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Another newbie here - need advice on skating on quads, especially outdoors

Hi!  I'm brand new here.  I found this site by doing a search on Yahoo for skating advice.

I'm 35 years old, and getting back into skating after 25 years.  For the most part, I use quads (indoors and outdoors), although I've tried inlines as well.  There's a couple of issues I'm concerned with, and hopefully someone can give me some insight and advice:

1.)  When I skate indoors (rinks), it often takes me 10-15 minutes to "get my legs" - I start out really stiff and rigid and really unstable, and only seem to skate better after trudging along for a few laps, sitting down to rest, and getting back up after a few minutes.  This has been happening every time I skate indoors, regardless of how I feel or how long it's been since I've last skated.  Is this normal for beginners, or near-beginners?  Is there anything I can do to increase my odds of being able to get into the swing of things right away instead of having this weird spell?  It's quite frustrating to think you're getting better, but then you step onto the rink and feel like you're starting all over again.

2.)  I really struggle with outdoor skating.  It seems to take a LOT more effort and energy to skate on asphalt or sidewalks than it does on a rink floor, which is most likely because a rink floor is slicker and therefore doesn't require as much energy to glide.  My BF loves to skate outdoors, and I would really like to get better at it so we can skate together instead of being stuck at the rinks all the time.  Why is outdoor skating so much harder than indoor skating?  My legs "lock up" and I become really tired after just a few minutes of it.  I know that some wheels are better suited to outdoor skating than others, and I've tried two different types of wheels - rock-hard wheels and a slightly softer wheel (sorry, don't know the exact specs).  Neither seemed to make a difference.  Are there exercises I can do to build up my legs and endurance so outdoor skating is easier?

 Thanks for your help!!


roadskater's picture

More thoughts on Indoor and Outdoor Skating

Hi and thanks for joining and asking! I hope you'll want to talk with us more along the way and that you'll teach us what you learn and share it with the world. I skated indoors on quads in the 70s when you were not yet in kindergarten I guess, but it was not an athletic event for me. Rather, it was a fun place to go hang out with other kids and goof around in the unfortunate age of disco. It's much better looking back at disco than it was living through it, in my view. Anyway, I don't even count that as having skated a lot of times when I think about it. As for showing up cold, I guess warming up is a thought. I'm notoriously bad about that, but I think being stiff, awkward, and even dazed at times is fairly normal when going from nothing to pretty fast skating like can happen indoors especially. You might try a warm up run or some brief stretching (something I'd almost never do I admit) or even skate the session before speed practice if there is one. As long as you feel healthy in general, I'd say this feeling is natural, but I agree also that if you were to skate 4 or 5 days a week you might settle in more quickly. I still think this is partly just a warming up issue. I am always afraid to warm up because I'm usually so out of shape I'm afraid I'll burn up too much of what little I have on the warm up! Regarding outdoor quads, I hope we can get Mark and Tom to reply and maybe even one of the Carolina Roller Girls could pitch in if they see this. A few years ago one of the CRG skaters did the first day (45 miles) in quad skates in the rolling hills of piedmont North Carolina! It seemed like a huge feat to us inliners. Part of it was wheels size, as quad wheels are much smaller in diameter, and some of it has to do with the trucks on quads I think (I know almost nothing about that part). But wheel diameter is a huge deal with respect to road smoothness. Rocks that are significant to quad skaters would be not so important to an inline skater with scooter-sized 100mm wheels for example. When we hit gatorback, it's the ones with larger wheels and slightly softer compounds that do best. So i think your quads may have the worst of both: hard, non-rebounding, smaller diameter rocks. I don't know without seeing them of course, and better yet, trying them. But in inline skating, going from 80mm to 84mm wheels makes a bit of difference, and going to 100mm wheels makes an even bigger difference, regarding rough pavement, cracks, train tracks, and so on. Once you get the wheels up to speed, most seem to think these wheels have better momentum. I've had some times going up hills that I was not sure it was better with bigger wheels, but that could be due to different training. Longer inline frames are generally more stable at high speeds downhill, so 5x84s have been my favorite for that. (A lot of this is repeated from other comments, but OK, most haven't read those probably!) Regarding durometer or hardness of wheels, most think that the heavier you are the higher durometer rating you should choose. As timv pointed out, you should also tend to a lower duromter on rough surfaces too. In the Hyper Hyperformance+G when I was using 80mm then later 84mm wheels, I think they made and 82a and an 85a hardness. I was usually able to use the 85a as I'm somewhat heavy (somewhat!), but on a very long day with gatorback possibilities, 82a was a good choice. A lighter person would probably consider 82a first, except perhaps for a shorter (26 mile or shorter) race on almost all good pavement. So we admire you if you keep up the quad skating outdoors, but we all switched over at some point and don't think we'd go back, as inlines do present some advantages, especially as they develop the boots and frames and wheels over the years. I think K2 is a predictably good brand of skates (Rollerblade has some nice models but they used to, at least, make some heavy clunker models too). K2s rec/fitness skates with 90mm or 100mm wheels can probably be found at good prices on eBay and at some inline vendors, and even at Sports Authority I've seen some good prices. Look for longer frame and bigger wheels if you want to skate mostly straight or roadskating type turns, and a shorter frame with smaller wheels if you'd like to do twirls or figure skating type carves, and tiny wheels with a grind plate if you want to do tricks on rails and stairs (of course only those you own and all that). I hope this helps somehow. Oh yes. Getting out there 4 or more days a week helps with every problem you can have in skating just about except for buying wheels, and learning to use a brake even on speedskates (with an add-on brake assembly) saves a ton of money on wheels. Did I miss anything or are there other questions or things you can teach us? Please tell us your experience comparing outdoor and indoor quad versus inline skating. Thanks for joining and posting!
eebee's picture

