Rollerblading is a sport of adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies who consider risks as a statement of fun. They hardly consider quitting the sport for a day or two because of weather shifts or instant showers. But rain makes rollerblading even more challenging. The roads are more slippery, whether uncertain and the rollerskates hard to maneuver. It may take more time and effort to stop. And no matter how hard you try; it would be extremely difficult not to slip or completely avoid a fall while pushing or taking turns.
So, how can you rollerblade in the rain and not fall on your face? Or should you even go out in the rains to hit the rink, no matter how professionally you have trained yourself? Certainly, it takes longer to stop on a surface that is extremely slippery. Even a minor fall can damage your skates and blow off your bearings. However, you can always take the necessary precautions to undermine the repercussions of rollerblading in the rain.
First and foremost, you should properly gear up with the required safety equipment. Next, you should follow the tips and guidelines by the pros to help skate safely in the rain. Let us find out more about how to rollerblade in the rain without falling.
Is It Safe to Rollerblade in the Rain?
Many enthusiastic rollerbladers find it fun to be outside on the roads in wet weather. However, it is always a good idea to reconsider such feelings when you decide to rollerblade in the rain. The very first question that pops up in the mind is whether it’s even safe to skate in the rain.
Rollerblading in the rain can certainly be a bit hazardous. There are greater chances of fall due to extreme slipperiness [source]. However, a skater may face a similar issue even under regular situations. So, it is best to prepare for the adversities if you ever get to deal with them.
You can confidently skate in the rain and enjoy your session when you are well prepared for what might come next. You must educate yourself about the specific information, tactics, and methods you can use to skate over a wet surface. Certain preventions can reduce the damage in case something goes wrong.
You can badly injure and hurt yourself even if you fall during normal weather. Rollerblading under the rain requires you to properly gear up with all the important protective skating accessories. So, grab your knee pads, elbow pads, wrist pads, and helmet if you ever plan to skate in the rain.
Once you are ready and set to go out, remember that a wet surface does not provide an ideal platform to perform fancy tricks or take cutting sharp turns. A downward force may cause your skates to slip under your feet when you lean sideways to take a turn.
Again, stopping is treacherous on a wet ground. Not only does it take a long time to slow down and come to halt because of the surface, but people and traffic around may also make it more dangerous to stop without an accidental fall.
Ideally, you should lay low and skate around at optimal speed. The wet ground will serve as a major deciding factor to define the control over your skates. Even a slight wrong move may result in an unanticipated skating disaster.
Your skates are more likely to slip on a wet surface because wetness tends to slide your feet away from each other. As a result, you can eventually stretch out and fall. Try hard to keep your feet close to each other to prevent a nasty fall.
Further, you may witness a reduction in your ability to push if there is more water on the skating surface. Try to push down hard on your skates in place of moving out. Maintain shorter strides keeping your slide smooth and flowing. Stay more attentive on turns. Try to maintain slow speed while taking a turn so that you have enough time to stop in case something happens.
Also, make sure that your skates are in their finest condition. Check if the bearings are in good shape. You may need to dry and lubricate them carefully after your rain skating session if you intend to keep them in good shape. Greased bearings can be used longer under wet circumstances in place of oiled ones.
In addition to preparing your equipment, you should also be physically ready as rollerblading in the rain may put more stress on your muscles. Choose your wheels carefully and wisely. Using hard wheels on wet roads may turn up to be a terrible idea. Always prefer softer wheels for rollerblading in the wet because they provide a better grip on the wet pavement.
You should know that skating in the rain may badly damage your skates. Your wheel bearings will be constantly subjected to dirt, grime, and grit. Continuing skating in the rain without proper maintenance or replacement of the bearings may cost you manifold.
Dangerous Surfaces That You Must Avoid
Check for white lines when you skate in the rain. Water tends to fill any tiny imperfections or interstices on the road or wet pavement. This action effectively smoothens the surface thereby creating less friction. As a result, you are likely to slide sideways when your rollerblade wheels glide against the wet ground [source].
Some surfaces can particularly become more dangerous to skate on during the rains. Try to stay away from those painted lines you find on a cycle path. Also, avoid oily patches or oil spills in parking spaces, grates, and metal plates. Wet concrete also gets extremely slippery when it rains.
You may find wet asphalt to be a good surface for learning to powerslide. However, you should learn about the dangers posed by different surfaces before you plan to skate on them when they are damp.
Cobblestones are primarily dangerous. You should roll over them at slow speed with your feet slightly spread, to absorb the bumps. The marbled ground is another super dangerous surface to roll on. Keep your body centered as you glide over them. Never push to the side and always move straight. Avoid sharp turns.
