Nearly two decades ago, I moved to the mountains to be a ski bum, chasing snow. I was a stereotype—an East Coast kid pulled west by the promise of bigger adventures and higher mountain ranges. I was also part of a counterculture that rejected social norms in favor of 100-day ski seasons.

In ski towns in western Colorado in 2005, risk was everywhere, but in a way that felt exciting. I liked the brag of drinking too much, and I was too naïve to notice harder drugs. Climate change seemed theoretical, and no one I knew had died in the mountains yet.

Corporate entities were just starting to binge-buy resorts while I somehow thought that living in my car was cool and I could exist like that forever.

But myths are complicated things to keep alive, and I eventually left ski towns to work as a writer, already seeing the ski-bum dream changing. I saw friends struggling to build careers, families and community while still chasing the fragile dream that a powder day topped almost everything. 

So recently, I went back to see what was going on, to try to track the evolution of what had been my own obsession. I looped through mountain towns across the West, from Aspen, Colorado to Victor, Idaho and Big Sky, Montana, to assess the current state of ski bums.

What I found was that everyone trying to build a life in those towns was struggling, from my old colleagues who had stuck around and wished they’d bought real estate to “lifties” fresh out of school.

“A lot of people here are living a fantasy I can’t obtain,” said Malachi Artice, a 20-something skier working multiple jobs in Jackson, Wyoming.

At the most basic level, the math just didn’t work. In most mountain towns, it’s now nearly impossible to work a single full-time service job, the kind that resort towns depend on, and afford rent. The pressure shows up in nearly everything, including abysmal mental health outcomes like anxiety and depression. 

Ski towns have some of the highest suicide rates in the country, and social services haven’t expanded to meet demand. Racial gaps are also widening in an industry that often depends on undocumented immigrants to fill the poorly paid, but necessary, jobs it takes to keep a tourist town running.

On top of all that, abundant snowfall, the basis of a ski resort’s economy, is getting cooked by climate change.

And sure, you can argue skiing is superficial and unimportant, but ski towns—some of the most elite and economically unequal places in the country—are microcosms for the way our social fabric is splitting.

Ski towns face crucial, complicated questions: Can they build affordable housing and also preserve open space? What happens when healthcare workers or teachers won’t take jobs because they can’t find a way to live in the community they serve? Will a town willingly curb growth when that’s what supports the tax base?

There are no easy answers because the problems are entrenched in both that slow-moving nostalgia that stymies change, and in the downhill rush of capitalism, which gives power to whoever pays the most: The housing market always tilts toward high-end real estate instead of modestly priced homes for essential workers. 

What we value shapes our lives, and so I think we must hold the ski industry to higher standards. If these rarefied places can find ways to support working as well as leisure-based communities, they could serve as lessons for change elsewhere.

During my tour, I saw necessary workers in the ski industry facing hard economic choices, but I also saw positive, community-scale change. In Alta, Utah, for instance, the arts nonprofit Alta Community Enrichment added mental health support when its employees reported an urgent need. 

If ski-resort towns are going to survive, the lives of their workers need to matter, and that means caring about them—from affordable housing to accessible mental health support.

By Heather Hansman 

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First, the indescribable view. Earth, many miles below, twinkling blue, whorls of white and grey clouds. Home is down there somewhere, familiar faces, too, but everything you find comfortable and safe is hidden beneath a blanket of impossible distance. No way to reach any of it but to jump. The silence of the stratosphere is stunning. Nothing but the sound of your own anxious breathing in a sealed helmet. Now, it’s time. Gather yourself, take a deep breath, a hard swallow to settle the void in the pit of your stomach, a last look down at the earth below, a turn of your head to wonder at the impossibly bright stars, a brief moment to appreciate the beautiful absurdity of it all. Then you step into the void.

Joseph Kittinger’s job for the US Air Force in the late 1950s was making that leap. During his career he set records for highest balloon flight, longest free fall, and fastest speed achieved by a human being under their own power (well, under gravity’s too). Kittinger also had a decorated career as a fighter pilot, retiring as a Colonel and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“I said, ‘Lord, take care of me now.’” Kittinger later recalled. “That was the most fervent prayer I ever said in my life.”

When his records for jumping out of the stratosphere were finally broken in 2012 by Austrian madman Felix Baumgartner, Kittinger was right in Baumgartner’s ear during his jump, literally, as the mission’s supervisor directing things over the radio.

“Felix trusts me because I know what he’s going through,” Kittinger said at the time. “And I’m the only one who knows what he’s going through.”

