Been skating two places so far: Fleetwood for public open skate sessions, on days when it's too hot to be indoors, and the Skokie Lagoons for outdoor practice at the freakin' crack of dawn, so I don't get mowed down by hordes of white guys in spandex on expensive bikes. Also, early morning is cooler.
The Lagoons skates are more rewarding. Great blue herons soar overhead. Woodpeckers peal out their calls, invisible in the deep woods. Squirrels, bunnies, chipmunks, and mice scurry across the path, thankfully well ahead of me. I can step over about anything if I see it coming, but those little buggers are fast. Poison ivy grows lush among fruiting raspberry canes, and the wild roses climb twenty feet up into the trees. The lagoons themselves are still, brown water, rather unappetizing, but big white water lilies bloom on the surface, and the muddy water conjures phantom alligators in my imagination. It's too cold for gators here, but it'd be fun, huh?
Last time, I saw a dead fawn by the side of the road and, later, a big live adult deer bounding across the path.
The path is well-maintained. Still, sticks fall on it, coyotes poop on it, and every now and then a maintenance path crosses it. These crossings are a menace because those paths are gravel, and gravel always gets onto the asphalt skate path.
My usual route takes me 17 miles round trip. This is enough to make me rue my birth about halfway there, but by then of course I'm stuck. Skate all the way back, or die now, and dying is too slow, plus the mosquitos while you wait to perish.
Skating outdoors is good for building quads, butt, and lower back: the "pusher" muscles you need when sprinting on the straightaway or at the start gun. Starts are my worst skate skill, so hopefully I'll return to practices all buffed up, and surprise hell out of those smartypants twelve-year-olds who smoked me a month ago.
On the other hand, outdoors does nothing for the abductors, the crossover muscles on the outsides of your hips, so mine are getting flabby. I have exercises I can do in my own room for that. Am I doing them? Not. And public sessions indoors are so crammed with small children that I can't really work on those muscles to any purpose. It'll have to be the indoor exercises. Ugh.
Last week, proto-derby-girl Dangerspouse did the 17 miles with me and didn't whine once. That girl is on her way.