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Monday, August 27, 2012

Convalescence, longboards, and the Bottom Line

People who read my facebook page already know that I broke my right arm a month ago. I was skating a brand new deck, with Mob grip (not my normal grip - I prefer Black Diamond), the squirrely Indy Forged 149s, and the too-slick-for-asphalt Bones STF wheels. Bad combo all around, because everything was not my normal equipment. Anyway. Nose slides on a homemade box, faster and faster, coming off to fakie on one of them, my wheel dug into the rotted wood on the box (another part of the bad combo), and I fell on my right arm while trying to rotate to a body roll on my left shoulder. I jammed my radius into my humerus, crushing and breaking the tip of the radius at the elbow. There were also about a dozen tendons running the length of my forearm that got pulled, too. And, although it didn't show up on X-Ray, I, who have had enough broken bones to know, am pretty sure I put fractures in some of my wrist bones as well as along the radius itself. Painful situation all around. About 4 weeks in a half-cast, with painful physical therapy twice a day, and now I'm out of the cast but still in slight pain. I can't straighten my arm, nor can I bend it all the way. I can't brush my teeth nor comb my hair with my right arm anymore. Was I wearing elbow pads? No, and that's the final piece of the bad combo. I was a 40-year-old man, skating like a 12-year-old kid. I paid a hefty price for it. Too high a price. And, I thought during my convalescence, isn't that the point of my blog?

A lot of you older skaters out there have injury tales of your own. Let's hear them in the comments, if you're not afraid you'll jinx yourself.

What to do during my convalescence? I was cruising around on my Creature vampire stake cruiser, but I was uneasy with the quickness of it, with a weak, healing arm and all. I thought to myself, "fuck it!" about ultra-hard wheels of today, and got a set of 50mm Pig Multi-Pig 95a wheels. Ahhhh, there's the not-too-soft, not-too-hard durometer I preferred in my youth. Nice. I mounted the Pig 95a wheels on my "trick" board, currently an 8.75" Toy Machine Sect Eye with Thunder 149 Hollow Lights. I then used that board to get the mail every day. I have a long driveway. When I skated back up the driveway, I would pop an ollie, then put the board back. Fun, but hardly enough to feed the skate addiction. Time for something else.

I put together a longboard with the mindset of big carving and medium to high speeds. I still wanted concave, I still wanted a nose and tail, and I still wanted to be able to pop an ollie if I wanted. In the end, I assembled a Gravity Carve 39" with Paris 150mm trucks, 70mm 85a Pig Supercruiser II wheels (used from an Amazon seller in Missouri), and a set of Pig Swiss bearings I had lying around. Some risers to give the fat wheels some room, and a bushing pack of Venom bushings to "tune" the board to my liking. This setup is, according to 3 independent longboarding skateshops and the longboarders on my facebook page, a "sick setup!" Apparently, I chose well.

On the left, my Toy Machine mainstay deck (Thunder 149 Hollow Lights, 50mm  Pig 95a). On the right, my Gravity Carve 39" longboard (Paris 150 trucks, 70mm Pig 85a)
I've bombed hills on "shortboards" (apparently, that's what longboarders call skateboards) for as long as I've
been skating, so I wasn't afraid of speed wobbles or of carving and sliding to shed speed. I even know how to roll towards the grass and bail. What I was afraid of was busting up my body more, so I ride helmeted, elbow padded, gloved, and knee protected (not knee pads, but knee crash guards for mountain biking - more comfortable and better protection during rolling/ragdoll falls). Really, the only difference is that I've added knee guards and gloves to my normal setup. I once again wish to reiterate that I will not be riding without elbow pads again. Helmet and elbow pads, every time. I'm just too damn old and have too much to lose.

So, anyway, I have been riding the longboard every day for 5 days so far. It it is a smooth, responsive, very fast skateboard. I have a lot of confidence on rough surfaces. I can confidently go very fast down hills. Carving is slower and wider than a skateboard, but still a lovely dreamy experience. Pushing is fun because the wheels carry the momentum and the deck has a lot of healthy flex that I find helps me keep my balance better on the board. The longboard kind of feels like a lifted pickup truck. I am learning how to use it more and more each day. The Pig wheels don't like to slide much, but I don't think they're done heat cycling yet. We'll see. I did pop an ollie with it: soft city, lots of flex. But still fun.

