A Guide to Rollerblading in Denver

“You could even be a rollerblading unicorn.” – Dan Howell

Last summer, in 2016, I made a lot of changes in my life – intentionally.

I moved to a neighborhood where I knew I could walk to get ice cream (one of life’s essentials), where I could be closer to work, and namely, where I could be near the happenings of Denver. I also tried a new team sport, rugby, and joined a new church, too. I made these decisions and changes because I was in a season of deep knowing that if I was going to live the life I wanted, I had to move toward it. It was my responsibility, I recognized, to articulate and pursue what I desired, and that I could absolutely trust God to do the rest. Being brave in the thick of unknowns is one of the most devoted acts of faith, I think.

So, I did these things and, most importantly, bought my first pair of rollerblades since I was, like, 10. Sports Authority had filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and was going out of business. Thus, they had incredible sales and deals that you wouldn’t have been able to find elsewhere. While perusing the store, my mom and stumbled upon a really nice pair of blades – knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards – all for $70. It was a steal.

I had started dreaming about rollerblading again when, while in Rwanda, I stopped at a rural bus stop and saw a gentleman energetically serving cool fruit juices in a blue tub, while on blades. I smiled, gasped, and knew then that yes! I wanted to blade again. When I was young, I played roller hockey with my brother and friends any opportunity I could get. Rollerblading had made me feel strong and free, and I knew that I wanted this again.

So, for the last 1 ½ years, I have been cruising around Denver in my gear, happily and enthusiastically rollerblading. Chelsea has joined me a lot this last year, and it has been a joy to share the experience with her. Rollerblading is amazing for a lot of reasons. It’s refreshing. It’s fun. And, it works nearly every muscle of your body. It is a kind of sport that challenges the parts of your body to be in perfect synchronization with one another.

If you also are intrigued about the idea of suiting up in blades and helmets, here’s a quick overview of what you need to know.

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  1. Get a reliable pair of rollerblade It is essential to identify what exactly you want the blades for because there are better blades for racing, for indoor skating, and for recreational use. This link has exceptional recommendations. For me, I knew that I wanted to skate outdoors (no racing) so I could simply enjoy the views and have an alternative way of getting exercise. For this purpose, K2 has proven to be an excellent brand of skates.
  2. Before committing to a long ride, practice! If you haven’t skated in a while, you will feel a bit strange and a whole lot of awkward on your skates. Definitely try to get comfortable with your skates before heading over to a park and showing off your skills.
  3. For the love, wear safety gear. This should be self-explanatory, but PLEASE wear a helmet. I often to see bladers cruising along in jean shorts, with their hair down, and with no helmet. Sometimes they even have a boombox on their shoulder (and no, it’s not 1992). This gives me the heebie-jeebies. Blading can be dangerous because at times, there are unidentified objects in the road (like twigs) that you can trip over and land face first. Be safe. Wear a helmet.
  4. Scope out good routes. Denver has a good selection of recreational paths for rollerblading. Without question, my go-to-choice is Washington Park. The inner loop is 2.1 miles, all with relatively good pavement. There are sections where the cement and asphalt is particularly “groovy” (and not in a good way) so that causes some extra strain on your feet. Washington Park has also recently redesigned the paths (don’t get me started) so it can be kind of confusing where the lanes go. The big rule of thumb: pedestrians have the right of way. You should always blade closer to the right, only passing on the left when necessary. Other great routes include Sloan’s Lake and the Cherry Creek Trail. City Park looks like a viable option, but I would be a bit hesitant for the lack of connection of some of the pavement. I would walk any route first, before committing to rollerblade on it. This gives you a better sense of the terrain.
  5. Bring water (and snacks). Blading works your legs (like woah). Make sure you stay energized and hydrated to keep your body strong while on the trail.
  6. Dont listen to music while on skates. I used to listen to my podcasts and blade at the same time. However, I’ve almost been hit by cyclists because I couldn’t hear the background noises of what was happening around me. So, this is a good safety measure that ensures you are aware of all that is passing by you.
  7. Keep your blades in your car with all of your other gear. You never know when you might want to go blading. I keep my stuff in a large bag in my trunk so that if it happens to be a gorgeous day and I’m driving by the park, I have the option to blade. This is also nice so you don’t always have to move your blades in and out of your house.

Have fun with your skates, the sunshine, and the invigorating experience of blading in Denver.

Enjoy the ride.

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Practicing Commitment

A true free spirit, I’m addicted to possibility.

As an ENFP – which if you happen to be a nerd for Myers-Briggs Personalities –  curiosity, enthusiasm, exploration, and relationships largely shape the way I act in the world. ENFP types echo life as a “dreamer”; much like sentiments found in this beautiful piece of poetry:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer
This is all really great stuff. And, I’m glad I’ve turned out the way I am. However, constant curiosity can create points of dissension in life, namely practicing what it means to commit – both in big and small aspects of life. 
Frequently, I find myself thinking of nearly 1,000 different directions I could take – and that’s even before I’ve chosen what I’m going to eat for breakfast. Rarely do my days look the same; I pile on interesting opportunity after interesting opportunity, only to find myself exhausted by weeks-end. What happens, when you are in the thick of options, choice, and never-ending wonder, is the lack of grit for commitment. Boundless options actually create paralysis, and I am only learning this now at the ripe age of 27.
And so, I’ve been praying a lot these days, about what it practically, tangibly looks like to commit in my life. It doesn’t mean I’m a wonder kill-joy. Of course not.
Remain curious, remain excited about the endless openings of life, but also, find roots.  

 

I want to “love the hell out of everybody.” I desperately want to feel “liberated and free.” And, like John Lewis talks about, I want to see “the spark of the divine” in everyone. My curiosity will open these paths; but it will be my commitment to the life in front of me that will build the kind of relationships that necessitate community.

This requires a hell of a lot of practice.

It means that my “yes” must mean “yes” and my “no” must mean “no.” It means that if sleep is important to me, I should aim for 7, maybe 8 hours (not 4 or 5). It means that I know my limits. Commitment, means living right where you are. I have dreams. Dream them. I have a beautiful past. Remember them. But, what God is teaching me now, more than ever, is that part of welcoming new seasons is the striving to commit to what they have to teach you, presently.

And so, to also instill a new kind of drive to commit, I recently joined a rugby team.

I have a blank, white slate to learn something new.

Unlike a new endeavor that I’m doing just for the heck of it, I am on the rugby team because it’s something I can tangibly work towards. It brings opportunity for goals – and the striving for achieving them.

I have practices each and every week – all of which that will test my physical, mental, and emotional endurance. I have team-members that I can learn from. I have regularity – a schedule that I know I can depend on.

I rest somewhere between the zest of being a student of something new, and the longevity of seeing hard work come to fruition.

I read in an old journal recently (from when I was around 8 years of age) about my dreams to join the NFL. Rugby is no NFL, but it is bad-ass. It is hard. The women that I am playing with are immensely impressive and I have a lot to learn.

So, I feel beautifully content that I’m still following old, planted dreams, with a newfound balance of curiosity and commitment to the endeavors I take on. I don’t have to grasp at all the tassels of life that present themselves.

Instead, I can know myself intimately, celebrate who I am, and commit to living the life I have wanted to live.

I am committed to being me. And really, there is no greater feeling.

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Post-first-ever rugby scrimmage at Infinity Park in Glendale.