I’ve been trying to get out and roll around about an hour a day. Usually from 7pm – 8pm. Earlier and the sun is in my eyes.
I’m not really doing anything hard. As long as I get some rolling in, and I’m used to the feel of my board, I’m good. Nothing serious. Just riding a street board with somewhat turny trucks. The looseness of the truck doesn’t make footwork easy, but I like being able to carve a nice arc when I’d skating like this.
One thing I don’t enjoy in my typical freestyle is that I think the necessary tightness of the trucks (and I don’t even ride them as tight as a lot of FSers do) destroys a lot of my fluidity and looseness. And those are two traits of my own skating that I think are OK. I’m not great at technical stuff, and I’m not a huge risk-taking badass. Of all the stuff I do in this little video, my favorite thing is the little arc I carve after that first line, as I’m passing by the camera. I really need to slowly loosen up my FS trucks a bit so I can get that same effect.
Just rolling around. Getting used to this board. Cockfight likes a more severe concave and nose/tail angles than I really prefer, but I do like the board. Just makes it hard for the freestyler to move his feet around. I don’t get this desire to have your feet all locked in. Anyway, hope everyone is well. Just posting this stuff to try to stay connected.
Like many obsessive skateboarders of my generation I spend a lot of time ruminating over my gear, even though it makes very little difference as to how I actually skate. Time on the board, rolling, skating, and yes…practicing, make the most difference. A lot of skaters don’t really practice. They just go skate, which of course creates “practice”, but they don’t really do it in a real intentional way. Freestylers do, however, practice. I think the really good vert skaters do too. Maybe a few street skaters do, but generally freestylers and vert skater are not the kind of people who dabble in things.
Anyway, regarding compulsive equipment worrying. I tend to think a lot about wheels. I complain that there aren’t enough wheels available in the lower 90s durometers. But then for most of my street skating I end up going back to hard wheels. I guess I’ve gotten used to them. I wouldn’t use them in most of the ditches down in Austin, but for the kind of skating I do around here they have become normal to me. I’ve been using some plain old Spitfire Bigheads for ditch skating and street for a while. They are not the best quality urethane, but they are cheap, and for some reason I like the particular “clunk” they make when they hit the ground. They are relatively smooth for a 99a wheel. Are they the best performance wheel? No, not even close. They are usually adequate for my needs.
However, I’m a big fan of Bones Street Tech formula. I was clued into these by a friend in North Carolina on a skate trip back in about 2007. I started using their 54mm standard profile, and I have to say they are the best newschool hard wheels I’ve had. They are hard as shit, but weirdly also resilient, and have a smooth ride. I’ve honestly never had a bad Powell wheel. They make their own wheels, and they’ve been doing it a long time, and every wheel they’ve ever made has been great in its intended niche. These STF just don’t wear down much at all!
Here’s my current set, that I’ve been riding for over two years. These look better after two years than a typical wheel does in a week. And I am hard on wheels. My boards last forever, but if a wheel isn’t durable I wear ’em out fast. I do lots of sliding.
Bones 54mm STF after at least two years of riding.
Bones 54mm STF after at least two years of riding.
Brand new set of Bones 54mm STF.
For comparison, here is a brand new set I got a year ago, but have had no reason to start using! Weird thing is, these wheels just look like plastic. When you get them they have that look of a toy story boards’s wheels, but they are just superior.
I have friends who swear by the Spitfire Formula 4 wheels, and I believe them. I’m sure they are fantastic, but man, I feel like I’m about done buying anything but Bones STF. The only drawback is they make fewer of their profiles about 54mm. But That’s fine. These work for me.
So I was out “street skating” tonight. New board tonight. I like it. Anyway, I notice this particular little thing I do. And when I say “noticed”, I mean I’ve been doing this forever, but never really thought about what is going on. It’s such a little move, but it has a nice feel to it. Lots of directional changes.
Anyway, I slowed it down in this video.
Anyway, rolling forward, I set up like I’m going to do a g-turn, and you can actually see that the front trucks does make a very quick little arc, rather than just being an endover. That’s why I like doing this, I realized, because it sets up some physics where you kind of “sling” yourself out of it. Not saying it’s awesome, but it is a fun thing to me.
My plans for bank skating were ruined yesterday when I got to the little ditch I’ve been skating for 41 years. There was water running from one of the alleys that run on either side running into the ditch. This has never happened before.
This was my first trip to the ditch since they rebuilt the alleys last year. The edge of the alley has been rounded and lowered a bit, so that water now flows right into the ditch, rather than into the street. I suspect that during the summer, given the Texas proclivity for washing cars and watering lawns, it will be very hard to find the ditch dry from here on out.
I must admit that this very much soured my mood.