Kittinger was the sort of person who has a flash of what they want their life to look like as a child, then seemingly without any second guessing or hesitation, realizes that dream. He was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1928. As a kid he saw a Ford Trimotor parked at a nearby airfield (the sorta plane Indiana Jones liked to jump from in films). It sparked a lifelong love of aviation, and was the first step on a ladder Kittinger eventually climbed 102,800 feet into the sky.

An Air Force pilot of experimental aircraft in the 1950s, Kittinger was recruited to take part in Operation Man High and Project Excelsior, a series of experiments that kicked off America’s nascent age of space exploration. The Air Force had no idea what the human body could tolerate when it came to acceleration, deceleration, exposure to the thin upper reaches of the atmosphere, or, crucially for Kittinger, what might happen to a pilot if they were forced out of an aircraft at the furthest fringes of the atmosphere.

Kittinger made 3 jumps over 10 months from 1959 to 1960. They went like this. He piloted helium-filled balloons to a predetermined altitude riding inside a pressurized gondola-like car. Once there, he’d jump from the gondola, free fall for a time, then a series of parachutes automatically opened. Kittinger’s first jump nearly killed him when he became tangled in the cords of his stabilizing chute immediately into his jump. He plunged nearly 66,000 feet until his primary chute opened at 10,000 feet.

Undeterred, Kittinger jumped again a month later, before making his record-setting plunge in August, 1960. Aboard the balloon craft Excelsior III, he rose to 102,800 feet, an altitude record in itself. Kittinger’s right glove malfunctioned during the ascent, painfully swelling his hand to twice its normal size. He prepared his body and mind for the jump.

“I said, ‘Lord, take care of me now.’” Kittinger later recalled. “That was the most fervent prayer I ever said in my life.”

He free fell for 4 minutes, 36 seconds. At that altitude, Kittinger was effectively in space, a vacuum. He reached terminal velocity after 20 seconds of acceleration, hitting 614 miles per hour.

Kittinger later told Florida Today:

“There’s no way you can visualize the speed. There’s nothing you can see to see how fast you’re going. You have no depth perception. If you’re in a car driving down the road and you close your eyes, you have no idea what your speed is. It’s the same thing if you’re free falling from space. There are no signposts. You know you are going very fast, but you don’t feel it. You don’t have a 614-mph wind blowing on you. I could only hear myself breathing in the helmet.”

That would be enough for most people, in terms of high-flying excitement. But it was just the beginning for Kittinger.

After his final jump and another high-altitude balloon flight, Kittinger entered active combat duty in the skies above Vietnam. He served three tours, was credited with the kill of a MiG-21, and was shot down near Hanoi in 1972. For 11 months, Kittinger was a POW at the infamous Hanoi Hilton, fiercely observing military discipline to keep himself sane. He retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1978.

Joseph Kittinger next to the Excelsior gondola on June 2, 1957. Note the sign: “This is the highest step in the world.” Photo: US Air Force

Would you be surprised to learn Kittinger later became the first person to pilot a hot air balloon across the Atlantic? In 1984 he took off from Maine and drifted 3,543 miles over 3 days before alighting safely in Italy.

In his later years, he ran the Rosie O’Grady’s Flying Circus, in Orlando, Florida, taking people up in hot air balloon rides. Did his customers know the avuncular man at the controls had once leapt from a balloon at the fringes of space? Whether or not they did, they were in expert hands.

When Kittinger’s father watched his son at age 13 scale a 40-foot tree to pick coconuts, he was said to exclaim, “Everybody wants coconuts, but nobody has the guts to go up there and get them.”

Those guts earned Kittinger a Distinguished Flying Cross, high-altitude records that stood for 52 years, and the Smithsonian’s highest honor, the National Air and Space Museum Trophy. More importantly for Kittinger, who always pointed out his balloon trips as part of Operation Excelsior were not meant to break records, but to gather data, he experienced the kind of grand adventure only a handful of humans have ever known—charting a part of the Earth, or the envelope of it, nobody else had ever seen.

“Life is an adventure, and I’m an adventurer,” he told U.S. News and World Report in 1984. “You just have to go for it. That’s the American way.”

By Justin Housman

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Italian Gino Bartali is one of the all-time greatest road cyclists. If it hadn’t been for the Second World War and the obvious halt to grand tours among enemy nations, he might have won more Tours de France than anyone. After all, when war broke out, Bartali had already won the Tour once and the Giro d’Italia twice. But what Bartali did during the war was far more righteous and laudable than racing a bike: He saved lives. Hundreds of them. And he kept his secret until the day he died.