You may sometimes witness autumn leaves spread all over the ground. They hide holes, branches, rocks, sewer grates, and other uneven surfaces. After rains, the leaves may become more slippery. Keep your speed under control, and maintain a stable posture. Keep rolling with both your feet on the ground. Shift your weight slightly towards the back.
Clean Your Bearings After Rollerblading in the Rain
Ideally, you should immediately clean your skates after rollerblading in the wet. Your bearings and other skate components collect a lot of mud, grit, and water when you skate in the wet. That tiny debris and water may damage your skates. The water may reach through your bearing shields and rust out your bearings within hours.
Every other part that is metal, including the buckles, axles, and lace eyelets are likely to rust. Therefore, you should take apart your skates to clean every component that may get affected by dirt and water after a skating session in the wet. Unscrew your wheels to take out the bearings.
Quickly unscrew all components. Put them in rubbing alcohol for a while to remove the water. Immediately re-lube the components because washing with rubbing alcohol also removes the lubricant. If you cannot unscrew every component, at least consider removing the wheels from the skate frame so that the bolts, nuts, and axles may not rust or freeze together.
If you are running out of time, quickly submerge the bearings in some oil. This simple step will help displace the water off the bearings and also prevent direct exposure to air. Transfer the bearing to a Ziploc baggie after keeping them in the oil for some time.
If you are somebody who doesn’t like the idea of frequent maintenance, you can keep a spare pair of bearings or skates for rollerblading in the rain. However, you cannot keep maintenance completely off-the-books.
Alternatively, you can keep a pair of bearings sealed with grease to be used for rainy days. It may help you avoid the maintenance cycle for a while. In any case, never forget to air-dry your roller skates or use a crumpled paper inside them after every training session.
Aim for Shorter, Smoother Stride in the Rain
Prefer to skate in a straight line. The slippery surface will tend to slide your feet away from each other. As a result, you may stretch out, stumble and fall. You can prevent the fall by keeping your feet close together as you move forward in a straight line taking shorter smoother steps.
Keep pushing down on your skates without moving sideways. Never try to push too strong. Maintain shorter stride, for higher frequency. Keep every step short and smooth. Balance your weight towards the center, primarily over the non-stroking skate. This stance will provide you a better chance to recover your balance if you slip as you push forward.
Keep your legs in and bend low. Move across the corners slowly to give yourself more time for applying the brake. Never take bends as you do on dry land. Avoid crossing over the skates as they may slip when you shift your center of balance towards one side. The action will eventually push down your skates.
A better way is to reduce your speed at bends and approach it like a beginner. Maintain a neutral position keeping both your feet stable. Bend your knees a little but keep them flexible. You may put your hands at the knees. This stance will maintain a low center of gravity.
Employ the half-step technique wherein you use your outside skate to push during the turn, keeping your inside rolling skate on the ground. Never make sharp turns on wet ground. Another core danger of rollerblading in the rain is to hit the brake.
Every braking method you have ever learned will seem less efficient to stop on a wet ground. The back wheel of your skate tends to aquaplane in the wet when you use the back brake. This is because the rainwater forms a thin layer between the road and your skate wheels that reduces traction.
To properly hit the brakes, you should maintain a lower body posture and apply strong pressure on the brake. Try to look further ahead to foresee obstacles even before they arrive. A surprise obstacle is nastier on the wet ground. Give yourself the required time to stop.
If you are going downhill in the rain, test your braking ability beforehand. Keep a slow pace at the top of the hill. Hillslopes can be even more disastrous with hidden oily zones. You can apply the staircase technique on the slope. Go step by step keeping your feet perpendicular to the slope. This movement will prevent your wheels from rolling down the slope.
If you plan to climb uphill in the rain, try to maintain a shorter stride. Move light and fast keeping best ground contact. Rollerblading in the rain involves slightly different muscles than skating on dry land. Again, it exerts more pressure and strain on your adductors. You can try exercises like duck walking in the skates to toughen them up.
Prepare Your Skates Before You Go Out In The Rain
Check your skates for signs of damage or abrasion before you plan to go out in the rain. You should fix your skates if they are in terrible condition. Check if your bearings are working and your wheels spinning easily. If your wheels are hard, they will not grip the wet floor.
Check for the wheel material. Wheels made of polyurethane are likely to harden under lower temperatures or in the cold. Therefore, hard wheels with a grade of 85A and above are not suitable for skating in the rain. Some manufacturers like MPC and Labeda specialize in softer good-grip wheels.
Soft wheels provide a better grip on wet pavements. Never hang back from testing different wheels before you choose one. Ideally, you should get wheels around 70a for rollerblading over wet pavement. You can also buy boot covers such as those offered by Ezeefit to keep your feet and skate boots dry.
