“Have you really run every route on the Blaze website?” I get these questions all the time, whether I’m on a research trip or at home in Colorado. Well, I confess: I haven’t. I’m an avid runner, but my body can’t take the ceaseless pounding that would be required to run the world. And to be honest, my brain couldn’t either – I need to spend at least a minimal amount of time soaking up other aspects of culture while on my travels.
Of the places I’ve researched, I’ve probably run 70% of the runs I’ve published. But I have personally researched all of them. What does it mean to research? In many cases, I’ll head to a running spot and spend 2-3 hours walking it, exploring it, getting a feel of the stretch and the territory so that I can advise my readers of what sort of run to expect. Often I conduct this work on a bike, which is nice, because I can cover three times as much ground as I can on foot in one-third of the time, and give my joints a break in the process.
And sometimes, if the weather is good, the day is bright, and the asphalt is smooth, I’ll trade in my two wheels for eight, and hop up on some rollerblades.
Rollerblading is a dark-horse activity in the United States. Sure, there are plenty of people who do it. But rollerbladers often clash with other non-motorized entities around them. They don’t fit into the bike lanes, and cyclists often curse under their breath when they come upon a blader in their path. Pedestrians don’t like them either – the quiet swoosh of the wheels can sometimes be hard to hear until the rider comes flying by them at twelve miles per hour.
Here in Canada, however, rollerbladers are a much more visible part of the active culture. Credit it to this hockey-crazy country and its people, who require some sort of skating outlet during the summer. When you’re out on the paths here, you’re more likely to come across an eight-wheeling peloton than you are to find a group of cyclists or runners.
But that’s okay in Canada. One of the best things about rollerblading in the cities we’ve researched – Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec – is that you’re able to check out quite a bit more of the paths than you’d be able to if you were only running. For example, this morning I was able to string together an epic blade along the St. Charles river down to its conjunction with the St. Lawrence, and wrap the route around Quebec’s Vieux Port to continue along the coast. On my ten-mile spin I was able to check out BTG Quebec routes #2 and #3 (coming soon to a website near you) and work some different muscles in the process. You could do something similar in Montreal by combining a workout along Canal de Lachine with a loop around Parc Jean-Drapeau. And in Toronto you could check out the entire scope of the magnificent Waterfront Trail, and not wear yourself down the same way you would if you ran.
On your next trip to any of these other cities, I definitely suggest taking a couple of hours to get some rollerblades and check out two or more of our routes. Many of the individual runs I’ve written up can be linked together to create one epic rollerblading workout. You’ll be able to explore many more areas of the cities your visit, and you’ll be able to give your quads a rest in the process.