The photo to the left is the grade I call “the big one.” Two years ago, skating a longboard skateboard back up that deceptively mild slope, I miscalculated and found myself seriously manhandled by the surface of that otherwise benign looking street.
If you are careful, judicious and use some common sense, riding a longboard skateboard is not all that difficult. But those qualities could be considered absent in the very act of a person my age, a certified social-security recipient, even thinking of mounting a board. But so far, I’ve yet to fall while actually riding. All five of my inadvertent contacts with the paving have come while trying to skate the board, that is, pushing or kicking it forward along on flat ground, or on returning back up a hill.
In the process of skating or propelling the board, the slightest loss of concentration or loss of balance, and you are off the board and into a free fall. You fly and then you land. Unlike surfing or even snowboarding, when you land, it’s onto an unforgiving surface, blacktop or worse, concrete. To minimize the potentially catastrophic consequences inherent in such an occurrence, I take on the appearance of the Michelin Man; a foam-lined plastic helmet, hard-shell elbow and knee-pads and wrist guards. After my first two falls, both of which were backwards falls, I purchased a roller hockey girdle, that’s a pair of heavily padded long-legged, hi-rise pants complete with a tailbone-protecting strip of foam padding.
My last spill, the one that pretty much kept me from riding for almost two years, was a first, a fall forward, a pitch out over the front of the board as I was executing the third stride of a push back uphill. This was after a particularly graceful high-speed descent of what I define as a moderately steep and curving, deserted residential street. I sensed something not quite right with my second stride, a subtle awareness of an infinitesimal shift in balance, the realization of which came as I was well into my third thrust or stride. What was essentially a minutely minor flaw in technique escalated in a fraction of a millisecond into a major malfunction. My mind flashed a frantic “Mayday! Mayday.” Too late, too late for adjustments, too late to compensate, I was airborne. In a cliché of slow motion replay reels, I could see and understood precisely what was happening, but I was powerless to do anything but ride out the fall. Continue reading ‘A Literal Fall From Grace’