Inline skating as rhythmic falls and recoveries

Some of us argue that skating consists of repeated cycles of falls and recoveries. Specifically, a skater deliberately moves his upper body such that shifted center of gravity causes him to “fall”. During this fall, he continues to glide on one skate. But at the same time he moves his other skate, the free skate, towards the projection on the ground of his shifting center of gravity, with the aim to recover from the fall by planting the free skate onto the new projected center of gravity. The process now repeats, with the previously free skate now becoming the new gliding skate.

Some of us argue that skating consists of repeated cycles of falls and recoveries. Specifically, a skater deliberately moves his upper body such that shifted center of gravity causes him to "fall". During this fall, he continues to glide on one skate. But at the same time he moves his other skate, the free skate, towards the projection on the ground of his shifting center of gravity, with the aim to recover from the fall by planting the free skate onto the new projected center of gravity. The process now repeats, with the previous free skate now becoming the new gliding skate.
A forward crossover movement seen as deliberate falling out of balance, ending with a recovery

If this fall and recovery sound like walking… well, it is walking, but with a special skating gait. And we need a specific vocabulary in order to talk about this special walking. See the illustration below.

We need a specific vocabulary in order to talk about this view of skating as rhythmic falls and recoveries.
Terminology for skating as falls and recoveries

Let’s look at the same sequence from earlier, with annotations. The skater starts out leaning to the left while gliding on his left skate. He is about to fall to the left, but during the fall he moves his right skate, the free skate, over to his left side. He catches his balance at the last second, by planting his right skate on the projection of his shifted center of gravity. I call this moment a balance moment, indicated by a red bracket.

Let's look at the same sequence from earlier, with annotations. The skater starts out leaning to the left while gliding on his left skate. He is about to fall to the left, but during the fall he moves his right skate, the free skate, over to his left side. He catches his balance at the last second, by planting his right skate on the projection of his shifted center of gravity. I call this moment a balance moment, indicated by a red bracket.
A forward crossover movement seen as deliberate falling out of balance, ending with a recovery

This may sound contrarian to the usual teachings of pushing off with alternating skates. In the fall and recovery narrative, there is no explicit pushing. There is only the body shifting balance and inducing falls. But this is just a complimentary perspective that describes the same coordinated movements of body parts.

I’ve written about rhythmic falls and recoveries in ice skating before. The same principles mentioned for ice skating apply to inline skating. This is an offshoot of the beginner guide I recently wrote: How to Inline Skate.

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How to Inline Skate

Since the pandemic of 2019, I’ve been regularly inline skating at Eisenhower Park after work. In these last two years, I’ve seen a large number of new skaters show up with a box of new skates at the park. They put on their new inline skates, and struggled around for a while. Most tried to walk around the rink by holding onto handrails at the outermost track. The brave tried to skate and fall. Very few approached me to ask for advise.

So a large number of first-time newbies showed up every week. But I almost never saw them a second time. Perhaps they went to a new park to skate. Perhaps they didn’t hang out around the rink after getting their footing, so to speak. But I suspect that a majority of them gave up.

Learning to inline skate

This article is for those who attempt to learn to inline skate. This article is what I wished someone had written for me, when I was just learning to skate. If you live on Long Island and are interested in connecting with your local skaters, consider joining r/NassauBladers at Reddit.

I learned to cruise around on level biking trails years ago, before YouTube tutorials were a thing. I figured out skating by trial and error, or I thought. I remember thinking that I knew how to inline skate.

This illusion lasted for years, until I saw skillful ice skaters at the Bryant Park ice rink one winter. Mesmerized, I picked up ice skating, and it changed how I saw inline skating as well.

Here I will share a few basic but crucial skills I’ve since learned. Hopefully this article will help beginners progress faster, and cut down significantly their frustration level. But I am under no illusion about my own abilities. I am merely an intermediate skater. I have my own next sets of barriers to overcome. Perhaps more articles will follow in time.

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Inline Skating Rink at Eisenhower Park

Eisenhower Park is one of the few places in Nassau County where an inline skater can practice at an outdoor rink when honing one’s skills, and then stroll leisurely on wheels along scenic trails when just hanging around with friends and family. The rink is accessible all year round, and you will see people there every day. However, skating at the rink in winter months is only for the most determined folks.

