Surfing the Streets: Hopping on the Longboarding Trend
Think back to the dawn of human innovation. Think of the wheel - a baby step toward today’s world that advanced transport and travel. The wheel hasn’t been a way to change the world so much as it is a method to navigate and appreciate it. To enjoy the curves and personality of the landscape, the people and their culture, the times and the seasons.
What better way to feel the world than through the wheel, and what better way to feel the wheel than through a longboard, a device that is little more than four wheels and a piece of wood (and/or bamboo or carbon fiber). The openness of this kind of travel feels distinctly open (yup). You aren’t sitting atop a bike frame, and you're not strapped into anything, you’re just out there to experience everything the world has to offer. Of course, if you just want some exercise or want to look “hip,” it could work for that too. I have one, and guess what: I’m totally hip, yo.
What’s the Difference Between a Longboard and a Skateboard?
Here’s the deal: It’s true that a longboard and skateboard have some strong similarities. They both have wheels, trucks (the metal axles that make turning possible), and a deck to stand on. However, a longboard is… well, longer. I think the best way to understand the differences is to recognize what they’re intended for.
Skateboards are fine-tuned for tricks (kickflips, 900’s, stalefishies) and broken bones. Longboards, on the other hand, are built to handle higher speeds, sharper turns, and cruising around town. This makes them more stable and easier to navigate. Sure, people do tricks (or illusions) but you shouldn’t feel an obligation to do any, it’s perfectly acceptable to just enjoy longboarding with all your wheels firmly on the ground.
What’s So Great About Them?
You may have noticed that the crowd using these longboard things is getting older. Just look at a college campus; people of adult age are getting into it. Everyone may not enjoy it for the same reasons, but there are a few aspects that give it a wide appeal:
- No locks required. You can take it with you. Unlike a bike, you can easily carry a longboard into buildings.
- Aesthetic appeal. It may not be cool to take “walks” anymore, but viewing the neighborhood by longboard is perfectly acceptable.
- Accessibility. It may look tough, but it isn’t too difficult to learn. I can’t say that it’s for everyone, or that you won’t ever fall, but the more you do it, the better your balance, turning, and enjoyment will be.
- Adventure. Traveling by board adds some pizazz to the same old places. If you’re trying to spice up quick trips around town, this could be a nice option.
- Adrenaline. Hilly terrain is a lot more exciting on one of these contraptions; some riders actually go out of their way for them. A section of longboarders have made drifting sideways down hills, or “sliding,” a sport in itself.
Despite all these benefits, the greatest appeal is just the simple feeling of riding one. There’s something so peaceful about gliding down a gentle hill on a smooth road and feeling a calming breeze, or the feeling of carving back and forth on an empty street. It’s intangible, but it’s the kind of feeling I’ve found myself chasing on many summer nights. Call it what you will, call it “longboarding Zen” if you want. Whatever you call it, it’s wonderful.
I hope you find the feeling for yourself. But do watch out for potholes... not so wonderful.