Because I Can Skate, Therefore, I Must Skate!

Road Rave 2019 in Chicago

getting everybody together

The 34 before heading out
Skater group photo courtesy of Tom Grosspietsch

In early July of 2019, I Google-stumbled across an outdoor skating group, Windy City Skaters who hold bi-weekly outdoor skating sessions partially on the streets of Chicago. These sessions are held on Friday nights from 7:30-10:00pm. It's sad for me to say that I wasn't able to make time to attend one of these sessions until August 23rd. I am super-happy I did now!

the preskate briefing waiting for everyone to catch up A tall can of ouch

Most of my outdoor skating during the good weather months is done alone. Usually I view my indoor rink skating as more social. This wasn't the case this time as, including myself, there were 34 of us. As near as I could view, I was one of only two on quad skates; everyone else was on inlines. Doesn't bother me but I've been told in the past that inline skates are always faster. Having the experience now, I'll call the jury is still out on that due to a snafu I committed on the bike trail portion of this skate. I had the lace on my left skate have the double-knot come undone and then the loop of the lace ended up getting eaten by one of my front wheels. I didn't realize what happened immediately. At first, I thought I'd hit something on the trail as I freed up immediately when I put my right skate down and lifted up on the left. It wasn't until I reversed that, putting my left skate back down and then got viciously thrown to the ground. I ripped the knee out of one of my favorite pair of session skating jeans and subsequently put a good scrape on my left knee. Furthermore, during the attempt to break my fall, I put my right skate down pretty hard and jumped my front truck out of the pivot cup which always yields an unskateable skate until it is properly replaced into the pivot cup.

interesting top side of skate damage bridge lit up on trail

the class of 2019
Skater group photo courtesy of Tom Grosspietsch

From what one of the other skaters told me, the route we took is something they call "The 606". It's a former railroad right of way that's been refurbished into a bike path. Unlike the bike paths I'm quite used to where I live in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, this bike path is made almost entirely of concrete block with some strange padding on the edges. Typically, I skate bike paths of asphalt with varying quality. The concrete of the 606 is some of the smoothest I've ever skated on and I had no problem with the mostly uphill of the way out West.

city flavor city flavor pulling in the ranks

As for the city streets portions of this skate, the state of repair varied wildly. I do a reasonable amount of street skating where I live too so this wasn't totally unexpected. The organizers of this event did a great job of mapping out the best paths to reach the bike path with a minimum of uncontrolled or partially sign controlled intersections. My hat is off to them for both this and their attention to safety. Helmets are required to participate in these events so I'm glad I purchased one in the last year. Also, cheap LED lighting gear is a really good idea and most of the skaters, including myself, brought at least something in this department. I wore my elbow pads which I always wear when skating outdoors as well as my wrist guards I wear no matter where I'm skating. Next time I do something like this, I will be sure my kneepads are on me as well!

the old bridge lit up informative speech city lights