I had a pretty good parking lot session yesterday. I did totally forget that the Mystic Weasel sequence starts from rolling backwards and carving, which now I feel dumb about. That is part of the trick.
I was riding an 8.25″ Mode popsicle shape. I boosted the trucks up with an additional 1/8″ riser, so I’m at 1/4″, and I put on some new 54mm wheels. I think my spins were better with the extra tail clearance. I’d like to go down to a 6″ tail. Or whatever. A tail that is about 1/2″ shorter.
The narrower Indy 149s spin much more easily than the 159s.
I have been thinking a lot about my 360 spins, trying to come up with adjustments to my body English to keep the tail from scraping so much, and to keep me from traveling so much horizontally. I decided to try putting my weight on my back heel, as I tend to dip the toes down too much, which causes both those problems to be worse. I think it helped quite a bit. If I could get used to moving my front foot further back on the board I think it would help too, by keep the tail further off the ground. Something to think about. I normally get about 6 spins, and sometimes nearly 8. Want to push this up to a regular 10.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about just riding and turning. I miss this hill. For over 10 years my friend and I could skate this 1/4 mile hill with no traffic at all after work and on weekends. The area was redeveloped a few years ago, which ruined it. The only real hill in town.
I go through different “moods” in skating. Sometimes I want to do tricks. Sometimes I want to do footwork. Sometimes I just – don’t – care about anything but rolling and flowing and getting that feeling that only skateboarding can provide.
Anyway, here is an old video I shot with my friend Chris Smith. Details of the boards are on the Vimeo page.
After some discussion, David and I have decided that this site and podcast are both just about skateboarding in general. Our personal journeys in skateboarding, whatever that might mean, rather than a dedicated longboarding podcast. We are both very much all-around skaters, and can’t contain ourselves anyway.
Besides the pandemic, it has been a horrible summer for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the oppressive Texas summer heat. I have less and less inclination to go out into it, but last week I did venture out about 7pm when the temp was only in the lower 90s. This week we are well above 102 in the afternoon, and I am thus staying inside. When it gets over 95, not only is it not fun at all but is well into the danger zone.
I’ve honestly not been on my longboards lately. I’ve been doing a lot of street skating, which for me is really more like freestyle, just on a bigger board.
BUT – truth is my longboarding isn’t that different from my other skating. The main difference is I do a lot more endovers and nose stuff on a shorter board. I feel like the years of longboarding have very much affected my approach to all skating. Most freestylers skate in straight lines. In fact if you look at modern street skating, it is very linear. Even skatepark design is very linear. Try going to skatepark and carving around, and watch the other 99% of people there get annoyed because they can’t figure out where you are going.
Anyway, longboarding to me is all about carving and turning. Skateboarding in-general has always been that way for me, but longboard riding for the last 20 years has very much made me aware of this tendency and given me greater appreciation of it.
So here are a few Instagram clips I’ve taken over the summer, just to prove that I have been skating. Draw your own conclusions!
I’ve been depending on David to post things here and skate. Work has been busy, the heat has been hot, and 2020 continues to deliver unpleasantness and challenges that frankly have left me with little motivation to get out there and skate. We are determined to beat you, 2020, you son of a bitch. We will beat you.
Anyway, while it isn’t a longboard, I have ordered a 10.75″ wide Alva Aggression Fish deck and some 88a Alva Conicals (yellow). The board is 32″ long, has a 17″ wheelbase, and relatively short 4″ nose and 6.5″ tail. I will throw some 169s on it and some proper risers, and I think this will be quite a fun board to ride. I’m looking forward to it. Frankly, I’d have ordered the flatter oldschool fish if they’d had any, but think this board will be really fun. Its a board I’ve been looking at for a while, and frankly, I bought it to make myself feel better. Mindless consumerism to distract me from life’s difficulties. I’m good with that. I’m also looking forward to these wheels. I think they are going to rule.
I’m super proud of my partner here, David, for the massive progress he’s made on his freestyle longboard.
Anyway, when I get the new board set up I’ll try to get our and skate, and maybe shoot some video of myself flailing around.
Back in the early 2000s, when I lived in Austin and rode nothing but longboards, a bunch of us would skate the ditches around town. This one, the Turkey Bowl, was my favorite. My friend Bosco was working on a documentary and shot a bunch of footage. These are a few clips. Yeah, I have the master tape with the time codes. I’ll send it back to him soon — just want to digitize it. I’ve had it for like 15 years. Clips are me, Bosco, Jack Newkirk, and John Nau.
This is why you want a longboard that is shaped like a stretched-out traditional board. Just a long skateboard. Super fun! Man, those were good sessions.
Back at our dear departed hill again, this is Sean, one of my oldest friends, carving it up on his Gravity Kalai. Sean can ride anything with wheels. Click the images for full size. They really are pretty good.
I promise this blog will not just be pictures I post of myself, but there’s a global pandemic going on, I’ve been home with a sinus infection, and it’s been raining all the time, so I’ve been looking through a lot of my old pics from my dear departed Texas Longboarder site. I think I’ve realized that some of the pictures of me skating are those in which I’m really not doing anything. Just skating around, carving. They almost always look better than when I’m doing a trick. Arm position can make a shot look good, I’ve learned, but the knees really make a difference. I think all the really classic photos from skateboarding history prove this. Show me some good knee style and I’ll show you an excellent picture.
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.