Too Easy, No Fun

What a year. I am sure that 2020’s post on the internet mostly start that way. This may be the only customary same as other blogs sentence, so I figured I would get it out of the way.

To say this year has been challenging may be a bit of an understatement for most people alive. The glorious plans of excess miles and smiles, even the seemingly guaranteed “Second Sunday” Stoke Clinics, and even the Broadway Bomb have been uprooted, upended, challenged, and modified from the beginning to current. I don’t know of a single tradition, or thought of normalcy that has survived the year intact.

However, somehow, through all of that I am more stoked than ever. Stoke Challenges, the one thing I was consistent with before Rona Time, the one thing I felt I could lean on as a normal easy to achieve daily goal barely made it a week into the pandemic.

People filled the usually empty trails, so even long distance pushing underwent a slight change. All of this should have been the sign. The tea leaves at the bottom of the pot, the indicator, the call to action, but as we know sometimes one has to run through all the easy options before we no longer have a choice. When we have dinked around with every other option, the one thing we have been struggling with and avoiding turns out to have been the most fun.

All of this came to be on the September Bonus miles push. Joining me on this push was a young rider named Julian. After an entire summer of gearing up for big miles with this new skater, we finally were able to schedule a day for 75 miles. I had just cleaned my old set of Tekton ceramic bearings to hand down to him. Brought a Pantheon Trip out of retirement, I was still mostly hopeful that it would last, and rounded out his set up with some Seismic Alpha wheels. I was on my standard Trip, pretty fresh as far as other set ups went, maybe the board had a couple hundred miles on it.

The weather was amazing, trail was clean, pace was on point. 42 miles later, a tricky section of the trail, and a dingus on his cell phone both boards had to overcome an inch tall concrete ledge. The speed we were going, and the way we had to hit it instantly blew apart Julian’s deck. The front forks completely ripped off, but the speed carried until the back trucks went over and snapped them almost off. The crack of the board was deafening in the tunnel, and he was sliding long enough on his back that I had time to look back and watch it happen.

As we waited for rescue, we discovered my board didn’t even fair much better. Granted I didn’t have a destroyed phone, and I definitely didn’t get sent sliding across the ground, but the ledge had even broke the bottom three plies of my back forks as well.

So my main board is not structurally sound. My maybe emergency set up was just obliterated. Pantheon is out of skateboards until 2021……hmmmmm. Well the only thing left to do was bring out Dos.

I’ve been pushing a Pantheon Trip in one form or fashion for years. A drop through drop down for the entirety of my LDP career thus far. Despite this familiarity and ease of pushing of this style of deck the Loaded Icarus is still one of my favorite boards. It is not a drop through drop down. Drop through sure, drop down nope, hard nope. One might even say the opposite. The center camber of this deck is easily 2 inches over the standing platform of the Trip. Which is the primary reason I have not ever pushed past 25 miles at a stretch on it.

Dos, is my second Icarus. The first (Uno) was skated to oblivion. The front and back were annihilated from tiger claws, the camber was flattened, and it was skated to death. Dos, was retired because the front and back kick had been bashed mercilessly. The board creaked when I turned because the pieces still present move against each other as the board flexes. The center and truck mounts were still mostly intact…..intact enough.

The board my have been intact, but the 37 miles I pushed for October’s first Sunday left my ego in pieces. From “challenging yet still plausible” to “SHUT DOWN” in the course of 4 hours. Yet, somehow, by the end as my legs lay quivering and aching, and the dragons of my mind confirmed the inadequacies of my performance and ability somewhere in there a spark took hold.

I love the Icarus. I love carving it. I love pumping it. I love pushing it. It’s harder to push, I was exhausted, I was defeated, I can’t wait to push it again. Somewhere in between getting blasted, and failing, my resolve has reignited. Maybe it’s the challenge. However it goes, I get to start over again, and build myself back up. I get to fail, and fail, and fail, while all the while feel myself get better again. Starting back at the bottom of another mountain, with the Icarus I will get stronger than I can probably imagine. Stoked!