Bartali was conscripted into the army, as was his rival Fausto Coppi, but instead was assigned to work for the traffic police. But because Bartali was a national hero (think of American movie stars of the day who were often given a pass from front line duty), he was permitted to go on training rides, a huge gift in a fascist state. Though also one borne of perverse pride. Mussolini felt an Italian sports champion included his country in the ‘master race.’ When Bartali won the 1938 Tour, he was asked to dedicate the win to Mussolini. He refused, a dangerous slap in the fascist’s face.

After the war, he told his son Andrew about his actions, but made him swear not to blurt about it to the press.

Thing was, throughout his wartime training rides, Bartali wasn’t just getting a workout. He was smuggling documents and cash to groups of nuns who were harboring Jews facing deportation to concentration camps. He also delivered messages to the Italian resistance. Bartali would ride huge distances, sometimes more 200 miles in a day, all to carry forged passports, fake IDs, and money in his bike’s seat tube and under his jersey—which bore his name, so there was no hiding. He even sheltered Jews in his basement, risking his own family’s life.

After the war, he told his son Andrew about his actions, but made him swear not to blurt about it to the press.

Unlike his archrival Coppi, Bartali came from rural roots in the south of Italy and was reserved and conservative. It was only a few years ago that a university history project first revealed the details of Bartali’s bravery. Research with the support of the Jewish community in Tuscany and exposure by the journalist Laura Guerra has led to enough testimony to honor Bartali a few years ago in Israel at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem. A tree was planted in his honor and he was given the distinction of “Righteous Among the Nations,” awarded to those who placed their lives in danger to save Jews during WWII.

After that war, Bartali continue to rack up wins. He nabbed another Tour and another Giro, even winning three consecutive mountain stages in the 1948 Tour—a feat that has yet to be surpassed. It wasn’t even until the 1999 TdF that someone was able to grab three stages in a row, period, let alone mountain stages (that man was Mario Cipollini, who took four in a row on the flats).

In the final reckoning, Bartali’s competition accomplishments pale in comparison to his humanitarian: It’s estimated that he helped save the lives of as many as 800 Jews who might have otherwise been gassed to death or shot. But Bartali, who died in 2000, was humble to the end. “Good is something you do, not something you talk about. Some medals are pinned to your soul, not to your jacket.”

Words by Michael Frank

North Shore Betty

After nearly 30 years on the hallowed trails of southern British Columbia, Betty Birrell still thinks life is one big playground—and that you’re never too old to send.

North Shore Betty
Lean back and let ‘er rip. Betty Birrell goes full send on Floppy Bunny, her go-to warm-up lap on Mount Fromme in southern British Columbia. Don’t be fooled by the name; this black-diamond trail is packed with enough roots, rocks and wooden roller coasters to challenge even experienced riders. Photo: Travis Rummel

It’s a typical fall day in the forests above North Vancouver, British Columbia. The rain is coming down so hard you can’t see more than a few hundred feet, almost obscuring the cedar trees swaying in the surrounding murk. Wind whips between the column-like trunks, making waves through a sea of emerald sword fern. A crack! slices through the rain as a small tree snaps and falls into a nearby stand of Douglas fir.

If Betty Birrell and her son, Hayden Robbins, are fazed by the weather, they don’t show it. Their bikes seem to float down a river of contorted roots, greasy rocks and slippery wooden bridges as if it’s a mild day in June, with Betty leading through the vilest conditions. It’s amazing to watch. She is much, much more confident on these trails than I will ever be, and I’m half her age—and a former professional mountain biker, though I feel embarrassed to admit it at the moment.

At 73 years old, Betty has called these trails home for almost 30 years. In the early 1990s during her mid-40s, she bought her first mountain bike, and a good friend she refers to only as Old Rob took her down 7th Secret, a trail on Mount Fromme. Her second ride was on the aptly named Executioner, another steep, rooty, technical fall-line descent. Both trails have retained their black-diamond rating, and even on the plush full-suspension bikes of today, most riders would find Executioner terrifying.

Her face lights up at those memories. “I was hooked right away.”

North Shore Betty
Betty poses at the bottom of Empress, a treacherously steep, extremely technical double-black diamond on lower Mount Seymour. Photo: Jordan Manley

Betty’s entrance into mountain biking—as a single mother a few years short of 50, raising a 6-year-old while flying overseas each weekend as an international flight attendant—is unconventional, by most measures. But to start on Vancouver’s North Shore during the 1990s … well, that’s another level of gnarly. Clinging to the mist-shrouded slopes of Mount Fromme, Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain above North Vancouver, “The Shore” is to mountain biking what Yosemite is to rock climbing or what O‘ahu is to surfing: Few other places have done more to influence and define the sport. And, like the Dawn Wall or Pipeline, it is not for the faint of heart.

