Jamison and I took #goskateboardingday seriously and went to Mt. Tabor. It was my first downhill runs of the year, and just like last year, the first run was terrifying. Actually, that’s not quite true—preparing to go on the first run was petrifying, starting was a little less so, and by the time I was speeding down the hill, I was having fun. It only got better on the next runs.
We met up with nephew/cousin Ethan and made a new friend, Jeff, once again proving that longboarders are the nicest bunch you’ll meet on the hill.
I used the board I got for last year’s Fathers’ Day the whole time today. That way I can leave my double-drop set up for push and this one for downhill. It felt more comfortable than the last time I used this board. Now I wonder what the other board would feel like.
The strangest thing about downhilling: when I tense up, the board wants to go all skittery under me. When I relax, it calms down. I’m sure there’s a life lesson in there, somewhere… ;-)
What scary thing did you do today?
Yeah, there are four boards in that picture. Jamison and I both brought our top mount downhill boards and our double-drop push boards, just in case. Only two boards left the car.
A day or two ago, Jamison asked me if I could longboard Mt. Tabor with him on Wednesday. As Jamison is getting ready to head off to college, that was a definite yes.
The last time I’d downhilled was in April, so I was a little nervous.1Okay, I was terrified, but that’s okay. :-) The first couple of runs helped both of us get back in the groove. By our last run, we were again feeling comfortable and relaxed.2I don’t understand it, but faking being relaxed helps the board run smooth underneath me. Tense up and it wants to jitter around. It’s a lot more fun actually being relaxed, though.
We met some other skaters and bombed the hill a couple of times with them. They are definitely faster than we are, but it was still great.3I bombed the hill doing the “Ethan”: wear an untucked, unbuttoned shirt — its flapping in the breeze gives the illusion of speed and looks cool. :-D
Although I took both boards, I used the drop mount because that’s the one I’m more comfortable with. It’s the one I ride during lunch, pushing through Hillsboro.4I think it’s time to make the transition, though, and keep one more focused on push and the other on downhill. Or not. ;-)
I skated from the top for the first time. Other than a wet, chundery patch in the middle parking lot, the top portion is easier than the bottom.
I feel like I’m a few more skate sessions and a full-face helmet from next year’s Mt. Tabor Classic. :-)
Woo hoo! Google made a video from a bunch of video clips it took with my phone and a selfie stick.
Jamison and I decided that longboarding would be fun.1With Jamison getting ready to leave for college, spending some time with him is a top priority. The question was “where?” We limited our choice to either Mt. Tabor or the Banks to Vernonia Trail. Because it had rained earlier in the day, I didn’t want to bomb Mt. Tabor and possibly wipe out at speed. So Banks to Vernonia it was.
Jamison had already ridden this trail a couple of times recently so he knew the best places to start and stop.2Turned out, he also knew a couple of place that the trail would be dicey with mud across the trail and a gravel crossing, so we were able to slow down in advance. It’s nice to have an experienced guide. :-) We would start at Tophill and ride to Manning. This is about an eight-mile ride. Because the trail is a rails to trails park, it is limited to a gentle slope and we were going to be going downhill the first five miles and flat the rest of the way.3Little did I know I would strengthen my antipathy to chipseal. On normal roads, automobile traffic flattens chipseal to be relatively smooth. On the Banks to Vernonia trail, the section between Buxton and Manning has been chipsealed. Worse, it is rough and has furrows in it from bicyclists riding on the chipseal before it had set. Note to maintenance crews: chipseal only works on roads for automobile traffic.
On the way to the trail, we notice whispiness to the right and Jamison asked if it was smoke or fog? I didn’t know the answer for a few seconds, then it became obvious. We were driving through a local cloudburst. Fortunately, we never got rained on while longboarding, at least not directly. The skate wheels kicked up a bunch of spray from the wet trail, coating our legs with muck and forming puddles on top of our boards.
I was surprised how few people we met on the trail (none of them longboarding), and yet, we ran into people we know.
I have had trouble longboarding faster than 30 mph, last year’s braggy post notwithstanding. I had hoped that a new board with some awesome wheels would get me over the hump … but it was not to be.
Then I noticed something new on Longboard SpeedMeter — a mark indicating where a run’s maximum speed occurred. All I needed was a little tighter tuck a little uphill of that spot1That, and the absence of toddlers and chihuahuas loose on the hill�but that’s apparently being a little unrealistic. :-/� and let gravity do the rest.
When a couple more runs didn’t quite get me there, I brought out my older board and cranked the trucks down tight for a solid tucking platform.
That did the trick!2Next steps probably should be yoga so I can hold a tuck longer and a full-face helmet so I don’t bomb the hill contemplating what it would feel like to do a face plant. ;-)
Portland’s weather yesterday was incredible — it hit 73!
But that’s not where the story starts. Last Friday, I get a Slack message from coworker Caleb:
Hey, we should go longboarding next week sometime. It?s supposed to be pretty warm the last half of the week. What days were best to ride longboards at Mt Tabor?
Because Mt. Tabor Park is closed to automobile traffic on Wednesdays, that’s the best day.1Though my favorite run is closed to traffic all the time. :-) It’s also the day that Robin’s Longboarding 101 class was to start, so it would be fun to see my friends from that.
So we planned to knock off early on Wednesday, meet up at the park, and do some runs.2It would also be a great opportunity to take my first runs on my birthday presents: Never Summer Reaper board, Bear Kodiak trucks, and Purple Kegal wheels, with my homemade footstop. Thanks to Caleb for recording this run and letting me post it here. And I’ve reversed my longboarding emoticon so left is up to avoid getting “Wait, is it a guy in an office chair lifting his longboard up to his eyes?” from Caleb. :-D Thanks to the best weather of the year so far happening on a Wednesday, a lot of Portland’s longboarding community descended on Mt. Tabor, too.
Last summer, Jamison and I took Longboarding 101 from Robin McGuirk.1Robin also designs longboards and owns Eastside Longboards. What a blast! Prior to the class, I’d tried going downhill on my longboard only a couple of times. I definitely needed a class. :-)
By the end of the summer, Jamison and I were bombing Mt. Tabor. Thanks, Robin!
Robin just released a video advertising his class and it shows a lot of the students from last summer’s classes, including Jamison and me.2What’s even more fun, is that SkateSlate posted the video. Haha! I never dreamed there’d be a video of me downhilling on SkateSlate. :-D
Class starts this next Wednesday. We’re not going to have time this session, but hope to hit the hill once or twice when the class is there. Maybe next session.