Quantity or Quality?
I drove into Memphis to spend the night with my son yesterday morning, and arrived almost three hours early. I had been concerned with one of the bridges shut down, that it was going to take forever to get into town. It wasn't. I drove right over the I-55 bridge with no problem. So, what to do when you're early to the agreed time on a sunny Saturday morning?
Go skate, obviously.
And that is exactly what I did. I went skating for two hours at Tobey skatepark. I spent the entire time battling with banked freestyle on a 8.0 popsicle stick. I rode the pop because, if I decided I wanted to skate some transition, it would be easier than the insane notion of riding tranny on a 7.3 freesyle board with trucks that barely turn.
It was a really fun session. I didn't work on my World Round Up run at all (although most of the tricks I did on the bank are in my run) and by the two hour mark I was shot. My legs were done and I wasn't landing anything at that point.
Two hours is a very long session for me these days. My everyday sessions have been really short lately. Time constraints due to work, getting a kiddo to and from school, and the weather (so much rain) and I might get out for 45 minutes of skating after work. The two plus hour session yesterday got me thinking that, maybe less days with longer sessions on less days are how I should spend my freestyle time. I'm not saying going skating for 30 to 45 minutes is a bad thing, but I don't think it is enough time to really grow as a freestyle skater. In fact, I know it takes me the first twenty minutes just to warm up. If I try to film something in the first twenty minutes I know I'm going to end up being upset with myself for not being sure-footed enough, but it is only because my body isn't warmed up yet. Then there is only twenty minutes left before I'm packing up to go home. I don't think you really grow much in twenty minutes.
So, I'm thinking freestyle sessions should be around two hours to really develop skill. Sessions lasting less than an hour might be better off just going for a mind-clearing cruise.
At the begining of this week I posted a quick message on Facebook and Instagram:
That Since that time, I haven't been on Facebook or my skateboard Instagram account. It has been an unusual few days. I've found myself, phone in hand, with no idea what to do with it. I open the phone, peruse my apps and put the phone back down several times a day. I now know just how addicted I was/am to social media.
Getting rid of the social media addiction wasn't the only reason to log out, however. I also wanted to begin preparing for The World Round Up, and didn't want to lose sight of my vision. Last year I changed my run just before entering. My original run design was about circles and rolling in circles artistically. By the time I had a run down, I grew concerned by what I was seeing other people doing via social media, and I began adding non-circular tricks like a fingerflip and an ollie airwalk to my run. I even took a few twists and turns out of my run. In the end, I was disappointed in what I put together, and I currently hate watching my run.
This year's run isn't like last year's at all, but it does have a theme. I don't want to lose sight of the theme by becoming concerned by what other's are doing. I want this to be my 1 minute skateboard vision whether that gets me first or last place. So, I'm breaking the chains of social media addiction until The Round Up.
I have to say, it is a feeling of freedom. I haven't clicked like on a single skate post since then. I haven't looked for encouragement from others, most of whom I don't really know other than in little square pictures and short videos on my phone. That all sounds so anti-social and mean. I don't mean it that way at all. I'm just keen to not have an outside influence on my skating beyond my carefully curated YouTube freestyle skate collection. While I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's runs in July, I want to keep mine based on the inspirational skaters from the past that are the primary conscious inspiration for this year's run.
World Round Up Revisited
It is that time of year again, the second round of World Round Up Online Showdown has officially been announced along with another season of virtual distance races through the IDSA. So, I went from no big skate goals to two very different competitions. One a contest in which you have to learn a specific routine and the other a series of races (both long and short) in which the goal is just to go go go.
Last year I was able to use the distance skating as a way to refresh my skateboarding after getting so trick specific for the freestyle contest. I plan on doing the same thing this year, and I'm looking forward to both very much.
