May 7, 2008

Competitions?

Sports are what some people just do. There are a number of sports to choose from. I like a number of these sports but I have one that will always be my top sport, boarding. I’m not in the sport for any kind of fame or fortune at all. I do it because I like it so much. That’s how it should be, just having fun, not competing. Well, competing is fun, just in other sports. A good competition with boarding would be one between friends. Not one with T.V. cameras, and news reporters all over the place. That kind of setting is just too controversial. If its between friends, it’s a lot more fun. You don’t have to be worried about all eyes on you from people you don’t know. Its more of just pushing each other and getting better as you go. This type of competition is probably the best way to improve your skills rather than riding alone. The boarding I’m talking about is any board at all, skateboard, long-board, wakeboard, surfboard, snowboard, those kinds of boards. I actually tried a competition once at Badlands in Sommerset, Wisconsin at a snowboard competition. It had a very different feel to it sitting atop the hill as one person did there run at a time. The people didn’t talk and it was quiet. Maybe it was because they were concentrating on what to do, but if it were a normal day out, everyone would be talking. Its fun to talk to random people and see where there from and what not. The competition atmosphere was just to strict. I don’t know how to put it, but I didn’t like it. I did end up winning the big air competition and getting second in doubles, but this was not for me. I much rather would choose riding with friends over riding for a prize.

Live to Ride or Ride to Live

I always of people doing these crazy marathons such as biking across the U.S. or running some crazy distance. I just recently heard of some guy, who works for the long-boards I ride, did this in new Zealand. I just thought of how much endurance that would take. All the roads that you had to deal with and many other things. Its actually kind of inspiring. After hearing this guy, Adam Colton, was doing this, I gave it more thought and want to plan on doing something like this. It wont be anything like going from one ocean to the next, but somewhere that will take a bit to get to. I want to find a destination that’s somewhat far away and also someplace I would really look forward to arriving to keep my spirits high. One thought that I had that’s close, driving wise, is Taylor’s Falls. This would be a bit of a trek on a long-board for myself. I think this would be a great way to find my endurance level on my board and how much training I would need I order to go a much longer distance. Some people might say it sounds crazy, I just see it as a challenge. It kind of reminds me of when I had to ride my bike everywhere when I didn’t have my license when I was younger. I would ride my bike anywhere. Bike rides to Minneapolis and back were nothing to me. I think a long board would like the same thing but with a little more of a challenge. I have no upcoming plans of this trip but I need to find a couple people who would like to join me. I don’t think too many people would be into this, but it’s still a thought that will be around for long time. Probably until the day I physically cant ride a board anymore.

Cement Parks

Skateboarding is always a good way to pass the time. Its even more fun with friends. This is how I got introduced to a new skate park located in Southdale at the YMCA. This park is a cement park and the first cement park I have been to yet. All the other parks that I have been to where made with wood. The cement park has this look to it that just says to ride in it. The cement is smooth with no worries of running into random nails sticking out and has big round metal edges on the top to grind on. This park was simply amazing. It was probably a medium sized park compared to others, but good non-the-less. It was a little intimidating at first because if you fell, you knew that you would be feeling it. Scraped elbows and knees were a given. Bruised hands and bones were also very common. If I had all the pads, I might have gotten as many scrapes and such, but I cant skate with all that on. I can deal with a helmet, but the rest of the ads seem to get in the way for me. Wrist guards would be a good Idea though.
It fun just to watch the other people ripping it up in this bowl. Some of the guys there really had this park down , doing transfers and all sorts of grinds. It was a fun time. I learned a new style of riding and got to hang out with some friends. Everyone at the park is usually really nice too, everyone waits there turn and don’t complain if someone just went. The rotation of people in the bowl is more of, who ever looks ready to go gets the run. If you just stand there holding your board, no one knows that you want to drop in. this park is a little drive from my house, but well worth it.

Snowboarding and Snowmobiling

I think one of the most fun things to do in the winter is snowboarding. Another fun sport to do is snowmobiling. I was just sitting around my house one day just hanging out not doing anything, and it hit me. Why not combine the two and see how well that works out. I told my older about this idea and he was all for it seeing as how he enjoys to snowboard as well. For the rope we used a tow rope because the loop on the end of it was perfect for a handle. Now we had to figure out where we wanted to make a jump. My yard is fairly large with about 6 acres so we had a couple places to choose from. The easiest thing for us to do was use the big mounds of snow created by plowing the driveway. It was the perfect table top that just needed a little fixing up. Once the jump was finally made, I took the first turn in hitting this jump while being pulled by my brother on the snowmobile. The jump looked good on the approach so I kept going at it. Hit it, and landed perfectly on the down slope. It was great, my brother and I could now make jumps on the flattest of grounds. It was also fun because either you would be riding your snowboard or riding the snowmobile, it was like a win - win situation. The only downside to this was that you had to let go of the tow rope before you hit the jump so you couldn’t make a line of jumps. The rope was just too heavy to be jumping with. It was still good practice for doing spins and grabs though. The next step we plan on taking is making jumps on a frozen lake, you could hit jumps going really fast on a lake. The only problem is if you fall, it might be straight onto the ice with no snow in between.

