My secret is out. Entirely willfully. Because I wrote the Salem Weekly Strange Up Salem column that begins with:
Have you heard the rumor? Of a strange creature roaming the trails of Minto Brown Island Park. It’s like nothing seen before. Fortunately, it elicits smiles rather than screams.
The rumor is true, because I am that creature. A senior citizen skateboarder.
More than that: a longboard skateboarder who propels himself on flats and mild uphills by pushing with a stick, not his foot. I’ve gotten pretty damn good at this, a super-fun activity called land paddling.
I mention my longboard with orange and purple O-tang wheels (O-tang is skateboard shorthand for Orangatang). It's a fairly new addition to my longboard fleet.
Thank you, social security! And all you young people paying into it! Without you, us senior citizens wouldn't be able to afford the necessities of life -- like cool-looking longboards such as the Roe Racing Mermaid.
Stoked Skateboards helped me figure out what options to choose when I ordered this "pumping" longboard. Meaning, it is set up to be pumped rather than pushed. Paved Wave is the best source of info about how to pump a longboard, and why you would want to.
I'm a land paddler who pushes his board with a Big Stick. After starting out with other sorts of longboards, I decided to try pumping-style boards.
After all, like pure pumpers, I don't use a foot for pushing; except when I'm getting on or off the board, I push with the Big Stick, while pumpers use a rather difficult-to-learn body motion to propel the board. For now I'm unable to truly pump my board. Meaning, I can't keep it moving on flats without using the stick.
However, I'm pretty sure I'm benefitting from some pumping action-energy as I use the stick much as stand up paddlers on a paddleboard do (except my stance is more "surf-style," angled, not both feet straight ahead, the typical stance of stand-up paddlers, I believe.
Here's a RunMeter screen shot from my June 16 strange creature'ing at Minto Brown Island Park. It was my first sub-hour time for my usual seven mile route at the park (disregard the map; I was downtown when I captured the screen shot, so RunMeter showed my location at that moment).
Not bad for a guy who will be 65 in a few months.
Those 7.15 miles at 7.16 average mph include ups and downs, rough cracked asphalt, twigs and pebbles on the trail, plus a few walking moments when the slope is too steep for land paddling along. I ascribe my new fastest time to the responsive Mermaid board, my steadily improving technique, and greater core strength after many miles of land paddling.
Here's how I ended the Strange Up Salem column.
I trusted myself when I had the urge to become a longboard land paddler. I’m glad I did. I’m in much better shape than I was before.
So much so, I’m waiting for the call to pose shirtless for the Senior Citizen Skateboarders Calendar (sadly, this doesn’t seem to exist). I rarely fall on my longboard anymore. If I ever have a semi-serious accident, I hope it is after I turn 65 in a few months.
I envision becoming a solitary Medicare statistic: “Skateboarding accidents among men 65 and over — 1.”
Be strange. Be unique. There’s only one you.