Longboarders have been facing a number of issues lately that we’ve never seen or thought we would see. Laguna Beach skaters are facing bans off the streets due to liability fears by neighborhood residents. Despite the growth of this largely positive movement, the old ways of thinking still retain a great deal of power over public opinion, and the longboarding community is now faced with having to defend itself. The number one thing we can do is retain and continue to portray positivity while understanding that we are representatives of an entire movement when we are on our boards.
This is not the only place this is happening. Even half an hour outside of NYC, reports within our own community indicate that tickets are being handed out to longboarders for simply riding the streets doing what longboarders do. In my own hometown in Indianapolis, I was not allowed to skate within a mile of the city center. I lived just barely outside of this circle, and this meant that I was not allowed to skate to work. I did it anyway…just as many of you out there are doing it anyway. But one thing here is becoming clear: it’s time we started separating ourselves not only from the outlaw nature of street skateboarding but also from what is becoming the outlaw nature of longboarding. As representatives of a company or simply as longboarders, this is all we can do to try to protect what we love.
We do not all agree on what longboarding is. For many of us, it’s simply a method of transport. For some, it’s an avenue for competition. For others, it’s about thrill-seeking or even meditation. For me, and probably for a lot of us, it’s a bit of all these things and even more. Because I know how much it means for a lot of people to bomb hills in their local neighborhoods or traffic surf in their city, I could never ask someone to stop doing what they love. But I will say this. Do whatever you do with respect and be as safe as you possibly can to both yourself and to others, and understand that you are shaping the way that people look at longboarding as a whole.
Organized events where longboarders can assemble and represent peacefully is one of the first steps we can take. On the outlaw front, this means choosing times to hold races where we are not putting large groups of people in danger and doing our best to keep crowds from getting in the way of racers. It has been suggested that we hold the Central Park race at a different time. I would support going around 9 or 10am rather than noon when there are likely going to be many more pedestrians on the streets, but ultimately, whenever the race is, I’m going to be there. Secondly, it was suggested that someone on a bike with a bullhorn alert the crowd ahead of the race leaders. I think this is a great idea. Anyone got a bullhorn? I know some bikers! Finally, I think we have come to this conclusion already, but let’s be explicit about it. No skitching in races. When you skitch, you force others to skitch around you to compete, and this is ultimately going to result in tragedy.
Outlaw can’t and shouldn’t die; this is a big part of our community. But we should do our best to minimize risk to ourselves and the general public. That’s my opinion anyway…you’re welcome to have a different one, but I suggest you be explicit about it so that we can come to some conclusions and move forward as a unified community. If you want to take further part in this discussion, become a member of this group on Facebook and state your piece:
This group is aimed at gaining further recognition of skateboarding as a viable transportation alternative. As skaters are getting kicked off the streets, we need all the good PR we can get. Get involved!
There are also a number of sanctioned events happening this year. The Stoke’em downhill race is this weekend and is being held by Bustin Boards. Details for that event are here:
Come one, come all. Just pad up, bring 10 bucks for the entry fee, and have a waiver signed by your parents if you’re under 18 (details are available through the facebook events page: Stok’em on Facebook!).
I don’t do a ton of downhill, but there are certainly a bunch and have always been a bunch of those going on where you can sign up and everything’s all good. I had a great time at last year’s Summer downhill race at Central, Massachusetts…I haven’t seen any details yet. They shut down the road…it was free reign on a sweet downhill and even had a push section in the race, which helped me keep up big time. Stay tuned for more details about these events coming up as well. We do our best to cover as much material as possible here.
One of the biggest push events that is taking place in 2011 just released FOUR race dates this year in different cities. The Adrenalina Marathon will be held in NEW YORK CITY on July 30 on Governor’s Island, San Juan, Puerto Rico on August 28th, Plano, Texas on October 16th, and we’ll have a little reunion in Hallandale Beach, FL on November 5th. If there ever were a time to be a pro skater, that time is now. The beautiful thing about this is that you are in total control of your success. I won $10,000 last year. I’ve got friends here in NYC and even back in my hometown of Indianapolis that have been training their balls off that I know could beat me if we raced today. You could be that guy!
Finally, one more sanctioned event I want to talk about is the Chief Ladiga Silver Comet Sk8 Challenge. While still considered a race, as there will be awarded winners for both men and women on 3 separate days as well as an overall race winner, this is definitely a “challenge” for most, as it is an “ultra” event. The race is the first sanctioned IDSA/USADSA event this year and will consist of 3 stages totaling 180+ miles–approximately 40 miles the first day, 50 the 2nd day, and a total of 94 miles the 3rd day. The organizer, Marion Karr, wants to be clear about this one: This is not a race for everyone. You MUST be prepared if you expect to finish. The race will be held from May 20-22. Details can be found here:
Clearly, we have a lot of awesome things to look forward to in longboarding this year. What I ask is that you do your best to be respectful and understand that you are not only a representative of yourself when you get on a board, but also of the rest of your longboarding/skateboarding brethren. Share the road. Be responsible and pay attention. Don’t put others in danger. And for Buddha’s sake, wear a helmet! NOBI lives here!