Why You Need More Boards

This may seem a little contradictory since my last post was a rant about why you really don’t need high end gear. But, that’s because this post is for people who could actually benefit from some better gear.

Why do you think there are so many different skateboards, longboards, surfboards, and snowboards for sale? Sure, every company is trying to get a piece of the cash flow, but in doing that some actually come up with unique ideas for shredding in specific conditions. Basically, that’s why you need more boards.

Surfing is a great example. There are boards for all wave conditions with all types of dimensions, rail profiles, and tail shapes. Each of these will dramatically affect the way a board performs, given that you have the ability to notice subtle differences in ride. Short, fat, thick boards are ideal for small waves. Longer, thinner, skinnier boards (called a step-up or “gun”) are better in larger waves. Some step-ups also have channeled bottoms, which give you more speed and drive in big, perfect surf. You’d get pretty frustrated trying to ride a step-up board in 2 foot shorebreak though. That’s a basic explanation, but you should get the idea.

Snowboarding is pretty much the same. To tear up a park, I prefer a really flexy, shorter board. These boards will be symmetrical for easy switch riding and are generally lighter than stiff boards, which makes them easier to press and spin. Powder boards are usually directional, meaning each has a dedicated nose and tail and is intended to be ridden in one direction. These boards are generally longer and stiffer, and many incorporate some type of unique swallow tail design for a really surfy feel in deep pow. Regardless of all of this, every snowboard also has a distinct camber profile. Cambered, rockered, and flat boards are the most common, but many companies combine these to create hybrids. That’s an explanation for another post though.

To sum it all up, more boards equals more fun. Riding the wrong board for the conditions is a pain in the ass, no matter your skill. As you improve, experiment with different boards from what you’re used to. You’ll probably find a new favorite setup.

Why Your Gear Doesn’t Matter

This is something that has continually pissed me off for a long time. Especially in snowboarding (because lots of fools do that one) I feel like it’s impossible to go ride without seeing someone who can barely stand, let alone ride, with a setup worth upwards of $700. That is the perfect illustration of why gear doesn’t matter, and I could stop there. But I won’t.

Gear does not make you better whatsoever. The reality is, if you don’t know anything about something like surfing and you buy a fancy step-up board with crazy design features, you are cheating yourself. Same goes for snowboarding. If you buy a stiff ripper of a board with some crazy camber/rocker combo and you’re a beginner, you might as well ride a plank. You won’t be able to tell the difference. Not only are you wasting money on stuff that you don’t need at a low ability level that won’t help you, you might actually be making it worse for yourself. Surfing is a good example because a thin, skinny step-up will be tougher to ride than a longboard in pretty much any scenario.

Gear can’t help you until you have the skill to notice the differences between the top-end shit and the basic shit. Personally, in longboarding I find that wheels and bushings have the biggest effect on how a board feels. Fact is though, I couldn’t notice differences in how wheels slide until recently. It takes time to get comfortable enough in a boardsport that you begin to notice the intricacies of your equipment. Then, when you change your equipment up, the differences are obvious.

Bottom line? It takes a bit of skill to even notice the fancy features of a board, or fins, or wheels, or bushings, or whatever. Once you have that skill, feel free to go crazy customizing your setups. But until then, do yourself a favor and buy something basic.

Why I Wear a Helmet

A while back, I had an accident riding my longboard. It was really dumb. I fell off it. I hit my head on a metal railing. I blacked out for ten minutes.

To this day, I still have a bump on the left side of my forehead. Needless to say, I had a really solid concussion. The effects of it really messed me up for a long time, and still mess with me today. For at least a year afterward, I was really irritable, forgetful, and my memory was generally fuzzy. I actually would have moments where I would completely lose my train of thought while talking. That was freaky. I would see spots, and actually still do sometimes. I still struggle with my memory, but it is slowly improving. I still have trouble keeping a train of thought sometimes though.

The bottom line for me is, none of that is worth not wearing a helmet. The way in which I fell was dumb because I was just pushing around, I was riding somewhere easy and mellow, and I could have avoided the whole thing. Wearing a helmet isn’t a good idea, its literally the best idea you could have, especially if you’re really going for it.

Just do it, it’s not uncool or whatever. Wear it on snow, and especially on pavement. Find one that’s comfortable and stylish. Put stickers on it and make it obnoxious. Just wear one and save yourself from my mistake!

Music for Shredding // Pt. 2

To see part 1, click here.

For a playlist of songs, click here.

In the last “Music for Shredding” post, I threw out some suggestions for what to listen to if you just want to vibe out, cruise a little and shred. Nothing too intense in that post. This time it’s different. Last time I broke my playlist into two general categories: “Cruising It,” and “Pushing It.” These songs are…

For When You’re Pushing It..

