OUT: Loveland man still roller skating at 73
LOVELAND — One steady skate at a time, Gerald Portugal glided around the streets and sidewalks of his east Loveland neighborhood. He wore a contented smile on his face as he swayed back and forth to move forward.
Sometimes, he’d move into a half-circle spin and glide to a stop before continuing his route ahead.
Everyone he passed stopped to wave, say hello or simply watch the man with padded knees and elbows on his roller skates.
Portugal said he’s used to it — he’s had his fair share of stares.
“People do look,” he said. “And they take a second look because they can’t believe it.”
After all, it’s not every day they see a 73-year-old roller skating around town.
Yet after skating for 50 years, age isn’t an obstacle when it comes to his favorite hobby.
“I have a passion for it,” Portugal said.
“When you have a passion, you just keep doing it until you can’t anymore — until you’re dead. That’s what keeps me going.”
Portugal’s life on eight wheels began in Chicago’s Lincoln Park when the then-22-year-old decided to rent a pair of skates.
“It was the fad then, and I thought I’d try it,” he said.
He started with slow glides on flat land — that is, until he accidentally turned down a steep hill.
But after a dive and a few tumbles in the grass, Portugal said he got right back up and kept skating.
In the next few years, Portugal took his skating to the next level when he started dance roller-skating. Held in roller rinks, dance roller-skating is just like ice skating, only on wood floors instead of ice, he said.
A few medals and a few years later, Portugal tried outdoor roller-skate racing and found success speed skating in 5-mile marathon races.
Today, the retired attorney has slowed down (a little bit) and sticks to shorter glides around his neighborhood.
Although he’s seen other roller fads come and go — he tried in-line skating but didn’t like it — Portugal sticks with the hobby he fell in love with half a century ago.
“To me, roller skating is like flying,” he said. “With the breeze — I’m in heaven. I love it.”
And along with the thrills it brings, the exercise of skating keeps Portugal healthy, too.
In fact, it helps keep him in such good shape he can continue to pursue his other interests, including motorcycle riding, serving on local historical preservation boards and hiking. Recently, he climbed Longs Peak.
While some people are concerned about Portugal pursuing these active interests, he tells them not to worry.
After all, in his older age, he could be sitting on his couch watching television or doing something he loves.
So he’ll keep on skating until he can’t anymore — and encourages others to do the same.
“There’s a hobby and a sport for everyone,” he said.
“Find yours and do it with a passion for as long as you can, and it will keep you young.”
By SARAH BULTEMA