Skatespiration Blockage And or, What I Miss to the Point of Just Not Feeling It

I have skated a handful of times.  Like, 14 miles, a neighborhood session, and some slight sub-session that wasn’t more than like 5 minutes and the standard Front Yard line.  I just have not been feeling it.  Ok.  That and we have been crazy busy, adapting to the restrictions from Covid-19.  I know they are for our own good, we just had to change up our game a little bit.  That meant that our website needed some attention.  So I have been pounding out copy and pictures.  Filling up the bones of our extensive, yet somehow still inadequate inventory.  It is easily as busy as running a brick and mortar, yet I stack that with running a brick and mortar, as well as raising a 3 year old.  Momma comes home at 1pmish and then I can switch as much focus to running the shop as I can.  It is an awesomely filled day, and I finish the day pretty tired if we are doing the jam hard like today.  Really I think we’ve just been focusing on coming out a little better.  Using the restrictions to figure out how to still get things done.  As things chill a bit, hopefully, we can still be doing our adapted positive habits.

I realized tonight what I miss most about skating.  The spark that pumps me up to go out.  The 14 mile push was fun all through the city.  It was solo.  The push was epic.  But by the time I got to Kessler through some really wild inside of the park shit I’ve never seen before, I was so over it, I didn’t even care.  I miss moving, with people.  Around people.  Through people.

Maybe part of it is ego.  For real though.  Most of it, is the energy of pushing with people.  If you have not seen a Broadway Bomb on YouTube video I humbly submit last years offering for a quick idea, of maybe a snippet of the amount of energy I am talking.  I am not just talking huge rushes of people surging seemingly chaotically through a concrete wonderland of epic proportions.  I am talking even with just one other dude, two other dudes….as many other dudes who are as down to get down as you decide to get down.

Even in LDP circumstances in which you may be several board length behind the guy in from of you.  For the most part communication is kept to hand signals.  Some whistles, maybe a shout or two.  The rate of movement is that which doesn’t aid in easy talking either.  So even if you are grooving close and jamming hard, the communication is one of instincts and body language.  The shared velocity in combined effort is the shared wordless convenience of intent.  The lead guy drives, setting pace, and course.  Without words a pusher and his partners engage in a quantum deliverance of communication that is not for words to express.  The more the merrier.  When that lead guy looks back and a squad of fellow conscious beings are in line and in time the full reality of the past moments in the push sheds new light on your fellow beings.   People moving great distances together, sharing the gravity along the journey, is a bond that I crave the most.  It’s not escape.  It’s experience.  It is to be fully engaged, in sense, sight, gravity, and intent.  Achieved together, no matter how far apart.

Garage sessions are a fantastic example.   This one, more linked in expression of gravities influence.  Still bonding and moving in flowing fashion is the expression.  Starting at the Peanut one quickly discovers how “new” new riders are.

“Dude! They said they could foot break.”

Either through the slant of 9th Street to Main in reverse order, or up through the traffic and eventual bomb down 12th Street, riders of the once weekly Kansas City Garage Rips were tasty dips into the same energy of motion with people.  That is just on the way to the garages.

In the garages different conveyances of skateboard riding takes place on a cross skill level fashion.  Gravity starts, butt boarding, on your knees, backwards, kick to the grey line, trains, pumping, Chinese races, drunk, extra sober, extra stoned, seeing dragons, chasing pixies, chasing punnanny, recovering from punnanny, just heard you guys coming through the streets and thought I would join, and “All of You MUST LEAVE.”  All of it.  A chaotic mix of peoples and their problems, thrown in with vices, and anarchy.

When we get rolling, however we get rolling, gravity and physics do the work, while we get the benefit.  Closer proximity affords standard primitive hoots and hollers, but those turn to music, with the rumble of the wheels on concrete providing the base and rumble.  Together the noise, even now that stealth missions have become the norm….most of the time, is an earthquake like rumble that fills the air heavily.   With outstretched arms we go faster, following those we can in half tucks diving through corners as tights as our boards and bodies will allow.  We move down the slanted floors hugging corners inches from each others wheels, in the moment and aware of unspoken cues.

