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Skate FAQs: Where to Skate - California

Where to Skate - California

Last modified: Monday, July 22, 1996

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From: (Dave Rhoades)
Date: 10 May 1995 15:20:40 GMT

First of all I received a good tip from Owen Meany telling me an area called the Pocket area which was good but too many streets crossed the river trail from what I did see. For learning skaters this is probably fantastic.

Now the bad news. The American river trail I was told by a park official is outlawed for skater because they go too slow. Although baby carriages are allowed for people walking. Anyway this was at discovery park, which flooded out two days later from rain. (I'm Glad)

I did get a chance to skate around the Arco Arena which was alright especiall trying to race the Jackrabbits. Came close to one before he went over an island in the parking lot.

I also skated back and forth on W. El Comino for about 10 miles, got the days workout but almost was hit by some cocky teenagers in a VW bus and MANY, I mean MANY cars that don,t look where they are going when coming out of small streets. I was even in a bike lane. I don't think it means anything in that town.

From: (Ron Spencer)
Date: 25 Apr 96 07:32:07 PDT

[Dave Rhoades stated:]

Now the bad news. The American river trail I was told by a park official is outlawed for skater because they go too slow. Although baby carriages are allowed for people walking. Anyway this was at discovery park, which flooded out two days later from rain. (I'm Glad)"

The American River Bike Trail is open to skaters east of Hazel Ave. There are about 10 miles of paved trail ending at the Beals Point picnic area on Folsom Lake. This section of the trail is controlled by the state park system and does not have the same restrictions as the part of the trail that is controlled by the county.


From: "Chris G. Pagliccia" (
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 95 15:37:04 -700

First, UC Davis is in the last stage of building a top of the line outdoor in-line skating rink. It will be of regulation size and feature a sport court. It is slated to be ready in early August [1995]. No word yet, however, on what access privileges will be or who will have to pay to use the court. Its primary use will be for IM rollerhockey games.

Next, the Davis In-line Hockey Assoc., a member of NIHA, has had their facility resurfaced and painted. The rink is a converted tennis court so it's size is small and is enclosed by a chain-link fence. Youth league games are currently in progress and free skate times are weekday mornings and all day Sunday. I do not have the exact times. The rink is at West Manor Park on Portage Bay Drive.

Finally, Davis has many miles of safe bike paths that are great for skating, and it is pretty flat here! The bike path along the south side of Russell Blvd. is well shaded and pretty smooth; a very popular place to skate! Hope this helps!

Napa Valley

From: (Peter W. Richards)
Date: Wed, 04 Jan 1995 23:30:43 -0600

I recommend the Silverado Trail (Site of David Miles of CORA's Roll thru the Wine Country). You can cruise about 27 miles from Napa to Calistoga and another 27 back if you're ambitious. (I did it once. Don't ask what my socks looked like...) Moderately rolling with no really scary hills. Quite adequate bikelane/shoulder most of the way except for in some of the hills near the Calistoga end, and a funny road surface/shoulder ridge even nearer Calistoga. Cool stuff for distance enthusiasts....

Marin County

From: (Charles E Newman)
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 1995 04:04:58 GMT

[...], do not use your inlines anywhere in public in Larkspur, they outlawed the use of skatboards, roller skates, and inline skates some years ago. And the Tamalpais Union High school distrct banned them in 1986 on district property. If you want to skate, don't go to Marin, period!!!!

From: (Jennifer Lynn Hammond)
Date: 16 Jan 1995 23:19:39 GMT

There is a paved multi-use path in Tiburon that has incredible views. It's only two miles long (one way), but you can add in some streets in Tiburon; there are lots of skaters on weekends, and it seems skate- friendly. [We were fooling around on a residential street one day, and one of my friends fell just as a police car went by on the cross street. The officer doubled back and came down our street, and we were sure he was going to tell us to get off the road. But he just wanted to make sure my friend was okay, and he drove away saying "enjoy!"]

The path is just off of Tiburon Blvd. We usually park in the lot for Richardson Bay Park, because street parking in Tiburon can be scarce. On the weekends it can get a bit crowded, and sometimes it's pretty windy out there, so be prepared!

There's also a paved bike path in Sausalito, but the surface is a bit too rough for my taste.... it's do-able, but not esp. enjoyable.

Other than that, I don't know of anywhere special in Marin. My boyfriend and I live in Novato, and we just go out on the streets here... there are some really nice routes.

San Francisco

Web sites with San Francisco info:

From: (L. Floyd)
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 1995 06:19:32 GMT

Midnight Rollers
San Francisco Friday Night Skate

Every Friday night, weather permitting, skaters from San Francisco and around the Bay Area get together to skate the streets of San Francisco. Skaters begin gathering between 8:00 and 8:30 in the parking lot in front of the Ferry Terminal on the Embarcadero near the east end of Market Street (just about where Market Street would intersect The Embarcadero). Parking is usually plentiful in the lots where the skaters meet, but it costs $3.00; although it is supposed to be a self pay system, an attendant was collecting cash at the parking lot entrance the last time we skated. There is street parking nearby, but finding an open space may be difficult.

Just before 8:30, the "leader" of the skate [...] will give a quick introduction to the skate and go over the commonsense rules of the road. He/she usually emphasizes that a lot of what the skaters do during the skate could be considered illegal, but the San Fransico Police are willing to tolerate it so long as the skaters don't push it too far...

Then, at about 8:30, the skate begins!

The route first heads west along the Embarcadero then does a U-turn at the Exploratorium and heads east. Eventually, the group ends up south of Market (not too far from the starting point) to have fun at one of the many clubs in that area. There are several stops along the way where skaters regroup and perform tricks (you wouldn't believe what some skaters do at the Powell Street BART Station).

