The Proper Way to Bomb a Hill – Safe Downhill Longboarding

Posted By: Pete Benda

For surfers, nothing could be more enchanting than an enormous cresting wave. For snowboarders, it’s mammoth alpine peaks that seem to scratch the heavens. And for us longboarders, nothing is more seductive than the slick asphalt of a winding road that plummets at a thrilling incline.

But like all of the challenges and excitement that are behind our love for extreme sports, bombing a hill can be very dangerous and at times life-threatening. Longboarding takes place on the most unforgiving of surfaces, like concrete and asphalt, coupled with perilous dangers such as traffic, road hazards, and the difficulty of slowing your speed, which can often take years to master. While we all love the rush of carving up the street and feeling like we’ve conquered the road, every old rider has horror stories that could have been avoided with a little bit of caution.

The Right Getup and Gear

No matter how cliched it sounds, having a helmet is the most essential safety element to riding any hill regardless of your experience. Make sure your helmet has a certification tag inside and is loaded with comfy pads; helmets are not something you should be picking up secondhand at the flea market. I also recommend knee pads and wrist guards, which are particularly important because of our tendency to stop our falls with our hands. Those nasty broken wrists are the most common hospital injury for snowboarders and skaters. In addition to pads and something solid for my noggin’, I always hit the hills with at least a good pair of jeans, a jacket, and my backpack – which, although it may crush my lunchtime burrito and soda, has protected me from the unforgiving street on a few wild spills.

Also, don’t forget to give your longboard a full inspection before each and every ride. All bearings should be properly lubed, nuts and bolts tested, and bushings inspected for proper tightness and balance. Proper bushings are paramount! Keep in mind that a loose bushing can get pretty gnarly at high speeds, and one that’s too tight will prevent you from proper carving or avoiding that parked car ahead.

Style and Technique

The main difference between a newbie and a weathered longboard warrior is the seamlessness and ease between rider and board. The right longboard can become an extension of your body after years of practice, giving you the skills to handle incredible speeds and maneuvers while in the midst of a downhill thrill ride. Before attempting any hill, you should have a proper grasp of foot-braking techniques and smooth carving styles to prevent dangerous speeds. Sliding is another way to slow down but can be difficult for new riders and on steep inclines. It should be practiced and mastered on driveways before trying it on the road.

Even when not thinking, a good downhill rider keeps their weight low, knees bent and ankles very loose, turning smoothly with their entire body and avoiding those catastrophic speed wobbles that occur when we tense up and overcompensate with our legs. If they do occur, trying carving them out with wide, slow turns and focus your eyes on the road ahead instead of what’s going on below while shifting your weight slightly more over the front truck. Once again, proper bushings are vital!

Get the Attitude

So if you’re comfortable with some basic techniques and you’re all dressed for the part, it’s time to focus on the head games. A wise rider will feel confident when approaching a hill but always do so humbly and after taking the right safety precautions. Always walk the hill before attempting it, judging distances and speeds, keeping an eye out for bumps and hazards, and always planning an emergency exit strategy. Don’t ever attempt hills that end at busy streets or are plagued by traffic. Having a friend or two to scout intersections and stop the occasional car is a great idea and can even save your life. A bit of fear comes with the turf, but if you don’t think you can make a turn or foot-brake at any point during your bomb, spend a few weeks practicing and reassess the situation. Also, try a hill starting from the bottom and working your way up before attempting the “black diamond” from the very top. You’ll build confidence and skill without as much risk to your safety and future as a rider.

Never let pride get in the way of having a good time and mastering your sport. Don’t sacrifice your pads or better judgment to “look cool” or impress your friends. Take a look at the sport’s professional racers: they wear full face helmets and leather body suits and usually have an attitude like a meditating Buddhist monk on top of a holy mountain.

It’s All About Fun

It’s always good to remember exactly why we love the sport of longboarding and ripping up the pavement. I keep in mind that by not bombing a hill with proper safety measures, I could be risking the thrill and good times I love. Most of us longtime riders know plenty of risk-takers who after taking a serious fall have had to sit on the bench while we enjoy our favorite pastime.

