Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eighteen Klick Round Trip

       It's been two or three weeks since last posting and once again I feel like a guilty blogger. I don't, however, feel like a guilty longboarder. I've come a long way in that time but I'm not going to share the whole story with you all at once. Instead, I'll break it up into a handful of stories. The first once involving a very long trek from my home in Sahali, to First Response Duty Gear on the far side of the North Shore.
The approximate path traveled. Obviously not sharing my home address!

       I received an email from them two Fridays back about a pair of combat boots I'd ordered having come in. I was too cheap to buy bus fair or pay a taxi and had no friends making the trek over in that direction so I quickly decided to go on the 18km (round trip) trek on my longboard, I had other business to discuss with them in any case so might as well take my time on the trip too. I suited up, my suit being old jean shorts, a t-shirt I don't care much for, Proto paintball knee pads (they really work!!!) my bike helmet, and some very underwhelming Urban XT skate shoes from Shoe Warehouse, then headed out the door.
       The trip from my apartment, down the hill to downtown was predicatably tragic; there was lots of going a little too fast and kicking the board behind me so I could catch it as it caught up me after bailing. There was also a fair bit of walking down some of the hills whose pavement was puke-your-guts-out rough and uneven. Then there was First Ave which I'd imagine is every longboarders dream hill to carve the hell out of, slide, or bomb down. The only problem with First is it's one way traffic and that traffic is all going UP the hill. I chose to walk down the sidewalk on that one. This put me on the flat ground on the flood plain of down town and the adjacent North Shore. The rest of the trip was looking like a whole lot of gentle pushing to my destination and it was indeed good times.
       There was one last hurtle in my way before I was really in the clear though, this was the bridge connecting the North Shore to Downtown. The bridge has a guard rail where pedestrians walk, but no concrete lip along the sidewalk so things can go rolling right off the edge of the bridge if they were so inclined. I dismounted and took my board to the edge of the walkway, laid it down, and pushed it against the edge of the sidewalk. The Switch sat just high enough to not have to worry about it going off the bridge if I lost it. Traffic was still an issue though, since there was also no lip preventing the board from playing an impromptu game of Frogger if it slipped out from under me and went the other way off the sidewalk. Fortunately, I didn't lose it while crossing the bridge, and possibly started to make a very important jump in my longboarding skill level. There was a lot of putting my pushing foot in front of me and clomping it down to jerkily slow myself, but slowly, I started to drag it and even apply pressure as it dragged along the base of the bridge. The result? A small but significant burst in confidence with foot breaking. Foot breaking looks so easy in all those Youtube videos but it had been proving to be the bane of my existence till just recently. Anyhow, I made it to the other end of the long and slightly inclined bridge with no bails.
       I made another breakthrough while pushing across the North Shore to my destination, and this was intentionally tackling difficult surfaces and making quick last minute trajectory adjustments, albeit only at pushing speed. The difficult surfaces involved in this were curbs and all those spots at intersections where a guy needs to mount and dismount the sidewalk all while having to adjust his angle of travel so as not to proceed into the middle of the intersection and join traffic. Usually I pick up my board and walk across, which is still probably the most intelligent thing to do, but it did my confidence on the board some good knowing that I could do this without bailing into a stop light.
       I arrived at my destination without any injuries, and purchased my boots. I then continued to shoot the breeze with the counter help as this local mom and pop tactical shop was a business I wanted to obtain sponsorship for my paintball team from. The plan was to exchange pictures for discounts on specific in stock items, but setting up a chance to do some photos for them was proving dfficult. This day proved to be my lucky day though, and myself and a team mate were permitted to take a hefty aum of their gear to a parking garage to do a shoot with it. You can see those fun pictures by clicking here (link).
       The trip home was slightly more exciting than the trip to the North Shore in two important ways. The first was in my decision to longboard past the beach at Riverside Park, which on a hot midsummer's day was a genius idea, remind me to do that again some time. The second was a wicked bad case of dehydration, and possibly mild heat stroke on the trip back home. Karma for oggling all those members of the fairer sex at the beach? Most probably. I was very fortunate to have that buddy's house I often hang out at to grab some water at before proceeding home, it was getting quite dire for me!
       Until this journey, I'd probably put in 3 hours at most on the LandYachtz Switch, or any longboard for that matter. After making it home, I'd likely put in a grand total of five and a half. All in all, I think a modest increase in my manoeuvrability, ability to travel long distances, tackle a few ugly surfaces, and begin effectively slowing myself isn't too bad for that time frame. This trek also marked the first time going out in public on a bright sunny day with the board in plain view for all to laugh at if I ate it! I'm not feeling like such a noob anymore!

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