“Some people say that California invented mountain biking,” says local trail builder Todd Fiander. “The North Shore invented mountain biking.”

The Shore’s infamous trails are a cross between a BMX track and an Ewok village, a convoluted web of wooden ladder bridges, rock drops, berms and “skinnies”—narrow, raised features intended to be ridden across. Some of this woodwork climbs into the trees, demanding riders navigate catwalk-like planks, sometimes only 6 inches wide and as high as 20 feet above the forest floor. Other features roll multiple stories down near-vertical rock faces.

North Shore Betty
Left: Ladies Only is one of Todd Fiander’s most beloved masterpieces, a seminal and lasting testament to his vision and commitment to giving people a good time. He built it in 1992 and has been personally maintaining and tinkering with it ever since. The trail redefined what was possible, with features like the first-ever teeter-totter bridge and the iconic “Monster” roller coaster, and though it’s seen some overhauls over the past 30 years, it still embodies the spirit of those early days. Photo: Jordan Manley

Right: Built by “Dangerous Dan” Cowan, the Flying Circus trail on Mount Fromme represents the absurd pinnacle of the North Shore’s renegade early years. It had the skinniest, highest and most dangerous features anyone had ever seen and could only be ridden by a handful of people. Trails like Flying Circus were decommissioned as mountain biking became more widely adopted, but the remnants speak to the enduring legacy of cedar planks, mad creativity and an unrelentingly desire to push the limits. Photo: Jordan Manley

“Shore-style” trails can now be found across the globe, but when Betty started riding in the early 1990s, locals had only been building them for a few years. Todd—or Digger as he’s known in the mountain bike world—is considered the first to incorporate ladder bridges and raised wooden structures into his trails. He’s observed nearly every notable rider on The Shore for the past three decades and captured many in his 11 North Shore Extreme films, including—to my surprise and, I must admit, chagrin—Betty.

A few years ago, I made a documentary about the history of free-ride mountain biking, much of which happened on Digger’s trails, yet I hadn’t heard of Betty until this past year. I’d seen her, however, while poring through hours of Digger’s grainy camcorder footage. I just didn’t know it was Betty.

“She was the first person to ride The Monster,” Digger says, referring to an iconic stunt commonly regarded as the first “roller coaster.” (It looks exactly as it sounds, just made with slats of split cedar.) “I had just put the last plank down and asked her to ride it for me, so I pulled out my camera and filmed her. The third time, she fell and pulled out her shoulder, and I had to pop it back in. And I think she was like 55 when she did that.”

Betty recounts those early days so casually, it takes me a few minutes to realize how insane her entry into the sport was. In the early ’90s, body armor was rare and full suspension and hydraulic disc brakes were nonexistent, making the bikes as much of a liability as a lack of skill.

“Fortunately, I didn’t really have a fear of falling,” she says. “Still, I was covered with bruises, black and blue. I couldn’t go out wearing shorts because it looked like someone took to me with a baseball bat.”

North Shore Betty
The North Shore is well-known for its wooden features and rock rolls, but what gets most people are all the roots, which become so slippery after a rainstorm that even a slightly misplaced tire can lead to disaster. For Betty, such greasy sections—like upper Floppy Bunny—just add a little spice to long-familiar trails. Photo: Travis Rummel

But full-send is how Betty operates, under the radar or not. Born in the rural town of Chemainus on Vancouver Island, Betty moved to the city of Vancouver to study geography at the University of British Columbia, where she joined a crew of fellow climbers who got after some of the biggest peaks around Vancouver.

“In the ’70s, she was part of this really hard-core group of climbers that had all sorts of first ascents in the area,” says Hayden, who is a professional ski guide and operations manager for Whitecap Alpine Adventures. “But they wouldn’t claim them because they didn’t want people to find the zones.”

Betty picked up windsurfing a few years later and by the early 1980s had become one of the top female windsurfers in the sport, flying out of huge 30-foot waves the likes of which no woman had done before. As an editor for Sail Boarder Magazine put it in 1982, “Betty Birrell is a superstar of the sport … a leader of the leading edge … ranked on par with most top men.” The German magazine Surf summed it up even more succinctly in a headline from their June 1982 issue, “Betty Birrell: The Best Female Surfer in the World.”

