FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
PLEASE NOTE THAT EVERYONE SKATES AT THEIR OWN RISK
WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE PARTICIPANTS TO WEAR FULL PROTECTIVE GEAR
AVOID DEHYDRATION, ALWAYS BRING LIQUIDS WITH YOU
RECOMMEDED: Join the free FNS DISPATCH and get this FAQs section sent to your mailbox.
You also get a weekly update with skate news, routes, trips & events.
1) THE ESSENTIALS
All you need to know to get going.
2) THE DETAILS
The skate In more depth...
3) I NEED HELP!
"It is my first FNS, any tips?" or "I tried the FNS and I couldn't do it!"
4) WE NEED HELP!
Become a marshal.
1) THE ESSENTIALS
The FNS is a free weekly skate in London starting at 8pm, Duke of Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner.
Note that is is not lesson! If you are interested in taking lessons in the park or on a course check out the specialists, Citiskate
The whole skate lasts for 10 to 12 miles, about two hours, returning back to the Arch at 10pm.
There is a different route each week, which is sent via the Skate Dispatch
The skate has two sections: BLUE (intermediates) and BLACK (advanced), with a 15 minute 'half time' somewhere in between
You have to be able to effectively stop, turn and skate at a medium pace to do the BLUE route
You also have to be able to skate fast and have good stamina to do the BLACK route
The two-stage route is designed to accommodate both the regulars AND first timers.
skate goes every week (even in the winter) when it is dry and is FREE
There is a weather update on the site at 5pm each Friday:
by the instructions of the marshals (yellow/red vests)
NEVER go in front of the Lead Marshal (red vest) or behind the Back Marshal (red vest) unless you are marshaling.
In particular, skaters dropping behind the rear marshal:
you are no longer part of the skate, see the I NEED HELP! section below.
Skate only on the road unless otherwise directed.
Those not abiding by this code will be removed.
Skaters that hold on to or are aggressive to vehicles face immediate ejection from the skate.
IT IS A LEGAL REQUIREMENT TO BE GOOD AT BRAKING AND TURNING - IF YOU CANNOT STOP, DON'T COME
Instead join the "Learn to Stop Before You Start" stopping tutorial, 6:30pm Fridays, here
BRING WITH YOU
Your skates together with knee, wrist, elbow pads and a helmet
£20 cash (for the taxi) and some footwear (pocketable slippers are fine) in case you can't complete the skate.
Liquids to avoid dehydration.
The skate is, in a nutshell, an unbelievable experience!
We get tonnes of emails every week from all kinds of people who just can't get enough!
You just HAVE to come on it.
We never do identical routes.
There is even music too!
WHERE AND AT WHAT TIME DOES IT START?
At 8pm it departs from the Duke of Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, EXIT 2 from HYDE PARK CORNER tube station.
MAP: Click here
WHERE DOES IT FINISH?
Most skates finished back at the start point, occasionally we do special skates finishing at Tower Bridge but this will be well advertised on the site and at the start of the skate
Those looking to congratulate themselves follow the regulars after the skate to The Victoria Pub (see the pub page) north of Hyde Park
AND IF IT RAINS?
See the Weather Update is at 5pm each Friday for confirmation if the skate is going ahead:
HOW GOOD DO I HAVE TO BE ON THE FNS?
It is a legal requirement to be good at braking and turning at speed and sometimes downhill and as the skate lasts 2 hours you need a bit of stamina. You should also be fast enough to keep up with the group and be able to deal with varying road surfaces and the unpredictability of other skaters. IF YOU CAN'T STOP, DON'T COME
WHAT MUST I BE AWARE OF ON THE SKATE?
There are teams of volunteers (marshals) that offer their time for free to help the FNS. They wear yellow or red vests
Follow all their instruction at all times, in particular:
1) NEVER PASS THE LEAD MARSHAL OR DROP BEHIND THE BACK MARSHAL. These marshals wear red vests.
2) FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS OF MARSHALS AT ALL TIMES
common sense. Be 'group-aware'. Leave Slalom, Weaving and Co at home. The marshals
are volunteers so make their job easier: follow their instructions at all times.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
DOES IT GO?
Just follow the road. No two routes are the same but there are common elements, namely the start and the finish. However, as ancient Chinese philosophy states it is not the destination but the road leading to it that enriches life. It is unlikely that the road in question all those thousands of years ago was either Constitution Hill, Piccadilly or Park Lane but these have become fashionable thoroughfares in starting the skate. From there the skate has ventured in all directions of London, among them:
Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Hammersmith, Holborn, Kings Cross, Little Venice, London Bridge, Mayfair, Notting Hill, Oxford Street, Parliament, Piccadilly Circus, Shepherds Bush, St Paul's Cathedral, The Strand, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square.
