Geriatric Skateboarding

TownskateA few weekends ago the Powell River skateshop Townskate launched its first annual skateboard contest at the local park. I had driven past the park a few times and sighed since it looked like so much fun, but never allowed myself to entertain the idea of actually skating it considering my geriatric back, which gets triggered into spasm doing the most benign activities like vacuuming!

The park is technically three distinct sections, with the original classic bath-tub bowl with a few extensions, reminding me of the old parks I skated in Spain, near Bilbao back in the early 2000s. They were popular for a time, but very limited in what you can accomplish. To the left of the “bowl” is a super fun snake run, behind it are some steep barriers for thrashing, and to the right is a classic street park with banks, pyramid, rails, stairs, etc. I’m not sure how old it is, but it looks smooth! Not bad for a small town isolated on the Sunshine Coast.

Scott and I went to the contest to support the scene, and while we missed out on the Beginner and Intermediate categories, we were pleasantly surprised with the Advanced category. It was a great time and I was happy to see a few girls practising as well.

I realized that maybe part of what was holding me back was the feeling I got in Vancouver, a kind of expectation that I had to be performing at a certain level or trying certain tricks to justify my presence. It was probably all in my head, but the last time I went to a park in Vancouver off Ontario & 16th, I just knew too many people and felt a bit uncomfortable since I hadn’t been skating for a long time. There wasn’t a lot of room for more than one person to be skating, which really hindered me from warming-up and having a good time. 

 

In fact, even though I had a brief session in Greece in May 2015 (which resulted in a charlie horse spasm in my right calf muscle for two weeks!!) the last time I really skated with any determination was 14 years ago, when I was 27. When I turned 27 I had decided to get into marathon-running and training with considerable focus, until I got injured from that sport as well. I didn’t like the idea of putting in loads of mileage only to go roll my ankle at a skatepark, so I put everything on hold. And here I am now at the age of 41, just pining for it!

So, after the contest, when the shop opened on Tuesday for business Scott purchased me a complete! In all my years skateboarding I never had a brand new complete – it was always bits and pieces scrabbled together. What a privilege it is to be an adult, and have such a fine supportive husband. Ha!

Naturally I had to buy a Meow skateboard deck – being the one remaining fully female-owned skateboard company, sponsoring all-female riders. I chose the Mariah Duran deck. I really love watching her skate with some solid recent wins at contests and fantastic video parts that reflect a great energy about her. The deck is small and light, and I need any advantage I can get considering the lack of “pop” left in my ancient legs.

I took my new set-up and started out with ollies and pop-shuvits in the grass. The legs knew what to do, but they are so ridiculously weak. The next day I headed over to the parking-lot and tennis court at the local school, and things started to evolve with some 180s and rolling ollies. The newspaper delivery boy cheered me on for a bit, which was super funny. I needed a day to recover after that grueling ten-minute session, but motivation was high!  Last Friday night I made my grand debut at the skatepark, sticking primarily to the snake run and bowl. It felt really great to pump around and my goal is to get into the street park section (perhaps early one morning) and ollie the pyramid hips. Wheee! 

 

I know there are at least three teen girls skating in town, and while I won’t presume they want to hang with a 40-year-old, it will be awesome to meet them and have some flashbacks to my days learning to skate at age 15 in the church parking-lot or behind the highschool with my buddy Kate.

The one really great thing about returning to skateboarding is that it is forcing me to stretch. I’ve been sitting all cramped up in front of a computer for years, with pains in my butt, hips and arms, so any kind of movement can’t hurt even if there’s an occasional bail. My goals are super basic, and since no one really knows me here I feel a new kind of freedom. Maybe next year there will be a 40+ category at the contest for the old timers – I know at least two other guys getting back into it, so it could be pretty fun.

I’m also not alone, as there was an article in Vice magazine a few years back, “Hanging with Australia’s All-Female Skate Crew ‘Thrusher,’” about some women in their thirties taking back skateboarding for themselves and challenging the stigma that skateboarding is primarily an activity for pre-pubescent boys, instead of something that should be open and accessible for all. The participants also referenced a video of a crew of Californian women in their 50s, who formed a crew and made a video! Pretty awesome…

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