Skaters of all skill levels do the skate. It helps to know how to skate streettocurb and curbtostreet. There are some hills (we're talking about San Francisco, ya know), but even the newest skater can waddle up these without much trouble. With the uphills are the downhills: know how to stop!! If you are worried about not making the full skate, just bring along taxi fare as insurance.

It's a great group of people to skate with. There are lots of regulars and always some firsttimers. Usually 200 to 400 people participate. Come join in the fun! Hope to see you there!

From: (Garvin 888)
Date: Unknown

When in San Francisco check out Golden Gate Park; on Sundays the park's closed off to cars. Also, there's the Embarcadero area (Fisherman's Wharf, pier 39, etc.) and the Marina district. If you're a fairly skilled skater, you can try and tackle other areas in SF, but there are plenty of hills.

From: (L. Floyd)
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 19:20:36 GMT

While you are in SF, you might want to check out the skating in Golden Gate Park on Sundays. One of the main roads (John F. Kennedy Drive) that goes through the park is closed off (well, most of it is closed off) from noon until late in the afternoon. Runners, cyclists, walkers, and skaters fill the stree. There is usually a group of regulars who set up a boom box (powered by car batteries!) near 6th Ave... some of the best skaters in town dance the day away there.

East Bay

From: (Betsy Burton)
Date: Unknown

In addition to the places I can tell you about, there is a book out from Karim Cycley that talks about some other places.

1) My personal favorite for a nice long run, is the back streets to Richmond. There are a number of streets starting near Gilman and Albany. These streets go through Albany and El Cerrito. In addition, Richmond Street goes out past the El Norte Bart Station. This route has good small hills and allows for a good workout.

2) The Nimitz trail takes off at the top of inspiration point and goes out about 4 miles. At the end of this path is a rather large hill, which after struggling to the top, is great to fly down.

3) Tunnel road takes a bit of experience and some good breaking skills. I just heard that someone biked up tunnel road the other it may be open after the fire.

4) Berkeley Marina is good for a quickie. A full lap is 2.5 miles. The only draw-back is that the view gets a little boring after a few laps. My last and most favorite is Bancroft Hill, next to the University. Late at night it is a nice fast down hill.

From: jimy@hkn.Berkeley.EDU (Jim Young)
Date: Unknown

You might want to try skating around the Berkeley hills. I usually go up Euclid or Spruce, skate across Grizzly Peak, and then down Tunnel road. If you go early in the morning, you might see Eddy Matzger and Sandy Snakenberg there.

From: (Kimon Papahadjopoulos)
Date: Unknown

Experts only! Nasty hill climb, nasty descent.

Path or area location: Tunnel Road on the Berkeley/Oakland Border Directions:

From Berkeley: Take Ashby out of Berkeley, past the Clairmont Hotel and towards highway 13 and 24. Turn left at the stoplight (As if going towards highway 24, not 13). When you get to the top of the hill, make a left and Park.

Orida side of 24: I believe you take the Tunnel Road Exit.

TheRoute...__ To 24
             \   |
Tunnel Rd --> |  |
              |  |
              |  |
   Hiller --> |  |
             /   |
            /    |

From Berkeley ---S---- To 13 ->

For experts only! If you cannot brake well at high speeds, don't try this course. If you are unsure, drive it first.

The climb up is a great workout, and not too severe. There are also great views of San Francisco and Oakland. Tunnel Road turns into Skyline about half way up.

Watch for problems in the road going up so that you will be aware of them when you come down. Take it easy coming down the first time. There are several areas that require care!

There is a water fountain a little past the top (if you continue along Skyline Blvd about 200 meters) at a ranger station.

This is in the burned area of Oakland, so there is construction going on in places, some trucks coming up.

It takes between 15-30 min to get to the top, depending on ability.

There are other places you can explore when you get to the top, but Tunnel is generally the most tame, and the safest bet to go back down. Be careful and have fun!

From: (Needeep)
Date: 2 Feb 1995 22:52:52 -0500

Try the Alameda Creek Bike Trail (ACBT) and the Coyote Hills Park (CHP). They are in Fremont.

ACBT is flat and about 7 miles long. It connects up to the CHP loop trail (about 4 miles and rolling hills). We also like to skate in the Ardenwood Business Park (Paseo Padre and Ardenwood in Fremont).

South Bay and Peninsula

Web sites with South Bay and Peninsula info:

From: (Diana Hirsch)
Date: Unknown

I have two suggestions for skating trails in the Bay Area:

1. Sawyer Camp Trail - off 280 in San Mateo near 92. Blader heaven on Sunday's, lessons every other Sunday. The trail is about 6 miles one-way. The last mile is very steep but fun coming down. However, they have radar out there and they will give you a ticket for speeding, especially in the posted 5mph zones.

2. Campbell Par Course Trail - off Campbell Ave. near 17 and the Pruneyard. The trail can be accessed in several places between Hamilton and Campbell Aves. This trail is fun because it goes all the way through Vasona Park into Los Gatos. The only caution is that there are several wood bridges to cross. (Stay on your back wheels and use short horizontal strokes, it's good for the adrenalin.)

From: (CatsMeow)
Date: 2 Jul 1994 08:50:06 -0400

Hellyer to Anderson Dam trail. 16 miles of paved trail that take you to Morgan Hill near the Dam.

Los Gatos Creek trail. This starts on Willow Street, way at the west end where it dead-ends and goes clear to Vasona Park. I think it's a good 10 miles at least.

