I did it. I bought a longboard.
A 42 year young guy. Since it arrived, I’ve been riding my longboard regularly over the past three weeks. The experience has literally changed my life.
And, no, I’m not recovering from a broken arm or other injury. Longboarding has provided me with a sense of focus and clarity, a regular exercise that I actually look forward to, and new found freedom. I’ll expand on these three things down below, but first – some personal history is in order.
Skateboarding is something I used to do as a teenager. To be fair, I was (at best) a novice skateboarder – I used mine mostly for cruising around the neighborhood. My skateboarding days lasted for about three years (on and off). I quit riding altogether by the time I turned 17, which was coincidentally around the same time I received my first driver’s license.
Though I stopped skateboarding, I never stopped thinking about skateboarding. Years passed. I wanted to ride again, but I was afraid I had outgrown the sport. I missed the idea of cruising around on a skateboard. So I started doing some research, which lead me to longboarding.
So, what exactly is a longboard anyway? Wikipedia states that a longboard is “essentially a variant of the skateboard”. It’s longer in size than a traditional skateboard and its more or less built for cruising, carving and downhill racing. The board is longer (duh!) and the wheels are bigger than a traditional skateboard. I was intrigued. I started watching videos, like “Second Nature” from Sector 9:
And then I started thinking to myself: this is pretty insane.
I knew I wanted to do this. But… hey I’m 42. I’m not in the best of shape. And, hey, longboarding is dangerous, right? What if I’m too old for this? I was concerned that I might be going through some weird mid-life crisis. And yet, I couldn’t let the thought go. The more research I did, the more I knew I wanted to give longboarding a try. I knew I’d regret it later if I didn’t.
After even more research, I discovered that I’m not alone (or insane). My online trawls brought me to several online forums where 30, 40, 50 and yes, even 60 year olds shared their tales of picking up the ‘board. Their stories fascinated me. There were some, like me, who had skateboarded in their youth and missed the experience as they grew older, while there were others in that age bracket riding for the first time in their lives – and loving it.
Okay. I was sold.
With my wife’s encouragement, I bought my very own longboard, a LandYahtz Ripple Ridge complete from Daddies. I ordered the unit in its stock configuration. A week later, my completely assembled longboard arrived at my place. It’s a sturdy, well-built piece of kit.
As an artist, I make a living with my hands and head. As a father I always preach “safety first” to my young daughter. Which is why I also ordered a Triple 8 Brainsaver helmet and Wristsaver / Kneesaver bundle. Safety gear might make me look goofy, or give me less “street cred”, but I’m over 40 and I really don’t care what the kids think anyway.
My first run was in an empty parking lot on a Saturday afternoon, and it was a pretty decent ride. It took me about 20 minutes to reacquaint myself to balancing on the board. I had a few close calls and one spill, but nothing too serious (thanks to my safety gear).
Since that day, I’m slowly but surely getting my old groove back. I’m learning how to adjust and shift my balance to carve and cruise. I’m having fun!
From a physical standpoint, long dormant muscles (shoulders, arms, core, calf and thighs) are starting to awaken and tighten up again. Over the last three weeks I’ve also noticed that my posture has improved. My wife noticed that my stomach has gotten firmer. My love handles are getting smaller. Plus, my lower back feels great now. I’m feeling more “fit”. Riding a longboard is fun, and I don’t really feel like I’m exercising when I ride.
From a mental standpoint, longboarding has done wonders to improve my focus because it demands my full attention. One false move, and it’s road pizza time. Because of this focus, I’m not thinking about a million things at once. In short, longboarding lets me truly relax and unwind. I’m also much more in tune with my surroundings, particularly when it comes to the textures of the concrete and asphalt. I’m always looking for a smooth surface to ride on.
Given the portable nature of longboarding, I can toss my gear in the car and skate pretty much anywhere I want to. This is liberating on several levels.
To make a long post short: I have rediscovered my love of skateboarding with the longboard. I’m so glad I went with my gut and ordered my longboard. I’m always looking forward to my next ride. If there’s only one regret that I have, it’s that I didn’t discover longboarding sooner.