Lesson 1 learned so far: older skaters need more protection than younger skaters. Seriously. There's nothing hardcore or cool about not being able to brush your teeth or touch your face with one of your hands anymore.  It fucking sucks big time. I got some Destroyer elbow pads in the red, white, and blue colorway, and I love them. Lesson 2: longboards are fun. Different, but fun.

Like any other skater healing from a nasty slam, I've also been watching skate videos and reading industry news. Powell-Peralta was kind enough to give us all a digital copy of Animal Chin for free. They're promoting the Bones Brigade Biography film or something like that. Watching Animal Chin, I was reminded of how skating is supposed to be fun. Other skaters thought so, too, and one skater pointed out this tidy article about modern skating and the longboard/cruiser trend going on right now. I've also been watching this fellow get artistic with freestyle, streetstyle, and freshstreet styles. His skating is fresh, innovative, and not held down by the "no hands" rule instituted in 1991 and enforced by youngsters everywhere even today. Watching Kilian skate is satisfying and refreshing. And, of course, I want me a pair of Vision Street Wear high tops like he's wearing in some of his videos. Do you think VSW makes 'em with synthetic upper?

Watching these skate videos and riding this longboard got me thinking that I need to make sure I'm having fun on my skateboards. Of course. It also got me thinking about the state of skating today and the skateboard equipment manufacturers.Truck grinding, big stair sets, boardsliding, and flip tricks all wear out skateboard equipment at a rapid pace. Truck grinds help the bottom line; truck grinds increase revenue by decreasing service life of the product. Any truck ad that shows a skater doing long grinds encourages skaters to wear out and buy trucks more often. The skateboard wheels are so hard nowadays that they don't last long at all. The decks - oh, the cheap decks that are out there - the decks suffer the most. Some decks are like balsa wood they're so dry and brittle. They snap easily if you're not perfectly bolts on all landings. If somebody snapped a Powell Peralta board in the 1980s, Powell Peralta would have a crisis on its hands. If it happens now, Powell-Peralta sales go up. Strange. With people buying more and more cruiser boards, how will the manufacturers keep sales up? Easy: "quiver" pictures are all over the internet. Right now, they're mostly longboards. But skateboards are making their way into the pictures more and more. And Kilian Martin uses multiple boards when he skates his decidedly-equipment-friendly style of skating, too. But whence the paranoid conspiracy theory? Bah, these painkillers got me thinking crooked. Skate or Die, fools.


  1. oh, get well soon bro...

    I am currently back on Independent 149ers (normal) and I noticed (with bones hc bushings) that there is one point between the trucks are very loose but you get speed whobbles and it feels really unstable while landing and (if you tight the nut just a little bit 1/8 turn?) that the trucks are very stable and don't whobble.

    I ain't got problem to run 'em a little bit tighter - cause they feels also more looser with it than Thunders or Theeve trucks.

    But I tried em in the first session that loose way and while I grind a long distance speed on speed (big bowl) I lost speed and it slams me off the board... but it didn't really happend something.

    I spent a lot of money in protection gear... I use a higher quality TSG helmet (not the cheap one), I use 187 pro knee pads and so on. It helps definitly in bowl/ pool ;)

    1. You must be riding the Stage X "mark I" Indy 149s. The "Mark II" stage 10 149s don't do that hesitation on center. I remind everyone again that the Indy 149s with the forged baseplates are twitchy, unforgiving trucks. Go for the all cast aluminum 149s and you'll be fine. NHS has a new Indy 129-139-149 model with hollow axles and kingpins and with the forged baseplate - perfect combo, in my opinion.

      Yeah, I'm digging my Destroyer elbow pads. I might need to get some Destroyer kneepads when I start skating the park again when my arm heals.

    2. Well I ain't sure about the "Mark" -Series. I think I'm currently riding the "normal" 149 Stage 10 trucks (like available on the NHS-Factory Store/ Liste) in silver.

      I'm now 1 year into bowl-/ pool- riding and I didn't got a hard bail yet.
      I found my perfect protectiv gear. If you got some extra money.. got for the 187 Pro Pads - these ones are awesome! I think for street - the Derby Pro Series could be perfect. Also I'm using some wrist guards from TSG and/ or 187. I bail 70% on my wrist and no problem with them... they safe me a lot of dates with my doc ;)!



    3. Maybe I will save up for the 187 pads, then.
      Both my wrists are so beat up that when I do pushups I can feel the nerves getting pinched - I get prickly and tingly feelings up and down my forearms. I desperately needed to let them heal, and they're doing that now while my arm heals.
      Based on what all of you have said, I'm going to prioritize getting the wrist guards.

