At 64, I've become a land paddling addict. (Check out a story in the Portland Oregonian about me, "Paddling a longboard keeps him young.")
Land paddling is a lot like stand-up paddling on water. Except, obviously, you're on land. And you don't really paddle, you push a longboard skateboard with a stick.
For me, land paddling transformed longboarding, which basically is skateboarding on a longer board and without the tricks.
Last July I got my first longboard, a Landyachtz Switch. I was learning how to get around on it fine, until I practiced on it two days in a row. The second day I was using my right foot/leg to push my way up a gradual slope when -- ow, ow, ow!!! -- my lower calf suddenly really hurt.
I'd stretched something beyond how it wanted to be stretched. It took a few weeks to feel back to normal.
That re-taught me something I already knew: being in your 60's is a lot different than being in your 20's. Or your teens, which are the ages of most longboarders and skateboarders. So I fired up Google and looked for a better way of getting a longboard to move on level ground or mild uphills.
Which is a stick. I have several. My favorite is Kahuna Creations' Big Stick. Just got the carbon fiber model. Love it. I also have the adjustable and bamboo Big Sticks.
I have several longboards in addition to the Landyachtz Switch, Kahuna Creations' Haka Moko and Norgeboards' Kalai.
Ever since I got the Kalai about a month ago, its been the only board I land paddle on. Bigger really is better, at least for the sort of land paddling I do on rough, uneven, leaf-strewn trails at Salem's Minto Brown Island Park. The Kalai is 60 inches long, a full five feet. By contrast, the Haka Moko is 47 inches and the Switch is 41 inches.
There's more to like about the Kalai than just size.
The trucks (thingies the wheels are attached to which enable a longboard to turn) are spring-loaded Original S10 torsion trucks with Abec 5 bearings. Don't ask me what that means. Heck, I'm a senior citizen longboarder with a whole three months of experience.
All I know is that I feel quite a bit more confident on the Norgeboards Kalai than on the other boards I own.
They're all great longboards. I enjoy land paddling on all three. The Kalai just feels more stable, both when turning and, especially, picking up speed on a downhill stretch. I don't feel the wheels wobbling on a downhill like I did with the Haka Moko and Switch.
Yes, the Kalai is heavier. But I rarely carry it. When I come to an uphill or downhill that is beyond my pushing or riding ability, almost always I push it along with the end of my Big Stick, kicking the Kalai's rear end with my foot from side to side as needed to keep the board rolling in the right direction.
On the slight chance that a prospective buyer of the Kalai reads this who, like me, has a Mini Cooper, here's proof that it fits in the back. Just barely. I carry the Kalai around almost all the time, along with my protective gear bag, the backpack that I wear while land paddling, and the adjustable Big Stick.
Here I am with the Kalai, in a self-timed iPhoto shot. I'm proudly six feet tall, having shrunk only about an inch over the years. Wanted to mention this because the perspective makes me look just a bit taller than the five foot Kalai.
I'm now up to land paddling 5.85 miles at Minto Brown Island Park. My way-cool iPhone Runmeter app gives me precise workout data. Yesterday it took me 1:20 (hour and twenty minutes) to go that far, so the average speed was 4.4 mph.
Here's the Runmeter graph of speed and elevation change. You can see that when I'm moving, my land paddling speed ranges between 2 mph (or less) on uphills and a sizzling 12 mph on a brief downhill run. The elevation change graph shows about 65 feet of up- and down-ness on the trails I take. I start out on a fairly steady uphill stretch, which then becomes fairly level and downhill'ish after a bit over a mile.
I've tried longboarding on city streets and at Salem's urban Riverfront Park. I much prefer the natural setting of Minto Brown Island Park. The trails may be rough, leaf/twig covered in places, and have puddles I need to skate around, but that's a small price to pay for being mostly by myself in a beautiful rural area.
When I wear my tie-dyed sweatshirt I got at Neskowin Beach a few years ago, my persona appears more than a little hippy'ish. Hey, that's fine with me. I came of age in the 60's (the decade), and now I've aged to the same number (as noted above, 64).
I deeply enjoy land paddling on a longboard. The Norgeboard Kalai, like I said, is my favorite. I'm in better shape than I can recall for a long time. Maybe ever. Land paddling for almost six miles is a tremendous aerobic and core workout.
Planting the pole and pushing involves almost every part of my body, from my toes up to my shoulders. I've done a lot of different athletic activities in my life. Land paddling probably is the most satisfying physical activity I've ever done (aside from um..., you can guess).
Thanks, Steve at Bend's Norgeboards, who designed, makes, signs, and ships each personally crafted longboard. I enjoyed meeting you at the Sisters Harvest Faire in October and being able to try out the Kalai at your demo area. Nice to buy local.
(We're both in Oregon, at least.)