Well Adrenaline Junkies, This is Leecifer here and I am about to share with you the article I wrote that started it all for me. I remember driving behind Max Capps down a hill and seeing him tuck it and slide turns. My mind was blown. “You HAVE to teach me what you are doing!” I told Max. Within a week he had set up a board to let me ride and borrow and started taking me around and teaching me how to properly bomb hills. The knowledge I have taken from Max pertaining to downhill skateboarding is a long list but enjoy this article on Max. – Leecifer
Skater Feels The Need for Speed
Staying on top of a skateboard going over 50 mph is very difficult.
“Your butt hole kind of shrinks shut, you have to get a good speed tuck, and you can’t wiggle around,” said Max Capps. ”You become one with the road.”
Capps likes going fast. He is a downhill skateboarder.
“55 mph is the fastest I have gone. I average 35-50 mph but there are guys that push 70-80 mph,” Capps said.
In 2008 he was 19th in the United States and currently he is ranked 155th in the world according to the International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA).
Capps has been skateboarding for 4 years now, “I would just cruise around the neighborhood at first. Then I started going fast. I like going fast,” Capps said. “He’s faster then a speeding bullet,” said Greg Silvia, 19, business management.
Downhill skateboard races are held all over the world.
“I will be racing in Washington and Colorado this year” Capps said.
The way races are set up is very safety oriented. A physician, paramedic, or qualified medical attendant and first aid kit is required to be present at all races.
All riders must also receive approval from a technical inspector making sure all the rider’s equipment are in good working order.
Races are usually 0.5 to 15 miles, held on steep roads with several turns. Usually roads you would not dream of racing down or even going down on a skateboard.
The rider’s safety equipment must meet several specifications as well. Helmets must be hard shell, full-face helmets with a shatterproof shield or goggles. Riders must also wear a one or two-piece suit and full-fingered gloves made of leather or Kevlar. Shoes are required to cover the ankles from abrasion and elbow or kneepads are recommended, but are not mandatory.
Along with safety equipment the skateboard has its own specifications.
The deck of the board must be structurally sound and cannot have any sharp edges.
A complete board may not exceed 15.4 pounds and the board cannot be more than 55 inches long and 12 inches. wide. Trucks must be the normal lean to steer technology and no wider than 12 inches. Wheels must be no wider than 5 1/8 inches and the bearings must be the kind that can fit into a standard 608 hub. All braking must be accomplished using the rider’s feet.
It is also important to note that in this sport you must be standing in an upright position on your skateboard. Laying down on your back or stomach is prohibited.
While racing, riders are doing many different maneuvers. They are drafting behind each other while sliding and drifting around turns going 35-50mph.
Several different techniques are used to both stop and control ones speed.
Footbraking is a skill you have to learn and is an effective method for shaving off some speed, but it’s not nearly as effective as sliding.
Sliding is the most effective way to take off speed and there are many variations of slides.
When a rider is traveling really fast the air brake is an effective way to cut some speed off before a turn. This method is simply standing up on the board with your arms outstretched trying to get as much wind resistance as possible.
Drifting around turns also helps take off some speed, but if it is done incorrectly it can cause riders to crash. One thing a rider really wants to avoid is sliding and having the board stop, instead of continuing to slide.
This will generally have an unpleasant result.
Carving and adjusting the speed tuck are effective ways to increase or decrease speed by allowing friction in the wheels to reduce speed and reducing wind drag to increase speed. Carving is basically turning left to right in S shaped paths on your way down the hill.
“Long boarding is super underground. There are popular riders, but there are no celebrities,” Capps said. “Although there isn’t a lot of money to be made racing, the atmosphere is what it is all about.”
Crashes are inevitable in this sport. “I’ve had four really gnarly falls. The last one was in Laguna Beach trying to stop,” Capps said.
Going fast on your board is all about confidence, and crashing can play a big part mentally on a rider.
Danny Way broke the speed record by going 74 mph on a skateboard. “When we heard about Danny Ways speed record we were really pissed. Long boarding is super underground and it costs a lot of money to get into the Guinness Book of World Records, plus you have to close a road. There are people that have gone faster than Danny Way hundreds of times,” Capps said.
“In the last 2 years, the way people are riding is way different,” Capps said. Once Cliff Coleman invented what is known as the “Coleman slide” skateboarding changed forever. This maneuver is basically sliding sideways drifting one hundred eighty degrees, which helps shave off some speed.
There are now many different varieties of slides.
You can immediately notice a long board skateboarder by their board. It is distinctly different compared to a regular Tony Hawk or Danny Way skateboard. Long boards come in many shapes and sizes.
“Wheels and trucks make the world go round,” Capps said.
Wheels and trucks are a huge part of the sport and affect the way the board rides significantly. Wheels come in a variety of sizes, widths, and different durometer (The hardness of the wheel).
Buying the right type of wheels is important for the type of riding that you will be doing.
If you are doing a lot of sliding you will want a different wheel then if you are trying to go fast. “I’ll have days where I will go through a set of wheels in one day to the core” Capps said.
