Lessons on a gentle Albuquerque bikepath: $50 for an hour and a half lesson, $75 for two people. Basic strokes, avoiding falls, optimizing your workout.
Hand held poles have traditionally been used for balance and propulsion in snow sports. The use of poles for other sports, mainly hiking, has increased.
Collapsible or telescopic poles have been introduced to provide convenient storage and portability. Another, less common use of poles is for ‘roller skiing’ on pavement, either with specialized wheeled skis or inline skates. This primarily attracts small cadres of cross-country skiers for dryland training.
Central to high performance nordic blading is the carbide road ski tip, or ‘ferrule’. They are made of a hardened steel and actually stick in to pavement. They can only be sharpened with a diamond bit.
They only work for pushing on pavement. The problem is that concrete is too hard, and you won’t get traction and they will wear out. So the advantage of the nice long push will be lost on concrete. but in mixed surface skating you would be okay, and sometimes you can stick them in the dirt on the side of the concrete.
The tips usually need about a ’10mm’ diameter on the end of the pole where the tip goes. This is usually found on a ski touring or racing pole which tapers down, vs just a continuous width. So you may need to shop around some on line or retail shops. Nordic Skater is one outlet which sells poles and tips. Also they have “roller ski poles”, which are really no different than regular race poles – but they come with the hard tips. As far as length. mine are nose-high on skates. much below shoulder level you lose the physics of a long push.
Two key things to double your speed: Get really long poles, and keep your tips sharp. I use a diamond blade to sharpen them every few times.
Otherwise you’ll just be muddling along while your poles slip and you throw your shoulders out of joint.
Basic stroke is what you would think; right foot push combined with a left pole push, then vice versa, alternating. Your goal should be a long pole push starting beside your foot and extending back 4-5 feet.
With a dozen or so stroke combinations, you can exercise most muscle groups and your core. For example, progressing from the basic stroke, you can move to double pole, bending at the waist. which builds abs, pects, delts, triceps and biceps, and the long muscles of the abdomen and back.
Number one is don’t put your pole down in front of your skates-or do it once because then you’ll never do it again. As with all skating, knee elbow wrist protection and a helmet. Padded pants such as those used for hockey are good too. Cars are the major problem so stick to bikepaths or empty roads.
Besides the all-around aerobic workout, the sport can be a rush and a real benefit for alpine ski training. I plan my routes to start with an uphill or upwind leg, so the return trip includes some exhilirating carving.
The sport also shares attributes of cross-country skate skiing, the difference–because of such a low-friction environment–your every efficiency is rewarded threefold compared to being on snow.