My Morning Skate on the Iron Horse

On a recent gorgeous summer Sunday morning, I decided to see how the northern section of my local favorite skating trail was faring. I hadn’t been there for awhile because I prefer to get my skate workouts on the southern section of the Iron Horse Trail where there are less intersections. The central section’s trees behind the high school tend to drop a lot of leaves and twigs on the trail. (I still have a scar on my knee from that stretch.) Also, loitering teens tend to block the trail right behind the school.

On this day, I decided to accomplish two goals with my skating: get a nice workout while researching updates for the Iron Horse Regional Trail, Central entry in

As usual, my endorphin high kicked in and gave me that blissful feeling of love for all humankind. It’s a good thing, because there were lots of humans of all kinds sharing the trail with me!

For the first time ever, I saw a lady walking her bird. She had fastened a cage to a baby stroller and was pushing that down the asphalt, acting like this was an everyday occurance.

At every intersection I came to a stop and looked both ways before crossing, especially important where shrubbery blocks the view. A pair of boys of about 10 or so in age decided to race me after one crossing, sprinting up the trail alongside me. I kicked into high gear and pulled away.

Nearly everybody was courteous and made way for oncoming traffic, even those  I approached silently from behind. People with dogs on leashes kept them in check as I passed. However, an oncoming pair of cyclists was paying less attention and I had to yell to prevent a head-on collision with one.

It was disappointing to note that the trail conditions on this stretch of the Iron Horse have deteriorated quite a bit since I last skated it, possibly due to budget cuts or the extra-wet winter we had in 2010/2011. Longitudinal cracks have opened up in many places, with gaps wide enough to grab and hold my wheels. Both ends of both bridges have raised lips that would trip any skater not paying attention well enough avoid them. There was so much tree debris on the shady section behind the school that I fear the park district has not been able to pay for sweeping.

On the return trip, I stopped to chat with an elderly gentleman wearing an official looking East Bay Regional Park hat and the label “Trail Safety Patrol” on the back of his shirt. We shared tips on the the near-impossible task of getting kids to wear their helmets properly (buckled and over their foreheads) as they zip by.

Next week I’ll be doing my normal workday morning skating workout on the sunny southern section Iron Horse Trail, dodging kids on bikes as they head to school. And I will be filled with love for all humankind once again!

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