I’ve skateboarded as a teen and grew up on Thrasher magazine, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I learned to longboard. Skateboarding and longboarding are not exactly the same, I found out. Several distinguishing features separate these two, the most obvious being the fact that skateboard is actually smaller and shorter than a longboard. A skateboard, in general, measures around seven to ten inches wide and 28 to 33 inches long and commonly used to perform airborne tricks and complex ground maneuvers. A longboard, on the other hand, averages from 9 to 10 inches in width and 33 to 59 inches in length. Longboard wheels are wider, for more cruising stability and speed. Both boards support different age-brackets – kids from 10 to 18 years old prefer skateboards for more action and sports, while the not-so-old folks favor longboarding for fun and more practical reasons, such as getting from one place to another.
That last reason actually got a college guy like me to go for longboarding. Like most other students, I needed reliable transportation, not only to travel to and from school but across campus, as well. It got me to class with greater ease and quicker time. What better way (and cheaper, no question about that) was there to do all those but by longboarding?
It certainly was the most portable and practical mode of transport inside the campus. It was easier to keep than a car or a bike; I could easily tuck it under my arm or carry it to class without worrying about losing or locking the board up. Besides, my place was not too far from school and it barely took a 10 or 15-minute leisurely cruise on my longboard without even a sweat.
Initially, you’d have to invest on a good longboard brand. Unfortunately, they don’t come cheap (especially those customized ones); I had to scrimp on my budget just to get one. In the long run, however, the cost spreads over the longboard’s serviceable life. Apart from the initial investment, there’s not so much spent on upkeep. There are no fuel or gas expenses and no maintenance services, except for a few wheel changes once in a while.
I had opportunities to experience the speed and excitement that a longboard could offer, but I was not really cut out for those extreme sports, like downhill. I also didn’t relish (I still don’t) the idea of bruises and green-and-purple bumps that went with the sport. It was important to always observe caution in the campus to avoid causing unnecessary harm or injury to property and other people. The most “extreme,” if it could be called that at all, was the frequent longboarding down rugged hills I had with friends. We enjoyed the exhilarating rush, no tricks, just plain fun. Those experiences were simply for camaraderie and a little excitement, not for going beyond normal human skills whether for sports or otherwise. If there was the tiniest idea about fast-cruising or extreme sports, it never really prospered. I remained the calm longboard rider. Sure, I bought bearings that rolled faster. I even bought wider trucks for my longboard, but I did not really push for speed down mountain roads.
At the time, lonboarding seemed the “in” thing, because most of my friends had a longboard or skateboard. I know that some people ride the board to work, and it doesn’t always look good on adults to longboard around public places and business districts. But in the campus, it seemed a very normal thing. So when I started riding the thing in college, I didn’t go through an awkward stage with it. Now, probably because I got so comfortable with it in college, it feels like the most natural thing that brings me around short distances within the city.