At the age of sixty-three, I took up land paddling on a longboard.
This was after I spent a few months doing the push with your foot thing, which I never felt comfortable with. Discovering the Kahuna Big Stick changed my longboarding life.
Being a senior citizen land paddler, I figure that I need to evolve my longboarding approach as expeditiously as possible.
After all, when you're sixteen you've got a lifetime of skateboarding/ longboarding ahead of you. Same is true at sixty-four, but with a big difference: my remaining time of being alive likely is much less.
LongBoard Larry's Walkabout. It's my current favorite. By far.
Not because the others aren't good longboards. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. I've just become comfortable enough with my land paddling to appreciate what the Walkabout offers: another dimension of movement, plus the ability to "pump" the board -- a skill I've gotten a taste of, but not the full meal deal.
I've had the Walkabout for a week. Been on it five times, for a total of about twenty miles. Bottom line: it's a great longboard for land paddling if you're looking for something beyond the carving/cruising ordinary.
By which I mean, most land paddlers, who push with a stick rather than their foot, look for a board that will turn easily (carve) and is stable going straight and on downhills (cruising).
For someone getting into land paddling, that's the way to go at first. I'd never set foot on a skateboard before I got my first longboard. It took me a while to feel comfortable rolling along on four wheels that turn with body weight shifts, and have no brakes.
Now that I am, I really like the Walkabout's pumping set-up.
If you're not familiar with pumping, head over to PavedWave, "the soul of distance skateboarding," and click on How To Pump. The videos will speak a thousand words (or more).
Here's a sample.
Pumping strikes me as magical. It's a way of making a longboard move without pushing with either a foot or a stick. Just through body rotation and weight shifts. I kind of grasp the physics of pumping.
But it's still magical.
I've given it a try now that I have the Walkabout. Pumping is tough to learn; almost impossible, it seems, with a longboard that isn't set up properly for pumping -- as the Walkabout is. Mine has Bennett trucks front and back, with orange Otang Inheat wheels.
I'm beginning to get that pumpin' feeling, albeit with the aid of my Big Stick land paddling. That is, so far I can't keep the Walkabout moving for very long by just pumping. However, I get extra energy, let's call it land paddling "turbocharging," by using a pumping motion after pushes of the stick.
For now, pumping is an add-on to my land paddling. My goal is to get good enough at pumping so it becomes the main, or at least a major, way of moving me along.
Regardless, I'm already really liking the extra dimension the Walkabout brings to my longboarding.
The trucks produce a "swoopy" feel that is very different from my other boards. Hard to describe -- sometimes I feel like a slalom skier while land paddling with knees close together and my waist/core making the S-curve turning happen.
Never felt this before. In dance terms, it's sort of like the difference between waltz and swing: both turn, but not at all in the same way, with the same feeling. The Walkabout is a swing dancer, fun, lively.
It wants to move. "Play with me!" it begs.
Which sort of proves the adage I followed when playing competitive tennis for many years: when you feel like you aren't playing as well as you could, blame it on the equipment, not your technique. That usually isn't true, but sometimes it is.
My main message is that if you're a land paddler, expand your longboard horizons to include pumping boards like the Walkabout. I use the Runmeter iPhone app when I land paddle, so keep track of my distance, speed, and such through its GPS'ability.
Yesterday I was about 20% faster on my usual seven mile land paddling route. With less perceived exertion.
Like I said, that's with half-assed (or less) pumping technique. And the 42 inch Walkabout feels as stable as my 60 inch Kalai when I go over the cracks, bumps, twigs, leaves, and whatnot on the rural Minto Brown Island Park asphalt trails that I enjoy.
The only downside to the Walkabout that I've noted so far is that the swoopier Bennett front trucks aren't as stable on downhills as the Kalai's Original trucks. I feel more wheel wobble, but not drastically or scarily so. I've just been taking downhills more cautiously during my first week with the Walkabout.
Give Longboard Larry a look.
Surprisingly, I'm only a fifteen minute drive from their shop in Independence, Oregon, yet didn't even know about them until I ran across a mention of Larry's boards while doing some cruising of the Net.
Larry himself demo'd the Walkabout for me, so I can testify that someone who knows how to pump can do it on that board. Me, I'm still a pumping baby. Well, maybe a toddler. Who knows, though... I could be walking one of these days.
Here's the poetic LongBoard Larry description of the Walkabout. Nicely written. Made me want to try one out.
The Walkabout was designed with distant treks in mind, true to the aboriginal rite of passage. Imagine long distance pumping rides that will take you across cities, counties, states, deserts, and countries. Tune into your surroundings and lose yourself on the extra wide concave, with a slightly upturned nose that locks you into place as you move up and down the deck.
On the Walkabout, your pumps require less effort and return more energy with the most high-tech composition LBL has created to date. A glass, birch, and carbon-fiber sandwich that's ready to groove to the drone of the didgeridoo, and whatever other rhythms you're ready to throw it's way. Multiple rear truck holes allow you to further fine tune the flex.
Wheelbase: 27.5, 28.5, 29.5"
This is has been a project that I worked on with James Peters of www.pavedwave.org For more information on pumping technics and set ups check out James site.