Paying attention to trail hazards

It was a beautiful spring day for a roll on the trail.

My ski season doesn’t end until after Memorial Day, but with the arrival of spring, the early Daylight Saving time and our first hot spell, I chose a day in late April for my first skating workout of the year. I literally dusted off my skates (we’ve just survived a complete kitchen remodel), and hit the streets, relishing the faint vibrations of urethane on smooth pavement.

It was after 10 am when I entered the Iron Horse Trail, already crowded with cyclists, walkers, joggers, and folks pushing baby strollers or walking their dogs. I gave a friendly wave as I passed a silver-haired gent on inlines, fully geared, as I was.

Awareness pays off

I had an unusually strong focus on safety that day. With the participants at an upcoming Camp Rollerblade on my mind along with my recent writing assignments for the safety team at the company where I work, I felt compelled to track the safety hazards I encountered during my 45 minutes on the trail:

  • twigs and other bumpy surface debris remaining from the winter
  • dogs darting about both on and off their leashes
  • clots of people and the frequent need to pass them from behind
  • trail users not leaving any room to pass, not paying attention
  • converging opposing traffic competing for passing room
  • reduced visibility and a blanket of moist leaves in the shade
  • bumpy transitions from street to trail at intersections
  • gaping cracks just the right width to snag my wheels
Photo of patched crack in asphalt on trail
Step on a crack and break your own back!

“Hm,” I mused. “Flat and car-free as it is, this is really not a great trail for beginners today.”

However, because I know how to avoid or handle the worst of these common trail hazards, I relished stride after stride in my Spark Pro skates after such a long time away from them.

A canine altercation

A few miles out, I approached a pair of ladies at a trail-side bench with two large, friendly-looking dogs on leashes. Suddenly a little pooch darted out from behind them and sprinted toward me, barking furiously. I braked to a screeching halt as one woman leaped up, grabbed him, and delivered a spanking, yelling, “Bad dog, bad dog!”

Meanwhile, the other woman released her shaggy charges in the excitement. They came trotting over to greet me, wrapping the leash that connected them around my legs. “Well, now we’ve got another problem,” I grinned. I didn’t feel a need to chastise the lady who was beating the smaller dog. She was obviously mortified over his antics.

Extricating myself from the leash, I continued skating up the trail. After encountering an entire classroom of middle schoolers a bit further ahead, I finally decided my workout was half finished and did an about face. Heading back, I managed to slip unseen past the “bad dog,”who had just wriggled out of his leash and again dashed away from his handler. I completed my first skating errand of 2012 by stopping in at my mobile phone store and then skated back home to have lunch in my beautiful new kitchen.

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