Of course, this year I will be riding a more normal (for freestyle) board in the WRU. After much consideration, I've decided to ride a single kick freestyle board. For what I want to do in my run this year, I think that is the right set up. Currently, the board I'm riding is a Mode Mike Rogers single kick. I've considered a couple other deck choices, but I'm holding off on getting anything new until I really get used to a single kick and get a feeling for what I might like different. I may just stick with the Mike Rogers. Honestly, I don't know.
Last year's run, on the longboard, was very slow and methodical. That was dictated by both the size of the board and the desire to have a completely clean run. While I want to have a clean run again this year (I won't settle for step offs when I can film the run as many times as I'd like), I'm choosing a much smaller board so I can do more with it during the run. And I've gone single kick because I want a very 80s influence to the run. That isn't to say I'm only going to do traditional 80s freestyle...well, I have to keep some things under my hat until I produce the video.
I've found a couple musical options that I think will suit what I'm trying to do. I just have to fix the routine to one of the songs, but that will take some time and experimentation.
The runs are only one minute this year. I knew that was going to upset some of the pros. I even got into a discussion online with Lillis about it. Normally, I don't comment on anything that could end of being a debate. It is a waste of time to debate people on Facebook. Nobody is going to change their minds (neither of us did, by the way).
Here is the deal (as I keep the debate going):
Online video viewers have a 60 second attention span. This isn't my opinion. This is just the way it is with online content. Why? Because you can click away at any moment, and we are trained well to click away at the first sign of boredom. I know this not just because I clicked on a website describing it, but because I am one of those people that will click away if I don't see what interests me.
And I know my run was boring last year. I know because I can't make it through my own run. I get bored at my own skating. I get bored by most people's skating. In-person skating is a totally different animal. I can watch another person, in-person, skate for minutes at a time. When in-person I can see the effort. I can better see the concentration they're putting into the skating. I can feel the run.
On video I can't see it the same way.
And I commented that, "Unless you're a really amazing skater who is ticking off all the proverbial boxes and I'm absolutely enamored with your skills, I get about a minute into your run and skip ahead when watching YouTube or Instagram videos. . ."
I think the pros, because of their advanced skills, think they tick all of those boxes precisely because of those skills. The truth is, most do not. We all have what we're into and, honestly, if you veer off what I'm into, I'm trained to scroll down. I might even click the heart because I know you're proud of what you've accomplished, but I will still scroll down before I see you finish your 15 second clip. I've wondered if my clicking of the Insta-heart is disingenuous or not if I don't watch the full clip, and I guess it kind of is, but it really is just a white lie. I do like the effort put in. I do like being proud of what you've accomplished. It is just that what you have accomplished isn't my cup of tea. I still like that you've accomplished what is your cup of tea.
The World Round Up organizers understand that to both keep the shows short and keep people's attention, they have to keep the runs short. For me, I'm good with that because I understand online content and the dwindling attention span. That isn't to say I don't understand the complaints. I recently told my son that I consider a large sign of a person's intelligence to be how well they can understand both sides of an argument. And I understand both sides of this one. They believe the 1 minute run won't allow for them to build a traditionally complete routine showing progression between various elements and building between tricks with footwork. And they're right. That's why, as I suggested, you can't think of it as a traditional freestyle run.
Me? I'm looking it as a video part done in one camera shot in one space. I'm looking at it as a 1 minute homage to what I love about skateboarding and its history as I see it. I have one minute so I have to pick out only what I love the most and combine it with what the judges are looking for. Will I leave a lot out? Yes. Does that matter? Not really. One minute is not a true reflection on who I am after skating for 40 years. It can be a one minute glimpse at what I love about skating, and that is exactly what I plan to do. A 1 minute glimpse into what I love about skateboarding.
I Didn't Make It
If you follow my Instagram account you'll know that Covid ended my skate everyday quest at day 71. You'll also know that I didn't test positive for Coronavirus, but it was the side effects of the second dose of vaccine that caused me to stay in bed for a couple days. I had a fever over 100 degrees, chills, headaches (which plagued me for almost two full weeks), and extreme fatigue which kept me off a skateboard and kept me from working out for a couple days.
