Falling inline with friends

Updated: 2011-02-21 09:43

By Lauren Johnson (China Daily)

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 Falling inline with friends

A string of inline skaters, both Chinese and foreign, gets some exercise and a touch of the sun. Provided to China Daily

With winter coming to a close, many are thinking about the great outdoors and growing eager to shake off their winter haze and start an active and exciting springtime.

Among the many options, Beijing has some inline skating clubs gearing up for an amazing year of activities, providing a fun way to stay fit, meet new friends and learn the city.

There are two main groups within the Beijing area. The most versatile activity is the Friday Night Skate, which is run by the Beijing United Skaters.

This is a group usually consisting of at least 20 people, but there can be as many as 80 depending on the route offered.

"They are from all walks: students, teachers, office workers, professionals, managers, doctors, nurses, painters, government officials, retirees and even migrant workers," said John Xu, who added that members come from all over China and abroad.

Xu, a veteran ice skater and six-year inline skater, believes the experience beats ice skating.

"Imagine a roller rink party on Beijing's lovely wide smooth streets without the rink," he said. "The combination of music, skates and friends creates a truly unique experience."

Member Chen Weiyun explains why she joined the group.

"I was new in Beijing and looking for a fun way to explore the city," she said. "Zooming past Beijing's ancient landmarks, I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. I was hooked."

She said she keeps going back because of the sheer variety of activities.

Beijing United Skaters encourages anyone with the proper safety equipment and inline skates to meet at the weekly rally point highlighted on the member's website: There is no registration, enrollment or fees.

"You will automatically become a member of our club upon arrival," said Xu, noting that the night skates are more suited to intermediate and expert skaters.

In addition to Friday Night Skate, Beijing United Skaters also does multi-day skates and long-haul trips, including the annual Beijing to Tianjin skate in September - which is more than 100 kilometers in just half a day - and the third annual 360-km skate around Qinghai Lake in July.

Beijing's second largest inline skating club is called Happy Skaters. As an older group, they are more interested in general health than late-night skating.

Happy Skaters meet most mornings in skin suits with their banners, team chants and team song. With the mighty Bird's Nest looming in the background, these Happy Skaters are staying fit, making friends and getting attention.

As spring approaches, the two skating groups plan to vamp up their activities, luring more members into their clubs.

"Skating presents an energy-saving, environment-friendly, cool and healthy inner city personal transportation system," said Xu.

"The basic principles for our club are freedom, equality and humanity."


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