But now you’ve got a bit of solid information on how to bomb that tantalizing hill, so do the ground work, practice slow, and ride smart. Study that hill, love it, and most of all, respect its awesome power, just like the surfers who bow to the mighty waves of the Pacific Ocean or the snowboarders who pay homage to the snow-covered giants of the Rocky Mountains.

How To Pick The Best Spots to Longboard

Posted By: Pete Benda

You’ve got your board, you’ve read the blog up until now, and now you are ready to get out there and skate – but where should you go? Obviously, where you live is going to make a difference, but I’m going to go ahead and give you a few pointers on finding prime longboarding locations in your area. I’ll give you a few examples along the way, too, and if you’re lucky enough to live near any of the specific spots I mention, make sure you go check them out, because missing out on prime spots in your area, or areas you may travel to, would suck. What is good and what isn’t is going to be largely a matter of opinion and taste, but some basic things that are good would be a smooth surface, low traffic, and a location that allows skating.

Consider the Terrain

If you live somewhere with only a few hills, the type of riding you can do is going to be more limited than it would probably be in a mountainous area. If you live somewhere like New York City, for instance, you can find some okay hills, but most of what you find is going to be pretty flat. New York City is great for cruising, and there are some areas that hold weekly skates you could check out, but if you’re just getting started, a nice, popular spot in New York City would be Central Park. It’s also worth noting that college campuses around the United States can be great spots to longboard.

Population Matters

Make sure you think about what traffic is going to be like in the areas where you consider jumping on your longboard and going for a ride. Some of the most challenging or exciting longboarding spots are probably roads with at least some traffic that passes through. If you find a great hilly road sure to help you hit high speeds or a road with a series of great hairpin turns, make sure there are no posted laws about skating in the area, and do a little research to figure out at what times traffic is heaviest and try to plan your skates so that you aren’t flying down the middle of a street during those times. Safety matters.

Enjoy the View

While the skating surface matters, the scenery that surrounds that surface can also make a spot worth skating. A tree-covered hill with a smooth road you can skate down can be an experience you’ll never forget, just like cruising a path around a lake during the summer can be the perfect way to unwind after a hard day at work. Figure out what type of atmosphere most appeals to you and see what spots you can find that incorporate at least some visually pleasing features.

Check Out What’s Popular

All over the world, people are getting into sports like ours, though it is still more popular in the U.S. than in some overseas countries. One of the best ways to find great longboarding spots when traveling anywhere on the planet is to check out sites like YouSpots. Currently, more than 14,000 longboarding locations are listed on the map, with more being added all the time. If you’re looking to connect with fellow longboarders or just explore some of the most notable locations on the planet, this site can be a huge asset. You could even add a few of the more unique locations to a longboarding bucket list of your own. Among the top locations on YouSpots are Titan’s Path in Lysebotn, Norway, which boasts 30 consecutive hairpins, and Dades Gorge Road in Morocco.

To Sum It Up

All over the planet, prime skating locations exist, and more are being discovered each day. Figuring out what spots you will enjoy most requires considering a bunch of factors, like the type of skating you do, the population, and, of course, laws and safety requirements. The best way to find great places to skate is to get out there and try some out. Maybe you’ll luck out and discover a great place no one has yet tried to skate. One of the best parts of sports like ours is how easy it is to just grab your longboard and head out the door.

Assembling Your First Longboard

Posted By: Pete Benda

When people are involved in sports, they inevitably end up learning a lot of different skills. One of the things people who longboard might eventually learn to do is assemble a longboard themselves. Longboard assembly isn’t complicated and has a lot of opportunities for customization. Customizing a board to suit your needs and interests can make the sport even more enjoyable and can even be a source of pride for some people. You don’t need to assemble a board yourself if you don’t want to – complete boards are available – but if the process of longboard assembly is the only thing keeping you from putting together the board of your dreams, rejoice, my friend: I am here to break the assembly process down for you into simple, easy-to-follow steps.