Here's the thing about that:
I'm glad I didn't succeed. In truth, making sure I step foot on a skateboard everyday was getting a little old, and since we were only one fifth of the way through the year, I knew it was going to get annoying by mid-year.
As a nearly 50 year old man, my life is full of responsibilities. Those responsibilities supersede skateboarding. Besides a full time job, I have a family that takes priority. Some days skateboarding is exactly what I need if I'm stressed. Other days I might just need to spend that time with my wife sans skateboard. If I made my living off of skateboarding it would be a different story, but I don't. So, turning skating into an obligation added a little hint of stress that I didn't need to add. Skating is most definitely my release from stress not a stressor.
I've gone a bit the other direction these days. I've stopped posting freestyle clips entirely for a minute. I'm just sharing a few photos (with a curb clip or two) right now. There is a specific reason for that. That reason is that I am currently in practice mode. I have a funny feeling that the WRU (now that word is it will be online again this year) is going to be much more competitive, and I want to improve on my 5th place finish. That means practicing the same tricks over and over again. Yesterday I did fakie 180 caspers for thirty minutes straight. It destroyed my shoes and got frustrating, but by the end of the session I was working that trick into footwork in a way I couldn't going into the session.
It is amazing how doing something stressful can make you feel less stressed, isn't it?! Lifting weights does the same thing for me. It puts this stress on my body that seems to relieve the previous stresses after the act is over. Anyway, I feel this post is starting to ramble so I'll call it a day.
The Local Shops
I've now had the opportunity to shop at both Snow Skateshop and The Springdale Groove. I made purchases at both locations, and i enjoyed the experiences. I thought I'd give my thoughts on both shops and give a little information on why I've chosen to shop at one over the other.
I purchased an Ishod Real complete with Tensors and F4 97a wheels on my visit to Snow. The service was friendly, and the stock was a pretty decent selection for decks, trucks, and wheels. I actually went in wanting to only buy a deck and trucks, but ended up getting a fresh, new complete.
Snow followed me on Instagram after I purchased my complete there (I tagged them in my first post skating the new board), but they have unfollowed me at some point. I can only suppose they weren't interested in me or my skating. That was a little disappointing.
I went to The Groove after driving to Snow on a Sunday afternoon and finding them to be closed. I decided to drive the extra 25 minutes into Springdale and check out our other local shop because I don't get many afternoons clear and free to go to skateshops and I really was interested in picking up a set of wheels a touch harder than the 97a F4.
I walked into The Groove and was immediately greeted by someone that handed me a Bones patch and asked if I wanted it. "Sure," I said as I started looking around the store. It had a cool mixture of products. A Dogtown Bigfoot hanging next to an Andy Anderson caught my attention so I went over to check them both out. I really dig AA after last year's WRU. Those of you that watched the broadcast on Braille may recall that AA and Mike Osterman did the commentary while I skated. I still think that is pretty cool.
Anyway, back to The Groove. After a little browsing, I asked about 56mm wheel choices and they pointed out what they had. I chose some 99a STF (I'd been interested in trying them as well as the F4). I made my purchase, and after a little small talk, I left.
I went back again to The Groove as I drove back from visiting my kiddo in Memphis a couple Sundays ago. I had been pondering this year's World Round Up. If you follow this blog you know I decided to enter last year and to ride a longboard in it. I took 5th place in Master's am riding a 40 inch Globe longboard. I was the only person in the entire competition riding a longboard, but I think I could have done better were I riding a more traditionally sized skateboard. There were so many tricks that didn't translate well from freestyle board to longboard. For instance, a rolling fingerflip doesn't really work on a longboard. I'd have to have an arm twice as long as mine just to feel comfortable. Instead of rolling fingerflips, I do rolling no comply fingerflips on a longboard, but I didn't want to get too longboard dance oriented. I wanted the run to stay pretty traditional freestyle focused. My next year run will be very different, but I'll tell about that in another post.
