Eating & Drinking

URBAN HIPPIE: Six tips for the industrious (and environmentally friendly) person who wants to start skating to work

Lace up! On average, the Canal has 18,000 visits per day when it's open. Photo by National Capital Commission (NCC).

The deep chill of January is upon us, dear UHs, and for Ottawans, at least this year, that means one thing: the Rideau Canal is open for skating. Currently, just a small stretch is open, but soon the full length will ready for those of us hearty enough to take advantage. And what could be more environmentally friendly (and downright Canadian) than commuting to work under your own steam atop two steely blades as they glide across (hopefully) smooth swathes of ice? Below, six stealth tips for getting to work via the world’s largest skating rink.

1. Know thyself: Do a test run (or two) on a weekend before you actually do your first commute. This will let you see how your body reacts to your route: just how hot and sweaty are you really going to be by the time you get to work? Do you need to carry a complete change of clothes with you, or will a quick sink wash-up do the trick?

2. Plan ahead: If you do need to change clothes once at work, consider leaving your dress shirts at work at the beginning of the week (ditto for extra undies…just sayin’). That way you won’t need to scramble every single morning to get organized. Leave your work shoes under your desk instead of hauling them back and forth.

3. Take it easy, Brian Boitano: Consider commuting on skates only a few days a week at the beginning to get used to your new lifestyle. Enjoyment and lessened environmental impact are the goals here, and if persistent sore muscles at the start are enough to put you off for good, you’re no further ahead.

4. DIY: A facecloth moistened at home, sprinkled with a few drops of tea tree oil and packed in a re-sealable plastic bag makes a delightful and refreshing homemade (and re-usable!) wet-wipe for you to use when you duck into the washroom at work to get cleaned up. (And leave a stick of deodorant in your desk for a quick touch up your coworkers will appreciate.)

5. Stash a snack: Pack a few almonds or other protein-rich, post-commute fuel, plus a filled, re-usable water bottle so you can re-charge once you get to work. You want to be clear-headed and topped-up to take on your day.

6. Click before you skate: Hit up the National Capital Commission’s website to check the ice conditions before you head out the door to see what you’re contending with. A wise UH is always prepared. (What, you didn’t think it was just the Boy Scouts, did you?)