Skater Migration 2018

Sunday morning skate (cred: Rollerblade)

I hadn’t planned on going to Skater Migration this year. In truth, I was still exhausted from Athens to Atlanta and was recovering financially from an extensive 2017 skate season. But as more and more of my friends hit the “going” button on Facebook, I knew this was event I wasn’t going to want to miss.

I booked a flight, grabbed a pair of roommates, and arranged for my partner to drive down from Sarasota to meet me in Miami. To keep costs down I booked a Spirit airlines flight with no carry on and no checked bag, and literally wore everything I owned on the plane. I was pretty proud of myself. If hiking’s taught me anything, it’s how to layer. And yes, I’m wearing a literal dress for a scarf.

No layer breaks here!
No layer breaks here!
Thanks, Spirit. Need any graphic design help? I volunteer!
Thanks, Spirit. Need any graphic design help? I volunteer!

We kicked off the weekend with a Friday afternoon skate through South Beach. The weather was perfect, the pavement was smooth, the roads were flat—everything id been told skating in Miami would be. An easy 10-12 mile skate got my legs warmed up and back in the mood for skating. It was going to be a good weekend.

The excitement is contagious!
The excitement is contagious!
Sonic showing off his moves
Sonic showing off his moves (credit: DRS photographer)
Rolling through the streets
Rolling through the streets
Sara takes a water break
The Friday squad
The Friday squad

Friday night’s skate was much of the same route as earlier at night, except it was longer and it went through a larger part of South Beach. I’ve never personally had a desire to go to South Beach, but seeing a city on wheels is SO much more fun than seeing it on foot could ever be.

Friday Night Skate
Friday Night Skate

Saturday morning brought rain, so a chunk of the NYC crowd, which was about 20 people strong (the largest since I’ve been going to skate weekends!) followed Sara around as she played the role of tour guide and showed us around Winwood. Many attendees opted to do their own thing, but the majority went to an indoor rink to practice their short track skills and slalom and dance moves. While we opted to do our own thing that day, I was surprised and impressed by how quickly the organizers came up with a rainy day activity and executed it. I heard that there was some original confusion as to what to do, but they got on top of it very quickly.

In Winwood, we hit up coffee shops, the walls, doughnut shops, and Little Havana. Saturday night skate was still on, though, so we had to head back, and after the day we’d had, we certainly needed to work out. But before then, it was hot tub time in the hotel across the street. Thanks to Bones for being such a champ and letting us in! That hotel had direct beach access, so we braved the ocean as well.

Saturday evening was my favorite skate of the trip. For the first time, the route ventured into downtown Miami, through Winwood and even down to a little farmer’s market/food truck gathering where we busted a spontaneous move on the dance floor. Parker and Susan entertained us with their amazing acro-yoga—on skates! On the way back, a group of women formed a paceline as we flew back into South Beach. We pushed and pulled each other, all while cheering on and supporting one another. It was an encouraging way to start the year, and I’m looking forward to training along side and competing against these strong women as the year goes on.

Skating is more fun when you're surrounded by 100 of your closest friends
Skating is more fun when you’re surrounded by 100 of your closest friends
Parker and Susan doing acro-yoga
Parker and Susan doing acro-yoga

Saturday night’s activity was a club which had killer frozen drinks and was open-air. It might have been people being tired out from the skate or ready to go to bed early for Sunday’s skate, but less people came out on this than I expected. Our NYC group was determined to get some partying in though, so we stayed out until what we were pretty sure was a South-Beach-acceptable 12am, and then wandered back to the hotel for a solid night’s sleep.

Checkout at the hotel wasn’t very generous, and I even had to argue for my 12pm checkout. Because of this, I sadly had to cut the Sunday morning skate short to around 11 miles, although the rest of the group that didn’t need to check out continued on for over 20. Miami police provided some fun entertainment along the way.

This sure made the whole "herding skaters" thing easier
This sure made the whole “herding skaters” thing easier
Sunday "hangover" skate
Sunday “hangover” skate (credit: DRS photographer)

Back at the hotel, Skater Migration was sadly over. Rick, Jake and I headed to see the Key Biscayne Lighthouse before going to our respective airports. If you’ve got some spare time, it’s worth the climb!

Skater Migration has an interesting history—it started out as the Great Eskate many years ago, and when that event was finally cancelled, a bunch of skaters showed up for their own unofficial Great Eskate anyway. This entire event is a testament to how strong the skating community is, and just how determined everyone is to skate. You can take the organized event away, you can try to make skating illegal—hardy street skaters will find a way, and you can count on that.

It was also exciting to see an event organized by so many younger skaters, women, and people that were new to the community in general. Of course a lot of the Miami organizers were veterans, but many of the organizers were both new to skating or the skating community. In terms of participation, it was definitely one of the largest, most diverse skating weekends I’ve ever been to, with skaters hailing from NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, the UK, DC, Chicago, Norway, and many others. The energy, excitement, and strong community ties were palpable. If you weren’t at Skater Migration this year, mark your calendars for next year. This is an event you won’t want to miss.

The featured photo for this post is credit of DRS Photographer.

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