From: (Eugene Walden)
Date: Unknown

Another good place to go is Sawyer Camp Trail. It's only 6 miles long, so I guess it doesn't qualify as really long, but there and back, you get a good quiet 12 miles.

Take I-280 to Black Mtn Rd (just north of 92) and head west. Turn left at the intersection and go another mile or so. It's on the right.

Follow the posted speed limits-- park rangers have radar and will give citations for violators.

From: Jawara@AppleLink.Apple.COM (Ron Drake)
Date: Unknown

The trail goes under the San Mateo Bridge all the way to the end of Edgewater Boulevard in Foster City. As a matter of fact, the best part of the trail is after the bridge. Makes eight miles, total. Traffic's not too bad except for the occasional knot of cud-chewers and those kids who bike out ahead of their parents and think nothing about turning right in front of you to see if mom and dad are still visible. If you start and finish at Edgewater, you can replenish your precious bodily fluids at Chevy's with a couple of cold margaritas. From 101, take Hillsdale Blvd. or H'way 92 to Edgewater. Turn right and follow Edgewater to its end. Park. The trail begins at the end of the street to the right.

The best street skating I've found so far is through western Menlo Park near the Stanford campus to downtown. There are a number of streets there that have bike lanes and not much vehicular traffic. The streets are well- kept so that debris and surprise bumps are at a minimum. The pavement varies in quality from excellent to garbage. The area is bounded by Sand Hill Road, Valparaiso Road, El Camino and Alameda de las Pulgas.

Those who go to Shoreline should be aware of the concert schedule. It's always better to go when it's quiet. For those who want to get a real workout, here's the prescription for doing 'laps' at Shoreline. At the end of the stretch that parallels Moffett Field, there's that series of double gates. Skate down the incline (Whoa!), out through the cul-de-sac and make a right on Shoreline Boulevard.

From: (David Volansky)
Date: Unknown

at Stanford. Anybody have any details on this (when, where, etc...). I believe this is put on by the skate shop Nuevo Colors...

The group meets at the Main Quad at about 7:15pm. The best place to locate them is in the parking lot at the end of Palm/University Ave or on the stairs near the lot - you can't miss them - the group usually numbers in the 30s to 40s this time of year (more in summer, less in the rain - yes, they go in the rain).

The group is very informal and doesn't really have a starting time or leader. As it's getting darker, they're leaving earlier and earlier.

The ride usually goes until about 9 or 9:30 and includes some favorite jumping spots on campus and a ride in the close-by neighborhood. Be prepared for some hills - the smell of heal brake is really something at the end of some of these runs. The route is the same each week, so the darkness isn't too bad after a few weeks. In the beginning, just stay behind someone who seems to know the route and be sure to listen for the "stay to the right", "stay to the left", "watch out for the big ditch" messages.

Date: Sun, 18 Jun 1995 03:36:10 -0400

There is a nice skate park (big bowl, small bowl, doughnut) in Palo Alto in Greer park. Unfortunately, it is only open to skateboarders which means you can only skate there after the attendent leaves (8 pm in the summer and 6 pm the rest of the time). It's a lot of fun to skate there. To get there take 101 to the Oregon Expwy exit and turn left on the frontage road. Take it two or three blocks down to the end of Greer Park. Turn right and the park is right there.

From (Tony Purmal)
Date: Unknown

Date: Unknown

Redwood Shores, CA (across 101 from Belmont, CA)

From: jimy@hkn.Berkeley.EDU (Jim Young)
Date: Unknown

On the peninsula, there are some nice, smooth trails at Crystal Springs. I know some guys who skate from Mountain View to SF, so I think some of the roads that parallel 280 are fairly nice.

Finally, in the south bay, I have a friend who skates on the Los Gatos bike trail (it runs parallel to highway 17). It's sort of crowded with joggers and runners, but it's better than skating in south bay traffic.

From: (Tal Dayan)
Date: Unknown

This is Cunnigham park in San Jose. The park has a lake, and a trail around it. The Perimeter trail (a loop) is 1.9 mile long but if you use the trail just neat the water, it a little bit shorter. The park has several parking lots which are virtually empty in this time of the year (including weekends) which are good for figure skating. The one I like the most is near the Marina (just below the Raging Water entrance) which has new pavement and it slope make it ideal for slalom (you might find the chalk marks I made this morning ;-> ). You can feed the ducks (millions of them), fish (or at least try to), or have Cock from the vending machine near the entrance to Raging Water. The parking costs one $ but there is no body to pay for or a box to leave the money so I consider it free (probably it is different at summer).

To get there, take 101 Tully exit east (one exit south to the point were 101 and 280 met) and go on Tully all the way until you will see the entrance on the left side (just after the airport).

From: (Shyh-Pei Yen)
Date: Unknown

Place: Shoreline Park in Mountain View
Direction: 101 exit Shoreline Blvd North. At the end of Shoreline Blvd is the park entrance. Keep going until you get to the Boat House, you can park there.
Fee: None.
Level: beginner and intermediate.
Description: There are plenty trials available in Shoreline Park where you can skate. And there's one trail is super smooth which is really a pleasure to skate on it. The parking lot is also very smooth. Best of all, when you are tired, you can sit by the lake and watch people windsurfing.
Drawback: The Park is getting crowded in the afternoon. Sometime, it's hard to find a parking space by the lake.

From: (Susan Petersen)
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 1996 09:31:30 -0800

i wanted to let you know that a new skatepark has opened in San Jose, California [...]

It is located at 230 Umbarger Road (the back street of the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds) between Monterey and Senter Roads. Look for Carpet Connection and go behind it to the last warehouse (Warehouse #16). Its a small place that houses a half-pipe, wall ride, grind box and box jump with plans to expand.

