Yesterday I discovered the tale of a marvelous 69-year-old guy who traded his medical career as a neurologist to become a nearly full-time inline skater on the San Diego oceanside boardwalk-
I wrote about him on my other blog in Slomo's simple philosophy of life: "Do what you want to." I shared a link to a New York Times story about this intriguing man, who used to go by the name of John Kitchin.
Now he's known as Slomo on the boardwalk. A 16-minute documentary about him can be viewed on the NY Times site. Well worth watching. Just wait for the ad to finish.
Today I went StreetStriding at Minto Brown Island Park here in Salem, Oregon. I'm totally addicted to this outdoor elliptical bike, which I got about three and half months ago. If I'm not able to do my StreetStrider thing for five to seven miles three days a week, I get bummed out.
This afternoon's ride was done in sunny 60-degree'ish weather. Delightful, after a March that was the second wettest on record in northwest Oregon. More people than usual were out and about on the Minto Brown paved trails.
Two groups of women asked me questions about the StreetStrider. This happens often -- people wanting to know what the heck this weird-looking yellow "bike" I'm riding is all about.
After explaining the basics, I always get around to extolling how much fun it is to ride the StreetStrider. I show how, by shifting weight from one leg to the other, the bike naturally zigs and zags from side to side, the amount of zigging and zagging controllable by the rider.
I like a lot, most of the time.
An exception is when I approach some people coming the other way on one of the park's narrow trails. Then I shift to a nearly straight-ahead riding style, to show them that this old guy on a bizarre bike isn't going to run them off their side of the trail.
One of my usual lines when someone asks me about the bike is, "The StreetStrider has been described as skiing on land. It does have that feel of carving back and forth. Same basic feeling as moving from side to side on a longboard/skateboard or surfing."
In the documentary about Slomo, there's a part at about the eight-minute mark where Kitchin talks about his theory of lateral acceleration making us feel good. Below is the transcript that I made.
It's better to watch the film, of course. This part of the documentary has diagrams, illustrations, and footage of longboarders and surfers carving back and forth much like Slomo does on his skates.
And I do on my Streetstrider. Slomo says:
I was always trying to perfect this technique, skating in slow motion. I realized that there was an aspect to lateral acceleration which made many of us feel good. I studied this, and there is a neurological explanation for this thing.
Acceleration stimulates a set of receptors which are in the inner ear, that connects us with the center of the Earth, by gravity. A piece of calcium sits on a membrane so that any change in the relative position of gravity will make this stone roll, and therefore there will be some indication that the body is moving relative to the center of the Earth.
When I skate, the whole idea is to keep a continuous feeling of acceleration, even though it's very small. And if you keep it constant, the feeling of expansion continues to build. Anything where you can get this angle of acceleration feeling, you can use that for meditation, because it puts you in the zone.
Interesting. Slomo could be on to something here. Might help explain why I've become so addicted to the StreetStrider, after a stint of being addicted to longboard land paddling.
Lateral acceleration, telling my brain how I'm moving relative to the center of the Earth. Cosmic, man.
I haven't made a video yet of me StreetStriding. But you'll enjoy watching the women demonstrating the StreetStrider in this promotional video below more than me, for sure.
It will give you a feel for how the bike moves from side to side; some of the demonstrators have a more aggressive riding style than others, which makes the lateral acceleration greater.