But that’s life as a skateboarder. Spots come and go. Even long running spots like this one eventually get ruined or outright destroyed. The skateboarder’s mind must be adaptable, and it is.
Here’s a goofy thing I made after leaving the ditch. I didn’t really skate well after the mental assault of my ditch being messed up, but whatever. The mission goes on.
‘Cause I got my own world to live through and uh
And I ain’t gonna copy you
This is the first in a series of posts I’ll probably abandon after I do a couple and forget about the series. In this series, I will list a few skateboard tricks in each post that I am working on. Might be sequences too. You may now know what they are, because I do lots of weird moves that don’t really have names. I suspect that Tony Gale might figure them out. Anyway, here we go.
Today – bank skating moves. I love bank skating. I’m partial to big, flat banks, where I can spin and slide and whatnot.
Backside carving Walk Around to fakie
Frontside carving Turn-In to fakie
Frontside slide to fakie to 1-footed fakie 360
Carving backside 180 slide into backside 540 spin
That’s it. Hoping to get out to the little ditch I skate and try these today.
For those who only read this blog and not the many other places I annoy people, here is a video I made. Sometime all you want to do is roll and turn. Also, I use Vimeo because it doesn’t suck like Youtube.
I’ve been trying to collect video clips for my part in the upcoming NeverWas 3 video. I feel like my sections in video 1 and video 2 nearly exhausted my selection of tricks. It’s been hard to come up with new tricks for this one. Still, I’ve managed to get some stuff. I still have a couple of weeks or maybe three to get more. We’ll see. It’s crazy hot outside these days. 100 degrees F now at 4:30pm, so it’s going to be hot tonight. That’s Texas skating. If we do a 4th video, I may have to start skating vert (which isn’t really happening). I enjoy working on these video parts. Between them, and getting ready for Paderborn every year, I think it keeps me focused on learning some new stuff, even if that stuff is stuff that is only interesting to a handful of people. Truth is my feet and ankles kind of hurt, and doing moves that involve a lot of jumping makes me afraid my achilles tendon might just snap (I think my lead foot has bit of tendonitis in that spot, so I don’t really think it will snap, but it gets sore).
Still, heat, aches, and pains aside, I just love to skate.
I went by my dad’s grave this morning. It’s been a while since I’ve paid respects. Our family accountant’s new office is conveniently located about 200 yards from the headstone, and it being tax time I was in the vicinity. I used to go with my mom pretty often, but since she is not able to go anymore it has very much fallen of my radar.
Going there always puts me in this middle-aged state of introspective semi-sadness/semi-peace existential brain-fog. My dad was a good man. When you look beyond my dad’s good-natured clowning, he was always the telling the people he loved that he believed in them and supported them. In his jobs as a coach, teacher, and administrator, he was always trying to lift students and colleagues up.That is the message I hear over and over.
A few months before my dad died, he and my mom were at our house for dinner. He knew I’d recently gotten a new downhill board. He asked to see it. It was the first time he’d ever expressed any interest in my skating. He was in the middle of his cancer treatment. He had to have known he would not be around much longer. I wonder if the reality of his situation gave him some kind of clarity with regard to me and my skating that he hadn’t had before? He was always interested in our lives. A massive supporter of both me and my wife. I feel like he must have been thinking about me quite a lot, and really reflected on what skateboarding meant to me. Anyway, that simple request to see that new board struck a chord with me. I’ll never forget it.
So when go to Paderborn, Germany for the freestyle contest this year my dad will be on my mind. I don’t care if I win or place. I want to do the run that best expresses the way I normally skate, not something a bit more formualted to get points. I want my runs to be such that if my dad were there watching he’d better understand me.
One of the things I love about being a skateboarder, besides skating, is the tradition of doing things for ourselves. Making our own scenes, creating our own publications, etc. But I really really love the art created by skateboarders. From my friends Jeremy Elder (elderhousearts.com), and Mike Moore (http://www.mikemoorestudios.com), to widely known artists who came from skateboarding like Shepard Fairey and Michael Sieben, skateboarding fosters a lot of creativity. The list is long. Anyway, here are a few things I’ve got on my walls…
Owl, by Jeremy Elder.
Alternative Tentacles Jello Biafra board – graphics by Shepard Fairey, board manufactured by Powell.
Fickle Skateboards Austin Motel/Stupidfest 2018 graphic, and Sphinx cat graphic. Both will be on the wall after I finish riding them. Not only is the art cool, but the decks themselves are works of art — totally hand built. Laminate layed up in Lew’s workshop, glued, pressed, cut, finished. Only thing he didn’t do was produce the veneers.
