Well, that's not exactly true. I skateboarded when I was a teenager, from the ages of 12-16. I was not an impressive skater, but it was very fun for me. I recall that I could caveman a handrail. What I did best, I feel, was I could ollie very high and very far. With enough speed, I would ollie entire parking spaces. I also liked curb tricks. I could never really slide or grind, though. And although I had a little ramp, I never mastered it.
Here is an old picture of me with my ramp. I'm the one on the left with the red shirt. On the right is my friend Dennis. Although by his clothes you wouldn't think it, that fellow was an awesome skater. One day he did an ollie impossible, much to my amazement. He commonly pulled one footed ollies about 2.5 to 3 feet in the air. Somewhere I have a picture of him doing that, I'll upload it in a nostalgia post further on down the road.
I gave up skating in the fall of 1990. We moved to Burke, Virginia, which at the time was somewhat rural, somewhat suburban. Definitely outskirts. The asphalt was rough and full of cars, and nobody skated. This was right at the beginning of the big 90's decline of skateboarding, so I guess Burke was progressive in that sense, as skateboarding was already quite dead there. I gave up skateboarding for lack of opportunity. I got a hybrid bicycle for my birthday, joined the swim team, learned to drive, and all in all watched as my decks gathered dust, including an as-yet-unskated Natas Kaupas deck.
In college, I learned about lifetime sports. The physical education instructors offered us an array of sports from which to choose, sports that would ostensibly keep physical fitness interesting enough to keep us in shape. People choose sports like skiing, badminton, volleyball, racquetball, tennis, golf, swimming - all sports that are low-impact and sustainable well into old age. I did skiing and swimming. Later, I found that skiing was actually very expensive and very dangerous. Swimming was a lot better but required a lot of preparation and clean up afterwards. Swimming is also kind of boring, and did nothing to help keep my bone density up. But the idea of a lifetime sport seemed like a good concept to me.
It was also in college, around 1995, that I noticed that skateboards had completed their evolution from curvaceous, high-tailed, unidirectional boards to the double kick tail popsicle stick shape many of them still have today. I also noticed that the skaters' wheels were tiny! 45mm was the norm, with some as small as 39mm. Nowhere could you find a wheel larger than 49mm. Strange. There were also some new brands I'd never heard of, like Alien Workshop, Royal, and Bullet. In a bid to recapture the fun of my youth, I bought a new school skateboard. It was about 7.5" wide by 31" long, with 46mm Bullet wheels and Royal trucks. I think it was an Alien Workshop deck, maybe Toy Machine, I'm not sure. It had a picture of Optimus Prime on it, I remember that. I skated it a little bit, late at night when nobody was watching. The board was so toy-like I felt embarrassed. I found it tragically tiny - at that point the last board I had skated was 9.8" wide and had steep concave. My feet kept slipping off the board, and the tiny wheels were very frustrating because I was constantly pushing to keep moving. I went home for a vacation to my mom's house and left the board there.
Fast forward 14 years. There I was, 34 years old, halfway through the winter. I had smoked cigarettes from 1996 to 2007. I had a big gut, flabby muscles, aches and pains everywhere. Both of my knees hurt all the time but my left knee was decidedly worse. I could barely walk and I would get out of breath walking the dog. I was convinced that all the skiing, bicycling, and running I did in college and during my mid to late 20's had ruined my knees for good. I felt old, really old. I bicycled my way through nicotine withdrawal, but unless you want to ride 20 miles every day, bicycling is no way to stay in shape.
I finally decided to see the doctor about my knee once and for all, find out exactly what was wrong with it. The doctor pulled and prodded and did many different types of tests before finally saying with a shrug, "The tendons in your knees are just heavily scarred. If you exercise your legs, especially your quads, you wouldn't have any pain in walking." That was the blessing I needed. I promptly dug out an old deck from storage and got skating again. This time, for real. After skating for 3 months, and feeling the strength returning to my legs, I have decided to make skateboarding my lifetime sport.
In this blog, I will talk about how I go executing my plan of skateboarding well into my old age. In my next post, I will talk about the sagas and perils of outfitting oneself with skateboarding equipment.