The art of skating on Hollywood Beach

28 12 2010

If you have never been to Hollywood, Florida, I highly encourage you to go. Not to be confused with that… other Hollywood over on the… wrong coast… Hollywood, Florida is a great beach town (an “All-America City” Award winner in 2007) nestled between flashy Fort Lauderdale in the north and metropolitan Miami in the south, between the Everglades in the west and the Atlantic Ocean.

The French Canadians have already discovered this little corner of paradise and judging by the number of Quebec license plates on the streets, it seems that the entire province migrates down here when it gets cold up there, turning it into Chicoutimi-sur-Mer, USA for six months of the year.

The beach promenade, or “Broadwalk,” has got everything you’d want on an ocean boardwalk – including free wireless access! – even if its not actually, you know, made of boards. (Webcam here.) There are cool little restaurants, an old-fashioned band shell, and shops selling all sorts of cheesy, loud beach stuff that looks fashionably out-of-place anywhere but the beach. All that’s missing is a Starbucks franchise.

You can even answer emails on your laptop, if you must.

The promenade has two clearly marked lanes: one for pedestrians and the other for cyclists, wheelchair athletes, skateboarders, and my kind of folks – inline skaters. Altogether, the path is about 25 feet (8 meters) wide and stretches the length of Hollywood Beach – about three miles (5 kilometers).

So true to my nature, I had to take a spin. Happily, I laced up my skates for the first time since singing in the Berlin rain at the end of September. Having survived THAT two-hour taste of hell, it was time to remind myself of what attracted me to this sport in the first place.

Of course I hadn’t calculated on the 30 mph winds coming straight at me from a storm system in the south (didn’t hurricane season end a month ago?) that was sending dark clouds over the coast. Fighting weather is one of the most thankless tasks on earth, let me tell you.

But hey, back in Zurich it was snowing, so I guess I was ahead of the game.

Discounting weather, a second occupational hazard for the skater-in-pseudo-training along the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is simple human stupidity. As in: individuals oblivious to their surroundings who enter the visibly marked bike path with their brains quite obviously in neutral, if not completely absent and/or non-functional.

Okay – kids on bikes, say, and old people on walkers don’t count. To be fair, they have no idea what they are doing anyway so it is up to the entity moving faster than a snail’s pace to watch out for them.

But it’s the seemingly sensible adults whose erratic and unpredictable behavior is the biggest danger to wheeled athletes just minding their business and quietly doing their laps along the beach. Like human bowling pins, these dense living beings meander into and then stand perfectly still in the middle of a roadway that is not theirs, as if waiting to be picked off for points. These are indeed prime candidates for the Darwin awards.

Free space for free skaters.

Of course, no one would argue that the world would be a much better place if it had a few less French Canadians in it. On the other hand, the last thing I really need is another eight screws in my arm.

So from now on, primarily for my own health and sanity, when on skates, I will hit the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk no later than 7am – early enough to enjoy a glorious sunrise over the Atlantic, and secure in the knowledge that the snowbirds are still snoring away in their overpriced hotel beds, sleeping off their overpriced hangovers and digesting last night’s overpriced poutine.

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3 responses

28 12 2010
Jeb

Skating, biking, running, jogging, walking, even sitting down on a bench or at a cafe table is dangerous, due to the incredibly lobotomized behavior of too many kinds of morons to take the time to even attempt to describe. The only viable option is to get out there on days when there are the fewest floridiots meandering around, but even then be extremely cautious, they can pop up out of nowhere or anywhere and you can be “attacked” from several directions at once, all of a sudden like. Be very wary…

25 03 2011
Rick

Hi,

We really like skating on Hollywood Beach and so we read your blog post with particular interest because we have a connection with Switzerland. Your post was very enjoyable until you started to diss pedestrians, particularly French Canadians.

We will be down next month and will look to say hi if we get out there that early!

Best regards,
Rick and Jackie

25 03 2011
Evelynn Starr

Hi there Rick & Jackie! Thanks for your comment and welcome to my blog!

I went to university in Canada so all the dissing of Canadians in particular is of course in good fun. However, I do have to wonder what people are thinking (or if they are thinking at all!) when they saunter into a clearly marked bike lane without looking left or right. Not too long ago, I suffered three broken bones that required 2 surgeries to reassemble after colliding with someone so clueless. So perhaps I’m somewhat biased.

Looking forward to seeing you on Hollywood Beach! It really is best at sunrise. 😉

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