510 Skateboarding

December 10, 2005 at 6:03 pm (Skate) (, , )

I have a new respect for skateboarding. I previously viewed it as a young boys’ sport, a mode of transportation for people who choose to wear their pants several feet below their waist. I now use it as a mode of transportation, although I’m learning that it takes more guts and leaves my adrenaline pumping faster, than almost any other sport I do. This makes sense because falling hard on concrete is much more painful than say, falling out of a raft into cold water.

It all started several months ago when we went into 510 Skateboarding, a great little skate shop on the Berkeley/ Oakland boarder. I was actually looking at shoes, but we somehow walked out of there with a skateboard no longer than a yard. The girl at the shop seemed like she knew what she was talking about and she said that for me it was a “cruiser board” because she put long board wheels on it and I don’t weigh that much. I have been riding it now for three months and I still can’t cruise on it.

I do my own version of skateboarding, which I call the “shuffle.” It goes something like this: I get on the skateboard, ride about 10 feet, then try to drag my foot along the pavement to slow myself down. 90% of the time I go slower than pedestrians. Sometimes my board shoots out in front or behind me into traffic, people, and parked cars, while I stumble and try to regain my balance. After a few near-death experiences, I walk down most hills. I am scared to go fast. The fact that I can even balance on the thing is still pretty amazing to me. I ride the flat parts, and I am getting better at those. I attempt to push myself up hills and then glide, but I don’t go very far and I sometimes hit the cracks in the pavement and nearly fall off. The cracks aren’t too bad if you’re going fast, but at speeds that won’t register on the spedometer, the holes in the pavement are very dangerous.

My next goal is to be able to stop without stumbling off my board. I watch the kids in awe. The 13-17 year old boys have it down perfectly. They can ride down steep hills and turn themselves so they go back uphill. Then they casually step on one end of the board so that the other end comes right up to their hand. They pick up their board, effortlessly, as if they whole thing was very simple and safe. I am working on that, but it’s not coming along too quickly.

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