I have recently decided to ride a Sam/Bryce handmade Life Skateboard in the WRU this year. I really like both guys (we've been online friends for many years now) and if this year's contest gets similar coverage it might give them some decent exposure for their brand. I also decided I wanted a slightly smaller/harder wheel for this Life deck. On my second trip to The Groove I found a set of 54mm 101a OJs that have now been installed on my Life deck, I'm ready for this year's WRU.
The next post will talk about beginning my process of getting ready for the World Round Up Online Showdown. I hear it is virtual again this year so I am going to start planning my run and making sure I have all my tricks ready.
Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I'm really into working out. I do resistance training at least 5 days a week and a bunch of mobility work etc...
I don't generally discuss that stuff on here much since this is, after all, a skateboard blog. However, I just realized something this morning that I wanted to mention. I've been trying to figure out why I don't squat well. After getting some bad internet advice, I have been trying to squat with feet and knees as straight out from my body as possible. This week I realized why I've been having knee pain issues and why I can't squat even a 90 degree angle.
After searching and searching for answers, I found some interesting videos that exposed the bad (possibly damaging) advice I had gotten. My body, my hip joint to be more precise, is built so that I need to turn my knees outward when I squat. We are all different so how in the world could we all squat the same. I'll save you all the conversation on why this is since I am not an expert and will probably, when doing this from memory, get terms incorrect and look like a fool.
This revelation also made me think about skateboarding. For instance, I've wanted to do boneless to nose blunt forever, but have never been able to twist my body into the correct position to do it. I started thinking about knee and hip positions on that trick and realized that, unless I am able to make some kind of changes to the trick, my body's mechanics may keep me from doing them. And, in fact, that may be the case in a variety of tricks that require me to squat low on the board (gray slides come to mind). So, now I wait for the sun to come out, temperatures to rise, and the snow to melt so I can start experimenting with tricks that require me to squat low and how I can adapt them to my body mechanics.
It his hard to improve when you have no room to roll. Last week we had days of ice which, yesterday, were replaced with hours and hours of snowfall. The temperatures are about 15 degrees below freezing, and that means not much skate time or space. I'm forced into the garage, and my sessions are forced to be very short.
As some of you know from my Instagram feed, I am attempting to skate everyday in 2021. Of course, rain and snow makes it difficult to get out and session. So, I've been stepping into the garage, getting a quick clip and calling it a day during these sub-freezing, icy, and snowy days.
Being unable to get out of the house does have a few benefits:
I have more workout time. I have gotten into mobility work in addition to resistance training and stretching, and being at home has given me extra time to move. I've really focused on fixing issues from hip to toes. However, while I'm making sure to get my workouts in, being stuck at home makes for a lot of bad eating temptations so I'm probably adding a couple pounds of fat during this hibernation. Being at home also allows for rest/recovery. Skating everyday on top of working out means the body needs to rest (especially a middle-age body). Mid-afternoons spent relaxing is a change from my usual work routine when I'm on my feet for hours on end.
Catching up on skate videos is another perk. For the first time in a long time (years) I'm even checking in on modern skateboarding. Normally, I am a creature of nostalgia. I have a fondness for the fun of simple tricks. A boneless on a bank, freestyle footwork, and simple grinds on curbs are the basis of my skateboarding. However, I'm watching some of this technical stuff and I'm thinking about giving some of it a shot.
I also have time to work on balance and skate without wheels. I'm working on wheelies on the softruck board and I'm watching videos of tricks I have seen for years but never done and working out the mechanics of those tricks. Slowing down Youtube is a great way to look at the mechanics of a trick and see exactly what is happening. That is exactly how I learned street plants. I never did them as a kid so, when I decided I wanted to do them, I put a Youtube video on .25 speed, watched the movements, and practiced on carpet.
Stay safe in this cold weather!
New Year 2021
The train wreck that was 2020 is finally over, and a new year has finally begun. Unfortunately, up here in Northwest Arkansas, the new year has been ushered in with snow and freezing temps which has put me in the garage for any skating for the first couple days of the year. The sun is out this morning so hopefully I'll get a little time in at my normal spot today. But, before I go skating, I wanted to touch on the past year and the year to come.
