SKATEBOARDING (for the older crowd)
by Lloyd Kahn
Years ago I thought of doing a book called PROPULSION THROUGH SPACE. Running, swimming, cycling, surfing, paddling, skiing, skateboarding, rowing, hang gliding, etc.: all the ways we move our bodies through space for the fun of it. Lately I’ve become almost obsessed with skateboarding, and I mention it here because it’s a serious part of my life these days. I started with a long board (43”) at age 65.
Unlike all the skateboarders you see jumping off curbs and flying through the air, long board skateboarding is called “carving,” and you find downhill pavement that is as long, smooth, and car-less as possible. and curve back and forth as you descend. It has a lot of the same thrill as surfing, it’s just that the stakes are a little higher: you’ve got to deal with pavement (not water), and cars.
I keep practising. Wherever I drive I have runs, I’m always on the lookout. I wear helmet, wrist straps, elbow guards and sometimes knee guards. I’m working on being able to take steeper and steeper slopes, meaning I have to be able to turn ever-tighter to keep speed under control. Whenever I start to lose control I bail (meaning jumping off onto right foot and running fast enough to stay upright). I’m pretty conservative, although have gotten into a few scary situations.
I have several boards, one of which is an off-road board with pneumatic wheels and a rear-wheel brake on a cable. There’s a full-moon run that local guys make around here do (sans brakes), about 1-1/2 miles downhill and no cars, and I use this board to do that. The last two runs I’ve gone up before sunrise and skated down to the full moon setting over the ocean as the sun rises in the east. Yeah!
Learning a new skill at this age is tough, but I think it challenges your reflexes and helps retain your ability to move well in any activity (and, as well, is somehow good for your brain). So dudes, especially if you’ve surfed, check it out, it is soooo fun! Here are a few of my favorite links:
BTW, the kids riding skateboards nowadays are marvelous athletes. Some time when you see them jumping up onto curbs or rails, try to figure out how they make the board levitate. Or look closely at the occasional skater zinging through city streets with guts and grace.