Ken Roberts, I hardly knew ye

The Internet is a funny non-place in which you get a huge amount of information regarding a sliver of someone’s interests and life. A person’s actual life is something of abstraction, until it isn’t.

Back in the early aughts of this century, I stumbled on the website of someone named Ken Roberts. He had posted a lot of stuff about cross-country skiing (as well as other sports he avidly pursued) on his website, using the domain name ‘roberts-1.com‘.

The site had been in existence since the late nineties, and throughout the time I used it as a reference, it retained the same simple, now antiquated-looking design. Given the time period, Roberts made his site the old-fashioned way: with simple HTML and tables. The lack of UI and sophistication didn’t matter though, because the site was never really intended for commerce or clicks. It was always a personal project for him. It predated Livejournal by a couple of years, else he might have done it on that platform.

In addition to documenting travels he took with his wife, he also posted training tips, links and maps about cross-country skiing in the area. It was a nerdy and generous gesture of documentation for other skiers in the Hudson Valley and metro NYC area. Periodically I would wonder who Ken Roberts was that he would put so much effort into the content on his site, but he was careful to post about what he liked to do, not who he was.

Several years ago, Roberts stopped updating his site. Some of the links to other resources had gone dead by then, so its usefulness began to wane. I wondered what might pick up the slack, and eventually that thought became one of my reasons to try my hand at a site or blog.

Ken Roberts died last month in Europe, the result of some kind of hiking accident. I only learned about it from the Mid-Hudson XC skiers group. When his affairs are finally taken care of, the site roberts-1.com will probably disappear. Before that happens, a last note of appreciation from me to the late Ken Roberts.

FWIW The site looks the same today as it did back when I came across it for the first time. A trip down Nostalgia lane. Screenshot follows:

Screenshot of Ken Roberts' personal website

Author: cfski

Living in the NYC area means watching for skiable conditions.