She stationed herself in Hawai‘i, working as an international flight attendant while surfing big waves between shifts. She married a fellow Canadian three years into her time on the island but continued to commute between Hawai‘i and British Columbia for a year so she could sail. Eventually, Betty returned to Canada and, at 39 years old, gave birth to Hayden.

“I think motherhood is the best adventure ever, really,” she says. “I was so surprised how much I loved being a mom, how much I loved being pregnant.”

Just before Hayden’s second birthday, her husband left them. She recalls an argument before the split, “He said, ‘You just think life is just one big fucking playground!’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah!’ I thought it was a compliment.”

North Shore Betty
Most moms go on walks with their kids; Betty and her son Hayden Robbins session double-black diamonds, which has become somewhat of a family tradition after two decades of riding together. Mother and son scope the final rock roll on Empress before dropping in. Photo: Jordan Manley

As a newly single mom, Betty worked overseas flights on weekends while Hayden stayed with his dad or grandmother, and she’d return for Hayden’s bedtime on Sundays. “You just kind of adapt as you go along,” she says. “I just reinvented adventure. Instead of going mountaineering or stuff like that, we’d go car camping with my parents, and it was just so fantastic.”

Betty’s face glows when we talk about anything mom-related. She asks to see photos of my kids and swoons at the sight of them. Above the stairway in her home is a huge photo of her and Hayden beaming after a day of cat skiing together.

“Mountain biking was the perfect activity for a single mom because it was right outside our door and easy for [me and] Hayden to do together,” she says. “I would pick him up after school, and we’d dash over to Fromme for a ride.”

Hayden remembers her enthusiastic coaching and patience on the trail. At an age when most kids want their parents to park around the corner to avoid being seen by their friends, Hayden welcomed his mom joining him and his friends on rides. “It’s amazing when you get on a technical trail with her,” he says. “She just zips along like you wouldn’t believe. She’d be better than my buddies, so that was a funny dynamic.”

North Shore Betty
There’s a price for riding someplace as high consequence as the North Shore, and it’s one paid in smashes, scuffs and oftentimes broken bones. On this particular afternoon, neither the weather nor a bruised jaw could wipe the smile off Betty’s face as she sessioned the black-diamond Pingu trail on Mount Seymour. Photo: Travis Rummel

Let me just say that if my mom were mountain biking alone down double-black diamonds, I would probably give her a tracking device or an emergency beacon. But Betty isn’t my mom. And I’m not Hayden. “My concern for my mom is overridden by knowing she is so experienced,” he says. “She is the consummate mountain woman.”

Some people, however, notice her age before her ability. Occasionally, she notes, when coming upon fellow riders assessing stunts on the trail, “They see I’m older, and I’m a woman, so they just stay in the way because they think I’m not going to be able to ride it. I just say, ‘Excuse me, I think I’m going to ride on through.’ I actually like that because I feel like I’m doing a service for women—older people, too, but especially for women.”

But with all sports, injuries happen. Like that time she broke her leg hard-boot snowboarding. Or when she broke both her hands riding the infamous Rippin’ Rutabaga rock drop in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park in 2003.

“I remember lying on the ground,” she says. “I was 54 then, and I knew I was hurt badly, but I didn’t want to tell the bike patroller how old I was.”

Hayden was 15 at the time and returned home to find his mother immobile from the shoulders down. “She had these crazy wrapped arms, lobster-claw things,” he says, “and she couldn’t do anything.”

At age 58, Betty took early retirement and started her own landscaping business; she still helps friends and family with their yards occasionally, though no longer as a profession. These days, she mostly rides alone: Most of her bike buddies work during the week, and Betty avoids riding on weekends (the trails are too busy, she says).

And, of course, she still rides with Hayden whenever he’s home. Hayden now lives in Revelstoke, British Columbia, and whenever he talks about his mom, he’s visibly proud. “For me, she’s laid the path that I’ve followed in my life, and it’s a different path than a lot of people,” he says. “But she’s always been the biggest supporter and inspiration.”

North Shore Betty
In a place that can receive 100 inches of precipitation each year, you get used to riding in the rain; after nearly 30 years, Betty actually enjoys it. Betty and Hayden navigate roots and the weather on lower Pingu—just another lovely day on the North Shore. Photo: Travis Rummel

Almost 30 years after her first lap down Executioner, Betty admits she’s scaled back her riding (she avoids skinnies in particular), aware that a bad crash could have larger consequences than when she was younger. But she still sends. Not because she’s fearless. She just knows better.

