Wednesday, November 14, 2018

One Reason I Wear Pads On Small Ramps

Why do I wear pads on ramps that are only 4’ high? Simple. Watch this clip.

There is a lot more going on here than it may first appear, and this bail could have been catastrophic without pads. It’s little shit like this, which is why I will always and unabashedly wear pads on even smaller mini ramps. Let's break down what happened here.

In this clip I was going into a frontside 5-0 grind to tailslide. I was leaning a tad too far forward at the start of the trick. The rear truck snagged as I was going into the tailslide, and some how I managed to pop the rear wheels on top of the platform, as can be seen in this screen grab.

With the wheels now on the platform, this caused the board to immediately stop its sideways momentum. Inertia, however, made sure that I kept going. At this point I tried to simply step off my board with my front foot, so I could easily “run out” and/or run down the transition (which is the normal procedure for 95% of all bails on a ramp this size). But not so fast. My front foot got “caught” in the pocket of the nose, and I couldn’t get the board out from under my feet. In the pic below you can see how the board is “stuck” to my front foot as I tried to “run out” of it. You can also see how I even managed to do a small ollie--note that my back wheels are now in the air, and no longer in contact with the ramp platform. 

Worse, forward inertia had continued to pitch my torso far forward of my tangled-up feet. By the time my front foot was finally off the board, my window of time to “run out” of the trick was over. I was way off balance, and there was no question I was going down. The next pic shows both the moment my foot is finally off the board, and also how far forward my leading shoulder is. There is no recovery at this point. This is also where things get interesting.

So, what to do in this situation? If you have pads on, you just drop to your knees, knee slide out, get up, and keep skating as if nothing happened. If you do NOT have pads, dropping to your knees would be disastrous. You may not be walking again for awhile. Without pads on for this bail, you would most likely do one of three things. First, tuck your leading shoulder and attempt to "roll out" on to your back (e.g. forward somersault). Second, take it on the hip. Last, is to Superman it, and dive face first straight to the bottom. There is no way you're not going down head first at this point, the only question is which of the three versions you're going to take. God knows how any of those other bail options would have ended, or what other kinds of injury would come from it. But, because I had pads on, I was able to just drop into a knee slide, and walk away unscathed. Pads are not always about saving your knees/elbows; they can often indirectly save other parts of your body, as this situation clearly illustrates. This bail would have been a very, very, different story without them. 

So, I will always wear pads on even smaller ramps because they occasionally save your ass, and save it in a major way. Old guys like me need as much help avoiding injury as we can possibly get. Avoiding injury today means we will be able to skate tomorrow (or go to work), and that is all that really matters. The real irony here, is that less than two years ago I hated wearing pads, and didn't even own any. Live and learn.

I've accepted the fact that I've pretty much become the exact stereotype of an "old guy skater," but I wouldn't have it any other way. Of course, the shorter way of saying all of this is, "I wear pads now because I'm old, and I suck." But, if you can't laugh at yourself, then what's the point? Life is weird. I'm still doing handrails at 45-years-old, but I won't go near a mini ramp without pads. Something is horribly wrong here. 

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