I've never been on a skateboard in my sixty-three years.
But after a great conversation yesterday with a guy eight years older than I am, I'm seriously thinking of getting a longboard skateboard -- for cruising around, not doing fancy tricks.
Is this crazy? Not to me. And not to the 71 year old man I met while we were waiting for our cars to be serviced at Mini of Portland.
Killing time, we found ourselves standing together, looking at the new Mini two seat model in the showroom. Noticing what I was wearing, he said "That's a Crazy Shirt." "Yeah," I replied. "T-shirt and pants both; I love Crazy Shirt clothes; wear them all the time."
He was similarly attired. Had on the same Kona Coffee-dyed pants I often wear. We bonded immediately. Two old guys who like fast, fun cars like our Mini Coopers and comfortable, youthful Hawaiian-themed clothing.
In the course of our conversation, I mentioned how I'd been pondering taking snowboarding lessons this coming winter. (I used to ski, but don't play around in the snow anymore.) That led him to say: "How old do you think I am?"
"I don't know," I told him. "You look fit, but you're probably older than I am." "I'm seventy-one," he said. "Until four years ago I was a skateboarder."
A longboard skateboarder, he explained, looking longingly out the window at busy four-lane Canyon Road, which leads downhill from Portland's Sunset Freeway into the non-wilds of Beaverton. "That'd be such a great road to ride a longboard on -- if it wasn't so filled with traffic."
It turned out that he'd "caught an edge" (not sure what this means on a longboard) while avoiding an obstacle on a downhill road run. The fairly serious fall made him realize that his reflexes weren't as good as they used to be, so he gave up longboarding.
Still... "You should do it!" he enthusiastically told me. "I had four or five boards at one time, and made one myself. Get a good carving board. Remember that word: carving."
Well, I just might take his advice.
Going on my usual two-mile dog walk this afternoon, I looked with fresh eyes upon the sparsely traveled rural road that loops through our neighborhood. Some parts are pretty steep, but (perhaps overconfidently) I imagined myself smoothly carving my way down them, cap on backward, grooving to the beat of my 63 year old mind which is still young enough to come up with thoughts like "grooving."
My Mini Cooper friend and I (never got his name) agreed on a lot during our brief conversation. Life is short. It can end at any moment. Risks are everywhere. Yes, skateboards are dangerous. So is simply living.
There's lots of ways to "catch an edge" and take a tumble.
Cancer. Heart attack. Car accident. Falling off a ladder. Recently a newcomer to my Tai Chi class said he broke his back while simply standing on his snowboard, turning to look at a cute girl, and falling on his butt.
I'm not really disheartened by how few hits I got on a "senior citizen skateboarder" Google search. I don't feel like I'm as old as I am. I'm in very good physical shape. I do Tai Chi, lift weights, ballroom dance, hike and bike, boogie board big waves in Hawaii regularly. I could handle a longboard skateboard, for sure.
Just like this 72 year old man did first time out in the only You Tube video I found of someone my age or older skateboarding (but I didn't search very long).
l like his attitude. At the end of the video he also expresses a "just do it" philosophy.
My Mini Cooper friend told me that he thinks he could live to be ninety. His goal is to die a slippery slope sort of death: be bold and active right up until the end, then, whoosh!, abruptly slide into that last breath and heartbeat.
Sounds good to me also.
I hope the guy gets back on his board one day. Make a You Tube video when you're ninety, dude. I'll watch it when I'm 83. Maybe while I'm still riding a skateboard (around the old folks home?).
I believe the answer to your question would be..."Yes."
Posted by: Randy | July 02, 2012 at 08:15 AM
Randy, after a night for my brain's unconscious to process my blog post, I'm leaning toward agreeing with you.
The basic reason being... snow is soft, asphalt is hard. Water also is soft, which is why surfing on a wave is different from "surfing" on a road.
Both are fun. Both are good exercise. Both are activities I'd enjoy and don't know how to do. However, falling down on water or snow has much bigger potential consequences than falling down on a hard surface at speed.
A wipeout on a wave is sort of fun, as I know from a lot of boogie boarding. Wipeout on snow much less so. Wipeout on an asphalt road is a whole other level of "ouch."
I needed to get myself thinking more deeply about my first attraction to skateboarding. More to follow, but I'll probably pass on the idea.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 02, 2012 at 08:34 AM
P.S. that said (in the comment above), I still can't get the notion of longboarding out of my mind. I'm going to continue looking into the pros and cons of an old geezer taling this up. Will get some advice from real live longboarders (talking with the dead ones... not so useful).
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 02, 2012 at 04:25 PM
As with surfing and snowboarding if you skateboard you WILL wipeout. No ifs about it. The question is, how bad will it be? It may be only some road rash or a bruise. You seem to be in very good shape for 63, but 63 year old bodies are not as resilient in impacts and do not heal as quickly. When I see a skateboard I resist the temptation to ride it. (especially when someone else is already on it).
Posted by: tucson | July 03, 2012 at 08:05 AM
tucson, you're right: us old geezers have to be more careful than quickly-healing youngsters. And like I said before, asphalt is harder than water or snow.
Yet... (there's always a "yet") I went through similar thoughts before I got my big Burgman scooter. I concluded that a risky activity's dangerousness is on a sliding scale, and it's in our hands where to slide the danger factor.
On my scooter, I wear full protective gear 100% of the time. I re-took a Team Oregon motorcycle training class. I don't drive at night, and rarely in the rain. I don't speed or do anything crazy (riding a scooter or motorcycle is crazy enough in it's own right).
Haven't had a scratch so far, in three years. But skateboarding is inherently more accident prone, for sure. I just suspect the riskiness is adjustable.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 03, 2012 at 10:25 AM
Hum, I think I'll stick with the ocean. But then again, you don't have to worry about sharks on a skateboard - or do you??
Posted by: Bob | July 04, 2012 at 10:32 AM
If you want to ride a longboard but it is a touch too dangerous for your tastes to just jump on and go you could always get a 4 wheel scooter, basically a longboard with a scooter handle, and take it from there.
Posted by: John Williams | July 05, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I'm 35, live in Los Angeles, and started skateboarding a few years ago. After riding the trick (short) board for a little while I fell in love with longboarding. Have I fallen off of my longboard? Yes, only about three times in the last 2 years. But I got on a bicycle after a bunch of years of not riding one and proceeded to eat sidewalk within 5 minutes... hmmm. For me it boiled down to I wanted to skateboard, I only live once, longboarding has proven to be way safer and more fun for me than the trick board (or getting on a bicycle even). Either way, I say keep it up! Just take your time. Also, learn how to foot break. On a side-note, I read an article about a guy your age doing extreme downhill in Orange County! You don't have to go to to that extreme to enjoy longboarding. Find a relaxed longboarder to cruise with if you want and enjoy. It's one of the greatest feelings for me and I have a session planned for tomorrow : )
Posted by: W. Noel | August 23, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I am 60 I do long skateboarding to train for my wake and kite boarding on balance; and it is pretty cool. However; since 18 I ve been surfing, body-boarding, windsurfing a speed in line skating; so the hard lessons I have learned when I was young,
Posted by: Chucho | July 11, 2019 at 08:37 PM