“It is calculated,” she says. “You know your limits. Sometimes you push a little bit too much and you get away with it. But you know your limits, and you know what you want to do.”

Back in the fall storm, we call it a day and say our goodbyes. As I pull out into the pouring rain, I’m left with an overwhelming sense of permission to try all those things I’d convinced myself I was too old for. I’m not aging out of the fun and games of my early 30s; after a day with Betty, I feel like the good times are just beginning.

“When I was 50 years old, I never thought I’d be able to ride a mountain bike fast down a trail at 73,” she says. “It’s interesting how your perception of age changes as you get older. I would love to be 65 again. Isn’t that crazy? Who would have ever thought. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to appreciate where you are.”

By Darcy Hennessey Turenne

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The adventure motorcycle market is one of the biggest in the UK for new bike sales. But do you know the most common mistakes off-road riders make? Here’s how to avoid them

Tiger 1200 (2022) official specs, pictures, and details

AN adventure motorcycle is a big, burly and attractive beast. The prospect of taking to the trails and going off-grid for a weekend is a very alluring one indeed.

But if you’ve just ditched the one-piece leathers in favour of some textiles and want to head into the forest, the best thing you can invest in is some training. If you can’t, won’t or don’t want to do that, here are the most common adventure riding mistakes and how to avoid them.



How do I stay loose on an adventure motorcycle?

Tensing up while riding a bike off-road is all too easy to do. The problem is, adventure bikes are complex bits of kit, with millions of dollars of development that go into each one. Every component is designed to allow the bike to travel in the direction it needs to go. Slapping a human on top that’s as rigid as an ironing board is going to prevent the rake, trail, and suspension from working as they should.

Keep your legs bent slightly, with your knees moved away from the sides of the seat to allow for forward, lateral and vertical body movement. Try and keep your elbows slightly bent too, if your arms are stiff the bike won’t be able to track over obstacles in the road like it’s designed to.

Now let’s focus on your grip on the bars. You should only be gripping the bars with the thumb meeting your ring finger. Your first and second finger should be laying over the brake and clutch, ready to be called into use.


Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review (98).jpg

Lightly! The main mistake is that people think they need to take everything with them, when in fact all your doing is adding weight to the bike. That’s bad for fuel economy and even worse if you drop it and need to pick it up.

If your adventure is only lasting a day or so you’ll need a basic tool kit, first-aid set, puncture repair kit and something to keep you warm and dry. That’s the basics, any food, water and camping equipment should be added on top of this.


Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports


Where should I be looking when riding off-road on a motorcycle?

It’s common for new riders to stare intently at the front wheel of the bike when riding off-road. The trouble is if you see something two feet in front of your wheel – it’s already too late. You’re definitely going to hit it and you can do nothing about it.

The best thing to do is look up as far down the trail as you can. Doing this not only allows you to spot obstacles but it’ll also helps you to ride quicker. Looking at the front wheel focuses your eyes on a very small area of the trail. In this situation, your inbuilt safety compass will only allow you to ride up to a certain speed. Raising up your eye-line and focussing ahead will allow your brain to let you press on more quickly – with added safety too from your increased hazard detection.

Should I sit or stand when riding an adventure motorcycle?

When the going gets tough newer riders will almost always take a seat and try to paddle through obstacles. The trouble is that sitting on the seat actually increases your centre of gravity. When standing on the pegs, your CoG is nearer the foot-pegs, sitting on the seat brings the CoG nearer to the seat.

You also have less that you can do with your body when sat down, moving forward, backward and side to side becomes much less effective.




When I need to sit down, how should I do it?

The only time to take a seat is when you’re on long smooth sections, with good visibility and no obstructions. It can be good to take a seat on a long ride as this helps conserve energy, saving some for the trickier sections.

One mistake people make is to sit too far back on the bike, stretching their arms out in front of them in the process. With your arms outstretched they don’t move as freely as they do when you have a slight bend at the elbow. Hit a rock or small log like this and the only place you’re going is down!


Pan America 1250 Special Review Visordown


Should I deflate my tyres for riding off-road?

No, there’s too much weight in a big adventure motorcycle. It works for light trials bikes and some enduro motorcycles but for a 220kg plus adv machine it could be a bad idea. Damage to the rims is the first risk, the second is the increased chances of getting a pinch flat or even pulling the tyre off the rim. On some occasions, releasing some pressure to get out of a sticky spot can be a good thing, deep sand or clay mud for instance, but once clear you should get the tyres back up to pressure. Likewise, an over-inflated front will tend to bounce off rocky trails and deflect the front end one way and another more quickly than a properly inflated tyre. All that makes the bike harder to control.


