Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wheel swaps and wet socks`

Vancouver. The ideal city for longboarding. For me, because I live in it. The only issue I can hope to have is that it rains. It rains enough so that it keeps you indoors by taking advantage of the fact that you don't want to really be cold and wet at the same time you want to be shredding. I know, laziness is a factor here, and a little motivation and I would gladly push myself out under the rain. But the winter makes it so that I don't quite want to get soaking, and then have to get un-soaking by un-dressing and being cold. Sometimes I want a shred that is hassle-free. However sweet it is to slide in the rain, the unpredictability and unease that come with it are simply something i'm not keen on dealing with all the time.

I enjoy the slipperiness of the rain, but it still makes me on average, 20 percent more tense while bombing. And last time, I carved close to a car and imagined (vividly, as I am often wont to do) myself flying into the bumper trachea-first because my board slipped. And though I haven't bailed hardcore (knock on wood now) as a result of rain, I'm always at least slightly on edge about it happening. Always apprehensive that the next carve could send my skull to the floor.

What I really enjoy is adapting. Adapting by, say, putting on my super wide big-zigs and sliding around in the rain at speed. See, their duro and width ideally compensate for the wet pavement. They make it so I get (more often than not) well-controlled slides out of speed that isn't really high or low.

Then the sun comes out and I have to switch wheels. So I have my 84a hawgs for bomb-sliding. The problem i discovered, recently, is that flat spots tend to be compulsively vindictive. The moment you get a slide down that carries you perp to the pave, you increase your chances of getting a PHAT flat spot by a lot of percent. See, the next time you're sliding, its' very likely that your wheel will spin in the slide, but then reach the flat and simply stay. And then as you slide, the flat spot gets deeper and deeper, because it keeps falling into that same flat spot and stopping the wheel, ever more enhancing the flatness of that spot.

So I rotate my wheels. Now here's where longboarding becomes a logistical sport. I search wheels for their spots, find out what the cone is like, and how harsh it is. After that I plan accordingly, predicting what the best wheel placement will be for the sliding I will be doing. I have to think about which corner will get what kind of wear out of the slides, and allocate the wheels accordingly. Put the least coned to the slide-st wheel. Using this foresight, the goal is to wear the wheels out as evenly as possible, so the wheels aren't monster truck on one and bike on the other.

Lately, I wasn't able to catch the most recent flat spot fast enough. I must've had some phat slides the last run I did because I have a HARSH flatspot on one wheel. With clever planning and foresight on my side, I still wasn't able to prevent an annoying pitter-patter coming from my rear right. If ANYONE knows a remedy to flat spots, please share with me in the comments. Thank you.

So my logistics didn't work out this time. The flat spot caught me. If I was riding in the rain, though, spots of the flat variety wouldn't concern me much. Because they wouldnt' happen. For dry riding, I don't mind paying for wheels that flat out. But I also don't mind being slightly stressed about bailing hard due to rain, if it means i can slide hella fo eva. I suppose there's always a trade off. However, I would simply much rather have my cake and eat it too.

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