Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Skating Along the Vltava

There is an excellent multi-purpose path along the Vltava near my building. Last fall, I noted that it was suitable for biking and skating and that it was definitely used for these activities. However, I supposed I would mainly be here when the weather was inappropriate for such things.
Recently, though, I got word that I have funding for next year, of a sort that doesn’t require teaching. It looks pretty certain that I can spend more time in Prague being at one with the archive and library furniture. This exciting news, along with the increasing greenery, caused me to vow that I would finally, after something like 13 years of contemplation, get inline skates.
Last weekend, Megan and I managed to get to Kotva to look at skates and camping supplies. The skates confused us but the cheap sleeping bags impressed us. I decided I had better do some research on skates before buying, especially since the transaction would be in Czech.
Online research caused me to feel that rollerblade purchase would be an overwhelming task. On the other hand, Dawn was reassuring about the whole thing. On Sunday I located a store with skates in the window, but of course it was closed, as it also was on Monday. Today, after putting in some time at both archive and library, I decided it was impossible to concentrate when I could be looking at skates. I proceeded to the store (which also sells skis and tennis gear) and confessed that I was interested in skates but was a complete beginner.
The staff proceeded in an admirable fashion. Rather than try to persuade me into the high-end models, salesman number 1 observed that one of Salomon’s less-expensive models was very suitable for beginners. I examined it, thought it looked appropriate from what little I knew, and requested to try them. We discussed whether I should go with my shoe size or a larger size, and whether I should try them with thinner or thicker socks.
Salesman number 2, who looked all of fifteen, then assisted me with trying them on. He was very patient with my slow-witted behavior, which was not linguistically based but related to an inability to figure out things like Velcro straps and how to get my hand into the wrist guard. He appeared to grasp that while my remarks were made in broken Czech (how often do I talk about how anything fits?), I understood his instructions better than I could figure out that the letter L on something meant Left. I like to think that I was suffering the effects of insufficient lunch, although I did devour some fried cauliflower and mashed potatoes in the early afternoon.
Most importantly, however, the skates felt like the right size, the price was about what I expected to pay, and I knew that Salomon was not a fly-by-night skatemaker. I bought them.
As soon as I got home, naturally, I put them on and set about learning how to use them. The path was filled with skaters and bikers, as well as the occasional pedestrian. Everyone looked much more skillful. On the other hand, I have done my share of rollerskating (with skate key around my neck), and I can iceskate respectably, so before long I was moving right along. I would not say it is quite as exhilarating as skiing, but it is very enjoyable. I skated south to somewhere in Braník, then north to Vyšehrad, and returned home. All right, I did fall a couple of times on inclines, the first time quite dramatically (I had to crawl downhill toward my glasses), but the protective gear did its job amazingly well. After sliding down the asphalt a few feet, I was sure I must have skinned my elbow through the protector, but actually I only sweated heavily. In about 30 seconds I was skating away. It was a quicker escape than when I fall skiing, but snow is much nicer to fall on. Had I not been wearing long pants, I’m sure there would have been some abrasions.
If we have more nice weather like today, it could be hard to keep me indoors. Besides, I have to get in shape for a different form of exercise. Spring is also biking season.

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Blogger Julia said...

Sounds fabulous! How are the sidewalks in terms of smoothness? (I'm such a clutz that road roughness trips me up often).

May 04, 2006 9:32 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

Actually most of the path is fairly smooth asphalt. There are some rough patches here and there, but not too bad, and many are avoidable. I did cross one cobblestone street, which was more of a walking than skating matter. Have you got skates? I'm planning to go again tonight.

May 04, 2006 10:06 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

I've got skates! I bought them right before Caroline came along, so have only had a few chances to try them out, but would really like to give them a try again soon.

May 04, 2006 5:37 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I'm impressed!

May 04, 2006 7:57 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I'm not dead yet after two days of skating. Julia, we could probably go sometime next week, depending on our weird schedules.

May 04, 2006 8:41 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Sounds great, I'm in!

May 04, 2006 11:05 PM  

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