    4. If you got your 149s a year ago, then they are the "mark I" Stage Tens.

    5. mhhm... I think I got this one (maybe?):

      I bought them one week ago ;)
      -but I ain't sure, if the skate-onlineshop here in Germany sells the newest version(?)
      But he also got just 10 in stock and ordered new ones if they are sold out.


  2. Bertrand; your so right. I too am 40 and I swear I feel pain much more than I did at 20. My bones feel more delicate and my healing time seems to have been quadrupled!

    A couple of months ago, after a morning spent doing Coleman slides, I realised my wrist was in agony. I decided to get some wrist guards and haven’t looked back; I really didn’t realise how much wear and tear my wrists were taking.

    A month or so ago, about the time you had your fall I had a relatively low speed slam but left a lot of elbow skin behind on the concrete; luckily I didn’t come down hard enough for anything more than a bit of blood and bruising but I thought bugger this, I’m getting some elbow pads!

    Along with the soft knee pads that I always wear, I’m now fully padded up and I reckon it’s given me a lot more confidence; I seem to be skating a bit harder and faster than before. I’ve had a couple of pretty hard slams since donning the pads and the experience of walking away unhurt has been somewhat of a revelation!

    I’m currently using 187 Killer wrist guards, TSG Professional elbow pads and some generic soft knee pads; seems to be doing the trick pretty well.


    1. Thank you, Han, for your insights. It helps a lot knowing I'm not alone in wearing full pads when skating.

      I had a set of wrist guards that were just the thumb hole ones like your 187 Killer wrist guards. I found myself subconsciously gripping the wrist guard with my fingers. I slammed once, landing on my hand, and scraped up the tops of my fingers and fingernails. It hurt like hell, and I gave the wrist guards away. I've been saving some money up to get a wrist guard that comes in more of a glove style, like this one from Triple 8:

      I don't like Triple 8 products much, but I do like those gloves.

    2. "gripping the wrist guard with my fingers"... mhm... that ain't how wrist guards should work - okay they work, but not for your fingers ;) - "normaly" if you fall - it's like automatical that you speared your fingers (like you covering your face) and don't make a fist :/


    3. Ohhhh, sei nett! Yeah, yeah, I know! But it was my hands doing it, not me. It was a bad, bad habit. :(
      Do you wear wrist guards, Chris?

    4. Oops, I just saw you said you wear TSG or 187 wrist guards.

    5. ;)

      I ain't sure what's the correct word for it "Sport Tape" (like: you should get it in your drug store.

      You could tape your knuckle joint - so it helps that you don't do a "fist" on bail.
      Also I saw some guys, who ones that tape to add some protection.


  3. i g0t a fliP mountAin vaTo crUIser complete ( slightly longer wheelbase),throw away the bullet trucks and the flip wheels, put on my thunder trucks and some big spitfire 80`s and now i have the nearly perfect allround cruising board ( the tail could be a little longer).this is a sleek way to roll around without the longboard-fashion-touch.( wich is a little strange here in the old world / germany)
    regarding your arm, it will take a few more weeks to get that thing fully functional,take your time.
    gute besserung, michi

    1. Michi, vielen dank für die freundliche Besserungswünsche!
      The Spitfire 80D (Eighty-D = A.D.D., get it?) wheels are really awesome cruising wheels if you need something under 60mm.
      Germany is more accepting of skateboards in general than the USA. I think a lot of people take up longboarding here in the USA for the same reason that other people take up Honda Gullwing (or other highway cruiser) motorcycles. The aspiring motorcyclists want to motorcycle, but they don't want to be associated with Harley riders. The aspiring skaters want to skateboard, but they don't want to be associated with X-Games and the like. Also, in both the motorcycle world and the skating world here in the USA, people perceive the cruiser side of things to be more "safe" than the trick side of things. Falling off a longboard at 30 MPH is just as bad as if not worse than falling off a flatland board after primo-ing a landing. Just like crashing a Honda Gullwing at 65 MPH does just as much bodily damage as crashing a Harley at 65 MPH.