A couple of years ago Lew Ross and his company Fickle Skateboards came across my radar. I think it was David Thornton’s old LuchaSkate podcast interview with Lew that got my attention. About that time there was a new group of skateboarding bloggers coming to prominence. Kyle Duvall of the Parking Block Diaries, David, and a few others were really making their mark. David would later transfer LuchaSkate to the control of Brian Czarski, who would change it to NeverWas Skateboarding. But David’s energy from both the LuchaSkate blog/podcast and the associated Facebook page helped bring some good people to my attention.
In mid-2017 I got wind that Lew was going to be in Austin, visiting and skating with Indiana refugee Jason Renn, Bryce Miller, and some other local Austin skaters. I contacted Jason and made arrangements to go down and skate and meet these guys. When I got to Renn’s place, Lew had a number of boards available for purchase. I bought his “Classic” shape, the review of which can be found here.
Since that time I had another chance to skate with Lew, Jason, and the crew at StupidFest 1, in October 2018. At the time I was riding his Knucklehead shape. As one of the admins of Neverwas Skateboarding, Lew brought me an 8.25″ version of his Bullnose shape, which I just set up and have not had a chance to skate yet as it has been winter.
But I want to show a few pictures of these setups, and say a few more words about Lew’s workmanship.
The Knucklehead (the board on the right)I have is now well-ridden. I find it to be a bit wider than the specs on the Fickle website. The board seems to be about 9″ over the trucks. I think Lew makes adjustments to this boards as time goes by?
At any rate, it’s a bit wider than I expected. I set mine up with Indy 169s, which fit it perfectly. I’ve been using 54mm Spitfires on it, and 1/4″ risers. It’s a big setup. When I rode it in some ditches in Austin I put some 56mm 87a OJ Keyframes on it and it performed really well. I normally like a slightly smaller street board that I can use 149s on, but this board is really nice feels great. It has the same great and comfortable concave as the Classic, the same nice easy curves in the nose and tail kick angles. In other words – great mold. I love it. I think Lew makes the most comfortable concaves I’ve felt in a long time.
You can see I’ve worn the tail down on one side from doing 360s and scraping the tail. So it goes. Story of my life. That’s why I’ve got a tail skid on the Mode Pool board I’ve been skating ditches on the last couple of months.
The other board is the Fickle Bullnose. It’s a pops shape with very full nose and tail. You can see the specs here. I’ve got it set up with Ace 44s and those same OJ Keyframes I mentioned earlier. Wheels may change, depending on how I decide to use it. As you can see from some of the other pics, it has the same very nice concave and mold angles as all Lew’s boards. Look at the curves of the tail – nice and ….errrr…curvy…rather than an abrupt angle. I’m looking forward to trying the Bullnose out.
Lew has his own philosophy about finishing. Actually, Lew has his own philosophy about everything, but that’s another story (a positive one). He doesn’t over-sand his boards. From what I gather, he thinks it weakens them. They aren’t rough, just not “slick”. Likewise, he doesn’t put a lot of paint or sealer on them. The graphics are distinctive, and the boards seem to have a light coat of spray sealer. I wouldn’t call them “rustic”. The finish is fine. It’s just different from what most of us are used to.
I’ll be honest. When I got the Knucklehead I thought it was too big for me. I’m a fairly large person, but it is just a lot more beefy than I normally ride. But it looked really cool, and really, it feels great. The dimensions work really well with the concave and a proper setup. It feels good, and really performed very well in Austin’s ditches, as well as in my normal skate spots. A lot of the clips in my part in NeverWas II were shot while I was riding the Knucklehead in a ditch and on flat. The others were on my Mode 8.25″ pops or my Mode freestyle board.
I finally got out last night to film some last stuff for the upcoming NeverWas II video. I’ll be honest. It wasn’t easy thinking up new stuff to do. It’s not like I’ve learned a lot of new tricks since the last one. It would be nice if I had a parking block at the little ditch where I skate, but I don’t. Oh well. I just kind of skate the way I skate. I realize now that mostly I do a lot of 180s and 360s in different combinations. That’s what I like to do. So they’ll be getting a lot of that in this upcoming blockbuster. It’s actually quite fun to get these clips together and then see what another editor does with them.
Anyway, here’s a clip I did yesterday. Just me doing the same old stuff. Have no idea if it will make the final cut on the video.
A few weeks ago I went to Austin for a ditch skating trip. My trip was cut short after I’d been there for about 18 hours due a a family medical thing and I had to come home, but I did get in some fun skating that Friday afternoon, and while I was there I got to meet a bunch of cool skaters, including Lew Ross, owner, operator, and head brain at Fickle Skateboards.
