Confessions of a longboard late bloomer

my only regret is not doing it sooner

6 mins read

I’m going to tell you something and I hope you won’t judge me for it, watching “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” made me take another serious look at longboarding. And this is my journey.

I thought that my days riding a plank of wood on rubberesque wheels was behind me. I’ve never been on one since secondary school days. And the only time I was on one was when a friend brought an orange plastic skateboard similar to the penny. A bunch of us were like pigeons fighting over scraps when we saw that board.

I waited patiently for my turn thinking about all the skateboarding movies I have seen, que Back to the Future and Thrashin’. I played all the cool moves in my head that people could do on a board back then.

When my turn finally came, I pushed with the power of my bottled excitement and the board went flying from under me in a blink. I was on my back while the board went flying then hit a nearby wall, hard.

The owner wasn’t pleased, he gave me the look of disappointment before taking off with the board and never brought it back out again.

I discovered skateboarding the same way I discovered longboarding, from the movies.

There was nothing about skateboarding when I was growing up, but it left a deep impression on me. The feeling of wanting to ride a board never left me, but I have no access to a skateboard (aside from orange plastic skateboard guy), so I made it a goal to get one… That never happened.

Fast forward

A few years later (decades, really) and fresh from seeing Ben Stiller going down a hill in Iceland, I took to google and I saw that there is a lively community behind longboarding and it got me really excited.

I had some awareness of longboarding before Walter Mitty, but it didn’t sink in. Maybe because I’ve never actually seen anyone on it. This time it was different, there was a spark, it wasn’t a blaze, just a tiny flicker of possibilities. There’s a real potential that the fire within would keep burning. I only need to feed it with stoke and I know where to get some… The internet!

This could be my last chance to get on a board. I absorbed all the information I found like a sponge. Types of decks, disciplines, wheel size and duro, truck base angles, bearings, precision trucks vs. cast trucks, bushings. I was eating it all up, trying to get a proper longboard education, I couldn’t get enough of it. I didn’t even know what stance was before that moment.

My first board

My first board was a sorry plank of wood on wheels. It was a generic directional cutout from the shelf of a Cash Converter, yup, (no regrets). Generic to the core, deck was laminated something, wheels was a rubber thingy, trucks was raw TKP, bearings (metal shields) – no brand. It had this Hawaiian surfer graphic at the bottom. It may not be the best board for a newbie but I learned a lot from it –  with the help of the internet.

I was so proud of it as you can see it even made my instagram.

A post shared by Rod Rodriguez (@xzykho) on Sep 20, 2014 at 7:51pm PDT

A post shared by Rod Rodriguez (@xzykho) on Sep 26, 2014 at 4:12pm PDT

A post shared by Rod Rodriguez (@xzykho) on Oct 3, 2014 at 5:08pm PDT

I would skate before the sun is up, even on weekends. Something that I’ve never done willingly before longboarding. Some benefits of getting up early to skate – no crowd, air is still cool, but the no. 1 benefit of getting up early for me in the beginning was not being seen while fumbling and stumbling on a board.

My quiver expansion

I was hooked that within a couple of months I bought a slightly used Holesome Street Sweeper. The year after that I got myself a complete Loaded Tesseract for my birthday. And then later I found and rescued a slightly used 36″ DB Lunchtray from collecting dust.

It did not stop with the lunchtray though, like trying to fight the inevitable I was losing the battle, some time later I hooked another board, a 41+” Flamingo from Alternative Longboards.

I promised myself no more after that, but wait maybe just one more? I was drooling over Dasilva’s Aldous when they put out the first prototypes, so eventually I got one. Only after I saved a Bustin Yoface 39″ from a guy who never used it did things start to slow down.

It was getting out of hand. I decided to let go of the Holesome. I even gave up my very first board for a good cause (a friend who was getting into longboarding).

I named my quiver “The Breakfast Club”. From L-R // The Geek, The Jock, The Basketcase, The Princess and The Criminal

Figuring things out on my own longboarding consumed me. I was reading articles, watching videos, hanging out at the “Fish”. But I’m not as young as I used to be and agility is no longer a skill I can summon at will.

My progression

When I had built enough confidence to ride my board I realized that simply going from point A to point B is losing its flavor. So I took to the internet again to learn some basic tricks. I have to admit doing cool stuff on a board was not easy for me. My progress was painfully slow and literally painful, I broke skin, sprained a foot, a toe, a finger, both wrists and even hit my head on concrete (never a good idea, wear a helmet) but I was having such a great time.

My crew

I searched and found like minded people to skate with – our group slowly grew and became a regular monthly cruising session. People were joining us coming from different disciplines, everyone was welcome, skate expertise was never an issue. We have cruisers, long distance pumpers, land paddlers, speed demons and freestylers.

I met some really cool individuals in that group we were pushing and supporting each other. Age was just a number. We had tweeners and ancients (50+ y/o). It didn’t even matter what you have under your feet. Great times, we were fueled by stoke and held together by the sticky glue of longboarding.

If you want to start longboarding I say go for it! The perfect time is always now.

I’m glad I found longboarding, I only wished I picked it up much earlier. I would be longboarding for as long as I can, whenever I can. I wish the community continues to grow long after the hype dissipates. It saddens me whenever a longboard institution like the Silverfish or Muirskate burnout. But I guess it’s OK because someone somewhere will take over and replenish the longboard ecosystem.

Personally I believe that longboarding is more than just hype. It’s a way of life, it’s the people that comes together to share and spread the stoke. It’s exciting, it’s fun, a medium for self expression and creativity. It teaches friendship, resilience and patience. It gives you the knowledge that if you just keep trying one day you will be able to land that trick and be a better person for it. OK enough of this, now go out and skate!