Okay. So, I haven’t really had any extremely thoughtful thoughts for the past few weeks, but something happened yesterday to trigger some of the gears in my head. Something that slightly annoyed, maybe even angered me a tiny bit as a skater with real and very genuine morals and motivation to progress in the most legitimate ways possible, as that is fighting half the battle and that half the battle is the most enjoyable, in my opinion. But I saw something two days ago that I don’t think should have made me feel disrespected, but it did, and I will explain that to you.
Yesterday, I saw what I could only call a poser of the utmost caliber. Now, I don’t usually call people posers. Someone who isn’t good at skating isn’t necessarily a poser.
My definition of a poser is a skater who doesn’t skate.
I saw a guy in front of my school. Let’s call him John. I saw John in front of the doors to my school, I guess waiting for someone. He was just sitting there. Sitting beside him though, was this beautiful, brand new Longboard setup with new parts, new wheels. It was an expensive longboard, bordering the $200 line in terms of the price for just the deck, with everything else being expensive cast parts from one of the legendary western companies.
So I approach him. I myself have a pretty expensive setup that I love and appreciate, so I just plopped down right beside him and started a conversation. Hey, nice board dude, you skate? Yeah, I skate. How good are you? I think I’m pretty decent, I’ve done a lot of races but I don’t skate much anymore because no one is really good enough to be competition. I asked him if he’d like to skate a hill on Saturday with a bunch of people, to which he said sure.
He was pretty darn confident. This type of arrogance isn’t particularily uncommon in the community. The difference is that real, legitimate skaters are able to back it up with performance.
So I invited the guy to a skate session on Saturday by message, which he saw but never replied to. I messaged him a few times leading up to the session, but he always saw the messages but never replied, which struck me as odd because he was so eager to go a few days ago. At this point, a few things started to really bug me and strike me as a little bit weird.
His setup a few days ago was pretty mint. If he was indeed a skater, he wouldn’t have had a mint downhill longboard setup. He was also getting out there and just putting it out there that he doesn’t skate anymore, which isn’t usually something that someone says when they are decent at skating. All this and so many more things. However, but even at this point, I didn’t really label him as a poser. He was probably just busy that weekend and he probably has a bad habit of not responding to messages online. That’s fine.
Eventually, he did relent after a week and came skating with us, and this is when the story really does get quite hilarious.
Usually, my crew and I skate some garages, some pretty mellow hills and one steep hill at the end that isn’t all that steep. It’s only around a 3% grade, but it is extremely long so you can get up to some decently fast speeds, maybe up to 40 or 50 kph, but this speed is still nothing to anyone who has raced before. Racers get up to 70, maybe even 80 kph on a consistent and regular schedule, so I didn’t think that it would be a problem for John, who had supposedly been longboarding for years before I had been.
John showed up to our meeting spot with an absolute lack of gear. He had a helmet and his board, but he didn’t have gloves. He should have known that we were going to use gloves in our session, I did tell him that we would be doing some easy sliding. But he didn’t have gloves. His excuse? He had ripped them a few weeks back doing some very gnarly standup slides. Which I took as a reason, but it was still getting very fishy.
We’ve had people come along without gloves before, so we just went. We design our program so that beginners can always come by and have a session, maybe their first session, so we always go to the parkade first, because it’s easy, smooth and indoors. It’s extremely fun because even if you fall, it’s all smooth ground so you never get scratched up.
John didn’t do quite well here. Instead of being at the front where he should have been with his expensive wheels and deck, he was at the back regularily footbraking and slowing himself down. He seemed quite scared to push at the start, only just having a rolling start, which is a behavior we usually see with beginners who aren’t used to the speed yet. We usually coax them down the slope and make sure they’re okay, maybe ask them to go down sitting on their boards to see that it isn’t quite that fast.
But John was obviously scared of the slope. It’s like he had never gone down a decent slope before. He was footbraking, getting wobbly, running off his board sometimes, but he always covered it up with no, he just wasn’t used to his new setup. Which again, doesn’t make sense because it was tuned to be a downhill board and everyone else loved his setup. It was bouncy, responsive and stable.
Most of the crew by here were already pretty sure he wasn’t actually a racer, and he was only skating with people for the first time. But it goes on.
John did well on the very mellow slope that is the second part of our run. He footbraked, but he for the most part made it down the hill without bailing. He stepped off the board and stuttered here and there, but he did make it down. Last, though, again.
And then in the last part of the run, he just blatantly refused to go down. Oh, I don’t have my gloves, I haven’t skated a slide hill in so long, I had a drink yesterday so I’m still hungover. I totally understood now. John was a poser.
John didn’t learn. He didn’t ever tell any of us that he was a beginner, instead he made fun of our setups and told us that we would do better if we tweaked our setups this way and that way, playing around with our setups and riding them back and forth the sidewalk. We all trusted him to be okay at skating, even though some of the logic that he spurted wasn’t exactly the most accurate or practical when it came to the knowledge that we already had.
The moral of this story I guess, is to tell you that it is totally okay to be scared and admit that you are scared. Being a beginner isn’t a bad thing at all! In fact, it is so much worse to be a cocky poser than to be a beginner longboarder. Like I said in other articles, the community is extremely friendly towards people who have a strong desire to become better. People who are willing to learn and try to contribute to the community, because all of us were once in that position as well. There was a time when every experienced racer was a beginner and without knowledge of one or two slides.
Being a poser really annoys a lot of longboarders because of a few things. Posers usually disrespect a lot of people. They make fun of other people’s boards and setups because they have a need to make up for their own misinformation with the descent of other people. Their boards and setups were put together by people at a Longboard store, but it wasn’t catered to them personally, because they would never really have been able to ride and experiment with the setup. A setup should evolve with the rider, not the rider just stepping onto a perfect setup.
So this experience quite rattled be, because I’ve never actually seen a poser before. This was a pretty long rant, but I hope that it encourages some readers to seek out and reach out for help when they are starting out, there is no need for you to become a John. Be a skater. Build yourself, it’s the easiest way to fit in.
-SKATE HARDER! Ryan L. Longboarder.