890 Adventure Visordown Review


Should I use the front brake off-road?

Some novice adventure motorcycle riders like to completely avoid the front brake, opting for the rear only. The trouble is, the rear brake is only good for slowing the bike, not stopping in an emergency. For that, only the front will do but it needs to be used with caution. Braking in a straight line with decent ABS and tyres should be fine on anything other than loose gravel, mud or wet grass. In any of those situations, you should have already noticed the danger and reduced your speed accordingly.

By Simon Hancocks

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I grew up surfing in a place where it was pretty much standard to have the lineup all to yourself. Or, if you were lucky, you might have a couple of friends to trade waves with. (This was in California, by the way— South of San Francisco, if you can believe it). Granted, you were alone because you were surfing the foggiest, coldest, most depressing closeouts or the weirdest, boil-ridden reefs you could possibly imagine. Still, empty, albeit imperfect, breaks were the norm. But, occasionally, I’d paddle out, look down the mostly-deserted beach and see a mysterious, hooded regularfoot stylishly working over an empty peak. Every time I’d glance in his direction, there he’d be, making a psychotically late drop, flinging a big arc of spray skyward after a high-velocity turn, or tucking into a long, sand-sucking tube where I’d seen nothing but dribbly bullshit before. Then, poof, he’d be gone—a ghost vanished over the iceplant-studded dunes. I was fascinated.

There weren’t many world-class rippers in this area, so I presumed that each time I sat there slackjawed, watching a mysto surfer tear the bag out of the place, it was always the same mysto surfer. Indeed, I had to presume that, because I never actually met him. Or at least if I did—perhaps serving me a greasy basket of fish and chips as a waiter in one of the zillions of bayside seafood joints in my hometown, or maybe drawing my espresso shot as a barista, or lecturing one of my courses in college—I was never able to recognize him as the anonymous guy ripping down the beach. Come to think of it, that was actually the nickname my friends and I bestowed upon the unknown shredder: “Guy Ripping Down the Beach.”

That’s because the misfit stars seem within reach. We can, if we squint, imagine ourselves in their place.

Guy Ripping Down the Beach became something of a hero to me in my teens and early twenties. He was almost aggressively non-descript with his all-black suit and all-white board, actively trying to surf alone with nobody but me and the seals to witness his otherworldly shralping. He never stuck around the lot to hang out for some post-surf chat in the battered Volkswagen Eurovan he drove. GRDTB just showed up, punched his timecard, absolutely killed it for two hours, punched out, and left. So blue collar and workman-like was his approach, he may as well have paddled out with a battered Stanley thermos and a hardhat.

Now bear with me here while I connect two seemingly disparate dots, but I was thinking of GRDTB the other night after watching HBO’s “Ballers.” The episode I saw, from 2018, featured both Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton as surfers at the top of the surf world relevance pyramid, with a sports marketing group (led by a character played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) desperate to keep the two most famous surfers on earth in their portfolio. In 2018, that duo was a strange choice as the most-beloved representatives of a typically youth-oriented corner of the sports world, considering Slater was 65 years old and Laird is an immortal Greek god who’s walked the earth for untold millennia. (I kid, I kid. Slater is actually only 51).

I started thinking about GRDTB because while it’s easy to see why Slater and Laird would be Hollywood’s favorite surfers, with landlubbing producers just assuming the two surfers with high mainstream appeal are also surf world heroes, I wondered how many hardcore surfers would put either of them in their list of favorite surfers. Even at Slater’s zenith, back in the early ‘00s, when he was undisputedly the best surfer to ever live, I liked watching him surf, but I never would have included Slater in a list of my top 20 favorite surfers. Laird makes my favorite coffee creamer, and is certainly my favorite motorized surfboard pitchman, but that’s about it. And I think it’s because Slater and Laird have always seemed invested in stardom. They’ve actively pursued it.

Surf culture, at least in California, has always had a pronounced neurotic streak, where surfers want to be noticed for their talent, but, at the same time, the coolest thing you can do is to look like you don’t care about being noticed. There are plenty of peacocks in our sport, and there always have been, but our most beloved icons—the surfers other surfers want to be like—are the ones who make surf stardom seem like an afterthought, like something they could just as easily do without, or something they aren’t even particularly comfortable with.

As opposed to the stars mainstream culture gravitates toward—the Slaters and Lairds of the world—hardcore surf culture values the misfits and the regular Joes and Jills over the overtly ambitious. That’s because the misfit stars seem within reach. We can, if we squint, imagine ourselves in their place. Or at least surfing with them.

