Today is my first day back on rollerskis and I can’t help but think not nearly enough time has passed since I got off these damn things. I don’t hate rollerskiing…they’re great for building technique (well, not classic so much), specific strength and endurance. An added bonus: if you like attention, then get ready to be gaped at by locals who wonder how you’re skiing without snow or teenagers saying, “That’s sick.”
I’ve spent my whole life trying to get respect from teenagers and now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m finally getting some.
Rollerskiing has it all: helmets, lycra, bright colors, double-poling for hours and hours. Visibility is critical because I train on local roads with vehicle traffic. Staying upright is also very important. Rollerskis are very susceptible to potholes, road debris, expansion joints, sand, etc. Pavement, unlike snow, is not very forgiving. If you trip and lose your balance, there will be blood. Finally, these things don’t stop on a dime. Rollerskiing is more about speed management (not going too fast in the first place) rather than slowing down or stopping. If you get desperate, you can bail off to the shoulder, start running as fast as you can…and hope there aren’t any trees or stonewalls.
I’ve fallen a couple times on rollerskis, never while descending, and with only one serious injury. I bottomed out a ski, fell forward and used my hands to break the fall. My fingers got pinched under the ski poles and one finger got twisted the wrong way around until it broke. It was a small avulsion fracture, didn’t require a cast or surgery, but it was painful for several weeks.
By now, I’ve acquired a fleet of rollerskis. My first set were Marwe’s. I did a ton of research and everybody confirmed that Marwe were the best. I sort of agree. The skate rollerskis are great. They’re solid, not too heavy, track straight, and the honeycomb composite construction absorbs much of the road vibration. The wheels last forever. But they don’t have brakes or speed reducers. The classics are a different story: sure, they have a “realistic” feel, which means they flex a lot, but they’re way to squirrely for me on descents. I’ve spent too much time on them scaring myself shitless going downhill to want to use them on technical terrain. In fact, this is my second pair of Marwe classics. The first pair delaminated on a long roll. I had to hitch a ride on the back of a motorcycle. That was scarier than descending on the skis.
Last year, I switched to V2 rollerskis, XL98R skate and XLC930 classic, primarily because they have speed reducers, and because V2 finally built some carbon-shaft skis. I tried V2’s other offerings: the aluminum shafts of the 930’s shook my teeth loose on the pitted New England roads, and the Aeros with their pneumatic tires (great for the crappy roads) required too much maintenance with pumping and potential flats. The V2’s have worked out well, but the build quality isn’t the same as the Marwe’s and the tires wear very quickly. At some point I’ll get somebody to help me figure out how to get V2 speed reducers onto my Marwe’s.
Starting today, I’ll spend the next 7 months rolling around the streets for a 3 month–if we’re lucky–season on the snow.