My Skateboard Story, Part 5

Posted: 2020-04-20 in Uncategorized

When I started this journey, I never thought I’d be able to dive this deep into my skateboard story.  I’m caused to wonder how much I can write, then I hit that 1,000 word mark, and realize I’m still not done, and that I’ll have to write yet another chapter.  But, 2010 marked a few important milestones for me:

  • I got back to my “roots” by buying another one of the Moose pool boards, referenced in part 1, to reignite my love for hard-wheel techsliding
  • I bought my first board and began digging into my studies of Millennium-era downhill setups, like those from the Gravity Games
  • I became the stuff of legend at the emergency department at my college’s hospital after messing my face up somethin’ fierce in a gnarly wipeout in November
  • I was allowed back onto the Silverfish forums

I had my Faltown 3.2 set up on Indys and…I don’t even remember, either 96a Noskoolz or Spitfire Numero Uno wheels, for sliding.  I wanted to recapture my roots, so I bought another 10×34 Moose pool board, and set it up on some second-generation Earthwing Slide A’s.  First gen had a red core, the same core seen on wheels like Rainskates, from Creative Urethane.  Second gen had a black core.  The legend was that Earthwing got Creative to pour them some skateboard wheels in an aggressive inline formula, but I’ve not been able to verify that at all.  The only thing I’ve heard was a small note on the Earthwing Instagram page saying that the Slide A formula was too expensive, and that they would’ve had to substantially increase the price to make enough profit on ’em.  Under my feet, the First Gens felt a little more compliant; they had a “whooshy” sound when going fast, and gripped quite hard on concrete and (strangely enough) on wet asphalt…something about water getting into the pores of the asphalt created surface tension (as you’d feel if you submerged a cup in a pool, inverted it, and tried to lift it out of the pool).  Second Gens feel harsher underfoot, have a higher-pitched “screamy” sound, and will throw you on your ass if you ride them on a wet surface.  I haven’t ridden any of the other Earthwing slide wheels (including the 48d Dual Duros or their street wheels), nor have I ridden Rainskates Avalanches, which have been advertised as a continuation of the Creative Urethane tech-slide evolution.

Going back to my review ethos, if I like something, I’ll ride it.  And, I just plain didn’t ride the Moose as much as I did the Faltown.  So, the Slide A’s went onto the Faltown, and I put some different Earthwing 66mm slalom-shaped wheels onto the Moose for use as a campus cruiser…which is what I was riding when I messed my face up so badly:  On November 8, 2010 (I wrote the date on the board), I threw my board down at the back exit of the library, and rode down the hill to my wife’s apartment.  I got speed wobbles – not a big deal, just relax and ride ’em out.  Except, I hit one of those crack seal lines in the road…you know the ones, those snake-lookin’ black lines of tar.  As I was at the extent of one of my wobbles, I’d hit one of the lines, which caused the wheel to bump up into the deck:  Wheelbite!  The deck stopped, and I fell flat onto my face; glasses shoved up into my eyebrow, causing a deep laceration; chipped a tooth; landed on my left wrist with my right arm curled underneath my chest.  We went to the ER, and got a concussion test and everything, though I should’ve probably pressed harder on the wrist injury I’d sustained.

Back it up a few steps – An old skateshop (Eastcoastskates.com) was going out of business, which I’d been clued into upon my return to Silverfish.  They were the storefront that sold Capital Skateboards, Nicotine Wheels, and a few other key brands from the late 90’s.  I’m not sure on the details, but the owner had some legal issues, then his brother took over the shop in order to liquidate the stock.  I acquired 2 boards from them:  The TVS Lady Cruiser, and a Capital Freestyle deck.  The TVS was my very first Gravity Games board.  Using the online resources of Silverfish, which I was allowed back onto I *think* in September of 2010, I perused their backlog of scans of International Longboarder and Concrete Wave magazines endlessly, searching for the types of boards that would’ve been ridden between 1998 and 2002.  There are a lot of videos on Youtube in 2020, but there weren’t in 2010, so magazine scans were all I had to go on.

But, being on Silverfish is what afforded me the opportunity for a couple of wheel purchases:  The second-gen Slide A’s mentioned above, and some prototype UFO wheels from circa 2002.  I’ve got an email from Angela Madrid, at Madrid Skateboards, confirming that they did indeed try to relaunch the UFO brand in the early 00’s, and that the wheels I had (still possess to this day) were made in their urethane shop.

It also put into perspective that I’d missed a year and a half of growth; an episode of growth that showed longboarding to have been outgrowing traditional/street/trick-based skateboarding for the first time ever; showed Silverfish to have broken the 100,000 user barrier, which led to Silverfish being the biggest skateboard site on the entire Internet; made full-time employees out of boutique skateboard brands; and showcased the entire mainstreaming of a once-niche, cottage industry:  A wise friend once put it “If your activity is big enough to have poseurs, your activity is already mainstream.”  I was completely out of the loop as far as techniques, trends, and gear, which is partially what jammed me into the “good enough” mentality for so many years…If I wasn’t impressed with the (comparably small) improvements from 2007 to 2009, I certainly wouldn’t be impressed with the improvements from 2009 to 2010.  What I didn’t fully appreciate (until much, much later) was how many improvements had been made in chemical engineering and urethane production as it applied to skateboard wheels and bushings; the improvements in truck designs over a semi-basic Randal RII/Paris/Gullwing Charger type geometry; and how board shapes improved to be fully functional over being purely aesthetic, and therefore, easier to ride.

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