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! 

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