It is open to aggressive inliners saturday and sundays between 530-10p. If anyone wants info, please call 408.972.1600 and ask for Brian Jackson or email me at

Santa Cruz

From: Spaz (
Date: 9 Aug 1995 04:42:25 GMT

You wanna know about *good* places to blade in Santa Cruz? Wow! There aren't any. :) Kinda have to make your own. :>

Of course, there is West Cliff drive, **ACK**, if you're the once in a while weekender blader, but me, I live on me blades. I skate clear from Aptos (McDonald and Freedom) right into downtown Santa Cruz almost daily. :>

All which is inbetween has become my blading domain! I usually take Freedom to Soquel, and Soquel all the way in. I am not sure how far it is, but I think between 10 and 15 miles. Still, I find all sorts of inbetweens entertaining.. . .

  1. Across the Capitola Mall on the other side of 41st ave is a nice neighborhood with mostly vacant streets to skate around in at just about any time of the week.
  2. I like Brommer St, it is long and well paved and straight. I usually do a one-way trip north or south, but can see me blading back and forth with someone who just wants to go back and forth.
  3. Just below UCSC off Nobel St. there are some nice neighborhoods with very pleasent skating for the most part. You can see father and son out on blades sometimes putzing along together (well actually, the son is usually found skating circles around the dad).
  4. It's a nice skate up and down Freedrick St. in the Seabright area. The neighborhoods in that area are what I would call Ideal for blading.
  5. Downtown ofcourse, :) , illegal though it may be, ;) , area is perfect for jollying about on blades. Cool parking structures too.
  6. As insane as it may sound, I have found I absolutely love Valencia at night with me 4-cell Mag-lite. It's a pretty kick-ass little route if you're into that kind of blading. :>
  7. Downhill Ski-ing anyone, I hear the Empire Grade is the most bitching dive on blades. However, I have only done Glen Coolridge Drive down through to and down Bay St. all the way to mission. Second only to a good skydive.
  8. East Cliff Drive has it's moments, but watch out for the beach psycos who get drunk daily along the cliffs, they seem to have a personal problem with blades. :<
  9. Prospect Hights just below De LaVeaga Park is part of a decent neighborhood to skate. The roads are really smooth, and the drivers are mostly concerned parents who are thinking of people in the road. :)
  10. I rather like (personally) the 41st Ave run, from Soquel to the beach. A pleasent run if you're comfortable around busy parkinglot's and cars. However, once you get to Capitola Rd, you can move over north one block and complete the trip via 38th Ave. which is smooth for most of the way, but turns to crap right near the end (less cars though, and you can do Brommer if you decide you have energy).
  11. Mission St. is one of my loves, it is straight, sidewalked, and full of "interesting" obstacles which aren't nessaccarilly threatening. Mostly unwitting pedestrians. :)
  12. Practice hills?
    1. Water St. between Branciforte and Market (a small steep hill with enough space to skate, and a long straight-a-way at the bottom.
    2. Soquel from Vienna Dr down into Cabrillo College (a very mellow slope which begins up another hill after you have reached the bottom so you are going to stop either way)
    3. The Mirrimar St. Psyco-drop (just kidding, but it is a very good place to learn how to slolemn without sliding or wiping out, be armored when playing on the Psyco-drop, I can power- slide the entire leanght of the hill without meaning to.)
  13. Santa Cruz City and County in general. I have only named a couple of the places I have grown to like. I can tell you the places I absolutely despise too if you like.


From: (Tara Dalton)
Date: Sat, 05 Aug 1995 23:01:29 GMT

There is a nice path in Monterey right along the ocean. The best part of it (smooth cement) is between the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the warf. That part is only about a mile or so long. The rest of the path continues in both directions, but it gets kinda rough. It is a great place to skate because it is really smooth and wide, and on weekends there are always lots of skaters out.

From: (Stephen Richardson)
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 10:34:54 -0700

Seventeen Mile Drive, in Carmel

Starting at the north gate, near the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, the Seventeen Mile Drive trail winds past a toll booth (skaters don't pay), out through Pebble Beach golf course, and along the beach. After a few miles, it turns slightly inland, hairpinning up one fairly steep hill, and goes among the multi-million dollar homes of the Seventeen Mile Drive residential area, overlooking scenery that rivals any on the Big Sur coast.

Pay no attention to the pokey-slow tourists that crowd the road. They're not going fast enough to provide any real threat. The surface here is nicely paved, with just enough curves and hills to keep it really fun.

The Pebble Beach Clubhouse complex, about halfway through the tour, is a good place to turn around and go back. Continuing forward along Seventeen Mile Drive is a grueling mountainous skate, with more Traffic and less scenery.

San Luis Obispo

From: (Kinsley Wong)
Date: Unknown

[Try] Santa Rosa Parks, Perfumo Canyon Road, Palm Street Parking Structure

Santa Barbara

Web sites with Santa Barbara info:

Los Angeles

From: (Edith Weil)
Date: Unknown

The Rose Bowl--terrific for its large and varied terrain, as well as sparce population most of the time.

Griffith Park--the back end. It can have a lot of traffic going through--especially on the weekends. If you start at the Crystal Springs picnic area and work towards Burbank, the workout is well paced, having inclines, straightaways, a few hills, and various parking lots to stop and noodle around in. Also, rolling along under the Eucalyptus trees is about as pleasant as anything--if you watch out for the twigs and tree junk on the ground.