People that go too far away from the course of the night, distracted by the excitement, or maybe even too fully consumed in it, typically get bricked and done for the evening.  The skate gods have a certain tolerance, but everything has its price.

Point A to Point B.  You name it.  Moving on skateboards with people is my favorite.  Solo sessions are nice, but only because being able to move with my peoples when the skating is going down is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Stay Stoked, Stay Healthy

 

Stoke Challenge 2020: Session #74. Tasty Little Session With the Family

Today is beautiful!  Let me just say it again, “Today is beautiful!”  Lord have mercy on my still working on working heart.  I was waiting all day long.  When’s it coming?  How is it going to present itself?

The wife and munchkin said they were going to go roam the neighborhoods.  The parks are technically closed, because the metal equipment is supposed to hold the virus longer or some such.  So the roaming around the neighborhood has replaced them.  Today I got to get in on it.

Markie has a bike with some training wheels and a big handle coming out the back.  It’s like stroller add on that gets the kid moving on their own.  She is doing great about peddling on her own, and steering for the most part.  She can ease on the brakes, but the slam stop is her favorite.  Lol, I can see this is going to turn into power slides in the future.

My mission was slowly campus the sidewalks, streets, divots, and slopes that make up Volker’s web of cross streets.  Some of them are broken, jutting disjointed upward.  Some of them are slanted temptingly as a tree’s roots have dug underneath.  Gaps, rocks, dirt, mud, and today sticks and bits of tree blown down from the night’s storm and the days strong gusts.  Lot’s of road construction back towards Westport road and stuff too.  As I was keeping with Markie mostly I wasn’t going super fast.  This made small rocks and bits of branch perfect stoppers.  A few of the roads provided a nice slope to cross step down, even got in some slides on a few.

A few corners are perfect fun boxes.  Basically a flat top with two transitions on either side.  Although these are transition not “optimal” or made for skateboards are still really fun to play with.  The pop on each one is different so you have to experiment with how it throws your board.  How you need to throw or catch your board.  Then how to land.  I found a few really fun ones and Markie even got in on it.  Riding her bike along the line I just tried.  I was super stoked to see that in some way or fashion she understood how that little feature was fun to play on and move across.

A few of the sidewalk runs we took on parts that were slanted down was awesome too.  I would kind crank ahead a bit and hit each feature as I came across them.  Banking on angled driveways like a berm.  Cross stepping along disjointed sidewalk panels for a little pump.  Grabbing rail as I carved into the street, and back into the sidewalk again.  For a not “hardcore” session I found a lot of really rad little neighborhood spots, and even got a nice scrape across my knee when I got to cross stepping faster than I am used to.

I’ve got to make a Volker Neighborhood edit with some of our little sidewalks and such.  Wife and I invested in a GoPro 8, that I am really excited for.  Going to be utilizing the crap out of that doodad in the coming weeks.  It has a lot of features we have been learning how to use, so I’m pretty pumped to get that tool into use.  Lot’s of stuff coming to the Youtube channel.

Thanks for Reading!

Stoke Challenge 2020: Session #72 A Session Amidst Many

Pavement was dry, even though it rained all night.  My little patch of concrete heaven is getting sessioned hard.  It’s frozen cement slabs are not frozen in place in straight angles, they conform to the mound of earth underneath.  If you look closer across its plane you will see the little divots and flat spots that offer a break from the stationary wave’s angular appearance.

Todays meditation in motion focused a lot on control in each one of these changes in pitch.  A pivot for a divot, skated like a berm.  A little pump to cross step, exactly like the time before, allowing you just enough time to step into where your feet are supposed to go.  The next choice is either a full 180 to a stop, which is becoming less and less popular as I know have started tucking up into the carve.  This propels me with just enough speed even throwing a little check in to the mix to move up a whole concrete section.  At the top of the sweep I work an almost 360° pivot to pump back down the wedge.  With a little kick added in I feel it’s enough speed to pop a little tiger claw.  That is as is much as regular as it gets.  By this time I am all the way back to the other end where it all began.

