Rollerblading Tips for Vancouver
Welcome to “Blading Vancouver,” the first edition of inline skating tips from Lorne Milne, blading instructor and coordinator of the local volunteer “Inline Skate Patrol”.
“Rollerblading Vancouver” – part 1
beginner areas | intermediate areas | advanced areas
route map of downtown | check out part 2
Vancouver is one of the best (and most beautiful) places in North America to blade! With miles of seawalls, existing bike/skate paths (due to a history of friendliness to bicycles) and varied terrain (due to mountainous hillsides and winding trails around ocean bays and harbours) there is lots of variety for the skating and the views!
There is a great range of places to skate that are suitable for beginners to experts, so keep an eye on future instalments as we update you with info on events and other places to skate.
First things first…you need to start in a safe flat area (yes, you should take a few hours of lessons and should wear all your safety gear including wrist pads, elbow pads, knee pads, helmet and at least one brake).
There are several popular areas to learn:
Sunset Beach Parking Lot, English Bay: Sunset Beach is nestled between the Aquatic Centre (under the Burrard St Bridge) and the lifeguard shack to the North-West of the Aquatic Centre. This parking lot has been probably the premiere location for blading in Vancouver for the past four years. Many people learn here, there is a newly established roller-hockey rink on the South-East side of the lot and Thursday nights have traditionally (for 3 years) been the free drop-in night to come ride through slalom cones, watch the local stunt team members do their tricks on their grind rails and have free demo’s on new skates from various skate companies.
UBC Parking Lot B: This is probably one of the largest and most open areas to learn in the lower mainland. It is situated to the South-West of UBC Health Sciences Hospital and on the weekends there are very few cars parked there!
UBC Rose Garden Parkade: (Bottom floor-2 floors down). UBC has been extremely gracious by not objecting to people blading down on the bottom floor on rainy days. The bottom floor is virtually car-free, clean a constant temperature, large and well-lit.
Wherever you blade, you do so under your own liability and it is your responsibility to avoid accidents and to skate safely. It is vital that we avoid the American mentality of scatter-gun lawsuits to anyone who had the remotest connection to an accident, so that some bozo can try to make a windfall due to their own irresponsibility!! Even though it is unlikely that they could win, the hassle and legal costs are enough for a location to ban blading (which we never want to see!). Presently there are bans on the seawall in West Vancouver, the Boardwalk and Marine Drive in White Rock, the Downtown core in Victoria and the downtown core in Portland Oregon. Locally the Volunteer Skate Patrol has done a huge amount of work to promote safe skating and avoid bans in places like Stanley Park, Seymour Demonstration Forest and UBC.
In future instalments we will give more details on intermediate blading routes such as:
The path under the Skytrain to New Westminster blade trail in Port Moody from Rocky Point to Ioco
The road on the North side of the Richmond Airport heading to Iona Island
Tug Boat Landing (in South-East Vancouver on the Fraser River)
Sunset Beach to Science World
The bike/skate path on the North side of the Burnaby Golf Course
The bike/skate path around the perimeter of UBC
Day trips to intermediate skate routes in Seattle (such as Green Lake and Alki Beach)
We’ll also expand on these in future installments.
Whistler: Although most of the skate paths at Whistler are only intermediate, due to the narrowness and occasional black diamond steepness on a few hills this has to be considered a potentially advanced area.
Seymour Demonstration Forest: The Demonstration Forest is definitely advanced intermediate to expert with blue square difficulty to black diamond to double and triple black diamond hills!
The Autumn Skating Scene
November and December are upon us – the skies have opened up on us and the rains have been falling, not to mention that the sun has been going down earlier…a lot of folks are putting their blades away. Wait! Hold onto those skates and don’t take them down to the storage just yet!! There are still plenty of places to ride!
Oh how we miss those Vancouver blue-sky days…
There’s heaps of spots to get out to, even on iffy days.
On those ‘Less-sun-than-we’d-like’ kind of days plus those more frequent ‘Silvery-gray-but-dry-asphalt’ days, get on out!! Seymour Demonstration Forest still has some good skating if it’s been sunny and dry all morning….so some afternoon striding can be fun.
**Remember: this is an intermediate to advanced blading area in the best of weather, and some wet surfaces only add another level or two of difficulty!!**
Stanley Park often gets wet and stays wet (and muddy on the west side from Lion’s Gate Bridge to 2nd Beach), so pick your entry from Coal Harbour through to Lumberman’s Arch. You’ll probably want to wisely cut from The Arch through the Zoo and over the concrete ‘overpass’ bridge (near the Rowing Club) and then back to Coal Harbour.
**Watch out for wet leaves!! They can be like ball bearings (you don’t want to pull a groin muscle from slipping out on a leaf!) Also, the Skate Patrol are not out (after October 15 th) to help you if you get into trouble.**
Leaf-free False Creek (north shore side) is one of your best bets on a dry day. This area drains and dries fastest after a rain. This is where you’re more likely to see the regulars and die-hards!!
Blading under the Burrard Street Bridge (north end). Well, as the summer came to a close, the city finally completed the construction under the bridge. The cones are back up (they are there 24 hours a day), so you can practice your slalom and hill skills. If it does start to sprinkle outside, this spot will stay dry long enough for you to get a good skate in.
The Rose Garden Parkade at UBC gets 10-toes-up for it’s superb blading possibilities!! Drive your car in and go 2 floors down. This is the very best place to blade on a rainy day. It’s dry, warm and bright with a beautifully smooth surface. It’s bigger than any roller-rink and UBC security are excellent towards in-line skaters. Very few cars park down there, so there are no oil spots, muddy car tracks or dripping water!!
