IT’S BEEN A LONG HARD WINTER

It’s been a while.  WAY too long since my last post.  Apologies to one and all.  This past winter has been pretty brutal.  But it has also been good.  A lot has happened since my last post.  For starters, my wife and I welcomed our 3rd child into the world, our second girl.  What a joy she has been.  Secondly, I joined a band.  I play rhythm guitar (and occasionally lead guitar).  That has been an absolute blast, a dream come true for as far back as I can remember.  Thirdly, we got a family dog.  He is a 4 year old Jack Russel / Beagle mix that we got from a local animal rescue.  It’s our first dog as a family.  The kids are totally overjoyed, and so are my wife and I.  He is such a great addition to the family.

So, I’m mainly writing this short post to let anyone still following this journey of mine know that I still intend to keep this thing going.  Am I still skateboarding?  You better believe it!  Although, admittedly, my time for it is somewhat limited at the moment for the above mentioned reasons.  But I intend to stay on board as long as humanly possible. I should have another “official” blog post up shortly.  Like I said, a lot has taken place since my last post, so there’s plenty to get caught up on here.

As always, thanks for reading.  Keep an eye out for a new post soon.

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SPRING HAS SPRUNG

Apologies for the break between posts, and for the short length of this one.  I’ve had some opportunities come my way with my other favorite hobby – playing the guitar, so a good chunk of my free time has been taken up with practicing for that.

After a record Winter in our area – literally the snowiest Winter ever – Spring has finally sprung, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Had my first couple of decent skate sessions outside – feeling comfortable in short sleeves I might add.  The ramps have all made their way from my basement to back outside where they belong.  I almost forgot how good it feels to skate the ramps on my driveway with the kids playing in the backyard, birds chirping, the smell of burgers cooking on the grill – yup, Spring has definitely sprung.

I’ve also been experimenting with taking some video during my skate sessions. I hope to add a clip here and there on this blog – once I figure out how video works best with WordPress – stay tuned for that.  Thanks as always for reading.  Keep the dream alive, get out there and skate!

Skateboard and Quarter Pipe

Here is the bigger quarter pipe outside and getting some use.

kick flip animated gif

Here’s a little animated gif I put together from a kickflip video I took. Not the best one ever, but still fun.

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FIRST OUTDOOR SKATE SESSION OF THE YEAR

No Basement Celing = Freedom To Fly:

I was so excited to come home from work a little bit early this past Friday. It was sunny, the temperature was a whopping 43 degrees outside, and most of the snow was melted. I still had to clear some of the snow on one side of my driveway where I usually skate, but it was worth it. The kids even came outside to play with me. It almost felt like a nice Spring day. I decided to bring out my backup board instead of my primary one, since it was still a little bit messy outside (dirt, leaves, puddles here and there, etc.).  The session was going fairly well. I landed some really good kickflips, nice and high, which I was super motivated by. It felt so liberating to not have to worry about smacking my head on the basement ceiling if I jumped too high.

Broken Kingpin:

After a few other tricks, some pop shove-its, 180 ollies, basic warm up stuff, I started popping some pretty high ollies over some of the larger cracks in the driveway. Coming down from one of them, I heard and felt something snap from underneath my board. Upon further investigation I discovered I had snapped one of my kingpins. Those were pretty solid trucks too, some Indy’s man!  Funny thing is, instead of feeling bad or mad about it, it gave me this twisted sense of accomplishment – I felt almost like a pro or something, like I had pushed it far enough to break something on my board. I know, weird, right?!? But nevertheless, I thought it was a great way to end the first outdoor session of the season. Bring on Spring and Summer, I’m ready!

kingpin skateboard trucks wheels

First outdoor session of the year, and I break my kingpin.

