Tuesday, 20 May 2008

How To Longboard

When I arrived at the Bowen's house in January, I had no idea what longboarding was. Therefore I will start with the very basics. Longboarding is a board sport that is similar to skateboarding in part. The main differences are the board itself being longer (and lower to the ground) - for greater speed and stability - and the effect of these changes on the style of riding.

Unlike skateboarding, longboarding is more about going quickly than doing tricks. As well as the board shape being designed around this, the rider's stance is also different to that of a skateboarder. The rider leans forward, right over the front of the board and tucks the back leg behind the front one (which is used for steering - by leaning). The rider's back is flat and the centre of gravity is somewhere just above the front end of the board.

A few weeks before spraining my ankle at football, Jesse took me out one night and we went longboarding on the quiet streets of West Richmond. We waited until 10pm before leaving because we wanted the roads and hoped that most traffic would be gone by that time. We travelled around the local area, along roads and through carparks, as I tried to pick up the basics.

The first Canada-only national holiday of my trip was recently, falling on the Monday before May 24th. This essentially makes a three day weekend and many Canadians go out of the cities and to campsites or mountain villages. The holiday is known as Victoria Day, after Queen Victoria I because she was the person for whom the holiday was introduced. Since Victoria, it changed a couple of times for different British monarchs but has stayed around May/June and is also informally known as May Day.

For this three four (still injured so no work to worry about) day weekend, Garth and Barb were going to Barbs’ Mums house on the Sunshine Coast and Jesse was going to a campsite nearby for an international longboarding competition with concerts and campfires. I decided to go with him, with the opportunity to also visit the house and go kayaking. We decided to leave on Friday morning and loaded up the car with camping gear on Thursday night.

The journey was about 6 hours, including the ferry and queuing for it. Whilst the car was parked waiting for the ferry we went to a nearby park, where I had been with Uncle Ron last summer after he collected me from the Horseshoe Bay terminal when I returned from Vancouver Island. Along the way, Jesse and I managed to spot a few longboarders’ cars – obvious because of the branded stickers plastered on the back and the stacked boards in the back seats.

With Jesse (who was sporting a "protest beard" until his
girlfriend got back from her 5 month trip to Europe

The weekend was amazing and we watched the race on the Sunday as well as hanging out by the lake and meeting new people most of Saturday morning. In the evenings there were concerts and we had beers around campfires. On Friday we had stopped to buy a few things and ended up getting a giant stuffed bunny for a few dollars which was named “Crouton” by a fellow camper. This became our campsite mascot and we stood it at the entrance.

On Saturday and Sunday, between hanging out at the lake and watching the concerts/races, we visited the Sunshine Coast house and I spent some time on the water in the kayak. It was a lot of fun and in the evening on Saturday I went out again and raced an otter whilst a playful seal followed behind and popped up about 5 metres away every so often! We also saw bald eagles, hummingbirds, starfish and fish – all very near to the house.

The races were on Sunday and although Jesse had originally had his name down to be in it, they had mixed it up and he decided not to bother trying to get in after all. We watched from a quiet spot up the hill on the second corner as heats of 4 racers went down in knockout rounds. The races lasted most of the day and the event was the biggest longboarding event in the world, with over 100 racers. The eventual winner was a local from the Sunshine Coast.

I decided to try more longboarding when my foot healed and although an unfortunate trip over a tree root prolonged the injury I was excited to get better at longboarding. Maybe I will get a good few chances this summer.


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