Well, I guess it has now officially been two months since I decided to skate in a freestyle contest, and I have to say I'm ready to be done with it. I'm over doing the same pieces of footwork over and over again, and I've found that I've been ignoring a lot of other things in my repertoire. Honestly, it makes the three pieces (I've broken the routine into three 30 second sections for practice purposes) I've been doing feel stale and old hat.
So, I've been learning some new things for the last couple weeks. I've learned tiger claw, aero grab, ghost ride fakie big spins, tailstop underflips, and some kind of Peter Pan-ish move where you cross-step and carve/pump from that position. All but the tailstop underflip are longboard dance moves, and the only dance move I would give strong consideration for a freestyle run would be the cross-step pump thing. The rest require stepping off the board which is just not freestyle in a pure sense. You know the old freestyle saying, "Foot down and it doesn't count." It doesn't necessarily apply as law, but unless you can do no comply tricks into your run like Conner Burke, stepping off probably isn't a great look much less two feet down to ghost ride (although I've really learned to enjoy ghost ride tricks).
The one thing I did finally accomplish this week is decide on my music for my run. This is my third and final song choice. I had started off with The Church's song Under the Milky Way, but switched over to Pentagram's Be Forewarned. After seeing myself skate to Be Forewarned I decided that wasn't the right song. It just didn't fit my skating. Finally, after trying multiple songs, I have decided to skate to Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It seems to fit my skating perfectly, and it is an underappreciated song.
This is an unusual blog post for me. I'm a writer, and I like to sit down and write my own updates, but this morning Bob and Tony have just about written the whole thing for me. I quote Bob first because, man, yeah, exactly.
Then there's this from Tony Gale:
I've spent the last year (and more) working on footwork, and I've never really been able to put into words how much that footwork flows. It has become very second nature. Tony Gale is right when he talks about learn, perfect, forget. I'm a little embarrassed that I've never connected wu wei with skateboarding. Doing footwork that you've mastered really is effortless action.
My biggest issue these days is that I go to the well too often on certain footwork and longboard dance steps. I have to remind myself to do tricks other than the handful that come to mind first. I've started forcing myself to do new combos because I've don't want to do the same few over and over again.
A couple weeks ago I posted about joining the IDSA, and completing the 1 km sprint challenge. I finished the 1 km ride in just under 3 minutes, and that time made me pretty excited to try the 1 mile sprint challenge which was next on the list. It would be my third challenge completed, but my first to submit to the organization as it would be my first challenge completed as a member.
As I've mentioned before, the online challenges are the reason I finally joined the IDSA, and I've been really excited about distance skating since joining. On the other hand, I am much more dedicated time-wise to freestyle and dancing. So, a monthly (or shorter bi-weekly) challenge is perfect. In fact, it has inspired me to both put my running shoes back on and get back on my bicycles. I enjoy both cycling and running, but I've been so focused on trick skating that I hated to take time away from it. Now I'm getting my longboard dance sessions in and often finishing them off with a short distance skate, run or bike ride (more on my end of day short distance sessions in another post).
I had intended to find a new, straighter path to complete the 1 mile challenge, but I didn't. I stuck with my looping section which, of course, doesn't lend itself to sprinting. In fact, in my clockwise mile, I had to foot break twice per loop. You can't footbreak and sprint at the same time, of course, but I am very happy with my times. I ran the course both clockwise and counterclockwise and the good folks and the IDSA average the two rides out.
My average time was 4:37.5 per mile which is the fastest mile I have ever skated. I know there are some sub 4 minute miles out there, but looking back at all the distance rides I've done on Endomondo, the fastest miles I can find are about 4:40 miles so I'm very happy with my time.
The challenge for June is a big one. You can either choose to do 100 miles in the month or 100 miles in 24 hours. I'm going for the 100 miles in 24 hours. It is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but have never taken the time to do.
tAccording to the weather forecast, this week was going to be a total bust, but just the opposite happened. It turned out to be a pretty great week to skate, and the sun was plentiful. So plentiful that I got the worst sunburn I've had in years mid-week. I've never had a sunburn take down my activity level like it did this week. My energy felt off and I can't think of anything besides the sunburn that could be the cause. It is stupid really. I carry sunscreen in the side pocket of my bag every single day. For once it just slipped my mind.
Anyway, about the skateboarding. I completed my 1 mile sprints for the IDSA, logged a new PR for a mile, and got that sunburn in the process on Thursday, but the rest of the week was spent doing freedance and getting ready for the Online Showdown in a few weeks (more about my 1 mile ride in another post).
So, I completely redid the opening 20 seconds of my run. I've been starting the run with longboard dancing, but decided to make the run freestyle-centric with some spin shove-its, walk the dogs, and a tailstop fingerflip before going into some dance moves.