  4. Hey Bertrand,

    Regarding "having more fun with your skating"; I completely second that emotion. A few months ago I realized that I was not having fun with constantly trying to progress in terms of learning new tricks all the time. It can be very fun to learn something new, but I am not naturally gifted, and advances in my bag of tricks come once in a blue moon. Instead, I am having more fun using my basic tricks on more varied obstacles. Additionally, I am having more fun with my setups. I ditched the 8 inch board with small wheels, and will be going forward with my 8.5 inch deck (or bigger if my shop carries em'), some wheels about 57 mms, and the new indy 149s with barrell bottom bushings which I enjoy greatly. Maybe I can even find some brightly colored wheels in a slightly softer durometer than the ubiquitous 101a around today. Here's to fun, and a quick recovery for you!

    -Andy in Boston

    1. Yeah, Andy, right on. I used to have a list of tricks with checkboxes next to them. I scribbled it all out one day and wrote "HAVE FUN" at the top of the page.
      Your idea is a good one: I think I will follow your example and try to take my bag of tricks onto different obstacles. Should be more fun! Thank you for that idea, I really think it is a great one.
      You also inspired me to get some bigger 95a wheels. I ordered a set of 59mm Pig wheels from these guys over on eBay:
      No affiliation, they just treated me right and I want to do the same for them.
      I got the wheels in green - nice! I like my 50mm Pig wheels for my flatland tricks. I think the 59mm Pigs will be nice big street and park wheels.

    2. Andy: maybe you should try some bones All Terain Formular (ATF) or Ditch Tech Formular (DTF) Wheels? I am Bones SPF for bowl-/ pool- (skatepark).



    3. I've been looking for Bones DTF wheels but they are rare in the wild.
      I had a set of Bones ATF but the core separated out of them very easily - they do not stand up long to carving and sliding.

    4. oh okay... I just used SPFs or Park Burners F1.

      What about Rain Skates? I heared just good things about these wheels..


    5. Here's some info about rain skates wheels:

  5. Having fun is what it's all about. That and maybe losing a bit of this beer belly. And skating sure beats sweatin to the oldies 3 in your living room.
    Like many of you I returned to skating after taking a long time off. Since then I keep injuring my wrists, which is funny because I never did that when I was younger. Ankles, legs, skinned palms, yes. No hair in my kneecaps until I was 25 from constant roadrash? Check. So for some reason I fall on my wrists more and they can't take it like they used to. And healing is a much longer process.
    Gotta agree with you on the 95A's I've been skating that duro since ditched the 101a's back in '97. The streets are so rugged around Boston I've been skating the Powell Peralta 90a's and they've been perfect. Soft enough for terrible streets and sidewalks, just enough slide for nose slides and things like that. Maybe they don't bluntslide, but that doesn't matter since I can't do those anyway.
    Also- the "No Hands or Footplants Rule" is dead, R.I.P. 1991-2001ish, the exact killer is unclear and it was likely a group assault, but Jason Adams was definitely involved.
    Lots of great gear out there for every type of skater, from tech street to vert, enjoy it. There's a lot of NOS 95a & 97a wheels on ebay, plus a few companies are offering these duros again. Also Bertrand, you should check out their NOS trucks.
    Keep on grinding.
    Quincy, MA

    1. Thanks, Slick, this is proper testimony.
      Thank you for illuminating more light on the "no hands or footplants rule". I was disappointed when I saw one of the comments on a Kilian Martin youtube video:
      "amazing editing, but im just not a fan of rodney mullin stuff.... some tricks that he didnt use his hands with were mindblowing i gotta admit that... but im not ripping on him, because i cant judge when i cant do any of that
      TheLyonsMedia 1 day ago"

      And I remember when 1031 owner Kristian Svitak took a bunch of dudes on a tour. There was Jason Adams, Duane Peters (this is the tour where he messed his leg up so bad), Bill Danforth, Mike V., and then the 1031 team, a gaggle of younger skaters. Some of the kids in the crowd were snickering at Jason, Duane, Bill, and Mike V. for getting hands-on with their boards. One kid said, "well, that's not so great, he's using his hands." I was really sad for that kid.
      I'll head on over to to see what I see.

