Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Get a Grip

Sk8terdude's latest board is starting to chip at the tail, and since he's heading to sleepaway camp for the next month, I figured he might need a replacement board.  But the cost of new boards is getting prohibitive, so I finally went ahead and ordered a bunch of blank decks online in order to save some money.

The decks (buy five, get one free) arrived today.  We ordered medium concave 7-ply Canadian maple American-made boards.  I don't know how to tell if these are really 7-ply or Canadian or made in the USA, but I guess I'll take their word for it.

At first glance, Sk8terdude seemed to like the feel of the board and the cut.  He thinks he will get a lot of "pop" with the medium concave.

Of course, wearing socks and olleying on the carpet might not be the best test...

Although the decks can be ordered with grip tape, we decided we would wait and have them gripped once they arrived.  For those of you unfamiliar with skateboarding, the grip tape is the sandpaper-like surface that is added to the deck so that skaters' feet don't slip when they are skating.

At some point, every skater needs to learn to put his/her own grip tape on a board, but since the process includes using a razor to cut the excess tape off the sides, I haven't been anxious to let Sk8terdude do it himself.  (We are already experts at broken bones....I don't really want to add stitches to our repertoire - particularly when he's supposed to leave for camp in a few days.)
But at some point every skating parent needs to let go.  So despite my concern, and with a nod to Free Range Parenting, I decided it was time to give it a try.  And since it was already late in the day, we drove to the nearest skate shop.  New Canaan/Ridgefield Ski and Sport recently moved their Ridgefield store to the former Rugged Bear building on Route 7.  I purchased the grip tape and asked if they would supervise Sk8terdude while he put the grip tape on the board.

We purchased Jessup grip tape, which is sold in individual strips.  After peeling away the backing to expose the adhesive, Sk8terdude positioned the tape onto the deck.  He came close to needing a you can see in this photo, the tape is positioned all the way up against one edge.  (Usually people center the deck under the tape.)  Fortunately, he got the tape just far enough that it was okay.

He smoothed down the tape, releasing all the air bubbles, and proceeded to the next step:  running the shaft of a screwdriver all the way around the edge of the board in order to crease the grip tape where it would need to be trimmed.

This process was harder than it sounds. Sk8terdude needed to apply a lot of pressure on the screwdriver to get the crease and to break through the grip tape.  Once that was done, it was time for the cutting.  Now I have to say that in all the times I've seen this done, every person in every skate shop has used a razor blade.  Free range or not, a razor blade sounded like a bad idea to me.  So out of my bag I pulled the box cutter.  [What?  Doesn't everyone carry a box cutter???  Okay.  I admit I brought the box cutter with me, figuring that it would be safer for him to use - since it has a handle - than a regular razor blade.]  Ken (the guy who was helping us at the shop) showed Sk8terdude how to hold down the board with one hand and slice through the grip tape with the other.  There were two women working in the shop.  Clearly both moms themselves, they said out loud what I was shouting in my head:  "CUT AWAY FROM YOUR BODY!"  Apparently, that isn't so easy when cutting grip tape, and since Ken is lefthanded and Sk8terdude is righthanded, the demonstration was a little complicated, too!

They worked together:

And then Sk8terdude finished on his own:

No stitches...  I'd call that a success!

Is he too young for a box cutter???  I'm still not certain.  I did end the day with a stern reminder that despite his success, he still does NOT have my permission to use the box cutter without adult supervision.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Future Skatepark....continued

Remember my post from May about the two guys building a skatepark in the woods in Milford, Pennsylvania (if not, you can read it here)...  This past weekend we were in Milford, so I dropped them an email asking for an update.

Joe wrote back to say that they are moving along, and he sent me this link so that we could see the progress.  It's pretty amazing, isn't it?  When they originally told me they were building it in the woods, I didn't quite realize that they really meant IN THE WOODS!  And no joke about the bears in the area.  Sk8terdude and OlderBrother go to overnight camp nearby and we've seen bears on the camp property.

We were glad to hear and see the progress, but Sk8terdude was bummed that nothing is ready to skate...yet.  So, Kelley Bros:  we're ready when you are!

