Big Wheel Blading’s COVID-19 Coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every skater in the world in some way. In this new series, Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19, we will be checking in with various inline skaters from around the globe to see how the pandemic has affected their life. This is only one part of our COVID-19 coverage, which includes editorials, interviews with skaters who are deemed essential workers and an in depth report of what long term affects the pandemic will have on our sport and industry. Also check out the series, Essential Workers, Inline Skaters on the Front Lines of COVID-19, where we talk to inline skaters from around the world who are considered Essential Workers. If you’d like to contribute an editorial piece or have any comments or suggestions you can email janericwelch@bigwheelblading.com.


Hamish Paterson is a 41-year-old inline skater living in Canberra, Australia and works as a photographer, videographer, and editor.


What is the current situation with COVID-19 in Australia?

In Australia we are not locked down but the borders are closed, travel has stopped, state borders are closed in some states. Outdoor gatherings of any kind are now mostly not encouraged or forbidden. At first it was no more than 500 people then 100, then 10 now the rules state no more than 2 people in a group and 1.5m apart. Food is take-away only, shops are still open but most products are limited to one to two of most types of items per person. Most non essential retail have decided to close however for safety and with everyone staying home right now, I imagine it would be hard to turn a profit and pay employees.

Many places have sent their staff home but are doing online sales only. Most businesses and government departments are either working from home or on a 50% capacity with a rotation plan so half the staff take turns at working home while the other are in the office. Slowly though those numbers have reduced to just skeleton crews at work or the absolute minimum possible.

On the plus side parking is no longer an issue and the roads have far less traffic but people now joke about toilet paper anxiety as it is almost always out of stock and hasn’t been brought back in bulk since the initial panic buying seen almost everywhere. It has made me go out and skate on a few major highways or roads I would not normally consider due to traffic but as things are so quiet, I’ve indulged. It’s surreal to skate on what are normally busy roads that you wouldn’t normally consider.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe while skating?

I am more careful now though as a trip to hospital in the current situation would not be a very comfortable feeling and it’s important to keep the medical system free from having to treat things that aren’t essential like skaters crashing right now. That and the usual social distancing things like keeping 1.5m from anyone as I skate or pass people is also important.

If you are still skating what and where are you skating?

I am still commuting on skates to work four times a week skating 27km each way and take me just over an hour. I tend to drive to work Monday, skate home then skate back to work the next day and repeat the activity on Wednesday and Thursday. I skate on speed skates in a skin suit and wear a light Lowe Alpine day pack. I currently use a 3 x 125mm setup on a Rollerblade marathon 3WD frame mated to a Mariani Dogma boot which is essentially the same as the Rollerblade Pro speed skate but as I’m a US 13.5 and Rollerblade only make theirs up to size 12 going with the Mariani boot allows me to get a size of boot that fits.

It takes me just over an hour using a mix of cycle paths and cycle lanes on main roads averaging between 24 and 26 km/h. The looks and comments you get from cyclists commuting who you often overtake or keep up with are priceless! I’m looking in to getting some Simmons Rana boots as they can be made up to the size I need, the Mariani fit but are still about half a size too small. If I’m tired and want a slower more relaxed run I’ll take my Flying Eagle Veloce 2 in a 3 x 125mm setup and just wear shorts and t-shirt and skate a longer route that takes in more of the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin here. If I am going to go far on the weekend this is also the skate I will use as it is comfortable, light and fast whereas my speed skates are slightly too tight and crush my toes after about 50km in them.

I recently rode the Flying Eagles out to 116km in one skate with only some rubbing points which I was pretty happy with. On Friday’s I try and just do something casual and explore the city or go for a gentle run then finish with a morning coffee before heading in to work or do a casual afternoon skate after work before grabbing a drink and watching the sunset, at least I could do this when bars were still open but not anymore. I usually take a Rollerblade Cruiser fitted to a Flying Eagle Ultrasonic 3 x 125mm short frame for some relaxed cruising or a Rollerblade RB110 if I want to try jumping things, riding stairs and so on. On weekends I like to stretch out my legs a little if I’m feeling energetic and either go out for a skate of between 50 and 100km or a short lap of the nearby Lake Burley Griffin and finish with a coffee and lunch. We are not locked down yet but nothing is open either other than take away food and drink from cafe’s, food shops and bars so I feel it’s important to keep skating and take advantage of the situation as I know many other places in the world currently cannot due to lockdowns.

What would make you stop skating?

I would only stop skating if it became law to stay indoors. Skating is my release and mental escape from the grind of daily life. I have never not finished a skate without a smile on my face, feeling lighter and more free and with a clear head.

I skated for most of teenage years and in to my 20’s then had a break in my 30’s then found it again a few years ago. Now my love for it is even stronger than before and the internet has brought the world of skating so much closer. I mainly street skated in my teens and did some hockey and ramp skating but now it’s mostly commuting, street skating, long distance skating or exploring when I travel.

I never knew why I stopped skating the first time, I still kept my skates under my desk at work for many years and would take them out occasionally at lunch then just slowly stopped doing it then put them in the cupboard for a few years. I always said as a teenager that I still wanted to be skating when I retired, now with that new found love of it again I think that will still be the case.

Are you doing any cross training?

My love of skating saw me work on legs and only legs for so long that I started to get the occasional injury and muscle strain in the shoulders so I had to make a conscious decision to ensure I had a set gym routine that focusing on upper body and core as I found almost all of my workouts were leg based either from skating or mountain biking.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

Mainly just working and feeling incredibly grateful I still have a job to go to. For me life hasn’t changed much, I still go to work but to a much emptier building now and I still skate but on much emptier roads and paths. If anything the social side of catching up with people is the hardest part. I’m an introvert by nature but not be able to just go and sit in a café even on your own is hard, but again I’m still thankful I’m not in complete lock down so many others.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

Day to day there is really no change but in terms of skating it has affected every skate group I follow and skate with occasionally and every skater I follow on Instagram. Every state’s skate group in Australia have cancelled their organised skates and recently the Asha Kirkby skate tour to Australia was also cancelled which we are all so sad about. Every state was ready to welcome her with open arms and looking forward to some great training, classes and social skating but all that stopped.

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

I have grave concerns for the state of the world going forward. I feel it’s inevitable that the world economy will suffer greatly and with that so many people’s lives and livelihoods from unemployment etc. On top of that the great unknown, there is just no way to know how long the current situation will last. I’m grateful to have work and still be allowed to skate. Part of me feels it’s important to train for the future so sometimes when I skate and I feel tired I just think of what Ben Brillante said ‘isn’t this all the point, to train now to be stronger for the future when all this is over?’.

How is your local skate community responding to the pandemic?

All skate groups in Australia have cancelled all skate events, all rinks are shut and all shops are by appointment only or working strictly in online sales. Some have taken steps like not posting imagery of group skates to not encourage people to break the rules were others have started filling their social media accounts of positive skate scenes or stories of solo skates so I think what Big Wheel Blading is doing with these articles is a wonderful initiative.


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Jan Welch

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