"Skating has shifted from a
kind of choreography to a hard-core, aerobic, competitive sport. In the '7Os, there were
probably three times as many people skatmg in the park than now, but the focus has changed
- it's about conditioning and competition now. Back then, it was all style."
many ways, Miles is the godfather of Bay Area skating. He is not, by his own admission,
the best skater around, although his skill is at an unimpeachably high level - he enjoys a
local reputation for his ability to execute "The Coffin," an extremely difficult
maneuver that involves stretching out parallel to the ground over one skate.
Yet his interest lies more with promoting skating in all its diverse modes than winning
"Skating is my life," says Miles, who lives adjacent to the park. "I
skate almost every day. But my biggest charge comes from helping the sport expand more
than winning events."
Miles is an original member of the Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol, which was founded 13
years ago by Peter Ashe. Four months after the patrol was organized, Ash bowed out as
director and Miles was elected in his place. He's headed the organization ever since.
"We're not cops," says Miles of the parol. "Mainly we provide assistance
to peopIe who are lost or in trouble, but we do try to enforce safety rules and skating
boundaries. In the late '7Os and early '8Os, there was a lot of tension between skaters
and pedestrians. The patrol helps keep the peace."
Yet the patrol does more than provide advice to disoriented park visitors and chide
roller-bladers for unsafe skating. Miles recalls a number of incidents in which patrol
members aided police, most notably a 1983 shooting that left a woman dead and a man
"We were standing on the bridge at 8th Avenue when we heard the gunshots,"
;ays Miles. "And we took off immediately. Skate Patrollers aided the victims, and
others shadowed the gunman, trying to keep him sight. They were able to give the police a
good description, which helped in his capture. It was definitely scary, but I think the
patrol performed very well."
The skate patrol is restricted to 18 members and the bylaws are accordingly strict.
Members must be CPR certified, submit to a six-week probationary period and never miss an
assigned patrol. They must also put duty before schmoozing.
"A lot of people aren't temperamentally suited for it," says Miles.
"Some people skate because they want to meet other people, and they have plenty of
opportunity for that in the park. But the purpose of the patrol is to skate and provide
whatever help is needed, not make dates."
In addition to ramrodding the skate patrol, Miles gives lessons on skating and serves
as a regional representative for Kryptonics Wheels. He also heads the Outdoor
Rollerskating Association of America, which he founded. The Association sponsors various
competitions and skating events throughout the state, including annual tours to Los
"I've skated to L.A. four times," says Miles of the invitation-only events.
"We're going again in November. It's always an adventure - the first time we did it,
we got stuck on a dirt road that went for miles. Skates and dirt just don't go well
Skating is a family affair for Miles. His wife, Rose, doesn't skate, but his two
daughters - Melanie, 7, and Tiffany, 4-are accomplished in-line skate veterans. Melanie,
especially, skates with remarkable aplomb and grace. She won the San Francisco Outdoor
Championships freestyle competition for her age group earlier in the year, and was the
subject of a feature broadcast on CNN.
"I have mixed feelings about that," laughs Miles, as he watches Melanie
pirouette in front of an admiring crowd near 6th Avenue. "She's a great skater, and I
love the confidence it's given her - but ever since CNN, she's been incredibly aware of
her looks, and picky about her hairstyle and clothes. I don't really want her to be so
self-aware at so young an age."
Skating is undergoing some convulsive changes at the moment, and Miles is not
altogether happy with everything he sees.
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