**Remember: when you’re in someone’s parkade, be extremely gracious and appreciating to the security people. There are too many in town who have banned bladers, so it is very important that we maintain our relationship with these supportive people!**
Lower Mainland hot spots
The Stardust Roller-Rink in Surrey: Most people have forgotten about the existence of the last roller-rink in the Lower Mainland. About 50% of the skaters there are on blades while the rest are on ‘roller-skates’ (now called ‘Quads’ in the California skate scene where rollerskating never did die off!!). A bonus feature about the Stardust is that it’s on the Skytrain route and is literally across the street from the station (so you can jump on downtown and have a relaxing ride out to skate under the glitter ball, the quasi-psychedelic nite club lites and to ‘get-down’ to contemporary tunes).
Blading Ladner: There are days when the roads have not quite dried up in Vancouver yet, but it’s been sunny for a few hours in Ladner already (they get almost half as much rain in Ladner, Tsawassen and White Rock as they do on the North Shore and Deep Cove). Take a look up to the sky and see where the clouds lie!! A trip south to these locations may be a good call for some outside skating…
Blading South – way south to San Francisco
Over the Halloween weekend, I took a blading party of devoted skate patrollers and blade instructors down to the hottest skate scene in North America!! It was my 4 th trip there and I plan to do more!
David Miles (a fellow International Inline Skating Association certified instructor) has organized the famous ‘Midnight Roll’ through the streets of San Fran…Every Friday night of the year, 400 to 700 bladers meet on the Embarcadero Drive at the Ferry Building (near Fisherman’s Wharf) and skate through the wharf area, down through the Marina district, Chinatown, the Business district, the Niteclub area and finally back to the parking lot for a dance on blades. The first half of this midnight marathon is definitely ‘do-able’ for intermediates, so give it a go! Be sure to wear your flashing lights and buy some night-light-sticks from the organizers so everyone can see you coming.
The Volunteer Skate Patrol are out directing traffic and doing a great job on the midnight skate (a great group, but Vancouver still has the largest Skate Patrol in the world!). It may be a good idea to take a ‘street-skating’ lesson before you go…
The Sunday Skate in Golden Gate Park attracts thousands of bladers every weekend, all year long. You’ve got to check this out and especially the roller-dancers at the 6 th Street skate-dance area, as they do some truly amazing moves and tricks to a variety of hip-hop and dance music. There was hot skating and the temperature hit 84 degrees the day we were there. David Miles also organizes this event and the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association (CORA). He’s on the web (www.cora.org). Folks, David Miles is an impressive skater and is the charismatic guru of skating on the West Coast of North America…I guarantee that you’ll be impressed by what he has organized…he even has a weekly TV show called “Skatin’ Place”.
Dry-Land Ski Training on Blades
Since September, I’ve been giving heaps of blading lessons to skaters who also want to improve their skiing skills. An in-line skate instructor who is also certified in ski instruction can get you out there with your ski poles (with duct tape over the spiked tips), working on your body position , pole planting, edging skills and general finesse.
We use different grades (depending on your skill levels or what areas you are working on) and set the cones up for slalom courses or mogul-styled turns. These skills directly transfer over and there simply is no other dry-land training ski-fitness preparation that so closely benefits your skiing! Personally, I cross-train this way all through the winter season while also keeping busy teaching and snowboarding!!
Our future Autumn & Winter plans
Vancouver is geographically one of the best – if not THE best- place to skate on the West Coast of North America in terms of long seawalls, varied flat and steep terrain and interesting views. Of some of the other ‘hot spots’ I’ve skated in North America – Washington, Oregon, California, Mexico and Miami South Beach – Vancouver outranks many of these places in terms of challenging skates. We do need to continue to expand our events and types of blading, however, as we have no dance scenes or in-lines skate parks for example.
Brian Larsen (my fellow Skate Patrol Coordinator and in-line skate instructor) and I have been meeting with some local government officials, in-line skate shops and hot skaters to discuss the need for an in-line skate park under cover. Bladers need an area with a snake bowl like Griffin Skateboard Park (near Westwood Plaza in North Vancouver) that lends itself to the beginner blade rider and the advanced rider. A new blade park also needs: beginner routes (a low rise and a long run) to allow learning; a wave bank for learning to do 180 degree turns on different grades; a 2ft halfpipe for learning bladers, a 4ft for intermediate and 6ft for advanced bladers. We’d love to also see a lengthy slope for cones and a perimeter loop for mileage skating. The International In-Line skate Association (IISA) provides plans and support information for blade parks.
And now…there is a perfect location in existence! Under the north end of the Burrard Bridge (on city-owned land) there is a lot of dry space and a natural slope. If you are interested in providing some sponsorship, donations or other form of support to this project, please contact me at the numbers provided in my profile below.
ABOUT LORNE MILNE
Lorne is a blading instructor (certified Level 1 and 2 with the IISA, the International Inline Skating Association) and also co-ordinates the local volunteer Skate Patrols with fellow coordinator and instructor Brian Larsen. In addition to general in-line and street skating skills, Lorne also specializes in hill skills, utilizing his background as a level 1 and 2 ski instructor and snowboard instructor, all of which he teaches through the ‘Lorne Milne Blade, Board and Ski School.’
If you are interested in becoming a member of the National Skate Patrol (a branch of the IISA) or are interested in taking beginner or advanced lessons call Lorne at (604) 708-1055, on his cellular at 805-4810 or he can be reached by fax at 708-1062.
The above information remains the personal opinion of our guest writer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of englishbay.com.