I've been skating outdoors for the last two years going on my third season right now. I've put some thoughts into what I like and dislike about my skating surface and felt it would be a good time setup a grading system for the variances I encounter. Here's my little gradebook guide I've made for any reviews I do of parking lots, sidewalks or trails I skate.
|A||An awesome surface to skate on. Almost always, this is brand new to maybe 2 year-old asphalt. Because of the expansion joints used in concrete, it is rare for me to give an A grade to a concrete surface.|
|B||Typically, a surface which in most ways is as good as an A-graded surface but with minor blemishes in pavement or the beginnings of weather degradation from season cycling. With asphalt, this is generally the beginning of cracks, or depressions caused by previous flooding or even the shifting of the dirt underneath where the pavement was originally laid down creating stretching or scrunching of the pavement. Generally, all but the very newest of concrete surfaces get a grade of B due to the periodic splits of expansion joints to prevent serious cracking. A concrete sidewalk without any lifted or sunken blocks would be a solid B-graded surface.|
|C||Not an ideal surface to skate but with a practiced outdoor skater, the surface is navigable and sometimes the venue offers other reasons to put up with the nuisances, e.g.; great scenery or the only path between two superior surfaces to skate.|
|D||This is a pretty damn bad surface to skate on but for those who are up to a real challenge for reasons of exercise or practicing balance in adverse conditions, skating can be done.|
|F||unskateable! For one reason or another, this surface is just completely useless to skate on.|
Many of the trails I use are definitely multi-use. I'll see quite alot of bicycling, some joggers and walkers and whole crapload of dog walkers. My grading system does not affect the fitness of these other purposes. An F-graded trail will usually be fine for biking. I roll 100mm inline wheels on quad skates which are pretty damn forgiving of most surface imperfections. If you were rolling standard narrow trucks with smaller diameter conventional wheels, you'd probably want to avoid anything I've graded as a D too.