I've also been working on a carving 360 wheelie. It is more difficult than it sounds. The first 200 or so degrees is pretty easy but getting to exactly 360 is a little tougher. You have to try and find the centrifugal force to keep the turn going, but it can be hard to find the balance. That said, I've upped my workouts to include ankle mobility issues.
I came to the realization last week that I've had issues with 360s and spacewalks because of my right (rear) ankle. I broke it about 17 years ago, and while the break healed well, one of the ligaments in my ankle was ripped in two. I elected not to have it surgically reattached. The doctor had told me it would be very painful and that the other ligaments in my ankle would most likely strengthen so much that I wouldn't notice a difference. He was correct except that I am a skateboarder and my ankles are very important for the act of skating.
So, here I am 17 years later, starting some PT to strengthen the other ligaments in my ankle to help my freestyle and dance skateboarding.
I'm loving online challenges. As a family man unable to make a bunch of contest/race trips, I am thrilled to be able do them on my own time in my home space. I know they aren't the same thing as being in a set location competing with others on the same course, but I am enjoying it very much.
The first online challenge I did was the Cyber Slalom Challenge through the NCDSA. I later ran my own Cyber Slalom Challenge through Facebook. A move from central Arkansas to the hills of northwest Arkansas coincided with taking up freestyle so I haven't competed in an online challenge since 2018. Of course, the World Round-Up Online Showdown kicked off the contests for me (I just practiced my run), but the IDSA (International Distance Skateboard Association) has started challenges as well.
I recently posted about the 10K challenge from them. It was a lot of fun, and I wanted to become more of a part of it. So, I paid the 20 bucks to join and became a member of the IDSA. I know I will probably never go to an IDSA event (unless they have one in Arkansas or Memphis, TN), but at least I can support the organization promoting something that I support. Skating for fitness is a great thing. Plus, they sent some cool swag for joining. I've been thinking about a hydration vest for a long time. So, to get one for the cost of joining the IDSA and shipping is great. I'm going to get a lot of use out of that over the next year.
SoNow, for the story of my 1KM Sprint:
I completed the challenge on Mother's Day morning. I warmed up by doing a freedance session (what I'm calling my freestyle/dance hybrid skating), and followed it with my attempt at the challenge. It should be of note that I knew my track wasn't the right place to do this. A straight stretch would be ideal, and there isn't much straight stretch on this course at all. However, as I mentioned, it was Mother's Day morning and I felt a little guilt leaving my wife behind to go skating on her day. While I should have been making her a breakfast in bed, I was out skating instead. So, I was at my usual spot. It is, after all, five minutes from home which is much better than driving 20 minutes into town. This way I skate for an hour and a half and I'm only gone for about an hour and a half.
I put my everyday board into the back of my truck and used my push board, a Bustin Sportster with 180mm Caliber trucks, 80mm Kegel wheels and Bones Swiss bearings. I pushed off, got to a decent speed and hit the start button. It felt great moving into the first, at speed, corner.
Unfortunately, I was going way too fast for this course. Turning and sprints just don't marry well. I came off the board just as I went into that first corner as my trucks couldn't turn fast enough. Luckily, I was able to run it out, and didn't land on my face. In fact, I was able to get myself back on the trail and hopped back on, but I knew I couldn't sprint at my the best possible speed. After all, I had several more turns each time around the track, and several times around the track. So, since I had already come off the board and because I had to slow down for each corner, I knew my time would be slow, but I did push like mad on the one long side of the track, and got myself nice and winded. They've started a 1 mile challenge and, now that I'm an actual member of the IDSA, I am going to find a straight path and I may just send my times into the IDSA. Judging from the times I've seen on Facebook, I think if I stay on the board and have a straight path, I may do okay.
I do hope, after the world goes back to a normal a little bit, they'll keep these challenges going. It is a great way to feel connected, at a distance, to other distance skaters.
I'm afraid I spent most of this week either wishing the rain would stop or wishing the kids playing basketball would finish their game so I could have the court. Neither happened much this week. One day I was able to complete the latest IDSA skate challenge (more on that in the next post), and one day I was able to do a long dance session around the same track I used on the skate challenge, but the rest of the week was spent practicing 360s and spacewalks under the pavilion at the park.
By the end of the week I had a short combo that used both the 360s and spacewalks (start off with some stationary 360s, go the other direction with a quick spin shove-it, and finish with some spacewalks). I haven't, however, gotten it good enough to video.
I din't call this a training week for the Showdown because neither 360s nor spacewalks are in my run so it doesn't feel like I've really trained for the showdown at all. Luckily, things change next week. After Sunday there is no rain in the forcast for the next seven days. I'm glad as next week is the end of the sign up period, and I'll probably need to get my run on video by the end of the week (or the next). It will be sad to see that end. Wanting to do well has forced me to improve my skating. In fact, it has given me incentive to continue improving in the ways that I want to improve. I'm becoming a better skater/longboader and I really feel like the sky is the limit to my skating. It all comes down to skating the way we want to skate and working on the things we want to do rather than letting our skating being dictated by others.
