Keep On Keeping On

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008

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I ain’t as young as I used to be. And I think years of skateboarding might finally be starting to take their toll on my poor old body. I suppose up until now though I feel like I’ve gotten off kind of lightly on the ageing front. I guess Father Time has gone pretty easy on me really. In fact, I see some of my schoolmates from time to time and it looks like he’s really gone to work on them, what with the bald heads and beer guts. None of that for me yet (touch wood).

I’m starting to feel it in other places though. Everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work so well anymore.The old knees don’t bend as well as they used to and my back goes out more than I do, the elbows creak and lock up now and then, the ankles have been bent more times than I care to remember... And the wrists? Well they feel like they are hanging on by a thread and seem to click incessantly. I feel a bit like an un-lubed robot.

It’s started to make skateboarding a real effort for me. When I was a kid I could go all day on a diet of

doughnuts and cola. These days I’m spent after three hours at the most. I seem to take an hour to warm up, then I get an hour of rolling joy, then an hour of tiresome struggle, landing nothing, before I finally call it a day.

I try not to let that stop me though. I’ve just had to change my approach slightly. I know I can’t keep up with the whippersnappers any more and I’m fine with that (Momma didn’t raise a quitter). So now the fun comes from being clever instead of big. I’ve realised that all that crazy stuff I used to try to do made me overlook the roots of why I started in the first place. 
Fun. In retrospect, I think I was trying too hard. Good times can still be had by doing simple things – bombing hills and carving bowls take minimum effort for gigantic rewards.

So what if the old knees creak, the hair’s gone grey and you can’t kickflip like you used to? Age and skill level have nothing to do with enjoyment. 
The talent ain’t in your toes – you skate with your heart, 

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Breaking bones really sucks, the initial mind blowing pain of a good break can be way too much to take as you lie on the ground writhing in an uncompromising agony. On occasions I’ve honestly wished that someone would shoot me as I’ve been encompassed by indescribable pain. Sometimes you’re pretty sure something’s bust but adrenaline can get you to the end of the race. Always though, denial kicks in, it’ll be “a bad sprain” or “I think I’ve got away with that”, nothing will ever let you admit to yourself you might be sitting in a pot for the next six weeks or more until you hear it from the horse’s, or doctors more appropriately, mouth.

That news always hits me hard, so hard it’s one of the only things in adulthood to make me well up on a regular basis; I find it utterly crushing to know another season is to go by while I sit in front of a telly. Life is severely disrupted but nothing compares to the feeling of knowing that months, years even, of preparation are shot down in a millisecond and, while you get fatter and slower the rest of your sporting world marches on regardless, leaving you behind again. Every time I get hurt some clever soul (usually my old man) always gives it, “aren’t you getting too old for all this?” to which I reply with a shrug of the shoulders or a wry smile, while an indescribable rage fills me from the inside. To those people I ultimately feel sorrow as they clearly don’t know what life is about.

Wrap yourselves in cotton wool and never leave the house, what kind of existence is that? I live for those moments of having a bike drifting around underneath me barely in my control, for those runs where I’m going so fast my focus leaves only a jigsaw of moments to piece together through a hazy cloud of euphoria. Days and weeks after a good race those feelings stay with me and make the ultimate ride worth almost the ultimate price.

Over the years I’ve smashed and broken this body of mine to pieces, five surgeries and counting, five broken ankles, a snapped leg, a wrecked knee, destroyed hips, wrecked back, broken hand, bust wrist, three times bust elbow, broken shoulder blade, a dozen broken ribs, separated my ribs from my spine, complete separation of my shoulder, severe nerve compression making my arm useless for two months, from prolapsing a disc in my neck and concussions that have left me with a  recurring blindness in one eye and put on top of the chronic fatigue syndrome from the party lifestyle and you have to ask yourself was it all worth it? Well it was, and it still is cause I’m not ever going to stop and I’d do it all again and more because this is living, this is what it’s all about. There’s no point taking an immaculate corpse to the grave, make sure you’ve worn it out to the max, played hard in it and lived your life to the full because riding is life and the only thing that’ll slow you down is picking up the pieces after a big one.

 

More info: NHS Direct: 0845 4647   
www.innerbody.com (human anatomy online) 

My Soundtrack

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008

Categories:

My Soundtrack

The Rolling Stones make me want to just roll
Animal Collective make me push faster
Johnny Cash makes me want to just dork around
Sizzla makes me want to just cruise
RJD2 makes me want to get technical
Arcade Fire make me want to go big
Kraftwerk make me want to skate at night
Biggie makes me want to ride a ramp
Sonic Youth make me want to slash a pool

Lazy me

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008

Categories:

Lazy me fights energetic me. 
He’s got no get-up-and-go. 
He lacks commitment. 
He will do just about anything to get out of going skating. 
Lazy me wants to stay in bed, put his feet up and relax. 
He likes DVD’s and Hobnobs. 
He will give me every excuse under the sun to get his way. 
He will fake illness or injury, tell me the weather conditions are wrong and remind me that I rode all day yesterday. 
He moans about the aching muscles and the bloodied knees. 
He forgets what we need to do to get better. 

Lazy me can kiss my ass, I’m going skateboarding.