Demonstrating the lemon drop at the tracks in winter

If you are interested in connecting with your local skaters, consider joining r/NassauBladers at Reddit. If you are learning to skate, check out How to Inline Skate.

This article is not about a skatepark with street and transition elements, but I include it as a honorable mention as a part of my Public Skateparks on Long Island series.

This is what the rink looks like from the sky. Eight circular cement tracks surround an inner cement court with markings for baseball. Surfaces are coated, but I am not sure with what. The inner court gets less abuse and appear to have a less worn-out coating. Despite cracks, skating on tracks and on the inner court is a smooth and satisfying experience because of the coating.

Inline skating tracks and rink
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What is a 5M NaCl solution in wt% mass fraction?

What is the equivalent mass fraction of a 5M saline solution?

A 5M molarity NaCl solution is equivalent to a salt-water solution prepared at mass fraction of 24.53 wt%.

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What happens when you let saturated salt water dry up completely?

When you leave a saturated NaCl saline solution in a glass cylinder, what happens when water dries up? Likely you thought cubic salt crystals would form at the bottom of the glass, and then grow bigger as water evaporates. You have this mental picture perhaps from reading a textbook, or maybe watching an animated video. Eventually only salt crystals are left in the cup. Well, that’s not wrong. But that is also not the full story.

Saturated salt solution in a glass
Salt creep: Glass cylinder encased in a rind of salt
Glass cylinder encased in a rind of salt

What actually happens as salt water dries up in a cup is more complicated. You start with a glass cylinder about 2/5 filled with maximally-saturated salt water at 26 wt%, with about 1g of undissolved salt remaining, shown on the left. As water evaporates, at first those undissolved crystals continue to grow. But more crystals form on the surface of the solution. Before you realize, these crystals turn into lumps and form a seemingly live colonies of wet salt creeping up the glass wall. They will cover the entire inner wall, then march over and past the rim of the cylinder to the outside wall. By the time all water dries up, the glass cylinder is covered completely in a rind of salt, as shown on the right.

Salt colony creeping all over a graduated cylinder - progression from saturated saline solution to a salt rind (salt creep)
Salt colony creeping all over a graduated cylinder – progression from saturated saline solution to a salt rind

I couldn’t stop thinking, “what a creepy way for salt water to dry up!”

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Rockaway Skatepark – public skateparks on Long Island

Rockaway Skatepark in Queens was destroyed by Sandy. It was rebuilt, then reopened in 2020. This new and large facility features butter-smooth surface at the writing of this article, with both street and transition elements, plus a long bowl which connects with the main skating plaza. Rockaway Skatepark is located at the west end of Rockaway Beach. The new boardwalk passes next to the skatepark. And the Atlantic Ocean is just 200 feet away. Its sister Far Rockaway Skatepark is located at the east end of the same beach, 3.5 miles away. This article is a part of my Public Skateparks on Long Island series.

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Oyster Bay Skatepark – public skateparks on Long Island

Oyster Bay Skatepark features both street and transition elements, plus three connected bowls. Despite the name, this skatepark is actually located at Bethpage, not Oyster Bay. In fact, it’s part of the Bethpage Community Park, which is not far away from the huge Bethpage State Park. This article is a part of my Public Skateparks on Long Island series.

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Manorhaven Beach Skatepark – public skateparks on Long Island

Manorhaven Beach Skatepark features both street and transition elements. There is a raise platform in the middle of the plaza, with traffic flowing around this platform. At the time of this writing, it is the only public skatepark on all of North Shore Long Island. This article is a part of my Public Skateparks on Long Island series.

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Long Beach Skatepark – public skateparks on Long Island

Long Beach Skatepark features both street and transition elements, plus a large bowl. It is located between an outdoor hockey rink and the Municipal Boat Launch Ramp. This article is a part of my Public Skateparks on Long Island series.

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Kennedy Skatepark – public skateparks on Long Island

Kennedy Skatepark is officially named Jarred A. Newallo Skatepark. It is located in the Town of Hempstead, in Nassau County. This article is a part of my Public Skateparks on Long Island series.

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