It was pretty cool of the IDSA to allow make up races until the end of the year. I missed a few of the challenges, and this will give me the chance to make them up.
This month, I did the last challenge, a 20k skate and did the 10k from earlier in the year. I had actually done the 10k when the challenge was posted, but because I wasn't a member of the IDSA I redid it now that I am a member. I will hopefully get the opportunity to do the marathon challenge in December. I need to get my legs into distance shape a little better. After the 20k, and having not distance skated or ran since pulling my hamstring, I need to do some more rides (and runs) before I do a full marathon.
For the last three weeks I've been using softrucks instead of my skateboard for trick practice during the week. They have improved my fingerflips, underflips, and kickflips dramatically. However, I noticed during my actual freestye session over the last two weeks that my footwork is rusty. Spacewalks seemed a little more rust covered than anything else, but everything was a little off.
I blame this on two things:
1. My softruck deck is bigger than my freestyle board. I'm using what was supposed to be a 7.5 inch wide popsicle (that really measures closer to 7.8 in the center of the deck) with a 14 inch wheelbase. My current freestyle board is 7.3 inches wide with a 12.5 wheelbase. I will be, in a few week or months, be moving to a 7.4 with a 13 inch wheelbase, but it is still significantly smaller than the softruck deck.
2. I'm not rolling enough during the week. Working on tricks doesn't necessarily translate to keeping footwork fresh. I know this seems obvious, but it is worth mentioning that, taking a day or two away from footwork sometimes has a positive effect on my footwork. I have no explanation for that, and I'm not going to venture any guesses. However, a five day break from footwork does no good for footwork. Two days off is the largest amount of time that seems to have a benefit or, at any rate, no detrimental result.
I attempted to fix the not rolling thing by doing some distance skating over the past week. I did a 20k last Sunday and a 10k on Thursday of this week. I was in need of some distance skating as I haven't done nearly enough cardio since my pulled hamstring a month or so ago. However, it didn't seem to have any footwork benefit. So, really, doing footwork is the only thing that will keep footwork fresh. I know this is an obvious result, but I'm going to waste an entire blog post on it anyway.
I will say this: While the softrucks have no benefit on your rolling or footwork skills, they have dramatically improved my flip tricks. I mean dramatically. In just three weeks I've gone from having a 40 percent land rate on a variety of flip tricks to having an 80 percent land rate on flip tricks. The best part about that is that, once you hit that 80 percent mark, it makes learning new flip tricks that much easier.
In conclusion, I'm going to continue working with the softrucks daily during the week. They help me be able to work on things despite having a new schedule at work that sends me home after the sun has gone down. I will, however, make sure to work footwork on a daily basis as well. After all, a freestyle skater with no footwork is just a flat ground skater.
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.
I've spent a little time pondering the week spots in my freestyle game over the past couple of weeks. One is the kickflip. For some reason I did these much better before I started frestyling. I originally learned them several decades ago on a whim and could always count on them should I decide to try one. After a turf toe injury about five years ago I lost them, and for whatever reason, they've been difficult to get back.
I have started really working on them again and look forward to having them consistently again. For me it is all about foot position and where, on my foot, I hold my weight. I haved to put the weight of my left (front) foot on the ball of my foot to make it happen and I have to have my legs spread wider than most.
One of the other tricks I'm spending a lot of time with is a 360 tailstop fingerflip. I have a tendancy to throw the board behind me on these and it is a habit that is hard to break. Unfortunately, working on these has also made my varial fingerflips more difficult. Transitioning between the 180 and the 360 is subtle and I'm not always the best at subtle.
Add in lots of footwork variations and tons of step off longboard tricks and you know all about my last couple weeks of skating. I'll be exploring longboard dance tricks on a freestyle sized set up more in the next couple of weeks.
I'm happy to say I'm back on a skateboard this week, and I have been having a blast! The break did me good.
