Enough of a good thing

It used to be that I couldn’t get enough skating. As a kid I lived for lacing up my ice skates on Saturday mornings, but that only lasted from fall to spring (culminating, may I add, in what I thought was a spectacular show that surely meant I had a future in the Ice Capades .. yeah, that never happened).

So I’ve had Rollerblades for at least a decade and love them, love them, love them. Basically, I love them because they’re not running, and they’re more portable than a bike. As long as there isn’t snow, I can use them somewhere: empty parking lots mostly, but also the East Bay Bike Path and the West Side Greenway in Manhattan, along the Henry Hudson. About 18 months ago I started skating the Cape Cod Canal path. On the days I skate I could be the happiest person on earth.

Then I had to test that theory.

An hour or two of skating is bliss. But with a completely open day and no bike to distract me, I took the skates a little further, to the beginning of the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth. It’s a little more than 10 miles each way. And while this would normally elevate me beyond joy, it was work.

This is the sort of scene I remembered from the day we biked the path last summer:

the way I remember the Shining Sea

the reality, a few days after a hurricane’s glancing blow, was a little different:

this time there was a little debris on the ground to slow me down

So, instead of my usual effortless, gliding groove, plugged into my earbuds, I was stumbling, skating like a newbie, worried about falling — for most of 20 miles. Leaves and sticks littered the ground, getting stuck in my wheels. Instead of exhilarating, it was stress-provoking. Sure, the path provides some lovely views, and getting to the (too short) portion along the beach was fantastic, but I had imagined skimming over the pavement in the sun and the reality was quite different. Quit part way? Whaddayatalkinabout?

I pulled at least three trees worth of sticks and leaves out of my wheels that day

On my way back from Woods Hole I was getting really good at the yoga-on-wheels method of lifting my skate to elbow level and yanking debris out of the wheels. Sometimes I wondered if the friction of all that junk in my wheels would make the leaves catch fire. That might have been a fun distraction from my frustration. Seeing a little snake on the pavement was actually a welcome diversion this time. I mused about adding another tool to my car full of gear: a hockey stick with a snow brush taped to the blade, that could be used to clear the path before me. I know, too weird. Oh well.

Then I realized there was still a lot to enjoy about the day. For starters, it was a sunny weekend day and I’ve finally gotten free of the foreboding feeling that somebody’s going to call me in to work. Quit that job, Score 1! Then, there’s this whole new area to explore: beaches outside my door, my paddleboard ready to go anytime the conditions are right, Score 2. The Shining Sea is also a nice alternative to the Canal path, where the wind blows in from the Outer Banks and can stop me dead at times, Score 3.

By Sunday my total skate mileage for the weekend was close to 50, with two rounds on the (windy but debris-free) canal path. Okay, I think I can give them a rest. Taking my bike with me this weekend.


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