I feel comfortable enough now in any stance that I am begun improv steps in and out of tiger claws, depending on where I end up standing on the board.  This is something that Kendama has taught me.  As this is how I’ve started playing.  If I miss a spike a have figured out how to sling the tama around to any of the cups.  The first few times I landed off on my board I was pretty stoked to find myself no sketched out.  I am still a little surprised so we will see how that sits in my brain tonight.  I’m sure tomorrows line will develop more.

Pretty stoked to have a new stoke slinging tool coming into being.  Took us a bit longer to get it then was hoped, but hopefully we can bust out some solid shop videos.  All the time having too much fun learning how to adapt.  Let’s see how we can make this idea work for lifting up the world, and getting folks set up the best way we can.

Thanks for reading.

Stoke Challenge 2020: Session #72 The Opportunity For a Session Arose.

I wonder if one of the perks of all this is the rediscovering of our neighborhoods and natural social rhythms?

I remember sometime soon after I moved to Kansas City an ice storm that pretty much shut down everything.  No one had power.  No one had TV.  No one could cook.  So people went to restaurants that had power.  I ate dinner with friends.  Because when shit went down we hung out together.  Drank, until we fell asleep.  Woke up when ever, and went to work.  I was a department manager at Wal-Mart and there was a lot do in a store that was pitch black.  A generator was dying killing refrigerators.  Open topped refrigerator had to be insulated the best we could to keep the temperatures cold enough to keep it frozen.  It was wild.  No one freaked out if you showed up late, because at that time not everyone had cell phones.  Honestly there was nothing else to do so going to work and getting paid overtime was awesome.  We went about the day pretty naturally, and it was awesome.

Today was the first day of this that seemed to flow a lot like that.  The difference is that instead of being able to come in close, and have a group of friends, its small interactions.  Way more personal, way more real.  Maybe part of my issue has been I’ve been trying to make things run the same way they where before.  Instead of going with the flow, it was “keep it normal”.  Now that it has been a few days of this, the perks are starting to add up.  Maybe I have been going about things the wrong way.

Check this.  Wake up, and not have to worry about “when” exactly.  You know you have things to do around a certain time, but that’s about it.  Because the door is locked…and it’s socially ok to do so.  No one is bothered that the door is locked.  No one even expects me to be open.  As long as I am either hanging with Markie, or working on shop stuff it’s a pretty chill vibe.  Today was super loose.  Yet still got some stuff done.

I was outside playing Kendama when Zack from across the street came over and sessions with me.  Everyone plays this a little different so its rad to see what people have picked up and are experimenting with.  We both just sessioned Sumos, and had a great time.  This led to him grabbing his street deck, and pulling out the rail. I grabbed my Tesseract and worked on the usual line.  Just jammed it.

I’ve begun work on kick flipping the board.  When some smart aleck shouts out, “Do a kick-flip!”) I want to be able to gonk one out and make it look good!  I have no idea how far I am from that, but I put in some good work on it today.  More than I have ever felt comfortable doing before today.  Either just my level of comfort on the board has come up a notch, or I’ve finally learned some things these past few forced sessions that have advanced my ability.  The only way to learn for certain is to continue learning more.  Yay skateboards!  It was a pretty full hour too.  The sun was out and it was great to soak up some of it.

Then I came back in and got to it.  Vroooom!!

Thanks for reading.

Stoke Challenge 2020: Session#71 Hard to Keep Moving Sometimes

Sun came out.  Weather was nice.  Lots of people walking around.  I can’t blame them.  It is nice out.

Poxy came over for a session earlier.  He sensed I needed it.  I did.  Still do.  Poxy rolled his ankle pretty good.   He even thought it was broke, although I don’t think it was.  It sure did look like a tendon was swelling.  That is probably the worst part about this gig.  Watching your buddies getting injured, and not being able to do anything for them.  Especially now.

No lies.

All this has got me all jacked up.  I can’t step outside without feeling like people are staring at me, most likely wondering the exact same thought.

“Have you got it”, then “Have I already got it.”

The hard facts are this though.  I do not want to get injured or go to the hospital or anywhere close to the hospital.  The shop is 3 blocks down from KU Med, a little too close.  I want to be with people, but I don’t want to be near them.  I don’t want them breathing the same air.

