Ken Roberts - - Skating

what's here

see also:  other Years | public discussion | Skating home

skating Cote d'Azur, France

posted to 04dec6:

Subject: skating Cote d'Azur, France into Italy

Sharon wanted to try a bicycling vacation in France in late November, so I make sure to bring along my skates. She had us check out various seacoast towns on the Mediterrean from St-Tropez to Menton. The ones that gave me some fun skating were:

  • Nice : for its very wide + long uninterrupted seaside sidewalk, also some interesting skating on narrow old streets.

  • Menton : for uninterrupted seaside sidewalk, well-lit wide car-free shopping street, opportunity to skate into Italy.

  • Cannes : delivers the energy of "being there" at Cannes, but the famous Croisette sidewalk has interruptions for vehicle crossings, is not really that wide.

more details:

Nice is the one that I most hope to go back and skate again. I skated there at night, and I haven't seen a better seaside skate for its combination of width, variety of old and new, flat and hill, width, easy access to interesting streets, well-lit at night.

Cannes has the famous movie-festival : I skated the Croisette sidewalk early in the morning. It was fun with nice views of the Esterel mountains, but didn't measure up to Nice for skating -- not as wide, not as long, interruptions for vehicles. Then I saw a guy skating fast on the Croisette street, so I tried that, went to its east end, turned around and chased some French bicyclists which was fun -- but I remember too much coarse-stone pavement and cracks in it for me to make me rate that street very highly.

Menton is the last town before Italy : I was walking with Sharon at there at night, and then I said, "Let me go back to the car and get my skates". First thru the car-free shopping street -- interesting modern texture on the sidewalk tiles, a bit slow but very skatable. Continued west on the seaside sidewalk -- overall nice, but with some rough and narrow sections -- and onto a quiet street that took me out on Cap Martin to a good viewpoint back to Menton. Turned around and took the sidewalk back, turned off onto a street down by the port on the east side of Menton with some fun very-smooth sections that some other skaters were enjoying.

Then I rejoined the main street, kept going east on the sidewalk, not such good lighting. Negotiated some obstacles on the sidewalk as I went past some dark unlit buildings in the middle of the road. And then I saw a sign in Italian, and the road went into a brightly lit tunnel called Balzi Rossi. The tunnel had a sidewalk that was fairly clean, so I skated through to the other end, more than half a kilometer. Nothing much I could see looking further east into Italy in the dark, so I turned around I skated back thru that same tunnel -- this time on the beautifully-smooth pavement of the vehicle lane. Then west past the darkened buildings into France and on the sidewalk of the main road.

Before I got back to Sharon at the car, I looked back on the main road and did see a sign for "Italie" -- but I had missed it before, because I was on that quiet street down by the port.

So that is how I accidentally skated into Italy. (I wonder what the skating is like in Ventimiglia and San Remo?)


P.S. Corsica : Sharon and I also did some fun and rather beautiful bicycling on the island of Corse / Corsica. I didn't see any seaside sidewalks, and Corsica has lots of serious hills. But many of the roads there are very carefully graded -- to smooth out the steep ups + downs. So there are some long sections of road that looked very promising for road-skating, if you knew where they were and had a car to get you to them, and I didn't find any that would make a great loop.

great cols of Europe

posted to 04sep15:

Subject: Re: Who is Skating the Great Cols of Europe? 

I tried skating up another great climb in the Alps -- Col de la Croix de Fer -- and it was a good "personal challenge" experience of disciplined pace and technique and of keeping on through the pain. Pretty scenes along the way and big views of impressive mountains near the top. Not much vehicle traffic on a mid-week day off-season in September.

But I had rather sore muscles for the rest of that day. So next time I think I'll choose something less tough -- or do some real hill-training to prepare -- and take a little more time for altitude-acclimatization than just driving out from Paris the previous afternoon.

The Col de la Croix de Fer from the east side thru St.Sorlin-d'Arves from St.Jean-de-Maurienne is one of the big tough climbs ("hors categorie") of the French Alps. Actually I only did the upper half of it (about 750 vertical meters / 2460 ft) -- because some lower sections were closed for construction -- but that was plenty. The section I did thru St.Sorlin-d'Arves up to the col was described by my English-language bicycling guidebook as "a fairly nasty climb" (Cycling France, by Sally Dillon et al, Lonely Planet, p. 360).

I skated west up the D926 road, starting from its intersection with the D80 from Albiez-le-Vieux. The skating began gently beside a flowing stream, then up to moderate climbing. I could see cows up on the hillsides and hear their bells. Not too hard thru the village of St.Jean-d'Arves, and enjoyed seeing a woman stare at me with her mouth open, surprised to see me going up on skates (instead of the expected bicycle). I waved to all the car-drivers that passed me in the either direction.

