Skating with Critical Mass
Chicago Critical Mass Welcomes Skaters!
ChicagoSkater.org host Andrew Bedno thanks Chicago cyclists for their wonderfully open welcome to skaters. Andrew has been regularly inline skating with Chicago Critical Mass and Chicago World Naked Bike Ride events since at least 2005, and credits CCM for most of his best friendships. CCM and WNBR-C now regularly draw several skate boarders each month, and sometimes a dozen or more inline skaters.
Advice on Skating with Critical Mass
Andrew cautions skaters first off beware of suddenly coming upon UNPAVED BRIDGES! Several major crossings out from central downtown have unskatable grates which can injure (Randolph Street bridge for one). Furthermore one may hit them without enough warning to gracefully get to a side, and be faced with rear approaching cyclists and no good choices. Until out of downtown, if unfamiliar with the roads, stay watchful for the visible towers of bridges, then carefully navigate the often uneven pedestrian walkways.
Additional extreme hazards are road level railway crossings, and plain old potholes and gravel. All of these can be addressed through energy and alertness and ability, protective gear appropriate for skill level (helmet, wrists, elbows/knees), and a forehead light helps.
Critical Mass' chief challenge to skaters after baseline street skills is the uneven speed, which may range from a crawl to test one's patience, to bursts so fast as to require paced breathing, to prolonged inclines requiring shortened power strokes. These variations are less meaningful to cyclists. Overall some 15-25 miles are covered in 3-4 hours.
Finally, I tell you truly from lengthy experience that really often there is no plan. Be prepared to find yourself anywhere, or watch for outs en-route, and have phone numbers of others in the mass. All that said, if you are strong and/or foolhardy enough, CCM can be an unparalleled adventure for inline skaters and boarders, and is a beloved treasure in my every month.
Andrew Bedno, ChicagoSkater.org