Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WANDERLUST: Rolling in the Valley

Posted By on Wed, May 11, 2011 at 10:13 AM

What are the first things that come to mind when you think about rollerskating? Maybe disco lights and those brown leather boots with the orange stoppers. Feathered hair and Fleetwood Mac. The way your palms used to sweat in middle school at the mere prospect of a couples skate.

Rollerskating might seem like it has passed its '70s prime. But the surprising truth is that the sport is enjoying a new surge in popularity. Roller derby has brought hipsters to the scene in droves, baby-boomers are returning to rinks as a low-impact way to stay in shape (especially during colder, winter months), and young people are doing tricks as if that oval wooden floor were a terrain park.

Perhaps we had just forgotten what Californians on boardwalks have known for years — that skating is the best thing for your buns since the ThighMaster was all the rage. It's fun, easy on your body, and relatively cheap. Combine all these factors and you've got a recipe for getting in shape before the summer season.

Last week, I visited the Roller Valley Skate Center, which has been in business since 1975, to see what skating looks like in 2011.

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The walls at the roller rink serve as a helping hand to beginners just learning and provide the perfect vantage point for taking in the action on the floor.

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While inline skate rentals are now an option, traditional brown leather skates are far from obsolete.

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Morgan is a skating enthusiast and mother of one. Although she has a membership to her local gym, she says "treadmills suck" and makes a point to get to the rink at least once a week to exercise.

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Birthday parties and roller skating are a timeless tradition. Families bring a cake and kids, and the rink takes care of the rest.

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Whether you're looking for a workout or just a leisurely cruise with a friend, rinks offer something for everyone, regardless of which way you roll — with blades or skates.

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Rink activities like roller skating limbo test skaters' skills and agility.

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Martin, left, has been skating since he was 4 years old. Last month, he joined a speed skating team in Coeur D'Alene, but he still comes to his local rink just "to hang out and practice."

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Waiting to exchange one pair of skates for another size can be a practice in patience, especially when fine-tuning the fit of one's rentals is often a process of trial and error.

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ABOUT WANDERLUST: The photo series is a 60-day visual story-telling project that explores the seemingly ordinary places, people and things we experience everyday. It's about being curious and asking questions. It's about wanting to know more about the world around you and seeing it from fresh perspectives. If you have ideas on where I should wander, drop me a line: amyh@inlander.com.

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