Long boarding is a mentally and physically tough sport. Riding is a constant challenge and can be full of rewards and consequences. Despite the risk of injury, Capps pushes his riding further and further everyday with support from his friends. The long boarding community is definitely a tight knit group.
“A big part of skateboarding is the partying and the family,” Capps said. – Leecifer Eisler
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The Etnies Skatepark Speed Demon race, known to many (or at least me and my friends) as the death race was happening but no one was showing up for it. That just meant more heats and runs for everyone. It was a cool event having riders start near a pole jam, push their way down into some transition, whip around a bank and over a cone, then over the hump whip around another bank, cross over to the next bank and then go around yet another bank. This is the spot where riders ended up crossing paths and collissions were a good possobility although we didnt get to see anyone collide. Crashes did happen though. The race was fun if you were riding in it which looking back I should have done. Watching it sucked. Even video taping and photographing. It took forever and I couldn’t wait for it to end. Another heat, they said…….”shit” I thought to myself. Anyways the next one I probably will compete in and it is a really cool event, just not many people came out to it. The worst part is I know people who could have shredded the shit out of this course but no one was there. Anyways it was all a good time and everyone who entered was stoked.
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Video Edited and shot by: Tye Donnelly
Each SDDRL (San Diego Downhill Racing League) is a story of it’s own and this one was a story of legends. I mean both both Dave and John Rogers were there, Dave Hackett, Chris Yandall, Lynn Kraemer just to name a few. The raddest part of the whole thing was seeing Jay Adam’s show up. Jay Adams is the first skateboarder ever. The original. He was from before the dogtown era and helped pioneer skateboarding.
The hill was mellow and fun with speeds topping off around 40 and some good racing. Live music was being played on the drums and guitars and everyone chowed down on some burgers. All in all it was a totally rad and awesome time. An SDDRL to remember. Another chapter in the book.
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself. Graphic by Stephen Johnson
Cracked skulls, brain damage, and death are some of the things that can happen from not wearing a helmet, and many new or inexperienced riders still choose ride without one. Most do so following the example of several professional riders.
Professionals have an uncanny way of balancing. They know where they are in the air and it seems as if they can easily catch their falls with their hands and feet.
A large majority of those professionals have also taken major crashes resulting in various types injuries, even they aren’t invincible.
Within the past five years, we have had many of our fellow riders killed or permanently injured due to accidents involving riders not wearing helmets. Just go talk to an emergency room trauma nurse about the severity and number of injuries that could have been prevented if the victim had been wearing a helmet, it is appalling.
Watch some videos on the Internet of kids hitting their heads and you will see some pretty graphic images, you might just get scared into wearing one.
Wearing a helmet shows a sign of intelligence. It shows that you are smart enough to want to protect your brain. If younger kids see you wearing a helmet they will be more likely to wear theirs, especially if they look up to you. This means you could potentially be helping protect the lives of young riders.
I went to the skate park recently and there were a total of three of us wearing helmets, and about 15 kids not wearing helmets. About six of those kids had brought helmets, but left them on the side with their stuff while they skated. Some of them were doing some pretty fast, big tricks. It was unclear to me whether they would decide to actually put it on.
If you have ever attempted to ride a skateboard down ramps, or even your driveway for the first time, then you will know that if your balance is a little of you are in danger of flying back and hitting your head. Keeping your balance is not as easy as it looks unless you have many hours logged on board.
Most professional extreme sports athletes do not don helmets, and set extremely terrible examples for riders of all abilities, mainly young newcomers. After all, you don’t want to stand out as the new kid when you’re young. You want to be like your favorite skater and be exactly like them.
There are multitudes of skate, snowboard, BMX, and rollerblade videos with sponsored professionals not wearing helmets. In the videos they pull off tricks that are extremely difficult, making them look easy. So easy, that after watching it, an attempt might be made, leaving you to find out how difficult it actually is.
Protective gear is especially important for inexperienced riders, or people who are pushing their limits; trying something they haven’t done before.
Frankie doing the right thing
Losing your balance can easily happen with any extreme sport, and unexpected elements can come into play at any time.
It is always good to be prepared for the worst, and wearing a helmet while participating in these activities is a great way to accomplish this. After all a crash isn’t usually something you’d expect or want to happen… it just does. – Leecifer
I sat and I watched the thrasher video on the Laguna Seca race on Youtube. Then I read the comments to find many people hating on the whole thing. “Noooooooooooooooo I don’t want gay longboarding on thrasher’s channel “- MrRMiste. “No offense but longboarding is gay”- kungfudrew123. These are only a couple of comments but there was a lot more where those came from. To be fair there were a few dudes who held respect and fought with the “street skaters”. Some of them stood up for DH skaters in a way.
As I read the comments I thought to myself, why the hate on DH (downhill) skaters. What’s their deal. Then it came to me. For the most part DH skaters can not do most of the moves that they can do. DH skaters do not tend to drive around looking for ledges and stairs to session but rather hills. Ollie’s and kickflips over 8 stairs is common for street skaters and if you turn on the TV to watch skateboarding that is what you most likely will find. That’s how they look at it. They probably have no clue about skating DH. They don’t know what slide gloves are, reverse kingpin trucks or being aerodynamic down the hill. They probably don’t even own a helmet.