The Beach--an obvious choice, but about the nicest place to cruise I've ever skated--with the exception of crowds. Now that summer's here, the crowd situation will be problematic. I've gone from Manhatten to Hermosa and back a couple-a-few times, as well as starting in Santa Monica and working up towards Malibu. Both trips are delightful.

A few weekends ago we went down to a park near the LA county fairgrounds (I forget the name, but you can't miss it.) The lake is circled by a concrete path going through the lawns and picnic areas that lead down to the shore. We took a divergent path and ended up going through a hilly area that wound up in a trailer park. Sort of interesting day, not the best skating, but there's a hot-tub rental place just outside the park if you want to relax afterwards. I'd go there again just to do something different.

From: (DuSki)
Date: 25 Apr 1995 16:28:31 -0400

Colin Summers (72241.437@CompuServe.COM) asks:

...flying in a few weeks ago I looked down and there seemed to be a bike path on the beach at the end of the LAX runway. I looked again the next flight, sure enough there it is with bikers and bladers on it. I bladed to the Marina Del Ray end of my run, but couldn't figure out a way around the channel."

The path you are asking about is called "The Strand" and it goes from Santa Monica all the way down to the cliffs at Palos Verdes. Since I moved to Minnesota a few years ago and hadn't skated the Strand for a while before that, I can't tell you exactly how to navigate through the Marina, but I can tell you that its possible to get through on the path without getting on Lincoln Blvd. And the view on the Strand around Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo is DEFINITELY worth the trip ;-).. If I remember correctly, just stay as close to the water as you can as you go through the Marina. Have fun!

From: (John Godden)
Date: 26 Apr 1995 03:29:58 GMT

[Re the Strand] I have skated that path many times and yes you don't have to use Lincoln blvd. Coming from the north you will dead end into the Marina Del Ray channel. At this point just keep bearing to the right as you circle around the marina. There are patches of bike path and some low traffic street routes but its relatively obvious. Eventually you will end up on Fuji Way which has lots of boat yard type places. At the "end" of Fuji way you will see a clearly marked sign on the South Side of the street that starts the bike path up again. After a 3/4 mile westerly jaunt along Ballona Creak the path hops over the creak and heads south towards the South Bay. Trust me the trip will be worth it. The Finest stretch of sand and visuals you will ever lay your eyes on.

One tip I will give you. There are generally moderate afternoon winds from the north so it is best the plan your trip accordingly.

From: (Kevin Carothers)
Date: Thu, 30 Jun 1994 21:43:35 GMT

I keep on praising the virtues of the Sepulveda Dam Recreation complex all the time in this group --

It's fun, free, near the best skate shop in the San Fernando Valley, and not boring -- a few chills & spills & hills, but extremely navigatable on wheels... Approximately 16 miles of smooth 2-lane concrete bike paths, and lots of parking. There are some cracks in the sidewalk, some a result of the Northridge quake, but overall a good experience. The only problem I have is that it is not very shady over half of the trails. Oh Well.

Long Beach

From: elias@fitz.TC.Cornell.EDU (Doug Elias)
Date: Unknown

i just got back last night from a business trip to Long Beach Ca., during which i was able to escape my captors a few times in order to sample some of the beach-skating along the Strand. My Macro-EQ's having so far been fed exclusively on a diet of Ithaca pothole-and- gravel, this was a golden opportunity to find out how they'd perform under something better than, shall we say "marginal", conditions. Suffice it to say that i'll be reliving that experience in my dreams for quite some time to come, thanks in large measure to a guy i met in one of the beach shops dotted along the Strand.

i was stroking past this little shack with the sign "Alfredo's" painted on it when i saw a rack of 'blading accessories, so i pulled in to look them over (cagey folks, that's exactly why they have them out there in plain view). While i was looking over the wheels and pads, out rolls Dana Bergman, Alfredo's resident inline-expert and a member of their skating team. He's wearing a pair of Reidell's (sorry, never got the model, but it's got 3 buckles and 4 wheels, if that's any help), and we get to talking about Macro's (he had a pair when they first came out) and bearings (did you know that Macro's used to come stock with German bearings, and only recently switched to Singapore NMB's? Dana was shocked and saddened) and proper care-and-feeding-of-same. i got a first-hand lesson in popping dust covers off of "sealed bearings" -- i use that phrase advisedly, because that's how Rollerblade describes them in their technical material. i told Dana that and he just laughed: "Yeah, all they want to do is sell you a new set when they get gritty, instead of telling you how to clean them and loosing the sale." So he pulls out a brand-new set of German ABEC-3's still in the wrapper, digs a little optical screwdriver (the kind you use to tighten your temples, for all you four-eyes like me) out of his kitbag, and twists off one of the covers. "Ya gotta be careful with those Singapore bearings, though", he cautioned, "the covers are on a lot tighter and you might jab the blade through your hand, but they still pick up dirt and grit." He put a little dab of a light grease (i didn't catch the name, but it comes in this 6" long black cardboard cylinder) inside the bearing, rubs it around, then adds a drop or two of this fairly high-priced oil that comes in a nifty little pocket-clip applicator with a long needle-tip, "Mogema In-Line Racing Oil"; when the original supply of oil is used up, he re-fills it with Marvel Mystery Oil, which he claims is just as good, if a little thinner, and much cheaper. If he had had to clean them first, he would have used a tuna can full of acetone to loosen up the junk and dissolve any grease/oil that remained, pounded them a few times on a hard surface to knock the loosened stuff out, then set them out for a minute or two to let the acetone evaporate, followed by the re-greasing procedure i just described.

My bearing are still doing fine, so i didn't buy any of his, but he had a supply of aluminum spacers in stock, and i snapped up a full set, and bought one of his pocket-oilers off him -- damn, you might say i was impressed with how much better i rolled with the new spacers and a couple of drops of oil per bearing.

