My history with rollerblades and rollerblading is both short and filled with injury chat. However over the weekend at the request of my daughter, I strapped on the blades once more and impressed myself by not making a complete hash of things out on the local rink. I stood proud, I rolled just fine.
Boy oh boy am I feeling things today though..
Our limited tale of rollerblades begins in 1995
Or was it 1996? The memory is a little hazy. But it was back when my hair was actually happening, school fare time and the idea of hiring a set of rollerblades and various safety gear for just a lazy five dollar note seemed like a great idea to my mate Mike and I at the time. Let’s scoot around the school grounds on these blades looking like cool bad asses was the general plan, admitting that I’d never tried this before now certainly was not. (Rollerskating yes, blading no. But I hadn’t died on the original skates, so how hard could this be?)
Which is why when it came time to brake, I was completely devoid of any knowledge on how to do so. I know now about the break setup on at least one of your blades and turning your legs outwards slightly to slow your roll but back then I didn’t think of either. Especially on a sloping driveway that terminated into a gutter and some conveniently placed chain link fence.
For the record I jumped the gutter (seemed like the right idea at the time) and splashed across the fence like I was wearing a Velcro suit while hurling myself into a human fly wall at a local carnival. Only there was no padding on this fence, just some unforgiving steel ready to bounce me back down to the hard ground below. Joy. My ribs hurt for days.
When then goes a long way in explaining why I wasn’t so keen to strap on a pair of rollerblades after that. Not even when my best mate Heath at the time decided that was going to be his next big purchase – a pair of top of the line, super slick looking rollerblades.
One day when we decided that skipping school would have been far more predictive than the lazy end of term day the school had planned, we ended up in an actual rollerblading store chatting away with the overexcited sales guy who listed every feature of the new models that went completely over my head. I can’t remember much of the brochure he gave us both but I can recall that the top of the list set of blades would set you back a cool $430, which was 1996 prices. Adjusting for inflation leads it to an eye-watering $842 now which you could buy an unwanted car with (pre-covid madness of course.)
I don’t know how much Heath spent on his in the end but they certainly were cool looking rollerblades that he ended up with. And he seemed pretty confident on them, zooming around easily. Me though? I just knew that it’d be easy to drift a dump truck than it would attempting to make my rollerblading performance look anywhere near capable.
And that was my rollerblades history, summed up in only four paragraphs. Until this year.
Strap on the boots once more
When one child gets invited to a friend’s birthday party and the other does not, there’s always that fun issue of how to keep the other entertained. Thankfully Jack scored an invite to strap on the laser pack and go hunting around the darkened maze of the Zone Laser Tag in North Albury and thankfully the Albury Skating Centre is literally next door. Jackson goes ‘Pew pew pew’, while Sophie gets her skates on. Er…Rollerblades and even better, both their sessions finished at the same time. Excellent.
‘Pew pew pew!’-Jackson at Laser Tag
‘Dad, can you come skating with me?’-Sophie
The last time I was here I hired the kids some skates, bought myself a coffee and then hung out by the sidelines and shouted out encouraging words when they fell over. This time? Soph was insistent I come out on the rink with her and in contention for dad of the year (any year really) I agreed. Trying not to think of fences and emergency jumps over concrete gutters, I hired a pair of rollerblades and got down to business.
And while my initial steps (er…bleps?) were on the newborn deer getting to their feet type of stage, surprisingly my feet didn’t immediately rush up from under me and organise an impromptu meeting between my bum and the floor. Even better, after a couple of tentative laps of the rink, I wasn’t flat out on one side of it. I was up…and staying up!
Not only that, but I was moving without having to reach out to the nearest barrier to propel myself. Yes under the power of my own footwork – are you impressed? I certainly was – check out Al on rollerblades!
Obviously even after a 27 year hiatus from working with any wheels strapped to my feet, I still came to grasp the basics in no time. All those squats I hated over the year, all that leg work, my old strength coach’s insistence to work on my core (Hi Arj!), it seems to have paid off big time in keeping my up and staying up. Something something mighty oak standing tall in the wind something something rollerblades.
Now for the record, I did tumble just the once – playing rollerblade tag with Sophie had her crash into me and down we went. But seconds later, we were at it once again – me having a great time putting distance between us while she cut corners around the rink to try and trap me – good times, I mean just look at this pair of rollerblading loons!
Halfway through the session it dawned on me that at 43 years old, I was the oldest on the rink by a long shot. And rather than feel daggy about it, that amused me to no end – especially the parents watching on after their kids and watching me fly by at a rate of knots instead. I was having fun and undoubtedly fine tuning the dad bod because yes rollerblading is great exercise, Fitocracy tells me so!
(It’s got to be a good exercise too because when I lift heavy things, things hurt. After blading over two hours, my knees were crying and my ankles threatening to explode.)
After a couple of hours we called it quits and walked next door to pick up Jack. He had a ball at the party, Sophie loved every second of skating and once I got past my trepidation, I had a ripper time too. Until the next day of course.
A graduate of Funk U
Now if you’ve never met this gentleman on the left, this is Terry Funk the professional wrestler. He’s had more wrestling matches than I’ve had steak sandwiches (which I love by the way and have consumed many in my time) and makes tough leather look like melted butter in comparison. Sporting an injury list over his lengthy career longer than Barney Gumble’s Nasa calculated bar tab, I can still remember parts of the funniest quote about Terry I ever read, courtesy of the Australian Piledriver magazine. From memory:
‘After so many years in the business and taking so many bumps, Terry Funk is now so bandied legged, when standing still he looks like he’s riding an invisible goat.’
And yesterday I felt like I was riding an invisible animal because everything below my fun parts absolutely caned. Knees, calves, ankles, bones, everything. It hurt to walk, it hurt to stand. Sitting was okay, until it was time to get to my feet again and that’s when it hurt some more. Top speed? Maybe 1kph if I pushed it, which I didn’t because hey, hurt. Thankfully we didn’t have to do much to do family wise on a Sunday so I rested.
And then woke up the next morning feeling all of my forty-three years again. Because this morning the pain has decided that it’d had enough hanging about my lower half and moved upwards, deciding it’s my core’s time to shine. Twist, turn, burp, bow (highly unlikely this one actually) or do anything gut related and you get a reminder that yes, you went rollerblading on Saturday with your daughter. I should be right by tomorrow I think. Or maybe the next day..
Maybe those parents on the side lines figured that out early? A case of ‘I know I’m going to do myself a damage here, I might sit this one out..’ or maybe my own body isn’t as conditioned as I think it is (actually I know the answer to this one, it certainly isn’t!) But I still gave it a crack, I still found my feet and in the end I had a great afternoon out with one of my kids.
And I’ll probably do it again soon – (hey, another exercise option this year isn’t a bad thing is it?) right after things stop hurting and I can walk at normal pace again. Maybe I’ll even look as buff as this bloke if I stick at it?
Wish me luck!