Daily devotions on eight wheels

14 03 2011

One of my goals on this three month vacation unpaid personal leave of absence is to get a head start on inline skate training for the 2011 race season ahead of my European friends. While they are still shoveling snow and enduring blasts of arctic weather, I get to bask in Florida’s springtime. It’s dry and warm almost every morning when I head to the coast at 6:30 a.m. for my sunrise skate. It’s my personal devotion to the dawn of a new day.

Meantime, my skates are wondering what the hell is going on. In the first two weeks of my stay here I have put in about 100 miles (160 km) or so, probably more than I would do in any given summer month in Switzerland.

Giving the skates a rest at the beach.

But I’ve found out that skating on the beach or along the intracoastal waterway here in South Florida can also be mighty tricky, with many unfamiliar obstacles and sights to see.

First of all, there is the wind. The coastline skate path is, pretty much, due north to south. So when the wind comes from the north or the south, it’s logical that when you skate the one way (into the wind) you are basically standing still. Every yard (meter) forward is unbelievably hard work. And then when you turn around to go back the other way (away from the wind) you are doing nothing less than flying. OUT OF THE WAY, EVERYONE!!

It’s when the wind comes right off the ocean, from the east, that it socks you in the head BOTH ways. Florida has these winds coming off the water probably, oh, I will say, 90 percent of the time.

Second, the sand. It’s everywhere. I don’t even want to venture a look into my ball bearings after these first two weeks. Before I leave here in June, I will owe those babies a serious professional cleaning job. Hopefully they will bear with me that long.

And third, the flora and fauna one encounters in the tropics as opposed to in the old world is so… interesting. In Switzerland, I skate past farms and quaint villages with half-timbered houses that are probably 700 years old. The cattle and horses in the meadows, happily and lazily munching on luscious green, protein-rich grass, lift their heads as I pass. Last Spring on one of my favorite routes near Zurich, I skated by one cow in the process of giving birth to a calf.

Here, I skate past all sorts of crazy-looking palm trees, nouveau-riche waterside villas barely as old as I am and… manatees.

Sea-cows are watching.

Given the choice, though, considering the time of year, I will gladly take the wind, sand and manatees. When hurricane season starts, I will reassess.



3 responses

14 03 2011

3months? I didn’t realize! Is your sweeeetie with you?

18 03 2011
Ironic Mom

I love this line: “my personal devotion to the dawn of a new day.” I wish I had that motivation. You’re inspiring!

18 03 2011
Evelynn Starr

Thank you. But I never said it was easy getting out of bed before dawn to face the prospect of…. 20 kilometers.

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