Kids who skate street work hard, break their bodies watching kid after kid after kid go down eight stairs. Do 13 stair handrails. Every little boy gets a shitty little trickskate board (the first skateboard). They begin by learning Ollie’s kick flips and other street tricks, not by bombing hills. This makes it so a majority of the kids skate street and there are lots of good riders to push others to become better. Most of these kids have never seen someone “truly” bomb a fast steep windy gnarly road.
I never thought someone could be considered a good skateboarder without even being able to ollie. The more I got into DH skating the more kids I met that shredded without even being able to Ollie. Lots of these kids even held sponsorships. I believe the reasoning for this is the sport is pretty underground still and not many people know much about it although it is growing and more and more people are taking notice.
With this being said street skaters also do not understand just exactly how intense and gnarly DH skating is. Just two years ago bombing hills to me was still grabbing my trick skate and trying to make it down some small hills without getting speed wobbles and crashing. “Stopping” was us finding a soft patch of grass or a bush to jump into. Grass being the preferable option. I remember my first time following Max Capps down a hill. I was blown away. I had never in my life seen skating like that before. He was going as fast as he could down roads I never imagined anyone could bomb. Hands down around turns and a predrift into a left turn. He didn’t get speed wobbles, exceeded the speed limit and even hauled ass around corners. My life changed after seeing that.
DH skateboard races are held on steep windy roads now as opposed to when they were in the X Games and Gravity Games on fast straight roads. Riders now need to be able to use maneuvers like footbraking, airbraking and predrifting to control their speeds in order to handle corners. Pavement is not always smooth (in fact in some cases its absolutely horrible) and boards colliding and hitting shoulder to shoulder into the finish line happens.
“I’ve seen MAD skills on both sides but gots to have RESPECT! Why do we bash what we don’t understand?” said Yudy Vinograd. Why does the type of skateboarding you enjoy cause such a feud. Both sides involve having a ton of skill and being able to do things on a skateboard that others can not do. “With out longboarding there would be no skateboarding. It came from dudes skating down the street. Not dudes skating a ledge.”- Max Capps
Also the comments calling longboarding wrongboarding are really stupid. Either way its skateboarding and we should all embrace the similarities and push each other to try the different disciplines. Who knows, you might find out you like another type of skating. – Leecifer Eisler
I love skateboarding. Skating local stuff and not having to drive far can be fun too sometimes. Here’s just a quick little edit from some skating in the Mission Viejo area with some member of the Irvine Downhill and Garage Riders group. Enjoy it! I don’t have much more to say other than skateboarding rules and we love it down here in sunny southern California!
Snowboarding is super fun and going fast is super fun. When snowboarding you HAVE to learn to carve from edge to edge to be able to do it so stopping and slowing down is just part of the whole experience. With this comes the confidence to go fast, knowing you can slow yourself down at any time. There’s something about descending down a mountain at rapid rates of speed that is somewhat satisfying. Getting to the bottom and looking back up at what you have conquered. The cold air whipping at your face and hitting uneven surfaces in the snow that help get you that floaty feeling as you travel 15 ft hovering inches above the snow until you touch down again rushing down the mountain.
Each time we skate a new chapter is added to our books of life. A new story unfolds and we embrace whatever radical event happens. Skaeboarding is a fairly dangerous sport however we try to ride within our limits so that we can ride again another day. Too often other drivers on the road cause dangerous situations for us. As you can see in the video that the driver of the mini van passes our buddy Austin Staples. Key let them know whats up with they’re driving and we took some more runs. – Leecifer
We took the Gopro for many runs when we were down at Barrett Junction and got so many good clips we had to compile them into a cool little edit. This footage is from a few months ago but it is still worth a watch. Don’t be fooled by the name. Barrett is nothing close to being smooth. It is known for it’s rough and unforgiving pavement which continually worsens. -Leecifer
Barrett fucking Junction! If you have ever skated the road you understand this very well. This is the jankiest pavement you can find. Most people would say it is unskateable. This road has that sketchy gnarliness to it and you have to expect the unexpected. It is well known because of the pavement which grows continually worse each year.
Barrett Junction is a big bro-down with good friends and a road that we don’t get hassled at as long as we are American. Each Barrett Junction seems to be a new book of it’s own where stories are made, tales are told and friendships bond.
The first night you are there, as you look into the sky and you can see every star in the universe, a shooting star or two go by. You can see the milky way, planets and other foreign objects. A wolf howls, the branches move and then the dirt bike comes roaring back into the camp reminding you that you aren’t alone out there.
Sunday morning rolls around and it’s race time. With Mike and Joe running the show there was no bullshitting around. Practice runs were held in the morning and once the race had started heats were run one after the other. It was over in a fashionable time and the award ceremony didn’t take an hour. Straight to the point. No kissing anyone’s asses for 2 hours after the race.
If you haven’t made it out to one of these events yet then you are missing out on a great time. It was my first time there myself but I will not miss it again. – Leecifer