I took the first couple sessions easy and then started stepping things back up by really working on some new footwork combinations. In truth, although I watch other freestylers skate, I have never spent enough time studying combinations of tricks. So, I've been looking at what footwork combinations other freestylers put together and trying to emulate them. So far, each thing I've tried to do turns out different when I try to do them, but I don't want to copy exactly what they do anyway. I want to see how their tricks flow together, and use that flow to do my own stuff.
For instance, these two clips are from watching other freestylers and doing things my own way:
As you can see, I'm back to riding a bigger board again for now (8.75). I'm not sure how long I'll ride it, but it is a really good size for doing footwork. I'm considering putting some freestyle wheels on it, but for now I'm good with what I have going. No rail tricks, but really (like I've said before), I don't really like doing rail tricks. I love footwork and fingerflips.
I also like that the same size board is fun for street skating. I've been doing a few slappys and other curb tricks over the week and it has been a welcomed change of pace.
As a much younger man, I did a lot of sprinting and pseudo-sprints (400 meters). I recently tried picking up sprint workouts to add to my weekly training. In addition to skating, I love to run. However, my old nemesis, the hamstring pull, reared its ugly head again and, I'm afraid, it has taken me out of running, most skating, and some weight lifting for now.
I must admit, a week off from skating is kind of nice (except for the strong desire to go skate). I've spent the week planning a backpacking trip to Devil's Den, camping in central Arkansas, visiting with my kiddo in Memphis, and catching up on much needed rest. I have done a little tinkering with boards, and my street setups are ready to go because I have been having a strong desire to do some street skating. After all, man can't live by freestyle alone, I suppose. It is good to vary things up, and I'm going to do some curb skating when I'm able to push again. I like doing footwork on my street boards as well. I think the mixture of freestyle stuff and obstacles can be fun, although I don't really get into pogos down stairs or anything like that. Then again, I am becoming a picky, persnickety old man. No matter what I say, do what you like on your skateboard, and to each his own in the trick (or no trick) department.
I also ended up skipping the last IDSA social distance challenge of the year: the marathon. I was simply too exhausted going into the weekend to try it. On one hand I regret not giving it a go, I really like the marathon distance, but on the other hand I knew I was going into it worn out physically from work. No need to push myself too far. I think I'm going to plan a solo marathon ride before the end of autumn.
"Look back to mid 70's freestyle-they would push to get speed up, feet would touch the ground on occasion. For the purist I guess feet must never touch the ground-kinda like that kids game of hot lava. "
So, last week's post initially started off with me thinking about no comply tricks in freestyle and how a lot of people (some of whom I really respect) don't think they belong. I, on the other hand, love doing no comply tricks. They are a big part of both my street skating and longboarding past and, put together with the freestyle footwork that I enjoy, I believe they round out (for better or worse) who I am as a freestyle skater. I didn't think they were that big of a part until I started doing them again and now it seems that they are. In fact, I remember telling Bob Loftin that I wouldn't put a no comply trick in a freestyle line. Now, I do it all the time.
The upshot of all this writing is, I'm going to continue doing no comply tricks AND I've decided to start messing with some ollie based tricks as well. Primarily I'm doing some 1/2 cabs and some 180 ollies into endovers which I think looks kind of cool and adds a little more variety to my skating. I may mess around with some kickflips etc...but honestly they don't feel right on a tiny board (despite originally being done on a tiny board).
Now to my rants!
1. a half cab or "full cab" is ollie based. A caballerial is a fakie 360 ollie. No ollie? Then it is a fakie pivot or fakie kickturn. The whole world seems to have forgotten the ollie part of a caballerial.
2. So, I keep seeing this person pop up on my Instagram and Facebook feeds (well, I did but I blocked him for now). He is an older skater apparently sponsored by a clothing company that promotes his stuff. The company (that shall not be named) is named after a word (misspelled) that means "a fierce or destructive attack." This company talks about how creative it is to stand on a skateboard and pass a hat through your legs or to balance a skateboard on your hands. At first I let it go, but the more I think about it the more I realized that this is an absolute mockery of people that have spent hours and hours truly learning to skateboard and be creative with it.
