Monday, 15 October 2012

Skate Mates and Good Times

One of the best things about learning to skateboard has been the new people it has brought into my life. Since I started skating over 7 months ago I have met people from all over the world, from different backgrounds and of all ages; from young kids to people in their forties. We've all connected via our love of skateboarding and I've made some good friends in the process. I really think this is something unique about skateboarding. Other sports are generally organised according to age or ability and in particular with team sports, locality. This often means you don't get to meet people outside your particular group. When you go to a skatepark you never know who you are going to meet. Yes, the core group of skaters are usually teenage boys, but there is more of a mix then you might expect.

In the first few weeks I skated I went to skateparks with my then work colleagues Wayne (a semi-pro skater) and Carlos (who had started skating again after a 7 year break). I ended up going to watch a skate contest in Sofd with Wayne in April. The skatepark was teeming with kids and teenagers, all boys, and I began to feel really out of place. I had brought my camera with me, so I could use 'taking photos' as my excuse for being there. I had brought my skateboard too, but that was staying in the car as far as I was concerned. I planned on staying for only an hour or so and then heading off, that was until I noticed there was woman dropping in on the mini-ramp. I was really surprised, this was the first woman I'd actually seen skating! We got chatting and it turned out Marie started skating 6 years ago when she was a teenager. She managed to convince me to get my skateboard out and go for a roll and, my whole day turned around. Since then myself and Marie have continued to meet up regularly to skate together. Like most things in life, having somebody to go skateboarding with makes all the difference, and I'm convinced that if I hadn't bumped into Marie that day, I might have given up skateboarding after a few weeks.
I met my 'skate mate' Marie at a contest in Sofd
When I went for my skate lesson with Lucy Adams in May, she recommended going to the Girl Skate Jam in St Albans and after I got back from London I told Marie all about it and we planned a trip over. It turned out to be a great weekend of all girl skate madness, and seeing and meeting so many other girl skaters, was inspiring. When I was in London in August I met up with Jenna Selby, (organiser of the Girl Skate Jam) again and we went for a few skates together. I also continue to skate with my ex-colleague Carlos, and along with Marie we try and head off on regular skate trips. More recently when replying to something, that had nothing to do with skateboarding, on a social networking site I noticed that the woman's profile had skateboarding down as an interest. This prompted me to get in touch with her and we've since met up and gone on several great skate trips. I've now set up a facebook group called Girls Skate Dublin to try and get more girls involved in skateboarding and to maybe organise Ireland's first Girl Skate Jam? Who would have thought that a little wooden board with four wheels on it would have such a positive influence on my life...

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

New Wheels: My purple wonders

Although I initially decided to keep my wheels from my original set-up, I was beginning to think that a new set of wheels might worth getting after all. When I was at the Girl Skate Jam in St. Albans I noticed that the very rad skater Anita Almonte had a nice set of wide orange wheels to fly around the park on. I began to hanker after some wider wheels. My decision to get new wheels was cemented when I spoke to Mike Keane at Sofd about the wheels I had.  I felt like they where skidding a lot on the wood and weren't offering much grip. Mike suggested I look at Bones or Spitfire as these two companies specialise in skateboard wheels. Some online searching confirmed this, with skaters seeming to be evenly split as to whether they preferred Bones or Spitfires. I thought about going for Bones Park Formula but then I began to be swayed by what Spitfire had to offer. Their wheels were slightly softer than the Bones and I also preferred the designs. I began looking in different skate shops to see what they had but they never seemed to have the right/size colour combination that I liked. I had decided to stick with 54mm as this size was giving me enough speed and was big enough for park skating. After a few weeks of failing to find the kind of wheels I wanted, I put it to the back of mind. Then when I was at the Kings of Concrete contest, held this year along the side the Tall Ships Festival in Dublin's Docklands, I spotted the wheels I was after at the Wreckless stall. Spitfire 54mm purple Trujillo F1 Parkburners. I bought them there and then.

It took me another couple of weeks to actually put them on my skateboard, as I wanted to clean my bearings first. The prospect of cleaning my bearings didn't really appeal, it looked tricky and fiddly. I was also concerned that I was going to do it wrong and wreck my bearings. However after getting some advice from my skater friends and watching some helpful YouTube videos on the subject, I finally took them out and cleaned them. With that sorted I could finally put my new wheels on. This proved trickier than I thought, I found it really difficult to get the bearings in properly just using the axle of my trucks. I got most of them on this way, but made a trip out to Sofd to use their Bearing Press to make sure the wheels were on right and finish off the job properly. My purple wonders were ready to role. I've taken them out for a few rolls in the skateparks since, and so far so good. They grip better and are more stable. Roll on!