I can’t shake the thought that perhaps the reason I was adverse to exercise as a kid was the inherent injuries that come with learning a sport. Since starting my mission to uncover my sporting talent, I’ve borne a sprained thumb from volleyball, a cut to my hand from kayaking and my latest trivial sporting injury is in the form of an unimpressive bruise from a skateboard.
Yep, it’s true. This girl from the council estate has finally made her skateboarding debut… only 20 years late!
I raced up the stairs to the lesson only to find my heart in my throat. Before me lay a proper skate bowl. Palpitations, sweaty palms and scouting round for the nearest exit occupied me for the next few minutes. I expected it to be a sedate horizontal stroll through the skills, but before I knew it my husband and I were discovering the vertical world of skateboarding up ramps.
Skateboarding demands plenty of balance and heaps of practice. Sure, it looks easy, but those dudes of the 90s were glued their skateboards just to pull off those effortless moves.
The very basics are simple: discovering your preference for which foot leads on the board; goofy or regular (right or left), but to reach skateboarding success, you’ll need an adventurous spirit, endless practice and zero fear of getting hurt.
Our instructor taught us ‘pumping’, which is how a skater is able to climb a ramp with speed. It’s effectively just bending the knees and knowing when to stand straight again at the right time. Unfortunately I couldn’t grasp the subtle moment that was supposed to happen. My husband did marginally better, despite clattering to the ground more times than I care to recall. Each time he fell, his board invariably was flung in my direction and that’s how the aforementioned bruise has been forming for the last 24 hours on my shin.
Our session ended trying to learn how to turn 180 degrees. Skateboards have two curved ends primarily used to change direction. To do this, you place your non-dominant foot on the curved edge and tilt onto it so as to lift the board in the air and twist round. I’m gutted to say only my husband achieved that mighty 180 feat (congrats to him!), since my most impressive stint was completing a 90 degree turn in three consecutive bursts.
Although I’m still tempted to try another lesson, perhaps I’ll wait a few years until I’ve either reasonably mastered the sport, mustered enough money to buy protective clothing or until my instructor, who is more familiar with teenage daredevils, has forgotten his experience of teaching 27-year-olds to skateboard!