It has been a day since our last ride, I am full of impressions and ready to write about it. I should give you a little intro before that. Longboarding is a sport which was invented with a goal to bring surfers to land. Taking the example of a skateboard, they took it apart and adapted each part to their needs. Wheels became bigger and softer for a smoother longer lasting ride, wider and bigger decks for stability and extra control and last but not least wider and tighter angled trucks for precision and carve feeling. That is the basic introduction and as the passed longboards developed different styles such as dancing, cruising, long-distance, free ride and downhill.
I like to call myself a downhill longboard enthusiast. The very first time I stepped on my board I felt extreme easiness a feeling of freedom in space. With it being a new experience, I was constantly exploring something new. Slowly but surely it lead to the one and only fracture I had, one fall on my shoulder made sure the collar bone breaks. The more days I did not ride, the more I was thinking about it which led me to decide to buy a downhill board. Less than a month after my collar bone healed, helmet gloves and a new board were ready. Next 4 months was the most confusing time of my life, as I was 19, just starting university and heavily immersing myself into longboarding. It never mattered how many videos I saw, what my friends told me, it was just pure work going up and down the small hill, doing something that even you know is insignificantly challenging, but having the hardest time with it. Sitting at home puzzled, being able to quote every single tip on how to do it.
It stopped being worried, no matter what I do, no matter where I go and no matter with who I am, it was only important I had a longboard. Like an extension of my own body I carried it everywhere and used it on any occasion. So it happened, I felt it, Grgi (which is the name of my board), was right there under my feet waiting for what I was about to do. Once I understood the feeling of being on a board everything became 10 times scarier because I knew just how easy it is to get hurt. At that moment I knew the choice is simple: I have to face it or to stay where I am. That was a life changing decision for me, a commitment to facing my fears. Longboard is now a part of my identity, you know how “Just do it” stand for Nike just like that when people that know me think Andrej in the picture there is a longboard.
Passion noun “strong and barely controllable emotion.” To be passionate is the best thing that can happen to you. It is as if you stood in front of the whole world yelling, no matter what comes, I am going to fight for this. Passion inspires, it inspires you, it inspires your friends, family, everyone that has ever heard of you. We always expected people to look at us with contempt, see us as a bother nuisance. It happened but to our surprise majority of people loved seeing us on the local hills. As we were falling and getting up, sweating and getting hurt, they saw all the emotions getting spilled and could not get themselves to be negative about it. It became so much bigger than just riding a longboard, from pushing myself out of my comfort zone to inspiring people around me to face fears and do something that seems impossible, the extent of longboarding became infinite. Smiling kids while I commute through the city or frightened faces in awe as we pass cars, every time we get reminded why the impact that we create will matter. When I was a kid I could not have a longboard because I never saw it, never knew it existed, nobody ever used it around town. If just one kid gets a longboard we did it as simple as that.
If we were to write a short map of progression for longboarding it would start with figuring out the stance and a leading leg. Learning how to push and use fingers/heels for moving your board left and right. Very important step is a foot stop, by lowering our back foot slowly to the ground and grinding the sole of our shoe we slow down to a stop. What follows is using carving and turning for slowing down. That would be the basic set of skills which basically says “Hey, I can ride any longboard” and it shows. If you were to progress to downhill which includes bigger speeds you have to learn to slide. There are two different kinds of slides: Toe-side and Heel-side. They both have two versions glow down and standing. Hinting at what a slide is, if you have ever seen cars drifting, that is basically it. When our wheels are moving forward we move the board horizontally so wheels lose friction and start drifting drastically losing speed. The very first slide you learn is push-up slide a variation of a toe-side slide with both hands on the ground. It represents physics at its best, once you move your weight away from the board on your hands the board starts going in a half crescent shape and initiates a slide. Once you get over that its practice and finding your style, it is up to you to be showy and do big long slides or just slowdown a bit and continue riding the options start expanding like crazy. How much space do you have, how fast are you going, are there any people, is a car coming, everything dictates how you act and what you do. Which brings me to yesterday.
An early wake up 7:53, as we brushed our teeth we packed and by 8:20 we were in a cab going to our meet-up location with some pastry from the local bakery. Waiting for everyone while eating breakfast and finally starting the trip. It always feels new no matter how many times we do it. Coming to a new location warming up and stretching looking at the hill and thinking of approaches within 30 40 minutes it all starts. Slowly everybody is doing slides and trying out the smaller hill. Once we all feel good the long ride from the top of Kuči begins. Three of us going downhill, each with different thoughts, approaches, challenge ourselves to tackle the new road. We were maintaining a solid 45 km/h with the top speeds reaching 60. Switching positions during different curves and taking each other over just brings in so much worry into every move but it makes it that much more exciting. Once a solid minute passes all 3 of us stop hearing, looking and thinking about anything else that is not us on a longboard. The state of flow overtakes, all we see is the road in front of us and the line we wish to take. Every crack in the road, every slight curve makes for a different challenge and requires a different kind of attention. Adrenaline levels are high, you can hear wheels speeding up behind you, a corner is in front of you but all you think about is can I make it. You tuck down, get through the corner and speed down the straight. Sliding before the end and waiting for the friend with the car to pick you guys up. You get inside and the adrenaline comes down, you are shaking a little trying to sum up anything you thought about while riding. Nothing comes to your mind, you smile and exhale. A passion, longboarding.