Fickle is one of the “craft” or “small batch” skateboard makers out there. In my mind, this really started with Danny at Factory 13 Skateboards. There are a few now. It’s rad. I usually only buy from small companies – Cockfight Skateboards and Mode Skateboards being the main ones. But I have been interested in Lew’s boards for a while. Jason Renn, who kind of reps for Lew here in Texas, had a bunch at his place, and I was able to really check them out. It was immediately apparent that Lew knows what he’s doing. From pressing his own laminate to actually designing and manufacturing the boards, it was clear from inspecting the boards on-hand that the man does quality work.
Of the boards available on Saturday morning, I purchased the Fickle “Classic” shape in its 9.1″ wide version. The South Austin Curb Service edition. Check out that link. A couple of cool things Lew does on his site. First, he gives you all the measurements you might want to know before purchase (put your pointer over the board image, and the numbers pop up). In particular, the width of the deck over the trucks — both front and rear. That’s helpful in figuring out what trucks you will want to run, since these board are not popsicles. With the curve in the 9.1, you can use an Indy 149 width truck, which is nice and responsive, and it still fits the board. Lew also gives you the wheelbase. Finally, for each of his models he has a “make this board complete” parts package, which give you a setup with the right size trucks, good wheels, and all the rest. So you don’t have to wonder if you are going to have a proper size truck.
I set this board up with Ace 44s and originally some of the new 54mm Powerflex wheels. I like the Powerflex wheels a lot. Jim Gray did a fantastic job with them. I have since switched to some 60mm 95a OJ Street Razor wheels I found in a skateshop a few years ago. I just don’t like to street skate on hard wheels. They just don’t roll that well. Sorry, they just don’t. The Powerflex are very smooth for modern hard wheels, but they still are hard on the aging skeleton. Next time I find some good 95a wheels in the 55mm – 60mm size, I’m going to buy a bunch of ’em. It’s just hard to find good ones at a moment’s notice. I know that Jim just got Powerflex going, but man I wish he’d make some 95a wheels.
Ok, back to the board. I’m riding kind of a tall setup – about 3/8″ of risers under the trucks. I don’t like wheelbite.
My first impressions when I first got on this board were entirely positive. The concave feels somewhat mellow, as it is curved rather than angular like so many boards now. This feels more natural to the foot, and in the front foot area it creates a rally nice pocket. Likewise, though the concave does run throughout the board, it doesn’t feel like it overpowers the rear foot. This board isn’t mean to be ridden like a newschool board. It has direction, and it feels really good.
Now, having read that, it should come as no surprise that I’m not a fan of steep, angular kicktails/noses. The nose and tail of the Fickle boards are curved – not abrupt. This pleases me greatly. Because of the way I skate, I don’t like my foot to feel “locked in”. I know a lot of people like that. I don’t. I can keep my feet on the board without having them trapped, thank you very much. I’d rather be able to move my feet around with some freedom, with just enough concave to get the job done. “Not good for flicking a kickflip” you say? Well, I don’t really care. Not my thing.
The nose and tail of this board are a bit longer than I’d normally ride. I was a bit skeptical about them, even when I bought the board. I knew I’d have to run some extra risers in order not to scrape the tail too bad when doing 360s. But you know, proportion is everything in board design. Some boards look great, but the proportions are fucked up and they suck. In this case, the proportions are really good. The width, wheelbases, nose and tail lengths, combined with the curved and mellow nature of the mold this was pressed in all really work.
It feels “right”. I felt right as soon as I stepped on it, and still does. The 14.5″ wheelbase provides nice stability but is still very responsive. The curved concave feels more natural to the feet.
Lew presses these boards from true 1/16″ veneers. I think the big boys use a thinner laminate, and depend on extreme concaves to provide stiffness. So the board looks and feels slightly thicker than a typical board. But it’s not much heavier at all, and just seems to work really well.
A couple of years ago I got another small batch board from Frank Porcelli at American Waste Skateboards. Frank runs a similar operation, and the board I got from him has a really mellow concave and nose/tail angles. I really should have set it up and tested it last year, but I don’t go through board very fast. I set it up this year, but I got slightly too narrow trucks for it. It’s a great deck, and I’ll be giving it a good test when I’m done with this Fickle. I’m looking forward to riding it as well.
So there you have it. My review of the Fickle classic shape. I like it.
Here’s a couple of clips. I like doing the 1-footed tail 360s on the non-angular tail! Same old stuff I always do, but it still feels good so I keep doing it.
I participated in this video project from a Facebook group called NeverWas Skateboarding, a collection of older skaters who just like to ride. It was put together by Brian Czarski, of this blog right here, who is now officially a Hero of Skateboarding. There’s no pros in this. Just regular dudes doing their thing (and one woman! GASP!!!!). I am actually the oldest person in the video by two years, at the tender age of 53.
I had a good time recording my lame shit to include in this video, and an even better time watching the other guys. I feel inspired to learn some of their stuff. There should be more awesome stuff like this.
A great example of the best use of the internet. Good people producing good fun.