Rollerskiing on the bike trails around the Minneapolis area, you get a lot of comments and weird looks. Everything from “Birkie Birkie Birkie!” to “Holy Crap arm strength,” if there’s an exclamation about seeing someone doing something odd, it’s probably been said to a rollerskier on the Greenway. One of the most common questions I’ve encountered when people find out that I rollerski is,
“How do you stop on those things?”
This is a great question, one with a lot of really bad answers. Just as with anything that requires a quick decrease in speed, there are good ways and not so good ways to come to a standstill.
The following is a list of ways to stop on rollerskis, some of them good and some of them awfully painful.
10 Ways to Stop on Rollerskis
Also known as “face-plant” or “eating the pavement,” this technique is best known for the momentary “OH CRAP!” weightless feeling quickly followed by getting the wind knocked out of you. Causes often include cracks in the pavement, railroad tracks and appropriately sized pebbles.
The Butt Scoot
This technique is common on snow but is much more effective at stopping you on pavement. When you get going too fast and don’t know how to stop, just sit down and eventually you’ll glide to a halt. Unfortunately pavement is not nearly as forgiving as freshly fallen snow and often contains small pebbles that are painful to remove. The Butt Scoot is not a recommended method of stopping on rollerskis.
Sliding into Home
“And Lucca nearly knocks it out of the park! The right fielder throws it to third for the out, but Hedblom is just too fast. Hedblom is sprinting for home plate. The third baseman throws the ball to the catcher. It’s going to be a close one folks! Hedblom sticks her foot out and slides into home, SAFE!”
There’s a reason we don’t play baseball on rollerskis. Similar to the butt scoot, characteristic results of this technique include road rash on the hip and outer leg, scuffed ski boots and ripped shorts.
The Black Stuff
Beware of The Black Stuff, especially on hot days. This is the goo they squirt into cracks in the road. The hotter it gets, the more it likes to grab the wheels of unsuspecting rollerskiers. The faster you’re going the more it likes to reach up and give you a surprise crash landing.
The rolling stop is one of the better stopping techniques. It requires having a good feel for the speed of the rollerskis, enough room ahead of you (or an uphill), and a back-up plan in case your speed calculations are wrong. When done correctly you will slowly and gracefully come to a stop at exactly the right time and everyone will be impressed.
Stop Drop and Roll
This is a planned fall method for the dramatic flair in us all. It is a good back-up plan when rollerskiing next to a grassy curb. To employ this method, aim for the softest patch of grass and like a paratrooper hit the ground with a solid roll. As always it is important to make sure your helmet is properly fitted and adjusted.
Possibly one of the best and least technical methods, the Grassy Knoll allows the skier to control their speed and come to a stop without hitting the ground. For the Grassy Knoll, the rollerskier shall first stagger their feet and shift most of their weight to the back leg. The skier shall then aim for the grass alongside the trail and gently roll onto the grass while staying upright. Sometimes ski poles can be used to assist in balancing. Be wary of long grass, hidden rocks and sticks. If done incorrectly this can easily be adapted into a version of the Stop Drop and Roll.
Urban Tree Hugger
When coming into an intersection a little fast, the Urban Tree Hugger is your best option. Aim for a light post or crosswalk post, catch it with one arm and redirect your forward inertia into the stationary light post. Be careful not to hurt your arm and make sure the light post/ crosswalk post is strong enough for the collision prior to using this method.
Similar to how you snowplow in the winter, this is the most common way to slow yourself down on rollerskis. In order for this method to be successful, it is important to make sure your wheels do not touch (don’t cross your tips!). To do this, push outward on each ski. This will force them to stay separated. You will stop due to the friction between the pavement and the rubber wheel as the wheel slides sideways across the road. This technique does take some practice to perfect.
Lets enjoy what pieces of summer we have left. Train hard, go fast, and don’t fall down.
It won’t be long until the snow comes!