Since the day was kinda cloudy and business was slack they closed up and Dana took me back up the Strand to the Long Beach Natatorium (where they held the swimming events in the '88 Olympics), and gave me an introduction to stair-riding -- if only it were as simple as he made it look. He said that there were four main points, whether you're riding them frontwards or backwards:

  1. have one foot "in front" (relative to the stairs),
  2. put most of your weight on the back foot (the one coming down last), and use the front one for balance and control,
  3. have your weight forward (relative to yourself, i.e, bend over at the waist and shift your weight to follow your upper body), and
  4. keep the wheels that are going down first on both skates UP, don't let them go DOWN, or you'll follow them.

Dana claims that backwards stair-riding is much more natural an activity than going down frontwards, given the way our knees bend, and that it's basically just our inbred fear of moving in a direction opposite to the way we're facing that makes it seem otherwise. And, as we all learned on our bikes when our training wheels came off, you're more stable at-speed than you are going slowly. i believe him, but i haven't worked my way up to practicing it quite yet -- now that i have a good example of what to shoot for, it's only a matter of time (and the obligatory case-or-two of stair-rash -- for damn-sure i'm going to be wearing a helmet when i start practicing these moves; so far i've gotten away with wrist-, elbow- and knee-protectors, but then i've made it a serious point to keep my skates on the ground, and the ground continuous rather than step-function-like).

That much would have been a nice addition to my stay in southern California, but the next afternoon Dana took me for a guided tour of downtown Long Beach that was little short of fantastic. Parking ramps, waist-high walls around parking lots, 50-yard long drops down a 40% grade followed by a hairpin over a swatch of dirt and into a parking lot...but the absolute best had to be the Long Beach Veterans Building, with three sets of 3-4 stairs separated by about 20-30 feet each going down, and then a set of S-curves following the handicap ramp going back up, all this fitting inside a 30 x 80 foot rectangle: Dana likened it to the Long Beach Gran Pri for formula-1, and gave me a demo, taking the stairs in nonchalant jumps that looked like an alpine downhiller catching air over a mogul, and then powering up the ramp with fast, powerful crossovers while leaning far out over ("But don't touch!") the hand-rails. He and his friends race this course frequently, but i couldn't figure out where they had room to pass, certainly not on the ramp: "Oh, I always pass on the stairs, they all yell: 'Look out! Here comes Dana!', and I just come blasting down".

He had lots of little tips picked up over the years, stuff like:

In case anyone in the LA area is interested, the Alfredo's folks are giving serious thought to the construction of an inline park somewhere in Long Beach, with a speed-oval surrounding an inner playground with ramps, stairs, tubes, and a re-creation of the the Veterans Building Formula-1 course. They're already solidly behind city efforts to convert an unused volleyball court just across the street from the beach into a fully-functional roller-hockey facility; this should be done well before summer officially starts.

One last tip for the beer-loving 'blader who visits the Long Beach Strand: be sure to stop into the Belmont Brewery, just an in-field fly away from the Natatorium: really great service which, frankly, wouldn't be worth mentioning if it weren't for the truly fantastic brewed-on-premise beers (okay, okay -- the food is excellent, too, but the beers are really exceptional).

Bottom-line: if you have an opportunity to take your skates to Long Beach, look up Dana and coerce him to give you a Downtown Long Beach Tour -- he's really good company, a damn-fine skater, and an all-'round nice guy. And don't forget the Belmont Brewery!

Date: 20 Aug 1994 03:27:07 -0400

Another Ultimate place to skate is in Long Beach. Go park your car in shorline park then skate the park for good measure. North of it is a large dock area for Catalina Boats, there are wide expanses of concrete there between the commercial buildings..great for freestyle or hockey practice. If you go south of the shoreline village you can skate on smooth and wide sidewalks beside the marina...this path takes you to the beach sidewalk path which goes about 5 miles south past the Belmont Pier and to the Seal Beach Breakwater. I think this is the ultimate for skating. Wide range of terrain and nice views too!

Orange County

From: "Irene M. GRAFF" (
Date: Wed, 31 Aug 94 13:15:05 PST

I live in Orange County, CA which has some great places to skate. First off is the (mostly flat) beach recreation path which stretches in various forms from Newport Beach through Huntington to Sunset Beach. The best part of the path is along Huntington State Beach, but Newport Beach is more interesting (albeit a slower skate due to heavy use). The distance between Huntington and Newport Piers is about 10 miles round-trip. The surface north of Huntington Beach Pier is quite a bit rougher but worth it for the bluff-top views and hill work.

At the southern end of Huntington State Beach, you can hook up with the very long Santa Ana River Trail (over 40 miles round trip). This path has many roadway underpasses but they are fairly smooth. For extreme skaters, I've seen a lot of activity on the floor of the river which is very accessible since it was rebuilt (no, it's not really a "river" at most points, merely a flood channel, which is dry most of the year).

If you like river trails, there are some good ones in the city of Irvine. Irvine is very bike/skate friendly, but the University of California at Irvine has, unfortunately, banned skating on campus completely.

San Diego

From: Ann Patterson (
Date: 1 May 1995 23:03:48 GMT

There is also a Friday Night Skate in San Diego. It isn't as big as San Francisco's, but we do the same kind of thing. We meet at Mike's Bikes, near the rollercoaster in Mission Beach, at 6:30, and skate 10-20 miles, depending on where we go. Helmets are required.

