Always riding: A look at longboarding
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Staring down Ute Pass, north of Silverthorne, all one sees is miles and miles of windy downhill turns on smooth pave. There are neither stop signs to worry about nor many cars to dodge.
Dropping in on a longboard at the first cattle guard, the first mile and a half is steep and windy and leaves little margin for error. It’s similar to riding down a steep double black bowl – controlled turns are necessary to keep from accelerating beyond the brink of chaos. But there’s no soft powder to fall in. Instead, a mistake will likely result in hours of picking asphalt out of super sensitive red flesh. Or, at the least, road rash and a blood-stained shirt.
With a clear mind and complete confidence, however, the ride is nothing but fun, carving back and forth across lanes to slight the pull of gravity while a cool breeze blows.
Every winter, thrill seekers flock to Summit County’s mountains to wrestle gravity on one or two planks. For some, their lives literally revolve around soft snow and smooth turns. But when the snow melts, many boarders are turning to wheels to get the same adrenaline rushes and smooth, flowy feelings they get on a snowboard.
The shaggy, red-headed half-pipe wonder boy known as Shaun White, for example, skateboards all summer to keep his tricks sharp. More and more, however, boarders are rolling down hills on longboards for similar reasons.
“Longboarding has gone through the roof over the last three years,” said The Grind skate shop’s Rob Monnaville. “It’s as close to snowboarding you can get in the summer.”
Longboards are exactly what the name implies – long boards with trucks and wheels screwed into their bases. Longboards also have bigger wheels and wider wheel-bases than traditional skateboards – better equipping them to handle high speeds and wide turns.
“They’re two different approaches; it’s the difference between a soul surfer and a slasher,” Monnaville said about longboarding and skateboarding.
The bottom mile and a half of Ute Pass seems mild after the top, but the long hill still offers plenty of opportunities for making relaxed, wide carves or feverish fast turns.
Maybe the most popular run in the area is on the recpath from Copper Mountain down to Frisco. Boarders can hop on the free bus to get up there and then roll seven miles down hill back to Frisco, sharing the trail with bikers.
Longboarders seeking adrenaline can try riding the gnarly switchbacks from Dillon to Silverthorne or on Montezuma Road past Keystone, maybe dropping in on French Gulch.
“They’re all pretty much the same ability wise,” Monneville said.
Longboards are also used a lot for transportation – cruising around town to get here and there, even on streets in Breckenridge, offering occasional glimpses of gravity-induced free fall to feel the flow.
Or, if boarders prefer to catch air, slide rails, stall on wall edges, kick flip their boards and shred S-turns in bowls, the county has numerous skate parks to thrash with a traditional skateboard.
“You can skate however the hell you’re having the most fun doing it,” skater Quintin Wicks said. “There are no rules.”
Riding in worlds without rules, progression seemingly has no limits and nothing to limit it – which is a big reason why people continue to ride year after year after year.
“It’s something you can never master,” Wicks said. “I’ve been skating 23 years and I learn something new every time I skate.”
While mastery may be unattainable, always riding certainly helps boarders stay sharp year-round so they don’t lose their edge, continue progressing and can keep pushing the limits of sport.
Cody Olivas can be contacted at 668-4629 or via e-mail at email@example.com
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