Rollerblading in College

In college, I got around campus using rollerblades.

I know, I have a hard time believing it too. But, it is true.

Luckily, I had spent the previous winter playing pond hockey. I was able to stand up and move around a little (looking uncoordinated and awkward, of course).

By the end of my college career, I was comfortable getting around on roller blades. Yet, I did manage to get myself into trouble a couple of times.

All in all, I found rollerblading to be an enjoyable activity and an efficient means of transportation. Thanks for reading.

What?

Oh, you wanted to laugh at my expense again?

Fine. Jerk…

The first night that I got my rollerblades, I decided to immediately test them out. At 10PM the river flats on the University of Minnesota campus are dark.

No one will see me looking like an idiot.

A paved bike path circles a grassy area, like a track.

No cars or people. Perfect.

The perfect place for me to practice and get comfortable. I strapped in and started making my way for the river flats. It was a quiet, humid September evening. The breeze hinted that fall was just around the corner. I realized that in my haste to try out my new mode of transportation that I forgot one crucial detail… There are only two ways down to the river flats-

1. Down about 150 steps (not ideal for rollerblades).

2. Down an extremely steep hill (not ideal for me on rollerblades).

Since I was a whole two blocks from my dorm, I was obviously at the point of no return. I eased over the crest of the hill. Gaining speed as panic set in. I moved my right foot forward. Pointing my toes upward, I applied  the brand new rubber brake to the concrete sidewalk below me.

UUUUURRRRRRHHHHHHH — EEEEEEEHHHHHEEEEHHHH

The sound seemed to echo off of every building as a warning that an out of control moron was making his way down the hill. The brake did enough to slow me down so that I could grab on to the next sign post to stop my self. Thus began my new strategy for making it down the hill. I slammed into every sign post and street lamp down the hill. Luckily, it worked and I made it down safely.

The rough bike path made my eyeballs vibrate, it’s safe to say that it wasn’t a smooth ride. I became more comfortable and started to pick up speed. Rounding the first corner gaining speed, I envisioned myself as a speed skater. With the corner completed in the darkest part of the flats near woods at the base of the hill, I pushed harder to pick up speed. There were no light posts. I was able to see about five feet in front of me. Not being able to see didn’t much matter since it was a straight shot back to where I started. Or so I thought.

With out warning I was falling head first.

My wheels stopped rolling as they hit a sandy, rocky mixture that was covering twenty feet of bike path. I slid to a stop, bracing myself with my hands and right shin. Grabbing my leg, I feel the wet mixture of blood and dirt. My hands pulse with pain as I push myself up of the ground while working to keep my balance.

Assessing the damage, I realize that nothing is seriously hurt. I rub my hands together to clean of the rocks that have nestled in my skin. I begin to walk through the rest of the gravel until I reach the path and start rolling again. I make my way to the next street lamp so that I can actually see the damage. My shin is covered in dirt and blood.

God dammit.

I need to get back to my dorm to clean myself up. This is when I look up the hill I had just recently descended.

I don’t know if you have ever attempted to rollerblade up a steep hill, but I can assure you that it is not fun. Flailing and working hard to gain three feet with each stride. I made it a quarter of the way before I decided that the best solution was take off my rollerblades. I would walk the rest of the way home in my socks covered in sweat, dirt and blood.

I spent the rest of the evening trying to stop the bleeding. My first aid kit consisted of paper towels and band aids made out of toilet paper and scotch tape.

My rollerblading career had begun and various debacles were yet to come.

Like the time that I needed to get to the St. Paul campus and decided to rollerblade on the University of Minnesota Transitway. Only to find out that it was really only for buses (buses I should have been on). Got lost. And, when I finally made it to the library, I was a sweaty mess.

Or, the time my rollerblade wheels got stuck in a crack in the side walk and I launched myself into the street in front of a bus full of students.

Or, the many times that I would be standing on the corner waiting for the light to change when I would lose my balance and start flailing and kicking, ultimately falling on my ass.

Or, the many times I would show up to a lecture only to realize that I forgot my shoes. Then, would have to walk through the building to class in my socks.

I really didn’t make things easy on myself.

I wish I would have bought a bike. And, by that I mean, I wish my parents would have bought me a bike.

Cheers.

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