As I came into the village of St.Sorlin-d'Arves, the climbing got real steep. St Sorlin is a ski resort, so not very active at this time of year, but some construction of houses for next winter. For some reason (to avoid avalanche paths?) they aimed the road on a fairly direct path up the hill. I felt pretty near my limit in that steepness, so I welcomed moderate section in the midst of the village. But then it got real steep again coming up out of the village.

I was in pretty bad shape when I finally reached the first hairpin turn to start up the very steep headwall to the col, which looked impossible from below. But though the slope of the land was steeper, the grade of the road was less than through the village, because it was making long switchbacks across the slope. So I thought I had a reasonable chance to make it to the top if I could just stand the pain and keep skating slow enough. Now up out of the trees with views of the high mountains, the sharp peaks of the Aiguilles d'Arves across the valley and snow on the Pic de l'Etendard near my col.

My skating seemed to be working again, and then I hit a section of coarse-stone paving. Beautiful new light-brown stones in good condition -- but slow and vibrational for my skates. It went on for a full switchback, like half a kilometer, and I had to use my best technique and control just to keep going.

Back on smooth pavement at the next hairpin turn, another steeper direct section, then gentle past a small lake and some stone shepherd's huts, getting near the top -- and one more section of coarse-stone paving, but short enough so I knew I could force myself through it. And then I was there at the sign for the Col de la Croix de Fer -- with the cafe across the road and cars and motorcycles parked, and a look down the west side at the climb up from the (easier?) Col du Glandon, and south to the peak of La Meije and the snow by Pic La Grave.

How to get back down? My preferred way would be to have a support vehicle and driver waiting there at the top for me -- but no one was there. I could not imagine skating all the way back down. So instead I used my bicycle, which I had placed near the top before starting my climb. It was a fun descent, and along the way I saw some bicyclists climbing up.



Subject: Re: Who is Skating the Great Cols of Europe?
Date: Monday, September 20, 2004

After recovering from the tough skate climb, and trying some other big climbs in the Alps on a bicycle, I'm now thinking that going up big steep climbs does not fit with the spirit of inline skating.

If it's so big and steep that it's not fun going back down it on skates, then I'm thinking it's not worth climbing up it on skates. Maybe a short steep climb is an interesting challenge on skates, like less than half an hour, or better yet less than ten minutes. But I'm finding that the big steep up with big steep down is lots more fun on a bicycle. Skating is more fun for me on rolling terrain with lots of small ups and down.


great cols of Europe

posted to 04jun22:

Subject: Who is Skating the Great Cols of Europe?

Serious bicyclists are fascinated by the long climbs up the roads to the great cols (high mountain passes). The famous mountain stages of the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia races include big climbs over several cols in one day.

Climbing up to a high col using just my own human muscle-power delivers an intrinsic feeling of achievement, apart from racing against other people, like . I've seen lots of non-racer bicyclists in France going up the great climbs even in the month of November. There are bicycling websites that give measures of the length and steepness of all the big paved-road climbs in Europe.

So far I've only done one: Col du Granier, into the Chartreuse mountain group in the Alps a bit southwest from the city of Chambery, France. I started after four o'clock in the afternoon, with the purchase of a baguette in the village of St Badolph. The baguette was still warm from the oven, so I could not resist an unwise act before starting a big climb: I consumed more than half of it.

The serious uphill started already leaving the village on the D12A road, then some switchbacks thru newer houses with big views over the vineyards. Followed by long steep sections in the trees, with big views to the cliffs of the Bauges massif and the snow-covered Belledonne mountain chain.

A local farmer told me the Tour de France in some years went up this hill, and he was the one who challenged me to skate it. Each time I though steep climbing must be over, I go around a little bend and there's still more. Finally made it to the D912 road, and I knew the rest of the climbing would be moderate. Then a little rain shower. Came around a corner and there it was: the north wall of Le Granier mountain, still with some snow on it, and pinkish with late-afternoon sun. Still more climbing . . .

Made it to the top and there was a restaurant with cars parked. About 830 vertical meters (2700 ft) total climb, with some sections on the D12A road at steepness grade around 10%. The time I took on it was long enough to demonstrate that I am no threat to competitive speedskaters.

Anybody else into skating up big hills?

In the USA, I do know of an informal uphill race for skaters that's about the same length and steepness as the Col du Granier -- but they didn't have it last year, and anyway they only announce it a few weeks in advance. And I do have a favorite challenge hill in the Hudson valley NY that's shorter but steeper -- so far I've only been able to make it up all the way without rest-stops when I used ski poles to help.


more . . .

see also


concept words: ski skiing snow roberts report reports learn learning

skating: skate skates skater skaters push glide

inline inlines ice speed speedskate speedskating speedskater speedskaters roller

technique: techniques technical theory theories theoretical physics physical biomechanics biomechanical mechanics mechanical model models concept concepts idea ideas