Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Time for a new setup

Before I started skating, I used to simply divide deck sizes into 'old school' wide and narrower street style ones. It wasn't until I got my first proper deck that I realised that there are dozens of size and style configurations to get your head around. I decided to skate the 7.75" width deck and 54mm wheel setup I had until I had a better idea of what I wanted. In a few months I've become a bit of an expert on deck widths, truck hanger sizes, and wheel durometers. As I was feeling a bit unstable on the 7.75" I decided that something wider would be better. However I was almost overwhelmed by choice. How wide should I go? Was 8" too narrow? Should I just go all out and buy an 'old school' 10" deck? I sought the advice of several skaters and skateboard shop owners, but that brought its own problems as everyone gave me different advice as to what sort of deck would be best. I spoke to Clive in Skate City and he almost had me convinced to go wide, 8.5" or bigger. Clive has been skating since the seventies and is firmly in the old school camp. Mike in SofD scoffed this idea, saying that an 8.5" would be too difficult for me to control properly and that an 8" would be fine. When I had my lesson with Lucy Adams she brought an 8" setup for me to try. I felt a lot more comfortable on this and after discussing the 'width issue' with her, and seeing how big an 8.5" deck really was, I decided to get an 8". I think I had convinced myself that by going really wide I'd suddenly lose 'the fear' and turn into a fantastic skateboarder overnight. Unfortunately this isn't quiet how it works...

After deciding what size I wanted, I had to choose which manufacturer and design to go with. This was to prove another headache. As an ethically minded consumer I wanted to choose a brand that supports women skaters. Turns out not many companies do. Despite there being an ever increasing number of pro and sponsored female skaters, not one of them currently has their own deck. This is of course a total disgrace, but mirrors the wider issues that professional sports women face in the industry. Instead I had a look at companies that sponsor female skaters and went from there. I had narrowed it down to several brands but couldn't find a design I was happy with. I just couldn't find the perfect deck in the local skateshops and getting one over the Internet was going to be too expensive due to shipping charges. I was thinking about it far too much, so in the end I decided to get one of SofD's own branded decks. This way I would at least be supporting a local business, plus it was a lot cheaper than the major brands. Mike gripped it up for me and I decided to get him to cut a little arrow into the grip tape so I could quickly identify nose from tail while skating.
As I had gone up to a 8" I also needed to get some new trucks. What size trucks you need is directly related to the size of the deck and my previous ones were already on the narrow side. Thankfully deciding what ones to get was a far simpler decision then the deck. Independent Trucks (Indys) are considered by many pro skaters to be the best, and that was a good enough endorsement for me! For an 8" deck I needed to get '139' Indys and Mike had the prefect pair. Trucks come in three different heights; low, mid (standard), and high. Low are best for street tricks and kick flips and highs are better for carving those bowls. My Indys are standard 'mid' which means they are good for different types of skating. When Mike set up the trucks on my new deck, I noticed the height difference immediately, so my previous trucks must have been 'lows' (I didn't even know).  I kept my original wheels, as at 54mm they were still the right size for the new setup.

Friday, 8 June 2012

A blast from my skateboarding past: A letter from Essjay

I still can't locate a photo of my original skateboard I had when I was a kid, and am beginning to fear that one may not exist. I did however come across a letter I got from Essjay's skateshop in Truro, Cornwall, from February 1990 (When I was 12 years old). I remember there had been talk of a family holiday to Cornwall that summer and I decided to do some research and find out where I could skate while I was there. At this stage in Ireland there was absolutely no public skateparks and I'd never even seen a real life half pipe. I remember being excited at the prospect of seeing, and skating, in a real skatepark. In the pre-internet days I was a prolific letter writer (and I've kept all the replies!) and I can only imagine that I got the address for Essjay's out of a copy of Trasher magazine. God knows what I wrote, but I remember being thrilled to get a reply and an Airwalk sticker (which I still have intact!!) off the man himself along with a letter telling me that they stocked lots of skate stuff and that there was a nice ramp in Perranporth... a free bowl at St Newlyn East... and a bowl at Holywell bay. Unfortunately that family holiday to Cornwall never happened and I never got to visit Essjay's or skate the bowl at Holywell Bay.  Who knows how my skating might have developed if I had, instead by the following summer I think I had given up on the skateboarding. Coincidentally in my recent job with Podium Distribution I ended up working with the UK sales rep who covers Cornwall and guess what? Essjay's shop, now called SJ Skate Store, is still there! I still haven't been to Cornwall, so now that I've started skating again, 22 years later, it might be a good time to drop in on Essjay and have a chat!