The basic process for assembling most top-mount longboards is as follows:

  1. Find your deck and grip tape, and if it’s not already applied, apply the grip tape to the longboard deck. Some longboard decks come with grip tape already applied, while others need you (or a shop) to apply the tape.

  2. Gather your screws and screws. You’ll need eight nutsand eight screws. Make sure your screws aren’t too short; 1.25-inch screws are a good length. Screws that are too short won’t fit all decks, and screws that are too long will have too much excess if you aren’t adding risers.

  3. Place the screws in the deck. You should already have eight holes drilled into the deck of your longboard to place the screws in. Make sure the heads of the screws are all facing up.

  4. Take your trucks, with axels facing outwards, and use the nuts to fasten them. Make sure you are really tightening those bolts. If the screws are loose, they may come off or rattle. Mount one base plate on each end of the deck.

  5. Use a kingpin with a kingpin nut, a large washer, a barrel bushing, a cone bushing, and a small washer to attach the hanger to the base plate. Put the hanger between the two bushings. Make sure the kingpin is tight so that you don’t end up causing any damage to the components.

  6. You should have four wheels, eight bearings, eight small washers, 4 axle nuts, and an optional 4 bearing spacers. 2 bearings go in each wheel, 2 wheels per truck. You will assemble them along the axle sections of the trucks in the following order: axle nut, washer, bearing, optional spacer, wheel, bearing, washer. When attached, make sure the axle nut is tightened enough that the wheel doesn’t slide along the axle but will still spin freely.

And that’s it! Simple, right? Using the six simple steps above and attaching all of the parts in the correct order, you can put together a longboard that suits you completely. If you have any questions or comments, let me know – I’d love to hear them. Other longboard assembly tips are also welcome; just like in other sports, there is always more to learn and share. Thanks again for reading, guys, and remember, whether you are assembling a kit you purchased or a bunch of parts ordered separately, putting together your longboard is not something you should be intimidated by. Have fun!

Madrid 2014 – Checkout the new lineup

Posted By: Pete Benda

Madrid 2014 Longboards

Madrid is coming at you with an awesome lineup that’s sure to fit anyone’s needs and styles. This year we’ve brought in a ton more boards from them and we couldn’t be more stoked!

First off we’ve got the amazing Madrid Anvil. Zak Maytum’s very own pro model so you know it’s sure to be an amazing downhill hit. This board tracks amazingly well and is more stable than any other ride you could ever imagine. Complete stability has been achieved.

But downhill isn’t the only thing always on our mind. We brought in the Madrid Goat Sucker and the Madrid Havoc to meet your freeride needs. The Madrid Goat Sucker is a completely symmetrical board while the Madrid Havoc is a directional single kick setup; both are ready for charging hills while still getting sideways.

But sometimes speed isn’t always on our mind. So what we did is we brought in the Madrid TwinTwin for having fun, cruising around, and getting some sweet freestyle moves in. With everything that we brought in from Madrid, we couldn’t be any happier with our lineup, it’s ready and equipped for all of your riding style needs. Whether its campus cruising or downhill racing in the Rockies, the entire Madrid lineup is ready to suit your style.

March Photo Report – Dominican Republic

Sweettttch !

Miguel Cabreja Sweettttch !

Our Friend Daniel De La Cruz has been taking sweet photos of us these days! Covering the Dominican scene. Check some of our rippers and visit his page on Facebook to stay closer to his lens!

http://www.facebook.com/delacruzarqgraphy

Kurativo Gnar Gnar

Kurativo Gnar Gnar

Vanessa Torres Speed Check

Vanessa Torres Speed Check

La Isla Toeside

La Isla Toeside

Sarah Astacio getting sideways

Sarah Astacio getting sideways

Secret Sessions at night ! El Kurativo.

Secret Sessions at night ! El Kurativo.

