I'm camping in our van with my oldest kid. She has a soccer game in Glenwood Springs tomorrow. So I felt like writing a love letter to skate parks.
I've started riding park again on my dirt jumper. It's been fun to make some short video clips for Strava. Shooting video is a new element for me, and I like it. It forces me to keep trying a trick until I get one that qualifies. I have very exacting standards.
A new skate park opened last summer about 20 minutes from my house. It's a really fun park with good design. It was my privilege to bring along two junior roller derby skaters and they proceeded to tear the place apart. My daughters friend has already mastered dropping in to a five foot transition. So I'm sure Breakneck Betty will be catching up soon.
Speaking of dropping in, I met a skater dad who started skating at 40! And he was dropping into an eight foot quarter pipe. I told him I was very impressed. Dropping in for the first time is an important rite of passage that a young skater performs while being mercilessly taunted by your peers. He explained how the oldest son (14) got both him and the younger son (8) into skating. Sick dad move my man.
I landed a trick I've been itching for. I needed to find just the right ledge and I was a little scared. The trick could be called a pedal grind, or a bash guard grind. I can really call it whatever I want, so maybe I'll start saying it's a Crank Grind. I don't think I've ever seen any one else do it IRL. Peg grinds from the 20" crowd are a lot more common. On my first P1 I did them so often I wore down one side of my bashguard, flipped it over, and wore down the other side. And my pedals ( which now reside on wheelie bike) were all worn on the right side.
Then in 2010 I got this P1 and it had the bmx style crank that couldn't fit a bash guard so the trick was not possible. One of my main sponsors Nulife Cycles, helped me refurbish the P1 last year and scored the new BB set up with bashy. Hence, my return to the land of waxed ledges. The objective is to approach the ledge with the correct speed and bunny hop up and to the right onto the ledge. Then the bike lands on the ledges with three possible points of contact. The bashy, the pedal and the front tire.
The front tire can help aim the bike straight, and the pedal contact helps keep balance. I had this formula pretty dialed in 2005 and I would huck myself at some pretty big ledges. I'd also hit stuff when we were riding street that was very rough and slow. So I would need to increase speed in order to grind rougher cement ledges. It's a real commitment trick. I can't say I do it with precision or consistency. Mostly I just build some speed and then throw 40 pounds of chromoly at the concrete ledge and hope for the best.
A lot of what I do at a skate park is low speed, so the crashes are different from trail riding. The difference is that the cement is so damn hard. A mountain trail has a lot more than rocks, there's dirt and shrubbery in a lot of places which isn't always soft, but it's not concrete. At this last session I hurt myself in a way that just seems foreign to trail riding. I bruised the bottom of my foot just from slapping it down so hard.
This might just be a biker thing, I don't know if skaters do it. I find myself in a trick going wrong and the only way out is to just put my foot down. Only I step down really hard, with the weight to the bike and myself on one foot. I bet a super slo-mo capture would show the sole of my Vans liquifying for a millisecond and squeezing into a thin layer as my foot drives into the ground.
So I've got a skate park limp and a dual slalom elbow scab. This is how I bring reminders of the fun times into work with me.