Riding to work yesterday morning on the Burke-Gilman trail, I caught up to this skateboarder dude I've chatted with before - but it's been awhile. I slowed down and said hello once again as we cruised down the trail together. I asked him a few questions about his board, a longboard, since it was different then the previous board I've spotted him on. Super friendly guy, and you can see the passion and hear the enthusiasm as he describes his equipment and what he's doing.
And what exactly is he doing? Commuting to work via skateboard, 13 miles each way. That's right, 26 mile round trip. He's also not just paddling along, he's pumping the board side to side to generate movement. Pretty damn cool. Most cyclists just blow by the guy, without batting an eye. Not me, I can't help but to get a buzz just watching him do his thing.
If you think pumping a skateboard 13 miles to work is a little nuts, he also does the STP bike ride every year on a longboard. That's Seattle to Portland for you non Pacific Northwest types. That's 200 miles, pumping a skateboard for 12 hours a day, for 2 days. Crazy, but awesome. Before you shake your head wondering why, plenty of people also wonder why you'd ride a bike for 200 miles, or to work for that matter. Different strokes for different folks.
The dude's name is James Peters and he's also 40+ years old. Being, uh, 40+ myself, I get a big kick out of people "my age" still doing their thing - cycling, skating, skiing, running, surfing - whatever. There's something cool and very inspiring about that, 'cause as anybody in that age bracket knows - it's really easy to let other aspects of life squeeze that out of the picture, but we don't let that happen - 'cause it's part of who we are.
James also has a website, called Pavedwave, that focuses on the longboard and pumping scene. Interesting Seattle Times article on him posted there, along with some great videos. Even if you don't skate, check it out. If you catch him on the Burke-Gilman trail, slow down and say hello, then watch his technique up close.
Part of my interest in what he's doing is from my own dabbling with skateboards. As a kid in the '70s I skateboarded a bit, along with some friends. These were the days of Tony Alva and the Dogtown crew. The images of them skating pools in tube socks and Rector pads are burned into my brain, from the pages of Skateboarder magazine. For an excellent documentary on that era, check out Dogtown and Z Boys. Well worth the couch time.
Later, like 30 years later, I picked up a Sector 9 Longboard and occasionally goof around on it - as do my kids. Nothing serious, skater I'm not. Still, it's fun to play around on it.
In any case, whatever your "thing" is, people like James Peters keep it alive - and that energy spills over to keeping cycling alive for me - my "thing". As I pedaled away from James that morning, I felt even more psyched about riding to work then usual, just from our little chat session. And that kind of energy is priceless.