Are you looking for an exciting ride with your longboard? Here’s good news – longboarding is, without question, fun. There are a few longboarding riding styles, and one of the most exciting is the downhill ride. As a newbie longboarder, riding downhill on a skateboard can be scary. But the fun begins once you learned and tried it.
So, if you’re yearning to learn how to do downhill longboarding, you’ve just landed on the right page. This article will provide you a step-by-step guide to help you acquire downhill longboarding skills. Are you ready? Let’s get it on! Oh, did it sound like the start of an MMA fight?
For starters, get your gear ready before trying anything else. Always keep in mind that safety is a top priority when skateboarding. Even professional skateboarders make sure that every safety measure is observed. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You wouldn’t want to get permanent injuries for your carelessness, would you?
What are the Safety Gears You Need for Skateboarding?
You probably know all about safety gear. But just to make sure you don’t forget anything, here are some important things to keep you from serious injuries while longboarding.
- A helmet protects you from serious head injuries such as skull fracture or worse brain damage. A bad fall with head first could cause anyone permanent injury, especially when you’re not wearing a safety helmet. Worse, serious head trauma can be fatal as well. So, don’t go riding your skateboard without it.
- Knee pads are important as well. Why? Because the knees are more likely the part of your body that first hit the pavement when you lose your flow. You wouldn’t want your knees sliding on a hard and rough surface without any protection. Wear thick knee pads that perfectly fit and won’t slide out of their proper position.
- Elbow pads will of course save you from elbows and arms injuries. These parts of your body are the ones absorbing impact when you fall sideways or backward off your board.
- Wrist guards are also very important when you use your hands to break your fall. Generally, wrist guards are very useful when falling forward.
- Padded shorts will protect your buns, hips, and tailbone from injuries during a bad fall.
- Wearing skateboard shoes is also crucial. These shoes are flat-bottomed and have smooth sides. Don’t just wear any closed shoes or even rubber shoes as they are not good for doing ollies and board flips. Never ever go skateboarding with flip-flops or you’ll discover what’ll happen when you slide with your bare feet.
Now you have your safety gear checklist, you’re ready to go for some downhill longboarding ride. Are you in for the adrenaline? Go bomb down the big hills!
You know what’s common about skateboarders who love the downhill ride? They all want intense moments that make them feel more alive. They all love feeling the rush and the thrill of speeding down the hill. But despite their love for adventure, these longboarders are certified committed, focused, technical, and responsible riders.
Although downhill longboarders are mostly advanced riders, it’s not uncommon for newbie riders to do a successful downhill ride. So after completing the safety gear checklist, you ought to know some downhill longboarding essentials.
The Nitty-Gritty of Downhill Longboarding
Speed Control and Stopping
Foot braking is an essential skill to learn in longboarding, though it’s not practically used in a downhill ride as it’s only applicable to use at moderate speed. Instead, you need to at least know how to control your speed. There are few ways to do speed control while riding your longboard.
Carving is another way to control speed while longboarding. This skill requires heavy leaning and weight shifting to reduce speed. This technique also helps in making deep turns during a downhill rush.
Lastly, you need to learn how to do the powerslide. This is a more advanced speed control technique as this involves sliding your board sideways across the slope. The sliding dramatically slows you down, which is very useful in downhill rides. A powerslide is also a useful skill in coming to a stop.
Techniques You Need to Know for Downhill Longboarding
Tucking for Aerodynamics
Wind resistance can slow you down and may affect your downhill speed. One crucial technique to learn in downhill longboarding is tucking. Tucking is the ability to position your body to create the least wind resistance. By doing so, you can maximize speed while riding down the hill. So how do you tuck for aerodynamics?
- Foot positioning is critical, where both feet need to be positioned with toes forward.
- The front foot should be positioned on the front truck.
- The back foot should be close to the rail at a slight angle.
- Both knees need to be bent wherein the back knee is stashed behind the front calf muscle.
- The upper body should be bent forward with the chest touching against your front thigh.
- Both arms should be tucked behind your back.
Tucking could be difficult to master and will take some time and diligent practice. Once you’re able to perfect this skill, you’ll be bombing down the hill at unbelievable speeds.
Cornering at High Speed
Basic turning and carving skills are crucial and are mostly useful at moderate speeds. However, downhill longboarding requires that you learn high-speed cornering. Imagine a car running at high speed then suddenly takes a very sharp turn in a corner. It’s kind of challenging but it’s more difficult to do when riding a skateboard downhill. So, how do you corner at high speed?
High-speed cornering is quite a technical challenge and you need to accomplish a sharp turn without getting thrown off the board. Of course, you’ll lose a bit of speed in completing a sharp turn. But you need to do with a very minimal loss of speed. To do this technique, you have to get the perfect posture.
You need to squat down to lower your center of gravity but make sure your ankles are loose and can move freely. As you move closer to the corner, lean your body hard to the board’s edge. Can you imagine how a motorcycle rider leans when making a sharp turn? It’s the same principle applied on the longboard when doing cornering.
It’s the centrifugal force that keeps you from getting off balance. Some longboarders hold the other side of the board to be able to lean much further. After accomplishing the turn, you have to gradually get back into the tucking position to complete the downhill ride.
Professional downhill longboarders have broken down the corner into different zones. This is also important to know to get the proper timing of movements while cornering.
The zones are as follows:
- The entering zone or more popularly known as the pre-drift zone. It’s the position before entering the actual turn.
- The peak/summit of the turn, which is also known as the apex, is the zone where the sharp turn happens.
- The scrub zone is just where you get past the apex.
- The exit zone is where you just exit the turn.
Now you know these zones, you can easily understand how to apply the principle of “outside-inside-out”. So what does this principle mean? It is designed for taking the corners at high-speed without cutting the lane. Again, observe how a motorcycle racer does high-speed cornering. They apply the same principle.
The outside part of the principle means you need to enter the turn at the outer side of the road. The inside part is when you kiss the apex, wherein you’re actually on the inner side of the road. Lastly, the “out” phase is just when you exit the apex, you start moving back toward the outer part of the road for exiting the high-speed cornering.
So, how do you find downhill longboarding? It’s easier said than done but as mentioned, with determination, discipline, and commitment, you can perfect the downhill ride in no time. By now, you must be eager to go out and try what you have just learned. But not too fast. You might also want to learn about the hazards of downhill longboarding.
Introducing you to the hazards of downhill riding is not meant to discourage or frighten you. Instead, think of it as additional precautions so that you’ll know and be prepared of what dangers to expect when you’re out there doing a downhill.
Riding downhill at 40 mph can cause serious injuries, especially when not wearing the proper safety gear. As explained earlier, you have to wear complete protective equipment. Protective gears can enormously reduce the risks of serious physical traumas. Again, as a newbie, expect some crashes. Investing in a full leather suit or at least full-armor gear may be costly but provides you total protection against serious scratches.
Oncoming traffic is another hazard that you should be looking out for. Avoid downhill roads with high traffic. If you can find streets with minimal vehicular traffic, make sure that you ask some friends to post on corner exits and intersections. This way, they can warn off oncoming traffic or better yet stop you from continuing the ride. When in doubt, slow down and never panic. To be sure of your safety, find roads that are closed to traffic.
Finally, just before you go downhill, you must plan ahead. How? Inspect beforehand the road for every bump, crack, and other obstacles that you may encounter. Study your route and make sure to choose a clean section of the downhill. If possible, pick an exit with a flat pavement. Remember, to become a great longboard rider, always make safety a top priority.