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Buttery Gnar



blog-0476235001383714136.jpgSo in my last post I promised to follow up by talking about why humans can run so far, but I'm putting that off for a little bit.

So I was just sitting here, daydreaming about everything I've done this XC season, and I suddenly realized how long it's been since the last time I went out and did my first true love: longboarding. I got into longboarding in 5th or 6th grade, I can't really remember, and its not an understatement to say that it has been a focal point of my life; but I haven't touched a board since August in fear of hurting myself and not being able to run (which I now realize was dumb).

So as I think about tearing down Thomas Ave. at 30+ mph, the physics applications of longboarding seem limitless. But for now I'll talk about sliding and freeride. Sliding on a longboard is actually just what it sounds like: making the board slide downhill (or on flat ground with enough speed) rather than roll. The concept is simple enough: shift weight on the board to apply enough force to get the wheels to break static friction with the road, but in practice this requires much skill, balance, and knowledge of the slide characteristics of your board setup (which is found "experimentally"). Most of the time longboard wheels rely on static friction to allow the wheels to stick to the road while turning, but with sliding its all about the slip. And not just any slip will suffice; while the goal is to get wheels to have less friction with the road, too little friction can be a bad thing. Too little friction will create fast, loud, uncontrollable slides, and wheels that create these kind of slides are known as being "icy", while wheels with pleasant, quiet, controllable slides are referred to as "buttery" or even "sugary". One of the downsides of sliding polyurethane wheels across the road is that they wear down over time as the urethane wears down. Since more pressure is put on the outer edge of the wheel the outer edge wears more and wheels usually become conical over time. With some wheels you can even see what wore off on the road, and these marks are known as thane lines. There are many forms of sliding and those who master the slide master friction itself.

Sergio Yuppie demonstrating technical downhill sliding (with some freeride, skip to 1:00 for the skating)

Some sweet freeride

World record longest standup slide on dry pavement (skip to 2:25 for the actual slide)

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