Music is my favorite way to get into “the zone.” It helps me quiet the parts of my brain that second guess, throw up doubts, and generally cause hesitation. For when I’m pushing my own limits, I like to listen to something heavier and driving. Probably my favorite band along those lines is Rage Against the Machine. I love funk. I love it so much. So, Rage is up there on my list.

This song is called Wake Up, from RATM’s self-titled debut. I love the funkiness of the guitar riff. The rapping over top adds to the funky drive of the song. I can lose myself grooving to this easily, which is exactly why it’s the perfect song for getting in “the zone” and shredding hard. Other RATM songs on my playlist are Sleep Now In The Fire and Bombtrack.

Another less known, but still kick-ass band is Radio Moscow..

These guys are sick. I think I found them on Pandora a while back. They’ve got a fast and driving type of psychedelic rock going on and I really like it. The song above, Hold On Me, is off their album Brain Cycles. Rancho Tehama Airport is a great track from their most recent album, Magical Dirt.

Middle Class Rut is an amazing band I first heard on an old radio station in the NYC area called 101.9 WRXP. They’ve got a pretty hard style of rock, but they do have some mellower songs as well. Dead End (above) is a great track, but these guys have so many more. Leech and Sad To Know are two tracks that are definitely worth checking out.

This song, called Burnin’ In, is by a band called Spirit Caravan. This group has a more guitar driven hard rock sound. I think this track was released in 1999 but I found it the other day and I think it still rocks. Another good song by them is Dreamwheel. If you want even more to listen to, Them Crooked Vultures is a ridiculous super group made up of John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl, and Josh Homme. What a combo. Check out Scumbag Blues. Another band worth looking into is The Dead Weather. This is actually a Jack White side project, but they have quite a different, interesting sound compared to his other bands. Treat Me Like Your Mother is a great song.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I will add songs to the playlist sometimes that aren’t in any of the posts, so keep an eye on it.

Now go shred.

First Impressions: Whiteface

Ok, so Whiteface… I’ve heard some call it “Iceface.” I’ve heard it’s got the most vertical in the east. Both have truth to them.

I had never been to Whiteface before this past weekend. Just the thought of going got me so stoked. I checked the maps and conditions before going, and that got me even more excited. I found out that Whiteface has “slides,” basically backcountry chutes that you need to hike to from the summit. Couple that with a forecast calling for snow day and night, and my stoke level was almost through the roof.

The first day we rode was Saturday. Saturdays are crowded, but that’s every ski mountain. Straight away it was obvious, Whiteface is huge. It makes Tremblant look small, but that’s because Whiteface is all about vertical. The mountain is tall, not really wide. Tremblant may be shorter in height, but it’s wider and longer. Whiteface is steeper. There’s hardly any flat sections (at least where I rode) and your legs constantly need to work hard to lay into fast turns. By the end of our second day, I really noticed this. Saturday was also pretty icy, living up to the  mountain’s reputation. By noon conditions started to deteriorate and winds started gusting over 50 miles per hour. We appreciated the ol’ gondola even more because of that. Still, somehow they were able to keep all the lifts open.

Snowy, cloudy view from the top of the gondola. Whiteface, Lake Placid, NY.
Snowy, cloudy view from the top of the gondola. Whiteface, Lake Placid, NY.

On Sunday, we woke up to four to six inches of powder. We got out there as early as possible, which is 8:30 a.m. It was empty! Every trail for the first few hours had untouched powder. The Cloudsplitter glade was definitely the trail of the day for me. I really dig tree riding (and mogul riding) and the amount of powder in those woods made it heavenly. Whiteface also had some cool park features. For the larger jumps, you had to be cooking. I knuckled one pretty bad the day before so I stuck to smaller jumps for working on 1s and 3s. The small stuff was sick too. They even had a mini half pipe which was super fun to rip. The ice started to show up this day also, but not until later in the day. Even then, there was less of it and plenty of powder to aim for.

All in all, I loved Whiteface. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to hit any of the slides since they were closed. I’d love to go back on a real powder day and see what’s up. I was able to get pretty comfortable with my switch riding and 180s though, so I left feeling pretty damn accomplished. I’d love to go back for a week or something. This season still has some good time left in it so hopefully I get to post some other “first impressions” before everything melts! Must go west..

Music for Shredding // Pt. 1

For a playlist of every song in this post, click here.

If you’re like me and a ton of other skaters or snowboarders, you like to listen to music when you ride. Obviously we’re not the only ones who enjoy music – just look at all the headphones in the gym or jogging around town. Music has the powerful ability to take the mind to a far away place. I find people listen to music when they do other things because they want to take the mental aspect out – that can be a good thing if your mind is saying “STOP it hurts!” or “NOOO too scary!” When you stop thinking, that’s when you get into “the zone.”