Come rain or shine

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008

Categories:

Watch new dvds and old vhs
Listen to your mp3, or not at all
Put on your old shoes, buy a new board
Find new spots, skate the trusty old ones
Attempt new lines, get the old ones on lock 
Push goofy or regular, even push mongo
Meet new people, catch up with old friends
Take the piss and have a laugh
Bomb hills and skate the flat
From the streets to the parks
Chill out or rip shit up

Come rain or shine

Words by Tom Davies (he’ll be working in the printshop)

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February we started training, on and off, weather depending.

Good days, calm seas and blue skies.
Bad days bobbing around in chop, against the wind.
Broken pins. Squeaky oars.

Carrying the boat on and off the trailer.
Pulling or pushing the boat a mile to the sea at low tide.
Lifejacket or no lifejacket?
Blistered hands. Wellies overflowing.
Freezing fingers, toes and noses.
Colds and flu.

Slowly it gets brighter, warmer and calmer.
Slowly we get better together, faster, stronger.
We start laughing and looking forward to the race, instead of every week asking ‘why are we doing this?’
Then the nerves kick in, have we done enough training, are we fit enough, strong enough, do we have enough stamina?

The memory of pain and exhaustion is always pushed to one side, somehow, we are beginning to remember, slowly it’s coming back to us. But then we remember the good bits.

Good food, all locally grown and very yummy (thanks to one little pub on one little island) real ale and whiskey, the old fashioned ones.

Camping under the stars. Collecting shells to make necklaces for us and the kids. White sandy beaches for chilling. Fresh lobster caught by the island’s fisherman. Trips to and from the islands with the help of the local boatmen. The usual everyday necessities to be ordered at the post office. It’s amazing what you can do without, when you forget to order bread or sugar.

100 boats on the start line, false starts, tangled oars, Cox’s shouting and team camaraderie, team colours.
Pasties, friends, photos and memories.

Melanie Lang

www.travel-quest.co.uk/adventureholidays
A list of worldwide providers of courses for sports enthusiasts

Rocks are harder than heads

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008

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This Christmas, the twins John and Andrew flew out to Zambia to kayak on the Zambezi river. We gave them some Merino baselayers and waved goodbye.

When howies asked me what I'd learned on the trip I thought I could write about how I realized the power and strength of nature and how it should be respected. To some extent I did learn this from paddling the Zambezi, the water was big and powerful and it did command my respect. But I didn't truly understand any of this until four days into the trip on New Year's Eve when I hit my head on a rock whilst surfing a wave on the river.
My helmet wasn't on properly and I split my head open to the skull giving myself minor concussion. I had to have ten stitches and wasn't allowed to paddle for the remainder of the trip. This really sucked, but sometimes there's nothing like a rock to hammer home the point that rocks are harder than heads, nature is bigger than humanity, and if we don't treat it with the respect it requires bad things can happen.
Rocks are good teachers but I hope you don't have to learn from one any time soon.

Safe paddling and have fun

John.

Fun Stopper

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008

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Dear Mr Skatestopper,

Six years ago you patented a device to act as a deterrent to skateboarders - those ugly little moulded chunks of metal they fix to the edges of blocks, benches and handrails that make them unskateable.You called it the Skatestopper (we call them Nazi Knobs). Now then, you've done pretty well from this little venture. In fact, Intellicept is now quite a successful company. You have obviously become very good at doing a bad thing, you have profited from taking away fun and freedom. So, I have a few things I'd like to clear up with you...

Firstly, I'd like to remind you of the old t-shirt slogan 'Skateboarding is not a crime'. Never a truer word said I reckon. It happens to be one of the best recreational activities a kid could take up, and not one that should be outlawed. A sport that teaches you discipline, improves co-ordination, balance and spacial awareness, not to mention the fitness benefits, which in a world of increasing childhood obesity can't be a bad thing. It keeps kids out of trouble and free from boredom (probably the number one cause of vandalism in the world). So what if we scratch up a few curbstones along the way, hardly sacred objects are they?

It's not our fault either that councils and local authorities fail to build adequate facilities for us. If they do, then they are usually on the outskirts of town in some dodgy ghetto. Hardly a place you relish visiting on a weekly basis. But I realise that you probably aren't interested in all that stuff. I mean, have you ever offered any alternative? has your company ever put any of its profits back into skateboarding? or ever done anything positive for mankind? I doubt it. Why not apply your knowledge of metals to better use for goodness sakes?

Anyways, we just wanted you to know that all of those Skatestoppers you've already installed around the world, guess what, there's an army of us out there now removing them all, one by one. Sledgehammers, chisels, welding kits and crowbars we'll use whatever it takes. We even know the websites where you can buy those 'anti-tamper' hex tools you use to bolt them on. Pretty soon they'll all be gone and the authorities will get sick of the expense of replacing them over and over again. Soon you will be forced to re-think your business model.

It's simple, people will always want to skateboard, and we will skate whenever and wherever we want to, and people like you who try to dampen our passions will always fail. Give up, you ain't going to win. We will not be stopped.

Sport Sets Me Free

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008

Categories:

Sport is my anger management. 
Sport is cheaper than drink, cheaper than drugs and a better high altogether. 
Sport takes me to a place where nothing else matters. Where nobody hassles me, nobody loves me and nobody hates me.
A place somewhere between home and work.
Not quite rest, not quite recouperation.
A place where I use my body for something it really needs. 
A place without deadlines, and the tick and the tock of life. 
Where the final demand letters don't matter. 
Where mountains become molehills. 
Where it's not about competition or who's the boss. 
A place with no gold medals or prize money, with no memory, no location. 
A place called Me.

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