Me? I'm not an overly creative skateboarder. In fact, I'm not an overly creative chef (my profession) or writer. I consider myself a craftsman more than an artist . I'm not making up a bunch of new tricks. I'm trying to master those that others have already done and put my own spin on them. So, there is a hint of creativity there but it isn't the primary point of what I do.
However, calling this "pass the hat around your leg" stuff creative belittles true skating creativity. In fact, it barely is skateboarding. Sometimes it isn't skateboarding at all. balancing a skateboard on your hand, letting it drop, and then standing on it could be done with anything. Anything. It is neither skateboarding nor creative. Sometimes skateboarding brings in people that are more worried about being seen than learning the art and craft of skateboarding. And when the moniker "freestyle" gets added to it, the name freestyle gets gets sullied too.
This week's post is overly long and even confusing to me. I intended to write about whether or not no comply tricks should be included in freestyle and, if so, how often they should be done. Instead, I ramble on about things and start needing a definition of freestyle. The post only got worse in the editing phase. Have fun.
So, this week I have been thinking about the blurred line between flatground street and freestyle, and trying to find my definition of freestyle skateboarding. This is so I can figure out what exactly I want to do as a freestyle skater because I've been drawn into the world of no comply tricks lately, and if you ask a lot of freestyle skaters, they will say no complies don't belong in freestyle. They say that freestyle is about not touching the ground with your feet. I'm even told, until Mullen broke the mold, it was even frowned upon to push during a freestyle run. Speed was supposed to be gained by footwork.
Well, according to Wikipedia it is freestyle is: "technical flat ground skateboarding."
But I don't even agree with that. Flat ground skating sounds like street skating terminology. I am going to call freestyle 'a series of skateboard footwork and tricks designed to be aesthetic and dance-like.' So, as long as it is aesthetic, on a flat space, and dance-like is it freestyle?
Before I get too far in, let me get this out of the way:
I have entered one, and only one, freestyle contest and even that was virtual. I am not any kind of freestyle expert. I started freestyle skating less than two years ago and, since I'm being honest about stuff, I really don't dig a lot of freestyle. It is sort of like my relationship with poetry. As a young teen I wanted to be a poet, but then I started really reading lots of different poetry and realized that a lot of it wasn't to my tastes.
So, just to get this straight. I'm not into a lot of freestyle stuff.
Pogos? No thanks.
Long, drawn out rail to rail to rail to rail stationary stuff? Pass.
50/50 to casper to rail etcetera etcetera? Naw. I'll just be over here working on g-turns and stuff.
For me, skating is on the wheels of the board and, if you aren't on the wheels, you should be just about to be back on the wheels. In fact, I think doing too much stationary stuff is what turns people, including street skaters, off to freestyle. I know it is one of the things that turned me off to freestyle 30+ years ago. I could watch Natas ride walls or Primo stand on the side of the board. It wasn't even a contest. Natas ruled the day.
And since Natas ruled the day, street skating (particularly late 80s street skating) is a huge influence on me.
So, then, how much off the wheels is too much off the wheels? If a rail walk to rail to casper to casper is too much time off the wheels, what about no comply fingerflips or, one that I'm doing a lot these days, 360 no complies? Isn't the whole point of freestyle to not take your foot off the board. Or is it something else and the foot thing is an outdated unwritten rule that needs to pass away? Isn't there a difference between stepping off on purpose and stepping off because you can't land the trick? Some say no comply tricks are an easy way out of doing a two foot on trick that might be more difficult. And I see the point. No comply fingerflips are very easy in comparison to rolling fingerflips. Same for the varial version of the trick.