A map of the route is posted each Thursday. Here is an example route
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU PLAY?
We say, "A fusion of mainstream dance music with funky old skool classics"
You say, "How can you play Frank Sinatra straight after Orbital?"
No, we have Half Time. It lasts for 15 minutes usually near refreshments
All ages. Quad skaters (roller skaters) and inline skaters (rollerbladers) go in abundance although there is a predominance of the latter. People occasionally cycle too and in the past scooters, skateboards, wheelchairs, enthusiastic children with trainers and even a stray dog have joined us.
HOW MANY MILES/KM IS THE SKATE?
The skate averages around 12 miles/20km but keep an eye out on the map, next to the start point for the exact milage.
SO YOU WANT ME TO SKATE 12 MILES!?!
Not everyone is a super-skater and so the skate is split up into two colour-coded sections; Blue and Black, in increasing order of speed/difficulty, just like in snow sports.
So there is ONE GROUP SKATE, with TWO DIFFERENT SECTIONS.
Apart from the speed, the other major difference between sections is that as we progress from blue to black, we stop LESS.
Each section ends at a tube (metro) station and so people can leave early or arrive late. For the latter, be prepared to be flexible or better still have the mobile number of someone on the skate for a running commentary of where and when.
HOW MANY HOURS TO SKATE THE ROUTE?
Usually two hours.
HOW FAST IS THE SKATE?
The skate usually starts at a slower pace and gradually picks up speed. 5mph/8kph is the average speed but note that this includes the break and we are not constantly moving. The black run sometimes hits 20-25 mph if we are particularly energetic.
WHERE CAN I GET CHEAP SKATE RENTAL? CHECK AVAILABILITY IN WINTER
In the vicinity of the start point you can get £10 overnight rental from Friday night to Saturday morning. Collect your skates after 5pm Fridays from;
Slick Willies, Gloucester Road SW7
Open: 10-6 Mon-Sat, 12-5 Sun
Gloucester Road / High Street Ken Tube
020 7225 0004
Mention the magic phrase "The FNS is better than smoked kippers" and hey presto, a shopkeeper appears with skates + pads. Currently you must return them before 12 noon on Saturday but please CHECK ALL CONDITIONS WHEN RENTING.
WHAT SAFETY PRECAUTIONS SHOULD I TAKE?
To coin a phrase, skating isn't tiddleywinks. Group skaters are strongly advised to wear full body armour: wrist, elbow and knee pads as well as a helmet.
WHAT ELSE DO I BRING?
We skate in the evenings when it is dark so bright or reflective clothing and bike lights are a great idea!
Whistles/horns, bells, and a big mouth to get the group 'whooping'.
WHERE CAN I SEE VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE SKATE?
Many TV and radio channels have featured the FNS. Examples can be found here
I NEED HELP!
This section is useful if you are attempting your first FNS or if you did but couldn't finish!
Skaters in both categories need to be aware of four things:
You are advised to familiarise yourself with routes beforehand and PLAN TO YOUR ABILITY.
skated before? Just bought your skates? First skate of the year? Haven't skated
in weeks/months? Then don't expect to do 12 miles!
Aim for just the blue section, note where this ends, as it you may not be able to hear it on the skate itself. Take some footwear and money for transportation. On the following skate try to go further!
Even with two weeks off, many marshals have commented how they can feel a decline in their stamina. It takes time to be able to go 12 miles. Try to get at least an hours skating between each Friday, we particularly recommend the Rollerstroll which travels at a slower speed throughout.
If you are having difficulty keeping in front of the Back Marshal (red vest) it's time to leave!
We have seen some horror stories wheeling their way around London each Friday night. In general, the better quality skates you have the more your glide and thus the faster you go. When buying skates you pretty much get what you pay for: as a guide you should be aiming for £100+ with skates that have metal chassis (faster and more durable). K2, Rollerblade, Salomon, Fila, Nike all sell quality skates.
Being confident on the road, with hundreds of other skaters around, at speed, on varying surfaces and for two hours takes a couple of weeks to master. Many people who fully complete their first FNS refuse to beleive they have just done 12 miles. If your aim is to complete an FNS in as few weeks as possible we recommend taking some lessons with these guys: Citiskate
WE NEED HELP!
We are always looking for marshals to help on the volunteer side.
If you are interested helping on ANY of the following areas :the skate, route planning, web stuff, getting more people skating get in touch with some background info
You should be competant but not excellent: our only pre-requisite is that you have been on a few FNSs