Hard facts though, is that if I have not already had it, or have it, I will most likely get it.  So I am just wondering when that shit is going down.  Now I know, I know, I know I know that if I stay active, positive, and calm my body has a super chance at staying healthy.  When I do get sick, my body and mind will be at its prime.  Honestly I wonder if I should just pack all this up and go skate right now.  Gently, gently of course.  I’ve got my skate shoes on.  My helmet is still moist.  No one can come in the shop.

I’ve seen people roll by on boards.  I know dudes are skating.  I think what would bum me about that then is that I don’t want to talk, I just want to be with someone and skate.  Like, let’s not say a word.  I don’t want to talk.  I do not want to talk.

All this does give one a moment to think, but that is exactly what I do not need.  I need to do, but I am stuck.  I am stuck hard.  I am stuck so hard, that the last 20 minutes all I could do was muster the strength to sit on the bench.  Just watched people.  It’s way busier out than I thought it would be that is for certain.  The thought the everything keeps coming back to is that even with the removal of dealing with people.  I still don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do.  Then all I do is sit, and lament about all of the stuff I volunteered for.  Just mad at the limitations of a 24 hour day.

So what can I do about it?  That’s what this blog post has been.  A chance to put something forward moving out there.  Take a step. A little breath.  Make a little mark.  There is no other reason, to make the mark other than just making the mark.  Be careful not to get too caught up in which mark, because the reason manifests as it is maid.  What if it’s not the mark you wanted?  Lear how to make it differently.  We have 24 marks to make in a day.  Each one of them marked with its contents.  Try not to think about that too much.  You’ll find that your ego has a foothold there in as many forms of interpretation as you could care to have.  So much as to be filled with inaccuracy.

Here and now.  Maybe for the most part the few moments leading up to the next are only limited by where you are and what you are doing in this moment.  Are you making a connection?  Feeling the weight of it?

Breathe deep.

Good enough.  Keep going.  If all you can do is sit, and take it all in, then please just keep going.  The next breath is never as guaranteed as one thinks, but it is what we have for sure.

Thanks for reading.

 

Stoke Challenge 2020: Sessions #69 & #70 Waiting for the Postal Dude

“We still have the website.” is the relieved thought going through my mind the past few days.  I’m not saying that we are not feeling the crunch, but at least I have some outlet of control.  As long as the Post Office keeps running anyways.  That’s probably the one thing about all this that has been pretty quite.  With all this talk of essential services, will there be a time the post office is not included on that?

I feel like we are small enough, and able to quarantine ourselves off enough to avoid complete shut down.  We live above the shop.  So even though we are still here more or less we are still blocked off from the rest of the world.  If they virus isn’t in here right now, the odds of it getting in from a person are super slim.  We aren’t allowing anyone to come in the shop, so that is one factor that I hope keeps us rolling a bit longer.

Today’s session and yesterday’s session were an example of getting it in as part of the flow of the day.  Although yesterday I did not feel like writing a post, my head was all in the Quickbooks catching up transactions from before the shut down.  All the transactions from this point forward will most likely be through the website.  Today especially I was hoping to catch the regular Postal Dude on the day to day, but he didn’t come all the way down to the corner.  So that means my order to New York is going to have to be delivered to the post office through us.  I hope the post office hours aren’t going to change a whole lot.

So many little changes.    For a dude who’s routine basically revolves around staying in with bouts of leaving I didn’t think I would get thrown off my rythm quite as much.  Onward and upward.

Stay Stoked, Stay healthy,

Thanks for reading.

Stoke Challenge 2020: Session #68. Now That We Are Done Waiting

Kansas City announced yesterday that they were shutting down all non-essential services for 30 days after tomorrow.  We knew it something like this would most likely happen, so it was a bit of a relief for them to just come out with it.  We luckily still have our online store and the ability to do a curbside pick up, and we live above the shop so we don’t even have to leave to go anywhere.  As long as they don’t cut us off from shipping we still have a way to generate some funds.