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A FAKIE FIRST

Rock To Fakie, aka Rock Fakie, aka Fakie Rock:

Ladies and gentleman, I am super-pleased to announce I have hit a huge milestone in my skateboarding. I finally landed my first rock-to-fakie on a quarter pipe. Some of you are probably thinking “So freakin’ what? That’s a pretty basic ramp trick”. That would be true for some, but for me it was a trick I always had a bit of difficulty with. Some of you may be thinking “What the heck is a rock to fakie”? Here’s my brief explanation: on a quarter pipe, or half pipe, you approach the transition rolling forward – bring your front trucks up and over the coping and onto the deck – balance briefly and then begin to roll backwards (or fakie) back into the ramp transition (making sure your front trucks don’t hang up on the coping – the part that always caused me to slam hard).

Growing up, I was more of a street skater and honestly didn’t do well on ramps and half pipes – not for lack of trying though. The rock to fakie was one of those tricks I just never got the hang of. I fell so many times attempting it that I think I built up a mental block in my mind about it. I would almost instinctively jump off every time to avoid slamming hard – many times falling anyway. It’s funny, dropping in came pretty easily to me, and I never had much trouble with that at all, even on large 8-ft and higher half pipes. I can even do kick turns on ramps (front side and back side), all the way up near the coping. But for some reason, the rock to fakie was like an insurmountable hurtle. That is, until this weekend.

One of the benefits of moving the ramp into the basement was that I could practice and skate on it anytime I wanted. The best part is, our low basement ceiling that has been frustrating me the last several weeks turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I found as I approached the ramp, I was able to reach up and grab hold of one of the ceiling supports and brace myself a little bit. This allowed me to go through the full range of motions of the trick a few times to get the hang of it and circumvent my jumping off instincts). Then I tried it a few times just barely grabbing on with one hand – then – no hands. It was such a euphoric feeling to finally achieve that goal after so many years. In fact, that is a huge part of what motivated me to build my own quarter pipes at home in the first place. Now, I can’t wait till the better weather comes when I can try it on the bigger (3ft) quarter pipe outside.

As always, thanks for reading. Here’s a few pics my wife took of my little breakthrough moment.

Rock_Fakie_1 Rock_Fakie_2 Rock_Fakie_3

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BASEMENT SKATER

Winter Hates Skateboarding:

First off, my goodness, I took quite a break in-between posts didn’t I (my last was shortly after Thanksgiving). I am happy to report that I am very much still alive, and still making an attempt to get on the skateboard as much as humanly possible for a 40-year-old with a family and a full-time job. These past few months have been some of the busiest I can remember both at work and on the home front. In addition to that, the state I live in is having a record year for snow fall. We’ve taken a full on assault of winter’s fury for sure.

A Kickflip A Day Keeps the Skateboard Blues Away:

So my skate sessions lately resemble something more like a basement workout than anything else. I basically go downstairs and work on some tricks either stationary on a bit of carpet, or while rolling around the little area I have cleared out for that purpose. I also usually work on some tricks on the kicker ramp I brought in from the garage. I try to keep things very simple and just try to have a bit of fun (since many times the kids are down there with me). The only real goal I have set for myself is to perform 5 solid kickflips before the session is officially over. Other than that, I just do whatever I feel like I want to do. This whole thing kind of reminds me of when I was a kid making the best of winter, skating down in my parents basement.

Short But Sweet:

I’ll wrap it up for now and keep this a brief update. More to come very soon – I’ve got some fun things to share on deck. Thanks as always for reading.

robocop, skateboard, fingerboard, toys

Yeah, that’s right – Robocop is an old-school skater from way back!

ramp, skateboard, basement

My son, enjoying the kicker ramp in his own unique way.

Backyard, snow, garage, winter.

Here is a shot of my backyard skate spot from about a month ago – there is actually about 18 inches more snow on the ground since this photo.

skate spot, winter, covered in snow

The site of my other favorite outdoor skate spot – totally covered in the chilly white stuff.