Night Runs : La Antena DH - Cesar Pucheu

Night Runs : La Antena DH – Cesar Pucheu

Night Runs : La Antena DH

Night Runs : La Antena DH

Fat Switchs

Fat Switchs

Miguel Cabreja with that toeside swagger

Miguel Cabreja with that toeside swagger

Landyachtz 2014 Longboards

Posted By: Pete Benda

Landyachtz 2014 Longboards

Landyachtz has been one of the most trusted names in the industry for quite some time now and there is good reason for it. They’ve built a great name for themselves in the downhilling industry with boards you’ve gotten to know over the years (i.e. the Landyachtz Wolfshark, the Landyachtz Evo, and the Landyachtz Top Speed). But what you may not know is the construction of some of these newer boards, all being revamped for 2014. First you have the Landyachtz Drop Carve. They are amazing freestyle boards, being made of bamboo and fiberglass, these are perfect for freestyling and freeriding, as well as carving around town.

Then you have the all new Landyachtz Malahat: a perfect little flexy cruiser ready to rip your city. And speaking of ripping around, you get the classic Landyachtz Ripple Ridge shape in an all new graphic that is just way too cool. Along with their mini cruiser lineup is the Landyachtz Dinghy’s with completely never before seen graphics that have us stoked and ready to shred.

But Landyachtz knows that some of you have been thinking the Dinghy is a little bit too small. We say that’s just tomfoolery but Landyachtz answers your call with the all new Landyachtz Tug Boat. The big brother to the Dinghy, ready for someone who’s looking for a slightly bigger ride.

But the thing you’ve all been waiting for, the thing that has us the most excited is the all new Landyachtz Rotor and Landyachtz R5. You may have seen the Rotor before, being the first asymmetrical board on the market. It’s dropped platform rides just like a snowboard for all you pow shredders out there who are looking into longboarding. The R5 is designed to be the ultimate in speed. When paired up with a 40-degree bear truck, this board wedges the truck to ride with a 0 degree leverage, preventing any speed wobbles in your ride. But the thing that separates these two boards on the market away from any other board, is their hollow core design. That’s right. They are hollow core. What this means is that Landyachtz actually mills out sections of the board, lightening your ride a ton. Then they put the board back in the mold and add a layer of fiberglass to the top of the deck, making sure you have all the torsional stiffness and durability you will need for speed. In short, you get all the benefits of having a board that is extremely light, while losing none of the structural stability.

All in all Landyachtz has been killing it for years and 2014 is no different for them in the game.

Rayne 2014 Longboards

Posted By: Pete Benda

Rayne 2014 Longboards

Oh man, Rayne is killing it super hard this year. And they’re especially looking out for you grom shredders out there! This year they took some of their most popular boards and made mini versions of them for all you little guys.

The first is the Rayne Terror. This is the shorter baby brother of the Rayne Rival and the Rayne Supreme. It has all the same features you have loved in these boards as well. The 5/8 radial drop platform with the 3 stage rocker to ensure you’re locked in at all times. Then there’s the nose and tail that adds as perfect little kicks to make sure you are shredding and freestyling harder than ever.

Next in the grom addiction addition is the Rayne Reaper. This is the shorter version of the Rayne Nemesis. This is perfect for all of you freeriding and downhilling little devils out there who are looking for maximum speed. The dropped platform is shorter, making it perfect for anyone with a shorter stance who is looking to get into a tighter speed tuck, making it perfect for those who have the ready and willing need for speed.

All of these boards have brand new graphics and sick setups making them feel fresh out of the mold for 2014. Rayne Longboards, of course, are always made with a bamboo and laminated fiberglass design making sure you get the most durable boards on the market while still being extremely light. They are all speed stiff in design, letting you know that you are ready for going as fast as possible. But if downhilling isn’t your fancy, Rayne has the all new revamped slide series that is perfect for pools and parks and everything you may want to throw at it. Ready to do it all is the all new Rayne lineup for 2014.