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X*treme Wheels

XTreme from outside Xtreme entrance

In September of 2018, I was talking to my friend Ron at the Ozaukee Skateland first Friday retro session. Knowing that he'd seen me at the final skate at The Orbit in Palatine back in March, he asked if I'd ever skated at Xtreme Wheels in Crystal Lake. I replied "No, I haven't; the only other place I've skated in Illinois besides Orbit is Skate on Grand in Fox Lake." Ron highly recommended Xtreme to me so I thought prudent to check it out prior to the next first Friday retro.

view from NW corner ~ turn 4 same as previous but better lighting of floor

I chose to show up on a two-dollar Tuesday. I was probably a bit early which is why I was able to get pictures with nobody on the floor yet. Furthermore, due to the size of the place, I was unable to get better pictures as my camera's flash isn't sufficient to light up longer distances. I've shown these pictures to a few friends who could see from them that this floor is indeed large. With Orbit now closed, it's currently the largest floor I know of. It's an old-school wood floor with five face-off circles for hockey filled in yellow paint with black painted edges. The lighting in Xtreme is sufficient to see everything one needs to see but just like my camera, insufficient to do anything in the way of mood effects. There are areas where neon colors will glow due to some black lights. There are also some specialized lighting units which are located close to walls and yield some shifty pattern rotations.

View from DJ booth at turn 2 wider view from turn 4

What Xtreme lacks in lighting effects are totally negated by what an absolute pleasure it is to skate this floor! Due to its large size, one never feels the lack of space to get up to speed. Too, the wide corners make for high speed turns which further increase one's ability to maintain those higher speeds. Being a family-type skating session I attended, there were specials which included races. Out of eight skaters in my "class", I ended up scoring 3rd place! I'd started a quarter turn back as is my custom at family skate sessions on Thursdays at Ozaukee. Some of those skaters were rolling inline roller blades too so I was quite shocked to do so well in the race.

View illustrating wide floor entrance Belair Blazer wheel View from snack bar area between 1 & 2

I spent some time speaking with both Dean, the owner and Keith, the manager and DJ for the evening. Keith recommended I return for their Saturday night sessions as he thought it was about the best night of the week there. I finally returned in December with a friend I'd met at Lombard. She skates at about one speed so the vastness of the floor and its inherent advantages for fast skating were kind of lost on her but I had a blast. The majority of the music played was 80s/90s retro which I feel is most conducive to my styles of skating, whether old-school funk or high-speed skate jams.

View from SW corner ~ turn 1 inline speed awards at snack shop

Fast forward to March of 2019, I finally got a Saturday to get down there again as it's more than an hour-and-a-half trip for me. Once again, I had a blast. One week later, my friend Mary texts me about going skating on Saturday night and asks where we should go. I leave it up to her saying "Wherever you want is fine." To my surprise, she selected Xtreme. She travels to skate like I do and had checked the place out once before but didn't care for the rappier music that was played. Having just been here the week before, I noted that I wanted to change to try a different set of wheels. A couple of years ago, I bought a pair of skates on eBay specifically to strip a certain set of wheels from them for use with my skates. The wheels are old-school 80s green Belair Blazers. They're harder than my standard wood-floor wheel I usually use; the green Sure-grip Fugitives. They're also a smaller diameter and I worried that might put me at a duration disadvantage. Well, they worked out so well, I swore to the gal at the ticket counter that I would never skate there again without these wheels! Mary was much better with the music selections on this occasion so we both had a great time. I hope to return to Xtreme many times in the future as their Saturday night sessions are my 2nd favorite retro sessions.