For the 95th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Sarai Pegram. Sarai is a 29-year-old inline skater, Rollerblade Ambassador and a staff member of the NYC Wednesday Night Skate living in the New York City borough of Queens, New York, USA. She works as a web developer for a top 5 book publishing company.

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

New York locked down pretty quickly in comparison to other states, but I still felt like it was a bit too late. Things escalated really quickly with COVID-19 in the city. I live in Astoria, a neighborhood in Queens, and you’d definitely heard a lot more sirens than usual. Since then we’ve really flattened the curve and are working on getting back to a new normal. Restaurants are open for outdoor dining, but given the rise in cases elsewhere in the country I think they’re going to pause any further re-openings . People are pretty respectful of each other’s personal space when we’re outside or in public. It’s been a nice harmony of New Yorkers coming together, and I feel like it’s a good testament to how resilient New Yorkers are in the face of crisis. 

Were you skating during the lockdown?

Yes! I’ve actually been skating way MORE than I ever have before. I never realized how exhausting my commute was—I always had to fit in skating around work, which put me in Central Park when it was either crowded or dark. I was always exhausted, I never knew where half of my clothes were because I’d change at work, and fitting in meals was becoming increasingly difficult. COVID-19 has been the only time that I have ever felt like I can give both 100% to my job as well as skating. I am training harder and am more productive at work than I ever have before,

Where have you been skating?

My favorite areas to skate quickly became super crowded with people, which I understood because people wanted to be outdoors, but it created quite the conundrum for me and where I would train. Luckily, I found a spot near some sports fields that has been largely unfrequented because organized sports are not allowed right now. I also love skating through a mostly-empty Manhattan.

Is there anything that would make you stop skating?

Probably only an injury, and even then, I’d still probably try! 

Are you doing any cross training? 

Yes! I’ve been riding my bike outside a lot. I’m also doing drylands and sideboard 1-2 days a week, but that’s not nearly as fun! 

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time? 

My husband and I just bought a car, so I’m looking forward to more hiking, camping, and kayaking and just road trips in general. We’ve enjoyed a lot of virtual game nights with friends as well.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life? 

My company went full-time remote and plans to be at least through September, which has honestly been a godsend. I’m not sure that I want to return to my normal way of life after all this is over. While I’m anxious about the state of my country, having extra time to rest and relax has made me a more focused and productive person.

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

I’m starting to get really concerned about how COVID-19 rates are spiking in the rest of the country. NYC has worked so hard to get our infection rates in check, and I worry that people traveling from other places will cause our rates to spike again.

How is your local skate community responding?

I’m on Wednesday Night Skate staff and we’ve started up group skates again, but we are enforcing a mandatory mask policy. Some people really don’t like it, but we’re trying to do the best we can so we can all enjoy social skates again. 

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

When I started skating, I might see 1-2 skaters on my route and I’d know both of them. Now, I see probably 5-10 skaters every time I skate, and I know none of them. I’m going to start running clinics for all the new skaters in the city soon, so if you’re from NYC and reading this, follow me on Instagram for more details! 

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