Skating Outdoors

Hi and welcome! Glad you're getting back into skating. To be honest, I don't remember what it's like to skate on quads, outdoors or in. Regarding finding your skate legs at the beginning of each session - how often do you skate? In my non-quad opinion (so it might be wrong!), maybe it would take you less time to get into the swing of things, if you aimed at skating 4-5 times a week. When I first started on inlines, I was given a training schedule by my instructor, which may not have been Olympic standard or anything, but it got me out there several times a week, doing drills in a local parking lot. Having a schedule written out helped me not to bite off more than I could chew, and let me focus on a half-hour or 45 mins at a time. So I was able to increase my distance (and therefore time on skates) to 10 miles in two months. But as Timv pointed out, there may be better wheels suited for outdoor skating on quads, as there are on inlines. Let us know how it goes and if you decide to make the change to inlines :-) Does your boyfriend skate on quads or inlines? Do you have any idea why he may not be having the same problems as you outdoors? It may be worth me mentioning that I find indoor skating so much harder than outdoor skating, because I've only ever done outdoor.
timv's picture

My attempt at giving advice

First of all, hi Cuteskater72 and welcome to the site!

For your first question, it's been a while since I was a beginner but what you describe doesn't sound unusual to me. Being able to make a quick transition to being comfortable on skates probably is mostly about experience, about getting the muscle and nerve patterns that you use for balance ingrained so deeply that they're there and ready to go as soon as you get up and start rolling. I'd say that some of that comes from skating often so that the physical memories are fresh from the last time you skated, and some of that just comes with the simple passing of time.

The latter of those is a point that I try to make a lot to beginners. Getting your legs to the point where all of this is second nature really is a kind of a growth process, and while it takes practice to develop it, growth also takes time. (And if you were born in 1972 as your handle implies, then I don't need to tell you that it won't come quite as quickly as it did when you were, say, half your current age. And I say that as someone a decade older yet!) But making progress on those kinds of things, on being immediately comfortable on my skates and being able to recover from stumbles over rocks and sticks and other near-falls outdoors, was something that I remember improving from year to year, and being especially surprised when I got better even after taking a couple of months off from skating. It seemed to come from time passing even more than from practicing.

For your second question, I think that wheel hardness could definitely be an issue. The usual indoor wheels are rated (for inline at least, which is what I know) at 90 or 92 durometer hardness. Outdoor wheels are usually in the range of 80 to 85 durometer, which is a pretty big difference. Particularly if the pavement is bumpy, the way old blacktop gets (we usually call that "gatorback") even an 80 versus an 85 wheel can make a big difference in how well the wheel rolls and how hard it is to skate. Some wheels roll better than others for reason other than hardness, but in general softer wheels do better on rough pavement and somewhat harder wheels roll better on smooth pavement, and indoor wheels are harder yet because rinks are smoother yet.

So I'd say (1) check your wheels and think about getting some outdoor wheels if yours are too hard, or even think about having two pairs of skates, one set up for indoors and one for outdoors, if you're going to be going back and forth a lot, and (2) look around for some smoother pavement--it makes a huge difference! Outdoor skating will usually be a little harder than indoors, particularly if the pavement isn't quite perfect and also if you aren't used to dealing with hills, but it shouldn't feel impossible.

Hope this helps, and good luck with your skating!

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