    2. To be sure, there are skaters who still adhere to the rule. They skate like it's still 1994. But that's how skating has changed since the 90s. The 90s brought us 100% hardcore street flip tricks and handrails. But since then everything else has come back, banks, parks, pools, vert, soft wheels, cruisers, longboards, no complies, fastplants, bonelesses. It's all viable to add to your bag of tricks. Check this out it's from 3 years ago: I watched this kid who couldn't have been more than 12 doing no complies at the park on Monday. Great!
      So while I'm recuperating from yet another sprained wrist (already ordered heavier duty wrist guards for the bowl) I've been watching videos, and I might have my dates wrong. I was thinking of the first Black Label video (2001), but I think it might have been more like 2005/6 when pros started doing bonelesses, no complies etc, again in video parts. So let's make it a nice round 15. Your next batch of stickers can be a tombstone that says "R.I.P. No hands or footplants in skateboarding 1991-2006".

  6. Bertrand and Chris-

    Thanks for the wheel suggestions, I've also been looking at autobahn "blue tile" wheels ( and various spitfires with softer duros, which are easier to come by at the shop.

    Slick- That Slap post is awesome, I'm fortunate enough to live right near Orchard Skateshop, and one of the owners Broderick (3rd frame) is an awesome guy. Additionally, they have an indoor mini ramp, which makes for sweet winter sessions after work.

    -Andy in Boston

    1. Broderick's boneless was the whole reason I linked to that article.
      Last time I was in Orchard they had some Spitfire Trippers in the case. They come in 92a and 95a. Take a look.
      Have fun out there everyone:

  7. You should try out the ProDesigned wrist guards. They can handle anything, or at least let the arm snap straight off ;D . Among all the old bastards here in Malmö I would say 187 pro knee pads and proDesigned wristguards are the most common combo.

  8. I don't like having to do the "quiver" thing - I'd like to stick with an ATV setup (especially for travel) - but presently I can't seem to find a perfect one and right now I definitely feel better swapping setups than I do trying to ride big rigs on street or little boards in bigger bowls.

    DTF wheels are nice but all the older ones had wider profiles (not my favorite). The newer ones look narrower. I've had two sets of the older ones. I think the formula was tweaked between my older and newer sets. The newer ones felt softer, maybe a bit slower, with more rebound although I still don't think they are as soft as rated. 75b is under 90a on a Shore Durometer chart but I don't think DTFs feel anywhere near as soft as any 1980's "92a" wheels. I'd ride DTFs again assuming they were narrower. The wide ones are heavy and take up a lot of hanger real-estate. Can't think of any advantages to that size except maybe more carried momentum.

    Currently awaiting a set of these OJs:

    1. Man, these OJ's are weird: maybe the grippiest wheels I've ever ridden. Don't know if that will wear off but usually I find new wheels to be slippery before they get grippy. I think the treading is gone at this point but still if I roll very fast and do a 4-wheel powerslide I come to a dead stop in under 3-4'.
      The wheels feel fairly hard, roll nicely and I like the profile but for now I think my knees prefer the DTFs on my park board even though the ollie response on the OJs is noticeably better. I might like them more at a smoother park.

      Bertrand, what do you think is the narrowest deck you can get away with on 149s with narrow-ish wheels? 8.3"?

  9. One thing I noticed getting back into skating a few years ago is that breaking a bone has a bad rap. It's the strains and sprains that keep you off the board for months.

    Last bad injury I had was a fractured elbow almost 2 years ago, so I'm counting my blessings.

    But injuries aren't for naught: at least they give the rest of my less injured joints a chance to recoup!

    Seriously, though, whenever I have a significant injury I'm so regretful that I obsess over the trick until I figure it out. Sometimes it's just bad luck, but I usually find one or two things that I was doing poorly, and I spend recovery time reforming my mental model of the trick.

    One example: I'd dropped into a multilevel bowl, picked up a lot of speed, and turned into a 50-50 at the far end going really too fast for my own skill. On re-entry my tail slipped away from me, my front foot stepped off the front bolts and landed on the back just as it cleared the coping. You can imagine where it goes from there.

    That taught me to put more weight on the back leg during 50-50s (this also speeds up and smooths out the grind), and pivot higher and more deliberately on reentry (almost like a 5-0).

  10. It's not just the street gear companies that fuel the gear destruction. Check out the longboard videos on the web, they just about all feature high speed sliding....what a great way to destroy a $50 set of wheels real fast.

    Regarding pads, I have TSP knee pads and 187 elbow pads which both have thick padding. Also have a set of the soft G-forms for cruising. Bought the 187's because that's what the local shop sells. Even if they cost a few more dollars from the shop I am happy to support them. For anyone that's reading this I strongly recommend trying on pads before you buy. The size's listed must be for midgets!...I guess the sizing is really for kids...look ma I wear a large, I'm a big boy now!