Sunday, June 12, 2005

Last Friday we had the launch of the summer skating season, and as always when you’re doing something after a long break, you’re bound to feel a bit wobbly. Even though I’ve skated for some 25 years, I still have the same feeling when getting back on wheels in the spring: excitement, adrenaline rush and in the back of it all, a slight fear. I’ve taken quite a bad fall when I was 17 (hit my head, suffered from amnesia for a while and so on), and even though I wear all the possible protection, I don’t take things for granted. Besides, even though you may have a better-than-average abilities, there are so many people, so many skill levels and so many daredevils that literally anything can happen. But believe me,it’s so much fun as well. The organisers claim that the round we make is some 20 kilometres. I’d like to believe that but at least the first round wasn’t that long… but it did squeeze all the strength from my thighs. They felt like blocks of concrete the next morning. There is a bus gathering all the people who become too tired to skate or get blisters or some other minor injuries during the trip. Of course, there’s also first aid and technical assistance available, should you lose a wheel or something similar.

The gathering for the parade has barely started. In the background the Atomium, a symbol of Brussels, and the the spire which will feature later in today's posting. Posted by Hello

You can also rent a pair of skates. Posted by Hello

And we're rolling... Posted by Hello

The gathering starts around 7pm and we set off at 8. There are several breaks on the way during which we may get some free bottles of water or ice tea from the sponsors, or just wait for the policemen to close the roads ahead. Of course, the organisers also make sure that even the slowest skaters have passed a check-point before opening the roads for traffic again. The tour ends around midnight in the city center and then there’s a party going on… not that I’d have enough energy to join it. Besides, the last metro runs around midnight, so getting home in one piece is top priority when we’ve finished skating.

This is the scary part. In a minute we'll be entering the tunnel. Posted by Hello

Luckily most of us came out unharmed. Posted by Hello

Actually, there would have been more skaters, but I suppose dozens/hundreds of them were at the King Baudoin stadium (formerly known as Heyzel) where U2 started its European tour. Huge success, as expected.

I was so sweaty and smelly and tired and there was such a bad case of helmet hair as well that I simply wanted to get home as soon as possible. Was home after midnight, took a quick shower and slept like a log.

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Belgium rollers
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This parade was also supposed to be seen in Brussels, but the city authorities said no. Would have caused too much attention, they said. Actually, the skaters joked that we should arrange a skate-in-the-nude happening.., God forbid.

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