From: (Joan Tine)
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 1995 03:13:29 GMT

If you can't get south enough along the coast to skate South Mission Beach at least once (and visit Hamel's Action Sports by the roller coaster) you'll have missed the San Diego skating venue. (Not the best, just the best known, and it's summer here:). It's less than 15 min. from La Jolla, come down the coast route, or I-5 S to I-8 W to W. Mission Bay Drive, turn south at the roller coaster, go to the tip of the peninsula and park..skate north to Crystal Pier, turn around, come back to the parking lot, continue east, skate up the inside of the bay-side of the peninsula, and continue around...(if you're inventive, you can get to the Bahia Hotel without crossing the street). Generally, you can get a quick 26 miles without exposing yourself to cars, and the parking lot at south Mission is where a lot of people who aren't stunting in front of Hamel's practice.

La Jolla itself is pretty hilly, the Cove is quite steeeeeeeeeep! <splash>. You could always try Mt. Soledad...(if your name is Francois Hyacinthe). UCSD is pretty nice, and skates are proabably as nice a way to see the (haloooooooooo ooooooo ooooo) campus as any.

But bring your swimwear (or buy some there!) and skate the MB Board- walk...mind the tourists in trance and the loadies on weed, and you'll be fine.

From: (Veda Larson)
Date: 8 Oct 94 03:05:32 GMT

Down here in San Diego, my fave haunt is Miramar Lake/reservoir, at I-5 and Mira Mesa Blvd. It's a 5-mile loop around a very pretty lake -- a nice workout routine. Even though lots of people go there (bikers, runners, walkers, fishers :), they're all spread out so it's still very peaceful. Play It Again Sports nearby rents skates, so you can take your newbie friends, too. The west end of the lake is a sort of dam overlooking the city, and the coast off in the distance. It is a mind- and body- cleansing experience to skate around the lake and stop at the west end to stretch and watch the sunsets on the ocean beyond the city.

The boardwalk in Mission Beach and the paths around Mission Bay are fun, and there are lots of rental shops nearby, but they are quite a bit too touristy for my taste, especially in the summer.

From: (S0ren Ashe)
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 16:38:02 GMT

For beginners: the Jack Murphy Stadium parking lot is huge, flat in places, good slopes elsewhere. Balboa Park west of Cabrillo Bridge, South Mission Beach from the parking lot to north of Crystal Pier is classic SoCal beach boardwalk (mind the airheads!) Mission Bay by the Hilton hotel, Miramar Lake, etc. For hocky go to Olympic Skate in Fashion Valley between Interstate 8 and Friars Road, they have a court and manage team competition.

From: (Veda Larson)
Date: 26 Oct 94 12:26:14 GMT

Behind the food court & ice rink at UTC (University Towne Centre) mall there is a nice smooth, winding, moderately descending path that's just wide enough for me to control my speed by slaloming if I concentrate. It has always been totally deserted and is flanked by hills with overlooking houses. The experience is actually a lot like downhill skiing!

Ye olde path ends at Towne Centre Drive across from the Renaissance Towne Centre, behind which there are more charming paths and bridges by a creek. Overall skating distance is not long, but this is a cute route to try if you're looking for something new to explore.

[caveat: UTC security will stop you ~10-20% of the time. you can go around the back of the parking lot, carry your skates through the mall, or skate slowly and carefully so as not to scare anyone. ;]

From: (thomas winter)
Date: 3 Jan 1996 20:47:09 GMT

Just spent Dec. 26-30 in San Diego. Here's the skater's scouting report!

  1. Skating from airport (Lindbergh Field) to the hotels--flatland.
  2. Skating the Silver Strand Bikeway--flatland.
  3. Skating to Ballast Point (AKA Cabrillo Pt)--moderate hills.
  4. Skating to Mission Beach--downhill braking required.
  5. To San Diego Zoo--Flatland.

1. Airport to hotels
San Diego is the only convention city I've ever been in where it is practical -- even legal! -- to skate in from the airport.

As soon as you walk out of the terminal, take the sidewalk towards the highway (South). Just south of all the doors, there are two benches. Sit down, pull yr skates out of yr underseat bag, put 'em on and skate to the highway (Harbor Drive). Cross it at first opportunity: the bikepath is on the other side. You can see the towers of the hotel district from the Harbor Drive at the Airport. Just skate to them. Bikepath all the way! About 4 miles 15-20 minutes on recreational skates. It took a few strokes to get used to the heavy weight of the underseat bag slung over the shoulder.

On the way, notice (1) The steam schooner Medea, right next to the ferry Berkeley, and the square-rigged Star of India. These three ships together constitute the Maritime museum. $6 to tour all three. Loaded w stuff to stir a boy's heart. If you've ever made a model boat, you'll want to do this museum!

Next, just past the Star of India, there's the Broadway Pier, where you catch the modern ferryboat. Take note, 'cause you'll be wanting to find it! At this point, the hotels are just around one more bend.

Note the Hyatt. You can go up to the 40th floor "Sight Bar" for the best view of the harbor. I did it in my convention-going professor costume, in shoes. The bar opens at noon, but even when it's closed, there's a huge panel window looking to the north and another looking to the south. Great place for getting oriented to the entire bay area.

2. Best bikeway in the world? Silver Strand Bikeway
See for yourself. Get back to the Broadway Pier and buy a ferry ticket (only $2!) for Coronado. Boat LVs Broadway on the hour, returns from Coronado on the half hour. A neat 15-minute boatride across and down the bay puts you at the Coronado Pier. The bike trail starts just south of it, going along the shore for a while through a nice park, then around the north edge of the golf course. Turn south after the golf course through sidewalk (El Chico Rd.) to the trail head. Before you lies about nine miles of blacktop bikepath down the full length of the causeway that connects Imperial with Coronado. On your left is the Bay, on your right is a four-lane highway, dunes, and the Pacific Ocean. Carry your shoes along (I carried good walking shoes in lieu of wristguards everywhere in San Diego) so you can take a break on the ocean shore if you like.

