Longboarding can be a great way to let yourself go. Things can be chaotic and all around unpleasant at work or with friends once in a while, and flying down a hill can be a damn good way to unwind. But as rad as the release may be, I also have enough experience to tell you that you’ve gotta make sure you’re taking the right steps to make sure you don’t end up bloody. Along with the proper safety gear, you should make sure you’re using appropriate technique.
Helmet: I’m starting with the obvious. Protect your head by wearing a properly fitting, buckled helmet. On the same page, ditch the headphones. If you’re going to be cruising down the street, you need to be able to hear the traffic. Cell phone or backpack speakers are a better bet if you need to ride with tunes.
Quality Board: Getting a good deal on a board is great. Hanging onto a favorite board is great, too. Either way, make sure you’re paying attention to all of the parts to ensure they are all good before heading out. Having a bearing seize up while riding is not something you want to deal with.
Slide Gloves: If you slide and drift, you’re going to need a good pair of slide gloves to protect the digits. Sector 9, Loaded, and Gravity all make slide gloves that will protect your fingers, even at high speeds.
Pads: Everyone who rides knows that a fall from time to time is inevitable. Because most of the time the fall is one you couldn’t have predicted, wearing elbow and knee pads can be a good way to keep the most likely points of impact safe. Make sure your gear is in good shape, too, by replacing caps on your pads as needed.
Learn “Safe” Fall Methods: If you find yourself on the verge of falling and you have a few seconds to react, knowing the proper way to fall can save you some serious pain. Rolling into and out of the fall, for instance, can save your wrists and knees some serious damage. Free runners are big advocate s for proper falling techniques and rolls. As a longboarder, you can benefit from some of what they teach.
Take the Lane: Cars probably won’t love you as you ride no matter what you do, so to be safe when riding on public roads, be confident, avoid weaving, and make sure you are “taking the lane” as cars approach. Let the cars pass you. Ride like a bicyclist, with the traffic, not against it. If the road has enough of a shoulder, feel free to use it. If you’re not comfortable taking the lane, cool: Pull to the side, stop, and wait until the cars have passed.
Only Ride During the Day: When you ride at night, you risk missing things that could be dangerous, like glass, rocks, road kill, whatever… but worse than not being able to see is not being seen. If you do ride at night, light up with some LEDs for your helmet and/or board.
Obey the Rules of the Road: When you’re riding on the road, follow lane signs; only turn in turn lanes, only go straight in straight – only lanes, and don’t run red lights.
Know When to Stop and When to Slide: Sliding can be useful and can save you, but you’ve gotta know how to foot brake, too.
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