Ladies Who Longboard
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It is one degree in Hyde Park and trying to snow. “It’s not ideal weather for longboarding,” Christine Maier mumbles apologetically through her scarf. I push aside thoughts of bed and concentrate on her instructions. First, she asks me to put on a helmet, knee and elbow pads, and gloves. Then, before I have even stepped onto my board, Christine shows me how to fall off it. She takes a sprint run-up and smacks down on the tarmac, coming to rest at the feet of a group of bemused tourists. I steel myself and launch after her.
A longboard is basically an elongated skateboard with bigger wheels, which makes it more comfortable and stable. While it is still a pretty niche sport in the UK, it is definitely on the rise. The London Longboards Facebook group now has over 1,200 members and just over 10 per cent of them are women. Gravity is Pink, the all-women longboarding crew of which Christine is a member, organises meetings for beginners and those looking to get into the trickier stuff, such as boarding downhill.
This is definitely not an activity for the faint of heart but it’s great for a cardiovascular workout. There’s a steep learning curve for total novices, characterised, in my case, by a lot of toppling over. That said, snowboarders and those with surfing or wakeboarding experience will pick it up faster.
Finally, when I repeatedly fail to master the transition from pushing off to gliding along on the board, Christine tells me firmly but kindly: “There’s no such thing as being totally crap. There are only different levels of experience.”
LEARN TO LONGBOARD
You’ll need a helmet, knee and elbow pads, padded gloves and, of course, a longboard. For good equipment try newtons-shred.co.uk. Wear clothes you can move around freely in and shoes with thin soles.
Gravity is Pink (gravityispink.com) runs free sessions and workshops for women of all levels of experience. Dave Cornthwaite of BoardFree runs group classes. £20/first hour, £10/each subsequent hour (a two-hour session is recommended for beginners). Email email@example.com or check longboard-sessions.co.uk for classes in your area.
Written By Kassia St Clair For The London Evening Standard