Thursday, 31 May 2012

Nothing like some skating in the sun

After weeks of awful cold and wet weather the sun finally came out in Dublin last week. Time to get out and hit some skateparks. It was almost too hot to skate!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

A lesson with skateboarding pro Lucy Adams

Lucy and me at Clapham Common Skatepark in London
At the beginning of May I went over to London for a long weekend to visit some friends and decided to take a skateboard lesson while I was there. Google wasn't giving me any useful results for 'skateboard lessons in Dublin' and although the older guys at the skatepark are all up for showing me how to things, it's not quiet the same as having a lesson from somebody that actually teaches skateboarding. Wayne Gallagher had mentioned to me the name of a female skateboarder in England that he had skated with before, called Lucy Adams. After a bit of googling it turned out that Lucy wasn't just any old girl skateboarder but the number one female skateboarder in the UK. And luckily for me, she also happens to be a skateboard coach. After a couple of tweets and emails I had arranged an hour long skateboarding lesson with Lucy (who kindly offered to come up to London for it) in Clapham Common Skatepark. As it was on a Saturday, and it's a free to use public skatepark, we had arranged the lesson for 9.30 in the morning (I'm not a morning person!) to try and avoid the place being packed with scooter wielding kids. I was a bit apprehensive before the lesson, mainly because I was afraid I was going to make a complete fool out of myself and not be able to do anything she showed me. Thankfully this wasn't the case. Being an expert in your field doesn't necessarily translate into being a good teacher but it was obvious from the start that Lucy was a good coach. She managed to quickly put me at ease, was fun to work with, and most importantly she was able to help me progress onto new stuff as well as refining what I could already do. Unfortunately the weather wasn't very good. It was freezing cold for May and after around only 30 minutes it started to drizzle rain, which made the smooth concrete surface very slippy. This slightly curtailed what we could work on, but Lucy managed to improvise on the less slippy tarmac and I was able to practice fakies and kick turns among other things. The lesson flew by and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I was on a complete high for the rest of the day. There are days when I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to skate at a decent level, but this lesson certainly gave me hope that I'm not completely wasting my time. I am already planning some more trips to England during the summer and want to arrange to take some more of Lucy's expert coaching lessons!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Learning to fall... the hard way

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts the fear of falling is probably the biggest hurdle I need to overcome to progress with my skateboarding. Falling is simply a part of skateboarding. Even the pros fall. I have no problem with the inevitable cuts and bruises, I actually like bruises! I love watching the colours develop on my skin and the different patterns that they make(!!) but the feeling of falling off a moving skateboard is not easy to get used to and of course falling on concrete does hurt.  A few weeks ago I had my first proper fall in Monkstown skatepark. I had fallen a couple of times before but only a minor slip in Sofd (on wood) and one rather comical fall in Monkstown when a small pebble jammed in my wheel and I was sent flying off the board (Luckily I managed to land on my shoulder and hardly felt it). I arrived at the skatepark around 7.30 in the evening to find it empty. I was delighted to have the space to myself and was feeling confident after a good session in Sofd the previous Friday so I pushed myself a bit more. I rolled of a small ramp and up another and tried to fakie but just as I was about to roll back off I started thinking about what I was doing, momentarily panicked, and fell. The board slipped out from under my feet and I slammed my left elbow and thigh into the concrete. I lay there for a few seconds in pain before realising that thankfully I hadn't done any serious damage, and got back up. As nobody else was in the park, I was also saved from the embarrassment factor! However my confidence was seriously dented and I rolled gingerly over to the seats not sure if I wanted to continue. It was around this time that my skate buddy Marie turned up and encouraged me to get back on the skateboard and give it another go. She rightly pointed out that if I didn't get up and try it again there and then, it would make it even more difficult. So I worked my way around the park slowly again and tried to get some confidence to try the move again and thanks to Marie's encouragement I did eventually manage to do it! My whole left side was very stiff and sore for the next three days and I couldn't lie on it or left my left arm up properly but I didn't have any cool bruises to show for it! I still worry about falling and injuring myself but as long as I continue feel the fear and do it anyway my skateboarding can progress to the next level.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Ready, steady, skate. My first time at a skatepark

After I got my board put together, I went to some quiet spots in the city centre with my colleague Carlos, who has recently returned to skateboarding after a seven-year break, to practice rolling around. This was a good way to get a feel for my new board and to practice pushing again, but I was eager to visit one of the skateparks that have popped up in Dublin over the last six years. A couple of weeks later Wayne offered to take us to SofD (Skatepark of Dublin) in Santry, North Dublin, one of only two indoor skateparks in the city. We set of one Saturday morning to get there for about 12.30, before the afternoon hoards of kids arrived.

It was quiet enough when we got there, and I was itching to get skating. However, I didn’t realise just how difficult it was going to be to roll on the smooth wood. The board moved significantly faster than on the tarmac outside and I felt like I was going to fall off. My confidence evaporated and I was afraid to even roll down one of the tiny ramps in the middle of the park. There wasn’t a hope in hell I was going to drop in off the metre high mini ramp, which was squashed in a corner on its own. Instead I just tried to push myself up the ramps, but when I started to roll backwards on the way down (riding fakie) it felt really unnatural and I bailed every time. It also didn’t help that the park is very small, which makes skating there a rather claustrophobic experience (particularly when you’ve got loads of skater kids and rollerbladers flying past you). I was really disappointed and I felt utterly defeated.  I thought I’m never going to get the hang of this and felt like giving up before I’d really begun.  I was jealous of all the young kids that were there flying up and down the ramps without a care in the world or a hint of fear in their eyes.  I wished that I was ten-years-old again, because at that age I was fearless too. 

SofD, Santry
After that not so great introduction to skateparks, I began to realise just what a challenge learning to skateboard was going to be for me. It wasn’t so much the lack of physical ability but the terrible fear of falling. It was the fear that I found most frustrating, but now that I knew what I was up against I could at least begin to prepare myself for my next skatepark visit and try again.  

Next up was a visit to Monkstown skatepark in South Dublin with Carlos.  As skateparks go, Monkstown is pretty ugly. A large concrete square with concrete skate ramps that look like they were just dropped from the sky, and have the sort of slippery surfaces and hard edges that scream ‘injury’. However for a beginner like me it did have one advantage: lots of space. There was plenty of smooth flat concrete for me to skate around on and warm up. Eventually I managed to work up the confidence to roll off one of the small ramps (see clip below). Once I managed this, my confidence improved significantly and I began to feel more comfortable.  I even managed to roll off one of the bigger ramps, but I could feel my board wobbling on the way down and decided after two goes, to quit while I was ahead. This experience was a lot more positive for me and I felt like I might be able to give this skateboarding lark a proper go after all!