But, the question isn’t why we listen, its why we listen to what we do. I love lots of music, and I love shredding, so I shred to lots of different music. In the end, it all falls into two general categories that I just made up: “Cruising It,” and “Killing It.”

For When You’re Just Cruising..

For the record, cruising doesn’t mean riding like a kook. Cruising means riding just inside your limits, not pushing hard, but not slacking. For this kind of riding, I like tunes with a more relaxed vibe. I still need a steady, driving beat but with a happy, relaxed, less intense feeling. Let me give you an example..

This song is by French Kiwi Juice (FKJ). He’s a DJ I’ve really been digging lately. Most of his tracks have a similar vibe. If you like this, you should check out tracks like Instant Need and Lying Together, and maybe buy his EP. Electronic music has really had my ears the last little while, so here’s another example of some serious vibes..

I don’t know much about Sorrow but I stumbled on this on Mr.SuicideSheep’s YouTube channel. That channel is full of similar stuff if you dig this, and I’ve spent hours just listening to song after song. Another great group with a slightly different style is Thievery Corporation. Pretty much anything by them is great, but check out Heaven’s Gonna Burn Your Eyes, and All That We Perceive.

If you like hip hop, you should check this out..

I’ve been getting really into classics like this lately. AZ in particular has a real smooth flow, and Rather Unique has a great beat. This kind of hip hop is chill but not dull, and I dig that. Along similar lines, I’ve also been listening to Everyday Struggle by Biggie. You should check out this song by Danny Drive Thru too. I had never heard of him until I heard this track in a video part and now it’s on my go-to playlist.

For those more into alternative or rock type stuff, check out Apocalypse Dreams by Tame Impala..

Tame Impala is sick. I love music with that psychedelic vibe. That driving beat combined with the trippy sounds and searing melody gets me every time. If you dig this check out Restraining Order by Anarchicks, and The Boat Song by The Black Angels. Actually, anything by The Black Angels is worth a listen..

That’s all for now. Keep your eyes open for the next part of this post series. I’ll talk about more intense music for pushing the limits. If you have any song suggestions or think I missed something, comment down below.

You’re (NOT) Too Old to Skateboard..

Anytime I hear someone say anything along the lines of “You’re too old to skateboard” I cry a little inside.

How depressing is it to hear that as a result of time spent, experience gained, and blood shed, you’re now past the prime and shouldn’t be doing it? The same applies for any board-sport, and my answer to the haters is the same in any case: you don’t get it. Nothing is worse than self-righteous rants by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. I skate because I love it. Its a feeling that I get. There’s no way I’d stop just because someone else thought I was being immature or irresponsible. Besides, doing something consistently for a long time is a great way to become really good at it and get some confidence. When you have that confidence (not cockiness) its easier to shred more and get hurt less, which is helpful when your recovery times start to drop.

On top of that, skating for me is like going to the gym for others. I wouldn’t tell someone to stop doing their thing because I think its a bad idea though. I skate as much as I can (almost every day depending on weather), and every time I do it makes me feel better. It helps me loosen up, get in a rhythm, push myself a bit, and get a good workout too. I’d much rather keep on skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding for as long as I possibly can than do anything else.

You could say I live for it.

Why Small Mountains are Your Best Friends

Let’s keep this brief.

I live on the east coast of good ‘ol USA in a crowded place called New Jersey. The east coast certainly isn’t known for monstrous peaks, deep powder, backcountry bowls, and the like. I dream of these things every day. That said, the east has its treasures. Vermont has some great riding if you know where to look. Tremblant in Quebec is pretty monstrous by east coast standards and it also has some secret, local spots. However…this past Sunday while riding at Camelback, a small resort in the Pocono Mountains of PA, I realized why all the small mountains local to Jersey are actually our best friends.

Small mountains are easy. Literally, they are easy to ride. That gives me the confidence to start trying stuff. There’s no pressure really because 1) everyone is generally pretty bad, and 2) the terrain is more suitable for people who are generally pretty bad. That means the park is probably going to have mostly easy jibs and jumps. That also probably means you’ll find the mountain’s only “double black diamond” is totally untouched and never has more than 3 people (give or take) on it at a time. That’s what I did almost all day at Camelback. The jumps in the park were fun and no bigger than 25 feet, and 85% of the jibs were boxes. The snow on the double black was great and the rollers near the bottom were sick for throwing 180s and trying 360s.

Sure, these mountains can get crowded on weekends and holidays, but if you stick to my theory and go to the “hardest” trails, no one will follow you. If anyone does, they’re either going to the bottom on their ass or they’ll fly past you. The bottom line is, use small, local mountains to help you get better. Then go kill it where it counts.