About halfway down, there's a public park ("Bike Parking Only"--no cars!). Nice restrooms (Why not? Human-Powered-Vehicle drivers are a better class of people!) and water fountains. Stop and admire the bay.

Further there are bird refuges, complete with birds. Add to your lifelist. The trail ends at 7th Street in Imperial, where you find yourself on good asphalt amid low-rent housing. Explore if you like.

The return is great for practicing your racing form: against the usual north wind, you have to minimize your frontal area to make significant headway. I passed some recreational bikers easily, then was passed by a spandex-biker, whom I drafted the rest of the way. We didn't talk. He wasn't going to let me pass, and I figgered if he really didn't want to be drafted, he'd pull away from me -- if he could! He never lost me until the first light at Coronado. He ran it and I braked to a stop! Most of the time the afternoon of December 26, I had the bikepath to myself.

3. Ballast Point AKA Cabrillo Point
The attraction of Ballast Point is the submarines you can see being serviced at their wharves--plus being at the point itself. Just take the Harbor Drive bikepath north. Cross the street at the Sheraton to STAY on the bikepath. If you don't, you get detoured to Shelter Island. But toward the north of Shelter Island, there's a good deli where you can buy a reasonable tasty lunch and chow down while ogling the yachts. The street you want is Rosecrans, two+lane blacktop with a painted bikepath lane. To get to it best, turn from the bikepath onto Scott St., then north one block up to Rosecrans. Hills, yes, but nothing scary. Smile at the MP at the Subase checkpoint as you go by. No prob. Last building on the left is a laundromat w pop machines. Enjoy the view and the air at the point.

On your way back, you might want to climb to the top of the ridge. Do it in shoes. In the Subase above the Submarine wharves, look for a many-tiered set of wooden stairs. I climbed up. The stairs lead to a mountain road turnout. From there I skated up to the top of the saddle of the Loma Point ridge. Bad mistake. I won't go down any slope where I can't see the bottom, so I didn't go down the other side, but there I was with just such a downhill behind me! Figured at least the way back I knew where the turnout was. I should have put on the shoes and walked. First the tight slalom speed-control then the hell with it just use the heelbrake. Hey, sounds like the heelbrake is down to metal Ok the turnout is coming into view. Made the turnout. Whew. Too exciting! Put on shoes. Walked back down. Skated calmly back Rosecrans to Harbor Drive.

4. Skating to Mission Beach.
Before you start answer one question: If they painted a bikelane on the shoulder of I-80, would you skate it? If not, just take the 34 bus from downtown. Costs $1.50. I took Harbor Drive to the Nimitz Blvd which has a painted bikepath lane. I picked it because it doesn't go straight over the ridge, but goes over it transversely, so it has a gentler slope. It's business/residential at first, then becomes limited access. Uphill, the blacktop has been slurry-sealed, so where there was sidewalk, I used it.

Two problems downhill:
(a) The part to the underpass looked ok to me, so I just coasted it. Mistake. It gave my four-wheelers a high-speed wobble. Do some preliminary deceleration, for high-speed wobble is a threat to your control. Since it is too late for me, I scissor a bit to lengthen the "wheelbase" and muscle through. Stay vertical.

(b) Along the downhill, there is one "on-ramp" of merging traffic. WATCH for it. It starts over your head on the right. Start decelerating as soon as you see it, because the cars on it are going to drive right through your little painted bikepath.

It will be nicer if you have made it to a stop by then.

You are forewarned. I was not.

At the foot, again on level ground, there's an off-ramp to deal with, a light, then a bridge. This is where the three roads -- Nimitz, Highway 8, and Sunset Cliffs Blvd. -- all converge. Go right to the light, through the light, then stay on the right to the bridge -- the bike path goes under it and continues on the lefthand side of the bridge. If you don't get back on the bridge, you go straight out a detour to dog-walking land and the worst asphalt of the trip. Get back on the bridge. You are now on Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

Get off Sunset Cliffs Blvd at the Marina, go north around the marina to a highway (West Mission Bay Dr, but you won't see a street sign anywhere!) Cross it; the bikepath is on the right side. You come immediately to a bridge. Just keep going and suddenly there you are, passing Mike's Bikes, and then up hill to Hamel's, the castle-looking affair at road's end, intercepting MISSION BEACH WALK. You'll recognize the place from your skating videos.

When I was there, trick bikers were trick-biking, trick skateboarders were stunting, and a spandex amazon w blond pony-tail was doing side-surfs. I did a one-foot pump up the last bit of hill, across the front of Hamel's, and skated North down the Beach walk.

Sunlight shining off and through the combers. People of every description. Little houses all with ocean-facing porches. And some sand on the blacktop. Finally cliffs. Two blocks inland from Crystal Wharf there's a Denny's if you're getting homesick! On way back, at Mike's Bikes I found an alloy skate frame that turned me on, but the guy wanted me to buy a pricier one. I let him talk me out of one but not into the other. I cruised around Mission Beach til sunset and, then returned to West Mission Bay Dr. (a block inland from Mike's) where I took the #34 bus back to town.

5. The famous Zoo?
Never got there, but I investigated the route. Flatland all the way. From the hotel district, get on 12th street. It turns into Park Blvd. Continue north on Park Blvd and turn right at Zoo Place. Bring shoes.

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