As our millions of readers know, or have deduced, or perhaps don’t care, I am going my own way in Freestyle, and by “own way” I mean I’m advancing into the past. In some ways.
I’ve not had a chance to really ride that General Issue retro-clone from my previous post, but my spirit is still guiding me toward a more Peralta-like freestyle, free of the obsession with flipping the board and general frustration. Doubling down on my efforts to flow.
I’ve recently been able to return to my outdoor Zen Temple of Freestyle, having been fully vaccinated against the damned virus. It’s a spot that tends to have a little pedestrian traffic just outside our public library. For the last year I’ve not felt comfortable, even outside, potentially breathing the pathogen-infused air of the great unwashed masses, so I’ve been skating in an empty parking lot. BUT now I have returned to my spot, and I’ve returned on a bigger board.
Now, I don’t necessarily think a bigger board is right for everyone. I am fairly tall. A little over 6′. Frankly, I think freestyle on an 8.25″ x 32.25″ standard newschool board looks kind of bad for people below a certain height (and I’m not really sure what that height is). My partner here, David, looks fine on a standard size board, but there are some skater out there who really look kind of odd on such a deck. Even if they can pull off the tricks, I find it aesthetically displeasing. When you get above an 8″ deck, all the rail tricks just start looking horrible. Sorry, they do. And the smaller the skater, the worse. And there’s something to be said for not having to reach too far to get your foot to the end of the board. I’m tall enough that on a standard board, or even up to about 15″ wheelbase, I don’t really have to reach very far.
If you want to do traditional freestyle, doing rail tricks and all that, a real FS board is what you need. Just being clear here. This is my own personal project, not a prescription for what anyone should be doing.
That being said, who cares what I think? Everybody should do what they want. I’m just trying to convey where my mind is on these topics right now. When I see those dudes I look at my own skating with a very critical eye to decide if I’m going down the ugly route. So far I’m satisfied that I’m not. I am extremely critical of my own skating.
[EDIT] — Just after I wrote this, I saw someone just got a new freestyle model doing some absolutely ghastly stuff. GHASTLY. Do what you want, but for God’s sake people, let’s lay off the pro models for non-pro level skating? I’m just an old guy riding his skateboard around and running his mouth. If you want to be a pro-level freestyler, do traditional freestyle.
So, where is my mind, other than the above bullshit?
I have zero interest right now in flipping my board in any way. I’ve been moving this direction for quite a while, and it’s only become more solidified in my thinking. Not saying I’ll never do a kickflip again, but it’s certainly not on my list of things-I-love-to-do. I am moving my freestyle in the direction of carving, turning, spinning, pivoting, balance, movement, flow, and connectedness. I may never reach a level I’m happy with, but the journey will make me happy. As such, I’ve been very happy riding this board, an old Mode Conner Burke model. 8.25″ x 32.25″ with a 14.25″ wheelbase. Indy 149s with one thin rubber riser under each truck, and 54mm Bones STF (long my real preferred wheel) in their older 103a formula. Trucks are set “firm but turny”. They turn, but they don’t flop. Good for footwork, but also OK to ride around. I think I will move toward having them even a little bit looser. We’ll see.
Like most of the old guys, I love “shaped” boards. Love ’em. I have a goddamned boner for them. But if I’m honest, this standard pops shape is as good as anything else for me for most skating, and for the FS I’m into right now. The concave and nose/tail angles matter more to me. I prefer very mellow on all that stuff. No harsh angles or deep concave to trap my feet. But as long as I’ve got a fairly mellow-mold board, the pops is OK. In fact, it’s pretty good. Are there changes I’d make for a custom shape? Sure. I’ve have it with slightly blunted ends, and I’d have the nose and tail identical in shape and angle, and 6″ long. But I can work with this. If some company wants to make a “model” based on my needs, well, let me know. The sponsorship market for half-crippled middled-aged freestylers isn’t great.
I have a small nose skid on front. I do some tricks where the nose needs to skid, rather than stop, if it its the ground. This skid helps. I would use one on the tail too, but it impedes my ability to do 360s. Makes it more likely I’ll drag the tail even more than I do. Other than the grip tape under the nose for caspers, that’s really all I do for using this newschool board for my current freestyle interests. It gives my plenty of room to move my feet around, doesn’t feel tippy, turns just right. I can do 360s on it, spacewalk, footwork. The wheelbase isn’t so long that it hurst my 360 shove-its.
So there you have it. Not saying this will make me any better, but I’m enjoying it.