Without proper maintenance, your skates and wheels bearings will be ruined after being used in the rain. The concept of being waterproof hardly stands for skate wheel bearings. If you know beforehand that you will be rollerblading in the rain, you can follow these tips to stay safe:
- Use greased bearings, they are better than the oiled ones. The heavy layer of grease keeps the water out of the bearings. This action keeps them spinning better and longer. However, the layer of grease can be harder to clean. Also, it makes the bearings spin marginally slow.
- Switch to softer wheels. Ideally, you should opt for wheels that have been designed specifically for use in the rain. They provide a better grip on the wet pavement.
Regardless of the wheels and bearings you use, you need to fix your skates after a session of skating in the rain. The quickly you mend your skates, the less damage your bearings will suffer. Make it a habit to clean and re-lube your skates immediately. If that does not seem practical, simply put the bearings in oil. You can use baby oil for this step.
If you do not have a better alternative, you can optionally submerse your skate bearings in water. This action will keep the air out thereby limiting the rust formation. Keep them submerged in water until you get the time to clean them up properly.
Here are some steps to check and clean your rollerblades for a post-rain wheel bearing maintenance [source]:
- Get a mason jar or any other glass container that can be properly sealed with a lid. Place your wheel bearings inside the container.
- Add enough amount of mineral spirits. It should properly cover the bearings. Add some more liquid on top.
- Gently shake and swirl the container.
- Drain the mineral spirits into another container for later use.
- Add a small amount of 99% isopropyl alcohol into the container to rinse off any remaining mineral spirits. Gently shake and swirl the container and dump out the alcohol.
- Remove the bearings. Check if they spin smoothly. They may or may not need more cleaning after the initial cleanse. Check the color of the alcohol and the mineral spirits. A clear liquid indicates that the bearings do not require any more cleaning.
- Repeat previous steps for cleaning until your bearings spin smoothly. Sometimes you may find that the bearings are struck and do not spin anyhow. Try to free them up forcefully making them turn. Clean as usual afterward.
- Once the cleaning and rinsing are done, the residual alcohol will evaporate within minutes. You can now re-lube your bearings.
- You can easily lubricate your bearings with some oil. Just add a few drops of oil onto each bearing. Give a good spin to them and keep aside. Repeat the procedure with the remaining bearings. You may find many good lubricants in the market. However, my current favorite is a Teflon-based dry lube that comes in a squeeze bottle. You can get that from a nearby bike store.
- Primarily, you lube your bearings with oil. However, you may need to lube your bearings with grease, if you intend to use them in the rain. For this, grab a small can of white lithium grease. Use a toothpick or a similar tool to scoop a little amount and apply it to the bearings. Lubing all the bearings with grease may take some time. But once done, your skates will be ready to be used for the next rain skating session.
Clean the crud off the wheels before you place back the bearings in them. For this, you can fill a bucket with soapy warm water, grab an old toothbrush, and rinse the dirt off your wheels. Keep them aside and let them dry. Once they are completely dried, you can place back the bearings in them.
If you allow your bearings to stay wet for too long after a rain skating session, they may not be repairable. Act quickly to get them working again. Keep a bottle of baby oil handy in your skate bag. Alternatively, you can spray your skates in between a session with a Teflon lubricant. Although it may be a little expensive. A thorough clean up is highly recommended in any case.
It is OK to rollerblade during light rain or a minor shower? Water in any form, whether less or more, is going to be bad for your wheel bearings and rollerblades. Again, the ground will be slippery even after a minor shower or during light rain, so you should probably avoid the idea unless you are a pro.
Can I use my outdoor skates indoors? Yes, you can use your outdoor skates indoors. However, you should note that they are designed for different surfaces. In most cases, you will be able to use skates both indoors and outdoors, however, you should check them on the location to confirm if they work fine.
If I fall while rollerblading, what symptoms indicate a wrist fracture? If you experience constant pain, swelling, bruising, or minor deformity in the wrist, you should fix an immediate appointment with the doctor. A fractured wrist is often tender to touch and shows limited, painful movement.
What are some common injuries observed commonly in rollerblading? Common injuries in rollerblading include contusions, concussions, abrasions, and lacerations to the knee, chest, elbow, face, and the lower back.
How can I prepare myself for a fall to avoid major injury? Wear appropriate protective gear. Practice stopping, balancing, and maneuvering techniques. Learn about possible common injuries (to know how to avoid them). Practice the motion of falling for a smooth, graceful fall. Learn to roll as you fall, to reduce the major impact of a collapse.