Last year, purely from a skateboarding perspective, was pretty great for me. I got fifth in the World Round-Up Online Showdown, and I improved my trick skating and my footwork quite a bit.
I also, admittedly, got a little bored with freestyle and the lack of turning involved. As most of you know, freestyle skaters are known for riding tight trucks, and I have been guilty of the same. I've spent time trying to figure out how to get my trucks tighter without cranking down on the kingpin nut. I've bought tons of different bushings looking for the tightest possible combination.
But the lack of turning got boring. Skating is, essentially (for me anyway),rolling and turning on a skateboard, and I was missing the leaning, turning, pumping I had enjoyed for so long. So, I decided to change my freestyle into something much less. . .well, much less freestyle. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've left traditional freestyle behind. I've loosed my trucks and opted for soft wheels. I'm turning and gliding more than tictacking. I'm even moving to different non-skate exercises to try and improve my turning, gliding balance. The last ten minutes of every off the board workout has been dedicated to ballet/barre exercises, and I've incorporated a ton of yoga into my daily routine.
Where will all this lead? I'm not really sure. I know I'm moving in a very "87 Dreams of a Lifetime" direction. I'm practicing backwards pumping. I'm doing dancer pose (the yoga pose) while carving a turn. I've realized that a flamingo is just a back scale from gymnastics on a skateboard. I'm tying things together. However, I don't think losing surf and skate style is the way to do it. Gesmer, in "87 Dreams of a Lifetime" left behind traditional skateboard style and surf style and moved so far into figure skating and ballet that it wasn't relatable to the people that were watching it...
...I'm rambling. There is a method to my madness these days, but no clear defined ending point. I know what I don't want to do, but I'm not sure what I'm looking to accomplish. We shall see where 2021 leads.
Two thing I'm doing this year are everyday challenges. I'm skating (and posting a clip/picture) every single day in 2021. I'm also posting something similar from a workout perspective. I will do some form of exercise everyday for the year and post a clip or pic of it everyday.
I teased on my Instagram feed a new post about what skateboard I own is the most fun skateboard. As it is now 31 degrees (F) raining (with a guarantee the rain will soon turn into snow), this seems the perfect time to sit down and write that post.
I have been guilty of trying to make one skateboard a do-it-all too many times. I want a board that I can freestyle on, dance with, curb skate, park skate, ditch skate...and that perfect board has seems to not be a real thing. Freestyle footwork and flip tricks are easiest on a freestyle sized board. Curb skating on a bigger board, but not as big as a ditch pumper and on and on.
This never really works out perfectly. My curb board can be used for freestyle or ditch skating but it isn't super efficient at either. In fact, take it to a ditch, decide to do a long speed run and I'll end up disappointed and wishing I'd brought a more speed run specific board. The wheelbase doesn't allow for really deep, fun pumping.
Of course, there are boards that go in-between disciplines well. For instance, my cruiser, slalom, ditch pumping favorite has a 17.5" wheelbase, 85mm Gunmetal trucks, and some big, fat slalom wheels. It pumps on flat, moves through a ditch like butter, swerves cones, turns on a dime, and (if ridden backwards) is excellent for long arcing g-turns. That is a lot for one board so it ranks very high on the most fun list.
But what if I had to give up all other boards and have one skateboard?
My 8" and 8.75" popsicles don't really even rank more than a mention and maybe a sentence or two on a most fun list. Honestly, neither does my freestyle setup. But am I not a freestyler?!
Freestyle is very enjoyable (notice I didn't use the word fun). Street skating and curb bashing are fun, but those things aren't really what my skateboarding is about anymore. I rarely grind my trucks against a curb these days. That is heresy to most of the people I know, but it is true. Grinding curbs gets boring. There. I said it.
