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Inline Skating Newsletter Article

Rocks With Attitude

By Roxine McQuitty
I met Rocky in Lanesboro, MN, during a 2002 Learn to Skate camp for Zephyr Adventures. She went straight home and shared her new skating abilities with partner Bruce. Her newsy notes make it clear they’ve been tearing up the trails in Seattle and wherever they go. Rocky gave me permission to share her latest about a recent trip to Arizona.

Just got back to Seattle rains last night, all energized from 9 days of skating in the sun in the Phoenix Valley! We went down there armed with 22 pages of skating locations and trails printed from the Internet. Spent part of day one trying to find access to a straight stretch of asphalt, gave up, went to a park and zipped around the paths getting adjusted to skating on concrete. When we did find some access several days later, we didn't even bother.

Skating on absolutely glassy-smooth concrete is something like ... rollerblading on the ice rink right after the Zambon has done its job.

On day two we drove all the way over to the highly touted trails in Scottsdale, intending this to be only the first of many such trips as we explored the entire trail system. Well! Big change of plans! Skating on absolutely glassy-smooth concrete is something like skating on wet leaves or maybe rollerblading on the ice rink right after the Zamboni has done its job. Without friction, wheels never stop rolling and brakes don't work. Getting a good stride is difficult with the frequent scoring of concrete combined with a heavy textured broken yellow line down the center, destroying an otherwise adequate trail width. Striding was hardly necessary, though, since we did most of the trail by 2-footed coasting and steering which made us feel "motorized" until faced with an intersection and the necessity of stopping, if we could.

Most intersections can be crossed by using the underpasses which are steep, glassy-smooth, narrow, sharply curved and lined with big boulders set into concrete. Being testosterone-challenged, I did all underpasses in my stocking feet while carrying my skates. After three of these, I pointed out to Bruce that the brownish streaks, splotches, and spatters on the rocks are actually blood and we both opted to "play in traffic" at the intersections from then on. After an hour of this "fun and games," we tossed out the maps of the Scottsdale trails and went home.

I pointed out to Bruce that the brownish streaks, splotches, and spatters on the rocks are actually blood...

...wide sidewalks made for blocks and blocks of level striding and sheer pleasure. Day 3 and from then on we had a whale of a good time on the sidewalks and in the little residential areas. Those long sidewalks alongside those long walls are perfect. I've been eyeing them up for four years and now we know how great they can be. They are level and have very, very few places where concrete sections have shifted so you can ignore the scoring and just smoothly skate right across the cracks. The traffic is minimal and we could zip right across those little residential access streets. Usually one side of a major street has one wider sidewalk than the other, making for blocks and blocks of level striding and sheer pleasure. Gravel on the sidewalk is always a challenge but we looked for sidewalks that are raised a couple of inches from the surroundings. That helped. Much of the gravel used there is "rotten granite" which breaks up and skitters away instead of the "rocks with attitude" we have here in the Northwest.

When we left it was up to 75 degrees and almost too hot to skate on Jan 3. But we did, of course. Bruce is singing the praises of his protective gear, as he is still learning that he can't go full stride through gravel. I'm not above putting out the word to people about getting the padding to go with their skates as they totter around and term us "pros" when we go by. We both know we wouldn't be able to do any of this if I hadn't attended a skate camp (see Rocky's camp photos) and then passed on my learnings to Bruce. There should be lots of these fantastic skating neighborhoods but I'm not going to divulge the location of our favorite as long as my "kids" are still in the Phoenix Valley.

PS: I've got the cutest grandson in the whole wide world.

Back to reality and must get back to framing my prints. Shouldn't really complain about having some shows coming up, as that is the goal of an artist, I guess. Beginning to look more and more like a job. Can't just keep cranking that press and stacking prints under the bed. Have to get them out where they can be seen and sold. Yep, it is a job.

Love, Rocky

Rocky and Bruce preparing to launch a sidewalk skate in Peoria, Arizona, New Year's Day, 2003. Rocky is wearing her beloved (and proven!) 8-year-old, hard-shell Rollerblades, her "fat pants," and her neck collar along with sun and concrete protection. Bruce has tested his wrist and elbow protections in both Washington and Arizona.

To find the best skating for your skill level on Day One, please contact the
Arizona In-Line Skating Association.