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1) Speed is your friend! The faster you go, the more easily you can roll over things in your path. My mom is a little scared of skating outdoors. We tried out her new skates the other day, and her technique involved spotting a crack 5 feet away, slowing down to a near stop, panicking when the crack did stop her, and then very carefully picking up her foot to step over the crack. "That could've killed me if I was going faster!" she said. And then I roll at a steady pace at the crack and go right over without a bump. Much easier! On the other hand...

2) Control your speed. Even a slight grade can get you going fast enough that you won't be able to stop, if you're a beginner. Plow stops and t-stops don't seem to work very well on inclines. I wouldn't advise anybody to skate even the littlest hill until they can slalom and turn-around toe-stop REALLY well, and at speed. There are a lot of videos on YouTube about skating downhill that have helped me. But even the best skater can still get out of control, and that's when...

3) Knee pads, wrist guards, and a helmet are VITAL!

4) Constant vigilance! I think outdoor skating has helped my roller derby playing, because it forces you to pay attention to what is going around you, especially when you are skating on the sidewalks/street. You have to watch for traffic, broken pavement, cracks, weeds, surface changes, curbs, pedestrians, skateboarders, bicyclists and so on. Watch what the surface looks like a few feet ahead of you. Don't get distracted by idiots yelling out their car windows or you'll really give them something to laugh at when you trip over a patch of gravel.

5) YOU CAN'T SKATE OVER GRAVEL! You may look at #1 and think, well, if I get up enough speed, and it's a small area, isn't it just like rolling over a bunch of pebbles? NO IT IS NOT. I have no idea why, but gravel is not just a bunch of tiny pebbles added together. It is a skater's KRYPTONITE. I tried to skate over a little patch of very very shalllow and light gravel yesterday, at a pretty good clip, and I swear the instant I hit it, WHAM. I'm glad I was able to aim for the grass next to the sidewalk. Still, OW. My general rule is to come to a complete stop and pick my way across on my toe stops. I can't even duck walk across gravel!

6) Get good wheels! I love my Kryptonics Route 70's. I've also used a Canadian wheel from RollerGirl.ca called the Blue Demon, but I'm not sure they're made anymore. Great wheels.

7) When coming up to a large crack in the sidewalk, put your weight on your back wheels. I'll help you roll over easier.

8) GET LOW. Especially when transitioning to a new surface, lower your center of gravity as much as you can. When the sidewalk changes from concrete to cobblestone, my butt is practically on the ground I'm so low. This will help you keep your balance and momentum even when the new surface feels like it's grabbing at your wheels and yanking you back. If you do fall, you'll fall a shorter distance, and probably on your knees instead of your head. It's such a simple thing, and it'll save you from a faceplant every time.

9) Have fun! Even when it's kind of scary, sidewalk and street skating are really fun. My favorite things are hopping over curbs, going up and down ramps, swinging around lampposts, getting nice comments from passersby, and slaloming down long hills with nice wide sidewalks. Ramps are the very best, though!!


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