Close Calls

People slaloming is one of my most favorite things to do. it’s a bit risky at high speeds, but worth it. People slaloming is cruising on a board, preferably a long-board, and dipping in and out of people walking on the side walk. It works well with big sidewalks and lots of people. Its fun to see the reaction on a lot of people’s faces. The people need to do the same thing they do for bikers they see coming at them, just walk in a straight line and the biker will avoid you. that’s essentially the same thing for when they see a long-boarder coming. Sure I might get a little closer to the people, but I also have much better control.
Some times it can get a little sketchy when there are just too many people on the side walk. People are walking in all kinds of directions and if you cant see everyone, its more likely to run into someone or something. This has almost happened to me numerous times. It may because there were just too many people walking, or I was just going to fast. I haven’t plowed anyone over yet, but I’m waiting for that day. The only thing that I have done so far is get run off into the grass, hit a curb or two, and either got clipped or ran into a pole such as a parking meter. It hasn’t been to bad yet, but I have a feeling my luck is going to draw thin at some point. I don’t think most people get mad as I’m whipping past them, but then again, I’m not really caring about that. I do feel really bad if I accidentally hit any people though. There has a been a couple times where I get blocked off and have to slow down. Its hard to ride at a walking speed and this is where I have nicked a couple heels. The crazy thing about it is that every person I have nicked on the heel to this point, they have all been wearing sandals. Kind of weird but I try and stay away from those people when I’m riding now.

Slides/Spins

Recently long-boarding has been one of my main activities in a day. any chance I can get and I’ll be cruising down some hill or winding down a parking ramp. I have only started long-boarding only about a year ago, but have skateboarded since I was about 10 or so. From skateboarding for so long, and snowboarding, I have very good balance atop my boards. This helps a lot for when I try and do any moves or spins on my board. In order to do a slide on a long-board, it takes time an practice. You need to feel to rotation and be able to shift your wait just right. To do a front side spin, spinning so your back will be facing the direction you are going in, your weight will mostly in your back leg to stat out with. As you are carving, when you are going toe side, with your weight from your back foot to your front foot. As you are switching you weight, at the same time, you have to grip the board with your back foot and spin. Your shoulders help the spin too by directing the spin. If you ride goofy foot as I do, right foot in front and left foot behind you, you want to be looking over your left shoulder. This will help the spin greatly. As you get the spin around about 140 degrees or so, you need to try and center your body weight with a little more in the front of the board so your board knows what direction to be going in. it’s a lot harder to explain this but as you practice it will all make sense. Spinning is a great way to slow yourself down if your going down a big hill.

March 3, 2008

Snowboarding

During the cold months in Minnesota, its either easy to find something to do or very difficult. This would depend on the type of person you are, not entirely, but a good portion of it. You might enjoy the cold, kind of like I do, or you could dread it. I tend to enjoy the cold months here in Minnesota because of a certain sport in particular. This sport is snowboarding. Cruising down a big hill with everything white all around you. It’s a soothing site, and also a good time. Of course, Minnesota is definitely not the only place to snowboard, nor is it the best place to. The hills here are rather small compared to the actual mountains in Colorado for instance. The snow might be a little better too. Although this is not a big deal when it comes to snowboarding, if you have a hill or mountain you can have just as much fun in either area.

Snowboarding can be done in a number of ways. Maybe its all about the jumps and rails for some, and slopes for others. A key place nearby here for the slope style boarders would be Afton Alps. A decent sized place with a mix of skiers and snowboarders. A place I very much dislike. Sure they have a couple jumps and a couple ride on rails that are only about a foot or two off the ground, but still a horrible excuse for a board park. The jumps are small tabletops about 5 feet tall and 10 feet long, very small in my opinion. They also have jumps that are singles. I have no idea why any board park would have a single, you land flat if you actually try and hit it, and it’s ridiculous. This park is not for me but rather the beginners. A great place to get acquainted with snowboarding but not to pursue it.

A place you can go not to far from here is in Somerset, Wisconsin. The place is called Badlands and is a snowboard park, no skiers allowed which I do enjoy thoroughly. It’s a rather small hill with a tow rope instead of a chairlift. You get to the top of the hill very quickly. The jumps here are usually very nice. The smallest jump is probably between 25 – 30 feet long. This hill is definitely somewhere you can better your skills on either jumps or rails. The rails are not all “ride-on?, you actually have to jump onto it. Its not a well-known area, but those who have stumbled upon it are usually very happy they did. The owners are extremely nice too. The hills are groomed throughout the day which makes Badlands all the more better. The atmosphere here is very nice. Most the people get along and just have fun. A great place to spend the cold days instead of sitting at home, complaining about how cold it is outside today.

