Organized group skates began the first weekend in May. Skaters are advised that trails are still in rough shape in many locations, since we haven’t had a significant cleansing rain. On West River Parkway skaters can expect to encounter road construction next week. According to the main page Countdown, skaters have fewer than 50 days to prepare for the Apostle Islands Inline Marathon.
Organized group skates are a great way for recreational skaters to develop the skills necessary to improve. Group skates provide:
- an opportunity to watch and draft with more advanced skaters
- a higher level of safety than training on your own
- a great chance to get to know fellow skaters
- a simulation of racing situations and circumstances (free of charge!)
- quality time with Dan Collins, kicks from Randy Landucci, and the one of a kind scent of Ron Marfori’s boots
Gateway Skate (Monday evenings departing at 5:30 PM)
Pace: The Gateway skate is among the most diverse of the organized group skates. All skill levels are welcome and all skill levels frequent this skate. It is not uncommon for everyone to begin together but then break into a couple of pace lines.
Type: Out and Back
Conditions: Variable pavement, a couple road crossing, scenic tree lined and generally flat with little trail traffic.
Distance: The bridge over Manning Ave. was completed last fall, which lengthens the Gateway Trail to north of Stillwater. Skaters often exit the Gateway at Manning and do hill training on the smooth pavement of Mendell. Typical distance is approximately 23 miles, but occasionally eclipses 30 miles.
Location: This skate departs from what has come to be known as the “Hadley Lot.” This has occasionally led to confusion as the parking lot is not actually on Hadley St. To get to the Hadley Lot take HWY 36 to the Hadley St. intersection (hint: Mills Fleet Farm near the intersection of 694 and 36) and proceed South about 20 yards and immediately take a left onto 55th Street N. Continue down this road a few hundred yards and the lot will be on the right.
Approximate address: 7109 55th Street North, Oakdale, MN 55128.
The Gateway Trail map can be found at http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/state_trails/gateway.pdf
Minneapolis Greenway (Tuesday at 6:00 PM, and Saturday at 8:00 AM)
Pace: Variable. Often a quite modest warm up skate to “the Depot” (Coffee House at 169 and Excelsior – some also start from this location) then amping up the pace and sometimes doing “bridge sprints” (the trail passes under a significant number of bridges – sprint under two bridges then normal pace until the next bridge, and repeat).
Type: Out then back, then Out and back again.
Conditions: Good pavement; a few residential road crossings; a couple significant non-residential road crossing; busy, sometimes crowded urban setting. Occasional molotov cocktail.
Distance: Approximately 20 miles. This distance can be added to by continuing to the River Trail after crossing the bridge over Hiawatha Ave. or continuing to “the Depot” a second time.
Location: Starting “behind Whole Foods” in Uptown. Take Excelsior Boulevard to Abbott Ave S. and North back toward Whole Foods. There is no parking lot, just park on the side of the road. The Whole Foods parking lot is for customers – you have been warned. Skaters will begin to mass near the trail head (located where Abbott meets Chowen). The connection from the road to the trail is visible to the left of the red letter “A” below.
Approximate address: 3100 Abbott Ave S, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55416
Elm Creek Regional Park (Sunday departing at 9:00 & 10:00 AM)
Pace: Multiple pace lines are likely to evolve, however, the pace is generally quite rigorous due to significant hills. This is a challenging skate and may not be best for beginners.
Type: Multiple loops and criss-crossing trails.
Conditions: Very good pavement (but watch for tar snakes in wet condition, and be cautious on and approaching the wooden bridges); a lightly traveled road runs through the center of the park (approach with caution); the trails are scenic and wildlife abounds (think State Park); the trails are nearly the hilliest of any of the group skates and can be demanding; trail traffic generally light.
Distance: The park claims to have over 29 miles of paved trails, but if you forget to bring a copy of the park map and a compass you could end up doing significantly more. Be warned that not all trail intersections have a map posted – don’t learn the hard (and exhausting) way. Get your map at http://www.threeriversparks.org/parks/elm-creek-park.aspx
Location: This skate departs from the Lifetime Fitness parking lot in Champlin. Take Hwy 169 to 120th Ave. (Target will be to the East and Lifetime Fitness to the West). Take 120th Ave. West past Lifetime Fitness to the North West corner of their parking lot. On the map below you can see where the trail connects to the parking lot.
White Rock (Saturday morning car pools leave the metro around 6:30 A.M. for a 7:30 A.M. start)
Pace: This is a rigorous hill intense skate, but multiple groups form.
Type: Road skate.
Condition: Near perfect pavement; lightly traveled roads with wide shoulders; farm lined roads limit tree debris;
Distance: Variable, but be prepared for 20-30 miles (twice that amount at the end of the season).
Location: Skaters park along the side of County Blvd 1. Then proceed west to Country Road 8 and follow it south.
Not sure where to inline skate / rollerblade in the Twin Cities? Wondering where to rollerblade in the Twin Cities? The above locations are great even without a group. Twin Cities rollerblading or inline skating can be done safely and easily in many locations. See the links on the side of the main page for more ideas on where to skate in Minneapolis, where to skate in St. Paul, or where to skate in the Twin Cities.