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KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE

Common Cold – The Sequel (Bigger, Stronger, Snottier):

Between working longer hours and wiping the noses of small children at home, the cold I had made a very strong comeback. This has been one of the worst colds I’ve had in some time. I’ll spare you the gory details, but, it’s lasted nearly 3 weeks. One thought has been circling my head nearly every day over those 3 weeks – I need to take better care of myself, plain and simple. More sleep, more exercise, more water, more healthy food choices, all that good stuff. I skate better – I do everything better – when I’m taking care of myself. You’d think it would be a no-brainer, but no – I’m such a kid when it comes to that stuff (I love to stay up late, and I have a serious sweet tooth).

 Onset of Winter:

The Winter months are definitely upon us around here. The days of the temperature getting above 40 degrees are very few and far between. This, and a nasty cold makes motivation to get out and skate somewhat difficult. That said, my skate sessions have been very limited since my last post. Even so, I’ve managed to get in some pretty good ones here and there. I’ll focus on 3 this time around.

 Directly After Work:

During the summer, I had been getting my week-day skate sessions in shortly after dinner, but with it getting dark sooner and temperatures dropping this has proven a little tricky. Thanks to a suggestion from my wife, I decided to try something a little different. I packed my skate gear to take with me to work. Then directly after I went to a parking lot near my job. The parking lot was at the site of a recently closed business. It worked out great! No security guards, no other people, just me and my board for the better part of 2 hours. I started out quite a bit rusty at first, but once I got into the swing of things, I started landing some pretty decent tricks. All in all it was one of the best sessions I’ve had in a while, and it was great to have all that space to myself – nice smooth blacktop, curbs and parking blocks galore, manual pads… I will definitely have to do that again.

 Taking It Indoors:

With it getting colder, I’ve been doing a lot more skating indoors these days. We have wood floors upstairs, so one of my favorite things to do is practice manuals down the hallway (much to the annoyance of my wife, and the thrill of my kids).  My wife prefers I keep things in the basement, so I did some organizing down there and managed to carve out a pretty decent little skate spot. I even brought in the little kicker ramp from the garage just to mix it up. I would totally bring in one of the quarter pipes if I could, but the ceilings just aren’t high enough.  As it is, I have to watch where I ollie and jump. It’s not exactly an indoor skatepark, but it will do the trick for now. I’ve had some pretty fun skate sessions down there so far, and all I have to do is walk down stairs to get to it. Not too hard to get motivated to do that! Plus there’s just something cool about skating in your own basement. Brings back memories of skating in my parent’s basement during winter months as a kid.

 Holiday Magic:

We spent this Thanksgiving at my brother-in-law’s (they have a huge house). His basement is perfect for having a good bit of fun on a skateboard. I decided to bring mine along just in case the opportunity presented itself. While the adults were upstairs watching the game or playing cards, I went down to skate. Most of the kids in the family were down there too. They got a kick out of seeing me cruise around on my board and attempt tricks. Then it happened. Shortly after desert, I ended up having about an hour to myself to skate. To my surprise, it was a super fun and really good session. I was landing stuff consistently and in a row. I had a really good line of several tricks and then decided to end on that high note because it felt really good. I was so happy that I had a good session even though I had been off the board for several days (due to not feeling well), plus I found a great way to work off those calories from Thanksgiving dinner/desert.

Next time I post, I hope to have been up to the local indoor skatepark with stories and photos. As always, thanks for reading.

parking lot

My new after-work skate spot – while the weather is decent anyway. All this to myself. What a night!

skateboard ramp in basement

Here’s a part of my little basement skate session area – with the kicker ramp brought in from the garage.

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IT’S BEEN A WHILE

Good Intentions:

Wow, I can’t believe a month has gone by so quickly. I’ve started several blog posts over the past few weeks, but haven’t seemed to bring them to completion. Thankfully, I’ve managed to find time to squeeze in some pretty good skate sessions here and there, but when I sit down to blog about it, something always seemed to come up before I got one to that “ready-to-post” stage (I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times). With that said, I’m going to try and get caught up on posts this week, however, this one may come across as another one of those “random thoughts” posts (all over the map), but here goes.