February 11, 2008

Wakeboarding

One of the best seasons that most people like would have to be summer. Its warm out, your not wearing a ton of cloths, and you may not have school at this time as well. There are plenty of things to do in the summer, you name it and it can probably be done. Something that I would do to enjoy my time is to get some friends together, take the boat to the lake, and wakeboard. This sport hasn’t been around too long but is growing popularity fast, and for good reason; which is that it is fun. Of course you need someone with a big enough boat, a board, etc. but if you can find all that, your set!

Wakeboarding is not like skiing at all. Sure if you ski you can pull off the one ski maneuver, but it still cant beat being on a wakeboard. With a wakeboard you have a lot of control over what you do. Spinning is more easily done, unlike on skies, you cant really spin when your riding because the edges are too jagged. This board gets its name of course because you jump the wake the boat creates. Skiers have a difficult time trying to do this; basically they just run over the wake unable to air out. A wakeboard is able to get air off a wake because the board can hit the wake adjacent to it, just like you would hit any other jump, you want to be straight on with it. Depending on the wakes size coming off the boat will determine how much air you can grab. First you need to know how to actually approach a wake though. Just before you reach the wake, you push the back of the board down into the water so that just as you go over the wake, the board pops up.

The downside to this sport is the initial cost of it. You need a boat that can actually make a decent wake. A boat made for wakeboaring can go anywhere from $10,000 and up. This is the one main limiting factor of the sport. So, if your not rich, go out and find a rich friend that already has a boat, then, problem solved!

February 4, 2008

Long-Boarding

Hills! You see them everywhere, off in the distance, going down a paved road, etc. Hills can be used for a lot of different things. Some people may do nothing with them except drive or walk up and down them with no care. Some people on the other hand find them to be one of the greatest things ever. Some of these people I am referring to are long-boarders. The excitement of cruising down a hill, carving and sliding as you go to slow down a bit. Depending on how big the hill may be would determine what you want to do. Maybe it’s just a mellow, not so steep hill. This is where can just glide and enjoy everything around you. The steeper the hill, the more you should be concentrating on what’s ahead of you.

Long-boarders don’t necessarily just ride the hills; they can go anywhere there’s halfway decent pavement. One prime spot that comes to mind are parking garages. You know, the big 7-story parking garages that kind of spin down as you go. Its perfect to go and make a couple runs, the best part is, most parking garages have elevators; so once you reach the bottom, just hit a couple buttons and your back on top again.

Long-boarding is also another mode of transportation. If you don’t like bringing a bike everywhere, why not board to your destination. Boarding in semi-crowded places is one of the most fun things to do, in my opinion. It’s commonly known as people-mogling, kind of like what a skier does. You find the best possible route on your board through the people without hitting or crashing into anyone. Its such a riot because the people are moving which brings in this other element of having to always be prepared to make a quick change in your path because someone may jump in your hole you were going for. You can also get going really fast on flat land with no wind or at least with it at your back.

January 30, 2008

Skateboarding

What is a great way to pass the time, hang out with friends, or just try and better yourself for your own enjoyment? There are plenty of things you could do, One of the best for some people is skateboarding. Skateboarding is a well known sport; it’s done everywhere! The popularity of the sport has grown immensely. It’s done on the streets, at a park or skate park (indoors and out), in a garage, dried up cement pools, etc. People skateboard everywhere, and get kicked out of plenty of public places. Skateboarding is a sport you have to be very observant, find new rails, steps, gaps, or anything you can think of that you may be able to skate.

For some boarders, skateboarding is just the thing to do when your with friends and need to hang out somewhere. A house can get so boring, so why not find a four-stair and play skate (same idea as playing pig in basketball). If your not just out to hang out and are really into skateboarding, skating with a friend is the best way to push yourself or help you learn a new trick. Skateboarding should be all about the fun, not who’s better.

Some of the best places to skate will always be controversial because everyone has their own style. Some people are all about the rails, some for stairs, and others for flatland, and of course just a combination or else it would be a little difficult to have your own style. Besides that, some of the well known spots on the streets are right in Minneapolis, some spots right in the U of M campus area. Some spots in the U of M campus are on the west bank area, there are a number of stairs and a couple of ledges. The east bank has really nice marble ledges that are very easy grind. The police tend not to like skateboarders in this area. The St. Paul campus also has some nice stairs. Its difficult to explain exactly where these spots are so instead of being confusing, I’ll be vague. The best way to find the spots is to wander aimlessly in hopes of stumbling across the perfect spot. A pretty nice skate park nearby would be 3rd Layer, its fun to try new things and hang out with your friends.