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.
Hi. I've been reading all your skateboarding posts. I really want to try land paddling. What board would you recommend for a beginner? I'm 52 years old and female. Thanks so much.
Posted by: page | July 11, 2013 at 06:11 AM
page, I'd suggest taking a look at Kahuna Creation's "Cruiser" longboards. The shorter 47" boards seemingly would be a good fit for you.
I think the Haka Moko was the first board I bought for land paddling. I still have it, but have evolved to higher performance boards which wouldn't be advisable for a beginner. I liked it. One of my blog posts talks about it.
You want something reassuringly stable. And not very expensive, since you're trying out land paddling. The Haka Moko (nice blue color) or Haka Cruiser (brown) fit the bill. 47" is a good length. Longer than that and the board gets heavy when you need/want to carry it. Well, its heavy regardless, but longer obviously means heavier.
Ending today there is a Kahuna Creations summer special: $40 off order of $200 or more. Pretty good. Get an adjustable big stick and one of those boards, and you'd be in business.
Or you could head to a local skateboard shop. If you tell them what you want to do, they should point you in the right longboard direction. I wouldn't go with a "dropped" board; that was my first board, before I started land paddling. You want a large stable platform that you can easily shift your feet around on. You'll want to experiment with different stances, width of feet apart, etc. A medium length regular 42-48 inch board will allow that. I see lots of videos with land paddlers using dropped boards (middle is lower than ends), but I think the sort of board is more amenable to doing tricks, which won't be your priority.
Also, get some protective gear. I'd recommend helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, gloves (not sliding gloves; kind which protect wrist and palm -- you can still grip pole with them, as fingers are free). I also wear padded shorts, but that's more of an option.
Then watch some land paddling videos and give it a try. I love the activity. Have my usual 5 or 7 mile routes, which are a lot more fun than exercising in a gym.
Terrific core workout. Also aerobic. Just be sure you don't place the stick in front of a front wheel. That's the main way you'll fall -- tripping yourself. After doing this a few times, I learned "never again."
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 11, 2013 at 10:28 AM
Thank you so very much, I really appreciate all the great information. Yesterday I read your post about the Haka Moka and I looked at it on the Kahuna website but I was unsure whether the even longer board would be better. Now, with your input, I feel confident trying out the Haka Moka. I will get protective gear for sure and I've already watched several videos. I am so excited to try this! I have a SUP and just love it so I feel pretty sure I'm going to like land paddling too. Thanks again so much for your great advice and for taking the time to give me such a thorough answer.
Posted by: page | July 11, 2013 at 11:10 AM