It is hard to believe that this completes my sixth week of training for the World Round-Up Online Showdown (my first freestyle contest). it really feels like it has just been a couple weeks (maybe a few) since I started this journey. I can tell, however, that my skating is much improved over this month and a half. I can now, very easily, get through a full 1 1/2 minute run, and I've added some new dance tricks (or should I call them moves) that won't become part of a freestyle run.
I'm sticking to my guns of making this as freestyle oriented as possible while showcasing dance, skogging, and pumping. Luckily, tricks like toe spins (called pirouettes in longboarding), g-turns, pivots, 360s etcetera were freestyle tricks long before longboard dance.
I've also been searching for and watching as much 70s freestyle as possible. For instance, I have watched Stacy Peralta and Russ Howell in the documentary Skateboard Kings from the late 70s several times. The thing that is noticeable about their skating, in that particular documentary, is that their boards turn. In fact, their boards turn a lot. Modern freestyler's boards tend to turn when they pivot on them. I'm not saying all freestyler skaters have boards that don't turn at all. I'm saying they don't accentuate the turn. They damper it. Carving is not part of the beauty of modern freestyle.
I've decided that I want my board to turn more freely and, more importantly, to rebound better. I've ordered new bushings for my setup. I'm going with a barrel setup both board and roadside for better rebound.
I'm also removing some grip tape from the board to make toe spins and walking trick easier. Hopefully this will improve both cross-stepping moves and walk the dogs.
Interestingly enough, I feel as if I'm finally, after nearly 40 years of skating, fully developing my own unique way of riding a skateboard. For so many years I borrowed those things from my favorite skaters that I wanted to do. I did tricks as a kid based on pictures of Bill Danforth and Duane Peters. I imitated Natas video parts. I started learning the obligatory freestyle tricks. Hmmm...
....let me go back in time to the mid 80s when I knew nothing of pro skateboarding, but only that I loved rolling around on a skateboard. Ah, the memories of putting my "ghetto blaster" on and skating in the quiet rural neighborhood streets to whatever music was on the cassette player. No real "tricks" just turning, tictacking, spinning. That was all I needed. I feel like I've gone back to that place with a wealth of knowledge. A flat patch of concrete and a skateboard. It really is all I need.
Since I've been concentrating on the dance/freestyle aspects of my skating, I've not been doing much (meaning: any) distance skating. I've been tempted to hit the Razorback Greenway a few times, but the sheer amount of people on the trail lately has kept me away. In fact, I've been completly unable to run my favorite off-road trails since the pandemic closures shut down businesses and people decided to hit the trails for something to do.
So, because I've not been distance skating, I have also quit checking on the Distance skate groups on Facebook. Honestly, I find Facebook to be a necessary evil. I long for the days when forums were active. I see half thought out political posts by people that I tend to respect and it puts me off Facebook more and more. ANYWAY, I found out a day or two late that there was a 10k challenge last month, but after checking out the times this morning, I decided to skate a 10k at my local paved "trail."
I put trail in quotation marks because this trail is just over .25 of a mile. It is almost a track, but it has a couple extra turns and isn't completely flat. In fact, it has one flat section, two slightly uphill sections and one slight downhill with a couple turn in it. Well, I say that but the course would, of course, be just the opposite were I skating clockwise. For some reason I always skate this thing counterclockwise. I have no idea why.
So, I skated just ever so slightly over 10k this morning:
Judging from the times of the racers that actually competed in the challenge, I need to work on my distance skating. In my age group I would have placed 20th out of 30 and overall I would have been 85th out of 138. Not great, but I'm not upset about it. I've not skated distance in a couple months and the courses turns really slow me down. I think I could do a little better on the Memphis Greenline.
I hope they keep these challenges up. I probably won't enter the actual virtual race, but competing against their times is a fun challenge and a nice change of pace from freestyle/dance skating.
The two pictures above are tricks that I have no intentions of doing in the contest. However, they're tricks that I needed to do this week. While I'm still working on and improving my run (I have approximately two thirds of the run dialed in), I need some changes of pace. Some kicklips, 360 tailspins, and ghost ride shove-its have been the trick to change things up.
I've also added some pumping and carving to my run. I call it the 1975 Del Mar Nationals part of my run. As I've said before, I want to dance, freestyle, skog, and carve/pump in this run. Finding the right times to carve, dance etc...is the tough part. I'm filming the run each day so I can see how it looks. I'm not a great judge of things in the moment, but I think I'm getting better at that. Over the next week I'm hoping to get the final 30 seconds of my run planned so I can feel better prepared.