(Don't forget - the guys are still looking for donations of old equipment they can salvage for the skating surface.  Let them know if you have any leads.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Born to Teach

And so Sk8terdude's first week as a "teacher" comes to an end, and by all accounts it was a huge success!

As I mentioned in a previous post, this week Sk8terdude was one of the "teachers" at the Pee-Wee Ramp Camp (for new skaters ages 4-7) at S.P.I.R.I.T. in Ridgefield.  Too young to be hired for real, he was offered the opportunity to be a volunteer helper.  I have to admit, I was a little worried that after a short time he might decide to stop helping and just go skate.  But it turns out he more than rose to the occasion.

On day one, Sk8terdude came home after the three hour camp and announced that he started the day by showing new kids the park, then worked one-on-one with a boy who had a little more experience than the others.  He told us that at the end of the session he gave the boy a sticker for working so hard and he announced that "all the kids left with smiles on their faces."  He was very proud to come home wearing his new staff shirt:

When we arrived this afternoon to pick him up after the third (and final) day of Pee-Wee Camp, we heard nothing but rave reviews of his performance.  Apparently he showed a real gift for knowing which kids needed help at any given time and he remained focused and engaged with them the entire time.  The camp gave Sk8terdude a ribbon that said "Special Helper" to thank him for his hard work and he helped distribute the ribbons and certificates to each of the campers.

They wrapped up the program with the traditional water balloon fight.  Soaking wet and smiling from ear to ear, Sk8terdude left for the day.  He'll return next week as a camper in the regular program, proud to know that he helped a new group of kids learn to skate.

Monday, July 4, 2011

1st Visit to 2nd Nature on the 4th of July (wish I could think of a 3rd)

Happy Independence Day!

Question:  What parent wouldn't want to spend this national holiday driving an hour to an industrial park in Peekskill, New York so his/her child could try out a new indoor skatepark?

Answer:  Apparently a lot of them....since there is almost no one here.

This morning we picked up one of Sk8terdude's friends and headed west to Peekskill for our first visit to the new 2nd Nature Skatepark.  This new facility opened about three weeks ago, and the two boys were given a coupon for a free session when they competed in Ridgefield last month.  So we figured a free indoor skate session (read:  air conditioning for the parents) didn't sound like a bad deal on a hot and humid summer day.

We arrived to find the infamous Burton at the front desk.  You all remember Burton, right?  He's the dude who failed to show for our friend's son's birthday party at the beginning of June (when he had been hired to run the party and give lessons) and then showed up late to the competition last month at S.P.I.R.I.T.

He's actually a pretty nice guy...but with the new park still partly under construction (well, not the skating part, just the shop and "lounge" is still a work in progress), he's got his hands full.  It took us almost forty minutes and three phone calls to the parent shop in Mamaroneck before I was up and running on the internet (hey, parents, free wi-fi but you have to guess how to get online, lol) and now Burton is in the back, unpacking boxes and occasionally interrupting our peace and quiet with the sounds of drilling, hammering, and general construction.

I'll give them a break on the "parent lounge" - such as it is - with the hope that the next time I return it will actually be a lounge.  Today it's a folding table, two folding chairs, and a "couch" which previously did business as the back seat of someone's van, complete with seatbelts, in case you've had too much gatorade and need to be held down so you don't slide onto the floor.

But even the shop isn't fully functional.  Sk8terdude needs yet another pair of skate shoes - the most recent pair is now sporting matching holes on the bottom of each heel - but they don't stock anything here below size 6.5, and Sk8terdude is a 5.5 at best.

Of course the important question, for the boys, is whether or not the park was worth the trip.

It's smaller than I thought it would be - about 5000 square feet - and with the bay door open to the outside, it's quite toasty in there (not that the kids seem to mind).  Upstairs is a mini-ramp room.  Eventually they plan to finish a party room with a park lookout, add a cafe, and more.  But for now it's still a bare bones operation.  A little bigger than Eastern Pulse but not as big as Greenside or Haven, it will keep them busy today for sure and will be worth a return trip, but I can't imagine we would make the trip here regularly enough to warrant a season pass.

Sk8terdude just popped his head out for a sip of water and, as he raced back inside, called out over his shoulder, "This is so fun!"  So there you have it - the official reviews are in