After a couple day reset and that news I am back at the sessions.  Got to stay active to help stay healthy.  Originally this was a 110 mile day planned, but the weather had different ideas.  Friday nights session with a small group was sketchy as hell.  It felt like the only people that were out other than us were out for no social benefit that is for certain.  The whole city had a whacked out kind vibe going.  Saturday Markie had some gnarly sinus stuff going on, and I just needed a mental day, to kind of sit and process everything.  We’ve talked about it before, but just the simple little act of making a decision about something you have control over helps keep you from feeling out of control.

So today’s exercise some good ol’fashioned board burpees, with a balance board/kendam session after. We splurged just a bit, and picked up some fresh Kendama.  We figured that would give us something to throw in while we are supposed to be staying inside.  I haven’t gotten to play as much with the cushion coating on the Sweets Labs tamas and I have to say they are really nice playing.  The detail in the graphic and how that helps tracking is pretty sweet.

I also got some video to post on my instagram story.  Maybe folks will get inspired and work a board burpee routine into their day to keep the spirits up, and mind focused on what you can do in the moment.

Stay Stoked.  Thanks for reading.

Stoke Challenge 2020: Session #67. Fun In the Sun

When the day started I could hear the rain pitter patting on the window and roof.  Rainy days are a little more challenging to keep the positivity up, but as of yesterday I don’t know if that will matter for a bit.  After yesterday’s session, the little improvements, and the great feeling after a good sweat the fighting spirit has returned.  I understand that Social Distancing is the current practice, however one can still be socially distant and get a session in.

I feel that languishing inside, waiting for the inevitable Covid-19 contraction, makes the whole thing that much worse.  If you are already sick or immune system compromised your ass needs to stay inside.  If you are in regular contact with someone fitting those conditions stay inside.

I can’t stop doing what I am doing.  I have to keep moving.  I have to keep pushing, until I can’t do it, or until I get sick or the government tells me to stay in.  Exercise, what ever style or form that takes has to be a regular thing during all this.  Have a set time each day to get some in.  Get sweaty.  If the sun is out, go for a stroll.   I think you will find, that this act.  This moment of saying, this is what I am going to do, no matter how small switches something in ones brain.

Todays goals where fairly strait forward enough.  I see sun, I go outside and skate for an hour and sweat.  Sweat my booty off.  If I didn’t sweat than it didn’t count.  So I made my hour of exercise count.  Went out again on the Tesseract and worked more free ride and freestyle stuff.  I’m nailing stuff pretty consistent.  Jumping big on the tiger claws.  Very precise foot work on the cross steps to heel side slide.  By the end I was even working shuv its, and kick flips.  Felt really solid for sure.  Not too shabby at all.

There is so much out of control about all this, that finding control in even the smallest moment can do a lot to boost your mood, and keep you on the front end of your sickness.  I am so grateful that I have this opportunity to keep going.  I hope that others will be stoked and keep doing what they can to move forward in a safe manor.

Stay stoked.

 

Stoke Challenge 2020: Session #66 One Hour, Many Moments

I think I understand a little bit more about maybe where my head has been.  As with just about everyone in the United States currently the thoughts revolve around Covid-19.  All the isolation kind of things going on.  Entire industries are sending people home, people aren’t getting paid, future are seemingly upending.  So this whole time I have been waiting for when we have to stop.  Waiting for the time when the government says, “Ok no businesses are to be open.”  Condition number two for us would be when they also tell us how much they are going to pay me to stop working.

So I have just been in this holding pattern waiting for the other shoe to drop, when the fact is I have been lucky enough, and small enough to avoid having to completely shut down operations, or building a website or any of that sort of issue.  Of course as soon as anyone in the house gets sick, we are going to shut her down for a bit, but so far we have avoided it.  Today every time I stepped out to get a little skatey skate in, it would be about 15 minutes and another person would roll into the shop, or it would be time to eat.  Or something else would pop up.

Took the Tesseract out today and nailed some great stuff.  I not only worked some dance lines, but also some free ride type of stuff too.  That is such a versatile board, it matched my session needs perfectly.  From one time going out to the next moment I had the opportunity it didn’t take long for me to get in a groove.

It feels like the whole world is holding its breath.  The vibrational shift is tangible that is for certain.

Thanks for reading, stay safe.