Updated: May 4
The sun is out and you want to get your skates on and roll outside! Roller skates start looking as a mode of transport to get you around, not just something for twirling at the roller disco.
In my experience, roller skating outside is great fun, but also quite different to skating inside.
Check your path first.
In my opinion, knowing your route well, through the eyes of the skater, will help you out later. If possible, cycle or walk your route so you know what to expect. Not all cycle routes are skateable - I have rocked up to some cycle paths only to find a gravel track as far as the eye can see. Some rough grades of tarmac also make less pleasant skating experiences. Know where the hills are, so if you want to take an alternate route then you can. Or you know where to plan your breaks.
If you aren't able to check your path, at least have a start and end point in mind.
Plan an escape.
If you are planning a distance skate, and you aren't used to this, you may find unexpected obstacles - roadworks, a loose wheel nut, or worse, a fall - may mean you are unable to skate your planned route. If you're in a car, park somewhere near a bus route so you can take a bus back. Take your phone or some cash. Take your shoes! Even if you take the smallest of pumps, squeezing them into a bag with your skate leash can save you if your legs get tired.
I'm not going to tell you how much protective equipment to wear, as I feel it depends on your kit, confidence level, experience and path. I love to grab my skates and go. But, I will make sure I've checked over my gear and if I'm doing a few miles, I will have the bounciest Moxi outdoor wheels on. However, the paths out there aren't all smooth... I love going down hills fast, but I only do this on hills I know well. I need to know the path doesn't go from smooth to rougher grade tarmac.
Road or pavement? This is very dependent on your common sense and the place you are skating. I have skated on both. If the road and pavement are busy though, I tend to just shuffle along on the pavement, as at least I won't get run over.
Allow yourself time.
Unless you know your outdoor route well or you have lots of experience skating outside, give yourself plenty of time. Even a gentle hill which you breeze up on a bike is quite different on roller skates! Though you will go down much more quickly than up!
Even on an overcast day, or if you aren't going too far, hydration is really important. If you end up hanging on to a rail as you go across an uneven bit of ground or going down a hill, you can wash the dirt off your hands too, as it tends to be a build up of car fumes that will have built up. Gross!
I always have a skate tool and spare axle nut in my bag. The T-tool is lightweight and cheap, and the Moxi axle nut key rings are even smaller. It's just not fun having an axle nut shaken loose and then dropping off! Somehow, the nut always seems to completely disappear too, so to save yourself scrabbling around in the dirt or drain, just pop a couple of spares in.
Ideally, check your skates before you leave. Toe stops are tight, wheels spinning freely. Skate maintenance is important!
I also take an emergency snack.
I know I'm extra tall on skates and my stride is wide (so I take up a lot of room on the path when I'm really pushing). I make sure that I give other path users plenty of room, particularly dog walkers. Some dogs are really nervous as they don't understand the movement. If I have headphones in, I make sure they're not so loud that I don't know what is going on around me. For example, cyclists should be able to ding their bell and get past me easily. I want them to smile, not cuss because I'm in the way! Help us continue to give roller skaters a good name.
Have a lovely skate!
Depending on where you live and the community, be prepared to stop and chat to people about your skates! Most people are really interested in roller skates as it evokes a sense of nostalgia. If you don't want to chat, just wave, smile and roll on!