My drop through longboard also doesn't get much consideration. It does one thing. Moves in the direction you want to go with efficiency. It is great exercise and is fun, but you sure don't want to carve a ditch with it.
If I needed to go down to one skateboard for the rest of my life (the horror!!!) I'd have to let the curb bashers and ollie popping boards go.
Getting rid of a good slalom/ditch/pumper would hurt me much worse (as it lists as second most fun) and go with a hybrid longboard.
As I mentioned to Eric Sanders the other day, wheelies are more fun on longboards. That comment made me think, ditches are generally more fun on a longer board. Cruising, for me, is more fun on a longer board. Freestyle? A hybrid form of dance and freestyle is very enjoyable on a longboard. So here it is folks. My most enjoyable board has a kick nose, a kicktail, traditional kingpin trucks (that turn), soft wheels, built-in bearings, and a long wheelbase. It can go to a ditch and pump. It could skate a curb if I wanted. It can do walk the dogs and then cross-step and Peter Pan. It is amazing for wheelies. It is the hybrid longboard. The crazy thing about that? It is literally one of the most difficult board shapes to find!
A Saturday Morning Rant
My feet have been bruised. My ankle has been sore. My legs, last Friday afternoon, were aching. Because of a new, more physically taxing schedule at work combined with my inability to make myself rest, I have worn myself out. I needed a break, but I just can't seem to allow myself to rest. Since The World Round Up Online Showdown, I have become driven to improve in any way that I can. I can't justify a week off. I keep thinking how much work my tricks need.
However, add in that it has been raining this entire week, and I knew it would have been the perfect opportunity to rest. But I didn't want to rest completely.
I know that sounds ridiculous. I mean, I'm in my late 40's, but I keep thinking that I don't want to be a mediocre freestyler. I feel like I finally figured out the type of skateboarding that I could excel at and I want to reach a point of excellence before I'm too old to recognize the dream. No, I don't think I'll become a 50 year old Rodney. I just know I can be much better than I am and I want to know my true potential whether I'm nearly 50, over 50, or 100 years old.
So, I invested in a new tool (toy) to help me improve.
Yes, I bought those rubber truck/wheel replacements and I've been using them all week. I am aware of all the flak given to these things online. You aren't rolling. You aren't really skateboarding. I actually agree! I don't think using softrucks is skateboarding. It isn't. It is practicing skateboard tricks on a skateboard like training device. I get it.
However, I have also greatly improved my kickflips this week. While it is pouring down rain, I'm in my garage doing (old school) kickflip after kickflip. And when I get on a board that actually rolls, my kickflips are very much improved.
And I got my break. Running to the garage for an hour a day to practice kickflips (and fingerflips) isn't like going for an hour to two hour long skate session. I'm giving my body some rest and I'm improving my skating at the same time. I think this new tool (toy) is going to be very helpful over this winter when the sun is down early and the conditions are cold and wet.
So, here comes the actual rant. This is a post from a "friend" on Instagram about my foray into softrucks:
I know that I can be (usually silently) judgmental. Sometimes I will speak my mind, especially here on my blog, about things in skateboarding that get on my nerves. I ranted not too long ago about someone that posts non-skating skate clips almost exclusively. I have actually had mixed emotions about that post because, quite honestly, if you're having fun on our favorite wooden toy, then good for you. My opinion, at the end of the day, shouldn't interfere with your enjoyment of a skateboard.
However, I am going to rant about this comment, "I gave you a long leash..."
The "long leash" comment set me off.
I'm not your dog. You don't have me on a leash.
Let me repeat. I'm not your dog. You don't have me on a leash.
You are not the master of all things skateboarding with the ability to come to my feed and denigrate me. I responded exactly how I felt to someone "giving me a long leash." My reply has gotten me, apparently, blocked across Facebook and Instagram. No conversation back and forth, just a block (although, I admit I unfollowed this person).
I am not sad not to be a Facebook acquaintance with this person anymore. I am not upset to have one less Instagram follower. I'm glad he's gone.
The ramblings of an aging skateboarder.