We’ve spent Xmas and New Year with LB’s folks in Sweden and have been very lucky with the weather. It hasn’t quite managed to get above freezing for the whole two weeks. It’s generally not been above -3 or -4 C and even touched -13 C overnight (and looks set to beat that tonight in fact!). And with little snow, we’ve therefore had some excellent tour skating conditions. So we’ve picked up from where we left off last year.
Ice is not always skatable apparently. If there’s a layer of snow or if the ice was roughened by being formed during heavy snow fall you can hardly move. Gliding strides simply grind to a halt.
But for us the ice was nearly perfect. With occasional sections of glass-like smoothness allowing us to glide and glide.
I’ve even managed to go out four times and only fall over once and that was only a sort of sliding, resigned laying down.
The huge advantage with having my own skates is that I can set them up so that they are balanced specifically for me. The skate must be right in the centre of the heel and right in between the first and second toes.
Each day I’ve come back and spent some time in the garage tweaking the adjustment and it’s helped massively. I imagine that for a better skater it would be less critical but for me it’s made all the difference.
Until today when I spent twenty minutes wondering what I could have adjusted so badly… at which point I noticed I’d put them on the wrong feet! Well it is New Year’s Day. I’ve had a late night.
The other thing that has made a huge difference is wearing protective pads on knees and elbows along with wrist-protectors. Add in an old riding helmet (a childhood skating rink accident when I landed on my head still haunts me!) and my confidence, and therefore posture, improved enormously. Though I’m not sure it would have avoided over-stretching my shoulder somewhat last year when I tried to punch a hole in the ice with one elbow!
A smaller diameter circle obviously gives a more pronounced curve (if you can call it pronounced when you need a steel-rule before you can see it’s not straight). A more pronounced curve is apparently better for turning quickly whereas a straighter edge is more stable in a straight line.
A tiny extra bit of kit is the clips that can be used to hold the skates together to make them easier to carry and prevent the blades being blunted accidentally (my simple blue ones are visible in the picture along with the more elaborate red ones with velcro straps to ensure the skates stay together).
Skating clubs (who may do several tens of kilometres in a day) will have a leader who typically skates twenty metres ahead of a second leader with the rest of the group another twenty meters behind them. So if the leader misjudges the ice and “plurrar” (“takes a bath”) then the group has plenty of time to stop.
|As you skate, you must be wary of weaker patches seen as odd patterns. They become safer as the ice thickens. But at the marginal end, when the ice is only just skatable at around six centimeters, then they must be avoided.|
|Finally, once off the ice, a nip of something very alcoholic from a hip flask that’s been chilling in the day-pack along with some Prinskorv heated over a fire is hard to beat.|
|Though some mince pies warmed over the embers made a thoroughly British addition to a very non-British pastime.|