Last July I took up longboarding (skateboarding on, duh, a longer board). I was a youthful 63 years old back then. Now I'm an even more youthful 64.
Not a typo, because my fitness level has skyrocketed after discovering the joy of land paddling on a longboard (a lot like stand up paddling on water except, duh, on land).
You can peruse previous posts in the "skateboarding" category of this blog if you want to learn about the trajectory of my longboarding.
I started by pushing with my foot, as most longboarders do, but quickly learned the drawbacks -- especially for someone who (1) had never skateboarded before, and (2) wasn't in his teens or twenties. Discovering land paddling, where I never take a foot off the board except when starting or stopping, transformed the activity for me.
I'm hooked now. Which seemingly would be a problem, weather-wise, since I live in western Oregon, in Salem.
When I went to buy my first longboard at Salem's Exit Real World skateboard shop, I recall one of the sales guys saying that even at the ripe old age of 30 (!!!) he and his buddy still like to go to the skatepark. "But," he added, "it's frustrating to have to wait until spring when winter comes."
Well, winter has come (meteorological winter is December-February, and its Dec. 9).
I'm still happily longboarding. Cruised around Minto Brown Island Park today for about fifty minutes and four miles. That's mild uphill and mild downhill miles, along with some level stretches. The whole way I'm using my core muscles to propel myself with a Kahuna Big Stick on my Norgeboards Kalai.
Great workout. And it doesn't bother me that I'm longboarding in 40'ish degree weather, usually cloudy, occasionally drizzly, sometimes windy as heck.
I accept, no, embrace, the obvious fact that land paddling in the Pacific Northwest is going to be a lot different from what's shown in the You Tube videos of barely-clad longboarders frolicking in the warm sun, often next to a beach, or at least with palm trees.
Here's a still shot of a Big Stick review video that shows what I mean.
Shuna and David had a good time playing with their Kahuna Creations longboards and Big Sticks on a cruise around the Rose Bowl. And I also had a good time today, although I was dressed a lot differently.
I'm finding that with loose fitting pants and a sweatshirt, I'm comfortable in just about any weather Oregon can throw at me. Once I put on rain gloves under my arm/wrist protectors when it was in the low 40's. Today the temperature was 47. Balmy!
Land paddling is aerobic. You aren't just rolling downhill, like "bomber" style longboarders do. You're pushing your way along, most of the time. So colder weather is more comfortable, in a sense. Less sweat, for sure.
Given my addiction to land paddling, I feel good that so long as it isn't raining hard, I can get out on my longboard.
I've gotten some rain wheels but haven't put them on yet. Since land paddling doesn't involve a lot of sharp turns at speed, a.k.a. carving, sliding out of control on standard slick ungrooved longboard wheels isn't likely. At least, I've never had a problem with this.
My biggest problem is leaves, twigs, and moss/mildew. Or whatever the heck that green stuff is on the asphalt of shady trails which makes the rubber tip of my Big Stick slip when I push on it.
I like how my five foot Norgeboards Kalai is big enough to roll over most minor obstacles, like twigs and leaves. I'm learning when it's OK to stay on my board through a "debris field" and when it's safer to get off. The park where I like to longboard the most is rural, though close to town.
There's jillions (almost) of trees, with bajillions (roughly) of leaves and twigs that fall off them.
But this has offered me an opportunity to practice my Zen Mindfulness Land Paddling -- where I'm rolling along a path almost covered with leaves, but with enough bare spots to enable me to precisely place the end of my pushing pole in a leafless area, which usually has enough traction to propel me forward.
Pushing on a slick leaf which slides backward always wastes energy, and sometimes almost throws me off the board if I've leaned over strongly to plant the pole.
Anyway, I just wanted to reassure anyone who is thinking of taking up land paddling this time of year, and lives in a rainy cold climate like mine, to... go for it! Life is short. Longboarding makes it seem, well, longer.
I feel really, really good land paddling on my longboard. Even when it's cold and cloudy. Even when it's rainy and breezy. Still, I'm looking forward to spring and summer. My senior citizen abs might even be fit enough by then (heck, they might be ready now) for some shirtless longboarding photos.
Reason enough to keep returning to this blog. Or, not.