Back on the Longboard(s)

I’m stealing this post I made on another blog to get some content started here….

I’ve had some interesting interactions regarding longboard riding recently with the great Eric Sanders that have got me thinking.

For many years I rode nothing but longboards. When I came back to skating in 1998, after an eight year absence, the longboard made sense to me. It was just weird enough. In those years longboards were mostly shaped like a normal board, just longer. Jim Gray, of Acme, sent me a 48″ kicktail board to ride. I rode it exclusively for at least two years. Back then the main companies were Gravity, Sector 9, and a few others. The “best” longboarders were good on all terrains. The boards were good for ramps, ditches, flat, or hills. Anyway, back then I got my first longboard set up — a World Industries 44″ plank with Indy 166s and some 92a Spitfire wheels. That was my first longboard, and it was pretty good. I started going to a local Austin ditch and met the guy who would be my longboarding mentor, Clark Lee Walker. Dude had style like I’d never seen before. Tall and lanky, he would compress on those ditch walls, do killer lipslides, and fakie 360 laybacks. Clark was and is rad!

Between now and then things have changed a lot. For many, longboarding is synonymous with downhill. To some, it is about the current “dancing” trend, which is kind of like freestyle on a longboard, incorporating fluid and sometimes complex board walking moves, and all too often a lot of feet off the board running around twirling the board (clearly I don’t think much of this, but whatever). It’s hard to find a good longboard these days that is shaped like a normal board (and by normal, I mean a shaped oldschool board that is stretched). That bums me out.

This is kind of a rambling post, isn’t it?

For the last 5 years I’ve hardly been on a longboard. Various reasons, but mainly I’ve been doing mostly freestyle and ditch skating. But these talks with Eric, and listening to his views on things have made me think a bit more about the long skateboard.

I went back and watched some of my old video clips and realized how much those years of riding the longboard have informed and influenced the way I do everything else now. So anyway, here is a clip for a few years ago. I had just gotten this board, and was taking it out for a test spin. Bustin Boombox (no longer made), Randal-IIs, Rainskates Mid-Tsunami wheels. I can see even in these clumsy efforts to connect carves on this board how it has influence the way I think about everything else. I feel like boards like this should not be ridden like you would a typical board. Maybe if it was a scaled-up regular board, but this board is really a carving board. When you start doing kickturns on boards like this it looks awkward and crappy. I think the goodness comes when you keep the wheels all on the ground, use the loose trucks to turn, and move your body around on the platform.

Anyway, at the risk of once again posting video of myself, here’s that video of me on that Boombox. Just wanted to use it to talk about carving. This is a flat parking lot. I was trying to do carving turns while moving around on top of the board, and do figure-eight kind of lines all retaining good speed. I know there are probably better boards out there now for this kind of thing, but I do like this deck. It has a nice rocker, which I think feels awesome. I don’t care too much that it is heavy. The weight makes it flow a lot better, and it dissuades me from treating it like a freestyle board. At this very moment I don’t even know what I’d buy anyway.

Edit: Wanted to add this outrageous opinion. I think flipping the longboard is dumb. I think riding a longboard like a newschool board, or attempting to, looks horrible. Hate me at will.

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