Fascination With The Undead:

Let’s start off on a funny and completely unrelated side note – my wife was out of town for a weekend recently so I had a bit of down time each night after the kids went to bed. So, I decided to watch the very first episode of “The Walking Dead” through our streaming Netflix account (I had heard good things about the show). I quickly became hooked – one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. I haven’t been this hooked on a show since maybe 24 or Lost.  I went through the entire first 3 seasons in about 2 weeks. That’s saying something too, because I honestly don’t watch very much TV. We don’t even have cable. I’m totally on my own with it too – I think my wife would have loved the storyline and characters, but the horror and gore just isn’t her cup of tea. The real bummer is, now that I’m hooked, I have no way to see the current season 4 episodes (since we don’t have cable). Because it’s such a popular show, it’s nearly impossible to avoid people posting about it via Twitter or Facebook with the occasional scene spoiler.

Streamlined Sessions:

Anyway back to skateboarding. So, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve managed to squeeze in a few good skate sessions here and there. Probably about 2 – 3 times per week, with durations ranging from 20 to 60 minutes. I found out that if I start off with some basic calisthenics type exercises (jumping jacks, running in place, etc.) even before heading outside, it cuts my warm up time on the board significantly. I’m still brushing up on the basic flat ground tricks, trying to get as dialed in on those as possible, but due to limited time, I’ve changed up the way I session. Instead of doing 10 attempts of each trick, I do each trick until I land at least 3 times and then move on to the next. When finished with the basics (if I get that far), I then spend the rest of the time working on whichever ones I feel like I need the most practice on. Currently that’s the B.S. 180, and B.S. Pop-Shove-It. I try to mix that up as much as possible too, and try to remember to just let myself have some fun too. I like to pull the ramps out on Saturdays, weather permitting, and keep that in my rotation as well.

Humorous Discovery That Leads to a Backup:

As mentioned in previous posts, before my current skate setup, I had a 8.25″ Black Label, complete setup. I got it during my first resurgence into skateboarding about 10 years ago. I didn’t skate it long enough for it to get completely worn out (at least not by my standards). Well, a while back I made somewhat of a humorous discovery – I had been skating it backwards all that time. When I bought it, I was still somewhat confused by the shape of modern decks. I still remembered the almost fish-like cruiser shapes of the decks from the 80’s and 90’s, it just seemed logical to me that with modern shaped decks the longer/larger end would of course be the tail.  Not so I found out. The longer end is actually the nose – allowing for better control of ollies, flip tricks, etc. Because I didn’t do very many nose tricks during that time period, what I was left with was a deck that had hardly any tail wear at all. Since the 8.25″ size is close enough to the 8″ deck I’ve been skating lately, I decided to give it an overhaul and make a backup out of it (as close as possible to my current setup). I only needed to purchase wheels and grip tape to freshen it up (those Indy trucks were still in good shape).

Old Skater Dudes Unite:

Since starting this blog, I’m amazed at how many other guys in similar situations there are out there – still skating at 40 and beyond for their own personal reasons, passing the skate gene on to their sons and daughters. Most recently, I came across the gentlemen at http://OldManSkateSesh.com. Very nice group of guys who hit the skatepark early most mornings before the day gets rolling, and before the crowd takes over. These guys really have their stuff together – they even have their own logo, which is available on stickers and t-shirts. As a graphic designer and skateboarder, I think that is very cool. I highly recommend checking out their website.

Thanks for reading once again. More to come soon. I’ll leave you with a few images for now.

quarter pipe, skateboard, skateboarding

This was from a few months back before the colder weather started to set in. Riding the ramps trying to get the courage to work the coping a little bit.

skateboarding, quarter pipe, backyard skatepark

Again, from a few months back before it started to get cold. The backyard skate park almost fully set up (only lacking the grind rail).

skateboard, skateboard deck, black label

Here is the Black Label deck with the old grip tape removed. Pretty cool logo hidden under there.

skateboard, setup, trucks, wheels, deck

Here’s the Black Label deck all set up as a back up with Indy trucks, blank wheels, and fresh grip tape. You can see here how little the tail is worn down, since I rode it backwards mistakenly.

