For the 87th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Grant Hazelton. Grant is a 36-year-old inline skater living between Rochester, New York and Delray Beach, Florida. He quit his job a year and a half ago to skate and travel as much as possible. COVID-19 has thrown that for a loop, along with his plans to get back to a “real” job.

Photo by David Dodge

What steps did your state take to battle COVID-19 and how are things there now?

I’ve been in Delray Beach FL for the majority of the COVID-19 situation. The state of Florida isn’t always known for good things and of course, there were some missteps handling the battle, a lot of controversy over public space like beaches and all sorts of people trying to have spring break. Like most places, the steps taken were general business closures, a stay at home order and enforcing masks, limited numbers and general sanitizing procedures. Early on paper products were scarce, meat, dairy and eggs were being limited but there was always a lot of produce in grocery stores. At times it felt like enough wasn’t being done and people were abusing some of the grey areas in policy but it wasn’t always easy to know what was “right.” Overall things have been quiet where I live. Things now are slowly opening back up, parks, beaches and restaurants at limited capacity. I don’t know if we’re ready but I guess we have to start somewhere.

Were you skating during the COVID-19 lockdown?

Yes, I was skating, but staying home. I didn’t want to take too many extra risks during this time and it felt more comfortable to stay home. I built a p-rail, which was too scary so I turned it into a practice box and usually ended up skating about an hour a day. I participated in the @ggos2020 instagram live games of skate that Brad Anthony set up which really made skating in my driveway more fun and engaging. This was definitely something that gave a little extra structure and fun to my days. It was really awesome to interact with people all over the place and feel connected while skating.  I also big-wheeled around my neighborhood with my dog to make sure he got some exercise too.

Photo by Chris Gerard

If you were skating, where were you going out to skate? Where are you skating now?

I was staying at home, skating in my driveway.  As Florida started slowly opening back up I went out street skating twice with one person, we both wore masks and kept our distance. I’m actually back in NY right now and I’ve been skating more street, keeping sessions small and wearing a mask when we’re close. It feels a little surreal, a little irresponsible but its been amazing for my sanity and morale.

Is there anything that would make you stop skating?

During the stay at home order I would have stopped skating if I didn’t have something at home to skate, I didn’t feel comfortable or right about going out skating street. In some way I wanted to fulfill the expectations I was putting on other people of respecting how serious this COVID-19 situation was. I was a little worried about getting hurt at home but generally kept it pretty low key.

Filmed by Stefan Brandow

Are you doing any cross training? 

Not exactly cross training but no better time to actually get into a better exercise routine. I really started taking stretching more seriously and was doing a good routine every morning, along with some light strength training. I even went as far as stretching in different grind positions which has helped more than I thought it would now that I’m skating some more street again. The lower impact of driveway skating gave my body some time to heal too. Myself and 2 friends also challenged each other to do at least 100 push ups a day, just as another way to keep active and it was a good excuse to stay more connected with each other too.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time? 

Kind of just the normal day to day stuff, google street view spot searching, Netflix, reading, cooking, playing with our dog, doing random house projects and spent a lot of time in the yard. I’m also teaching myself SketchUp and doing some random stuff for my boyfriend’s business. At times its been hard to feel occupied or productive but I know I’ve been lucky in this situation so I try to keep a positive outlook and be thankful for everything I have.

Photo by David Dodge

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life? 

Right before all of this I was traveling and skating, my everyday life was pretty mixed up and not routine at all. I was starting to take some steps to get back into a regular 9-5 and or figure out how to keep going on my current adventure. I guess COVID just put a pause on all of that. I’ve been more careful with food and shopping, planning better and giving more thought to the freedom we take for granted. 

What are your major concerns right now and looking into the future?

I think like most other people, I’m concerned about how long this will really last and if it will come back hard again as we open back up. The longer lasting economic and social consequences getting back to a new “normal” are also on my mind. I think it’s easy to look at the bad this brought but we also came together in positive ways, figured things out that seemed impossible before and all were given some good perspective. I hope that with new perspective and the stark inequalities that this situation has further exemplified can continue to be addressed and not just pushed into the background again. I’m concerned about the future, my boyfriend runs a small business and keeping things going has been tough, the job market is going to be weird, travel is more difficult, I think there’s a feeling of unease that will hang around. 

Photo by David Dodge

How is your local skate community responding?

My local skate community has been mixed, some people are isolating, some skating, some social distance sessions happening and others just going about business as usual. The south Florida scene is big and spread out so its hard to really say for sure or understand everyone’s circumstances. I know my Rochester friends were mixing it up too, mostly small, social distance cruise kind of stuff instead of closer aggressive sessions. Since I’ve been home in New York for the past week we’ve been doing some small clip mission kind of sessions. Still feels a little irresponsible but we keep an open dialogue, remind each other to stay apart and careful and it’s been working. 

YouTube player

Since being back in Rochester Grant filmed a new promo video for Roces entitled “A week on the Tides” .


Header photo by Chris Gerard

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