so deeply into inline skating. Dan would bike and I would go for a skate.

Within a few weeks of meeting Prince Charming Dan, I mounted my own bike on a stationary stand and never looked back. I knew I’d always be a sissy on the downhills. Dan and I already had a physically competitive relationship, and I could see he was a serious biker. I could not compete in this area and did not want to be an annoying lagger.

But now that Spin classes have built up my tolerance for sitting on a bike and rotating the pedals, I felt safe in saying yes to exploring the area in and around the beautiful Canadian city of Victoria, BC, a 2-hour ferry ride north of Seattle, WA. It would be fun to try out my new-found biking fitness on a moving bike. Further ahead, there will be at least one biking day on our multisport wine Tour in Chile and Argentina later this year and I wanted to get comfortable with shifting and any other issues.

What a scaredy cat I turned out to be!

There were more challenges in bustling Victoria than just learning how to shift the gears. First off, the rental place is smack dab in the middle of the city, with double-lane traffic, no bike lanes, and clueless motorists opening doors or pulling to the curb right in front of us. Trying to follow Dan and Clark as they casually maneuvered through all this was not my idea of a fun first mile on a bike!

And when did they stop making girly bikes? I had trouble getting the pedals rotating while throwing my leg over the saddle, with the bike quite often in the wrong gear for starting out. None of this stuff was second nature to me. Every bit of it was a distraction to be dealt with along with everything else. Oh, how I sympathized with my inline skating students as I felt the urge to call out “Watch out, I can’t stop!” to pedestrians or other cyclists on the street or bike path whose actions forced me to react in some way.

And the hills. Going up was OK, especially after I got good enough to shift to lower gears without dislodging the chain (I finally gave up on the gear combo of  1/1). Going down, though,  I kept a death grip on both brakes. I squeezed at the first hint of a downhill. This is what I do on skates too: I start dragging my heel brake just to reassure myself I am ready to apply full braking force the moment I feel the need.

We did some street biking on Friday and I felt proud and relieved at having survived about 20 miles of very scenic touring around the shoreline of the island, on city streets, down a couple of miles of gravel trail, and finally on a dedicated bike path. I was slow on the downhills but pedaled madly to catch up with my boys on the uphills. Legs and lungs felt good, and no butt or back pain!

On Saturday we biked another 20 miles, this time on a portion of a gorgeous trail I would recommend to my skating friends in an instant. The only glitch I had that day was the thunk, thunk, thunk that made me think I had a flat tire. It turned out I’d forgotten to pull up the kickstand.

On Sunday morning I woke up with a pretty bad backache that plagued me as I lugged my rolling bag with the disintegrating wheels back to the ferry, the light rail and finally the airport check-in. I learned several days later that I was in the throes of a systemic infection at that point, so I do not know if there was any muscle soreness from biking or if it was all kidney pain.

Now that I am feeling wonderful again, I can look back at my weekend of bike touring in Victoria BC with pleasure, and look forward to future bike adventures with less trepidation.