But does freestyle have to be the more difficult trick? A no comply fingerflip doesn't really look like a rolling fingerflip. They are two different tricks. One is started crouched low on the board while you grab the nose. In the other you are standing upright and pop the board into your hand. It is really about which trick fits into the aesthetics of the run at that point, right?
It is all too much for me this week, and I really thought this would be an easy thing to write. At this point my thoughts (and this post) are so jumbled up. that I'll stop where I am. See you all next week.
In truth, I am such a fickle skater. As soon as I convinced myself that a freestyle board was the right board for me, I changed my mind and got the longboard back out. Here is the confession. After the WRU Online Showdown, I switched to a traditional freestyle board because I was feeling very determined and competitive. I was going to switch over to a true freestyle setup and I was going to do all those things that would win the contest next year. Now, a month or so later, I'm feeling much less competitive and I'm ready to explore my skating as I want it to be not how it might win a contest.
As far as freestyle board vs longboard? Both boards are good for certain, specific tricks. Rolling fingerflips and endovers are, of course, out on the longboard, but things like tail spin to 360s are so much better on the longboard. And I like footwork on both of them. The freestyle board is, of course, much faster, but the longboard feels (and looks) so smooth in comparison. Not to mention the ease of toe spins on a bigger board! Toe spins are a scary trick, but on the longboard they're much less scary.
So, for a few days I was back on the longboard again, and I was thinking more about gliding footwork than flipping the board onto rail and walking on the side of the board. I am glad I can do that easily now (and with a different wheel set up it should be possible on the longboard), but it really isn't how I like to skate. Also, I have to admit, I have fallen in love with no comply flip tricks (no comply varial flip/no comply fingerflip) and they are fun on the longboard, but not so great on the freestyle board. Plus, thinking about competition again, I think they'd be accepted in a contest on the longboard but frowned upon on the freestyle sized board.
By the end of this week I had swapped back to an 8.75" popsicle stick. With the bigger than a freestyle board and smaller than a longboard board I can do all of my favorite longboard tricks and freestyle tricks so I think I"m going to play around on this size for a bit.
One of the things I have realized in thirty years of skating:
If I am worried about getting hurt, I will get hurt.
Now, I don't mean skating cautiously, bailing should things go the wrong way. If something doesn't feel right, I step off the board and try again. That is simple enough. In fact, I'm sure tons of non-skaters that see me working on something new think that I am a terrible skateboarder that never lands anything. Even if I understand the mechanics of something mentally, that doesn't mean my body and mind are on the exact same page yet. So, if it isn't right, I step off the board, re-examine what I just did, and go again.
No, what I'm talking about is a constant fear of injury during a session that acts like a self-fulfilling prophecy. That nagging doubt about 360 fingerflips that they're going to lead to a faceplant or the twisting of an ankle. If I am worried about getting hurt it takes my concentration away from landing something and I end up getting injured because I'm not focused.
The good news is that it doesn't really happen very often. When it does happen, it is guaranteed to be the internet's fault. What?!
Yep, sometime there has is so much injury talk on Facebook that it gets into my head. I ended my Sunday session about thirty minutes shy of when I normally would because I was in my own head about injury. And I came to the realization that the only times I get in my head about injury are after I've been on Facebook that morning and people have been talking (sometimes bragging) about injuries.
Here's a tidbit of information for returning skaters or older people (40 and over) that are trying out skating: If you are not used to falling on concrete you are going to get hurt when you fall on concrete. No, those of us that have been doing it for a long time aren't immune to injury, but we've developed ways of falling to minimize injury, and we know when to step off and try again. If you've done some martial arts training (aikido, jujitsu, wrestling, judo) you'll have a leg up but it will probably still take some getting used to.
Update: In the end, I decided to leave the Very Old Skateboarders Group on Facebook. It was nice to get 100 likes on a piece of footwork in that group, but I opened it this morning and was greeted by yet another injury post. I decided to leave, but of course, hold no ill will toward the group. It is a group of fine people, but geared more toward beginner skaters and it wasn't for me.