Back in tha day, I used to live up around St. Clair and Christie, and I used to rollerblade a LOT. Daily to and from school, on the weekend for fun, pretty much anywhere I went it was on skates. (this is something I should probably start doing again, and probably will. just need a small investment by way of new skates. my current ones are on their way out)

For my international audience (haha), and those of you unfamiliar with the topography of Toronto (to the extent that it has one), one of the most significant features in downtown is a large, rather steep hill that bisects the central-western part of the city from the Don Valley on the east end all the way over to… I don’t actually know. As far west as I would care to go, just south of St. Clair Ave West. I assume it once at something to do with the shore/bottom/something of Lake Iroquois, which is presently Lake Ontario and conveniently much smaller.

This was a fairly substantial obstacle to the rookie rollerblader that I was. I would often want to go downtown, but going down the hill on a major street would not only be flirting with death, I’m pretty sure that I’d at least get to third base. Bad paving jobs, gravel, lots of cars, and a straight tear south. Fortunately, I found this alternative, illustrated below.

hill

Don’t get me wrong. The first few times I attempted this route, it was still pretty terrifying. The road starts off level, but then slowly starts to dip as it starts to turn and the hill takes hold. My skates weren’t the best at that point, my form not the strongest, and on more than one occasion of those first few runs I got some serious death wobbles. The more times I attempted the hill and the more times I didn’t become a smear of red paste on the road it became a high point of my skate. I would go out of my way to hit this hill. It is broken up into two segments, the Russell Hill Rd. dips down and then back up around the curve where I end up on Boulton. Hurtling past large houses on the southern edge of Rosedale, my momentum would usually carry me happily around the turn, then back down into the slightly more interesting Boulton drive. Boulton definitely has some speed bumps, Russell Hill maybe, but they are scaled wrong for the rollerblader, mere pleasant diversions. Being an upper class neighbourhood, the roads are pristinely maintained, massaged by the soft tires of BMWs and attended to by a road crew on-call 24/7, so that first sharp downhill turn was a delicious turny sandwich to take a huge bite of, not me making pacts with the gods, praying that some malign chunk of gravel would not do for me as I leaned into the turn.

The only downside to this route is the implied agreement with gravity. You’re going to have to haul your ass back up the hill somehow, and it ain’t gonna be nowhere near as much fun the other way. Perhaps I could contact the city and get a rope tow installed somewhere.

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