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FALL BRINGS CHANGE

Setback Number 1: Physical Damage

I’ve had a few life circumstances that have robbed me of skate time (or at least hindered it) as of late. Last weekend I managed to cut my index finger pretty good – and not while skating either. It actually happened while I was washing dishes of all things. I was cleaning out the inside of a glass cup and the stinkin’ thing broke on me. I sliced my finger open pretty good – just barely didn’t require stitches. Needless to say, I had to take it easy while on the skateboard throughout the week – didn’t want to take a chance of falling and re-opening the cut.

Setback Number 2: The Common Cold

I managed to catch a bit of a cold – probably a byproduct of my kids attending school (they bring home germs and whatever bug is going around). Luckily it isn’t too severe of a cold, but it is enough to throw off my groove, and make things a bit difficult. I think I was a bit more vulnerable to it because I haven’t been taking very good care of myself lately – working later hours, not sleeping as much, eating a ton of junk food, the usual suspects. More on that in a moment – read on.

Setback Number 3: Weather Related

It rained almost the entire time this past weekend. It goes without saying, rain and water puddles are not good for a skateboard made of wood and it’s moving parts. Since I couldn’t skate much, I decided it was a perfect time to do a little skate-maintenance. I took my bearings out and gave them a super thorough cleaning/lubing, and flipped my wheels around (so they wear evenly). Now I’m all set to go for the next skate session.

While I’m on the subject of weather, I should also add that in my neck of the woods the Fall season is in full swing, which means increasingly cooler temperatures and shorter days (get’s dark around 7:30 now). My area is known for having some pretty brutal winters occasionally. When Winter arrives, I could very likely be doing my skate sessions in the basement or at a local indoor skatepark. Although one good thing about the cooler temperatures currently is the fact that I sweat much less than I do in warmer temperatures while skating. I can work up some pretty mean sweats during a good session if it’s warm outside.

Serious About Having Serious Fun:

All of these things have made me want to be more vigilant in taking better care of myself. Yes, I’m talking about eating healthier, getting better, more consistent sleep, and incorporating other kinds of exercise into my routine. I’ve always been blessed with a fast metabolism, so weight gain has never really been a big problem. But when I’m not taking care of myself, I notice everything else suffers – from work, to playing with my kids, to skateboarding, to just my general mood and energy level. For instance if I’ve been eating lousy and not getting enough sleep, it takes me a lot longer to warm up during a skate session, I don’t land tricks as well, and I get really, really angry about it. If I’m to maximize my time skating, I need to be on my game with staying healthy too. No-brainer, right?!?

Switching It Up:

To spice things up a little bit, I’ve been playing around with riding “switch” for the first time in my life. For those who don’t know what switch is referring to – it basically means skating and doing tricks in the opposite stance than what you’re used to. I ride in regular stance (left foot forward) so for me, switch means riding in goofy stance (right foot forward). When I was growing up, you skated on your board one way, learning to ride switch was not really on my radar. These days, it’s a little more important if you want to eventually progress to more advanced tricks. I decided to dedicate a little bit of each session to skating switch (maybe 5 minutes or so).

Let me just say, what a weird feeling it is to ride switch for the first time! It’s like having an out-of-body experience. My brain kept telling me that I knew how to ride and was comfortable on a skateboard, but my body just wouldn’t cooperate. It’s kind of like trying to write someone a legible letter with your opposite hand (left hand if you’re right-handed, etc.) It took several sessions, but little by little I’m getting the hang of it. The other day, I actually did my first switch ollie ever – although I could only do a decent one if my back wheels where stabilized in a cement crack and it was only a few inches high. Still, I was pretty excited to see even that little bit of progress.

Thanks again for reading this far! My apologies, no photos to share this time.

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