When I imagine my ideal surf self—put myself in my hero’s place—it’s never been as an 11-time world champ starring in ridiculous TV shows. It’s always been the surfer quietly, anonymously, and, most importantly, humbly, ripping down the beach. Whoever they may have been.

By Justin Housman

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Living on Easy

A trip to Amami Ōshima, Japan, transports Gerry Lopez to a familiar feeling on a distant land.

Living on Easy
Gerry Lopez’s first surf in six months. Unsurprisingly, he put himself right back where he belongs: in the pocket. Amami Ōshima, Japan. Photo: Hideaki Satou

I was born in Honolulu in the late 1940s, before Hawai‘i was a state. In those early days, the living was easy. It was called “island style,” and that was the way everyone lived … well, at least everyone we knew. The beach across from the zoo was where we spent afternoons after school and on weekends. There were tourists down near the hotels and at the Sunday lū‘au at Queen’s Surf, but otherwise, the rest of Waikīkī Beach and Kapi‘olani Park was mostly locals only. My mom took my brother and me surfing one day at Baby Queen’s, and none of us, Mom included, had any idea that life going forward would inexorably shift to another path. We’d both been bitten by the surf bug that day, but it was Victor who felt it first.

Living on Easy
Gerry and Pipeline go together like peanut butter and chocolate—great on their own, but much better together. North Shore, O‘ahu. Photo: Jeff Divine

His school buddy, Stanford Chong, and his whole family surfed together, so before long, Vic had his own surfboard and was surfing with them all the time. They owned a country house on the beach on O‘ahu’s East Side between Crouching Lion and Chinaman’s Hat (Mokoli‘i), and often I’d be invited to spend the weekend there since Stanford’s sister, Marlene, and I were classmates.

They had a large house with a big yard and some sprawling hau trees around an outdoor barbecue and firepit. We would drive out from Honolulu town, over the Pali, through Kāne‘ohe town, along the windward side—the ocean on our right and majestic Ko‘olau Range on the left. The East Side gets rain almost daily, so everything is green and growing. In the morning, we’d walk the beach to find any Japanese glass floats that may have washed ashore, although the grown-ups always got the jump, waking earlier and knowing where to look. After breakfast, sometimes Mr. Chong would take the boat out with all the kids and fish a little or explore Chinaman’s Hat or spearfish the reefs in front of the house.

Somewhere along the line, and without even understanding it was happening, I developed a little boy’s affinity for this side of the island. It was like falling under a spell … there was its special feel, look, smell and idiosyncrasies. Like when the trade winds blew, I learned to be on the lookout for Portuguese man-of-war and so avoid its painful sting. Or noticing how vivid and bright the stars were on dark nights, without the town lights to spoil them.

I had no idea at the time, but later on, when older and looking back, I realized how idyllic that was—life at that young age is full of questions, uncertainty and finding oneself on shaky ground. But those times on the East Side were like putting aloe vera on a burn; there was a very distinct, soothing ahhh about it, and I looked forward to each time we got to go.

In a way, life is a little like Dad’s car … it takes us down the road, and at some point, a stop at the service station is needed to keep going. The weekends at the Chongs’ beach house were that gas-station stop. Then things changed. I began to run on another kind of fuel; surfing started to rear its head and fill my tank. I don’t think I even realized that one had replaced the other, or if replace was even what it did. Surfing, as the complete endeavor, inevitably takes not just some of one’s time—it takes it all. A deep passion develops, and while it’s all one wants to do, at the same time, it stokes a great fire down inside that drives a person to … well, to be insatiable for even more of it.

Living on Easy
The scenery that made Mr. Pipeline feel right at home, once he got back into his slippers. Amami Ōshima, Japan. Photo: Hideaki Satou

Perhaps that earliest harmony at the Chongs’ had something to do with it, but I found myself living in Kahalu‘u, way out on the East Side, and spending a lot of time in the car driving: either to town for my surf-shop business, Ala Moana for summertime surf or the long haul to the Country in the winter for the waves there. Sometimes if I was a passenger, I would look at the Chong house as we zoomed by. I never saw anyone; a couple of times I stopped, but it was empty and the sweet and tangy awareness that I used to have was no more. But surfing was keeping my gas tank full, so I guess I didn’t miss it.

Life happened and the years flew by. In 2017, the film crew at Patagonia suggested a documentary film project that must have been meant to be because it unfolded like a spinnaker sail does when a stiff wind blows—not that it was without a few wrinkles—but by spring last year we were ready to premiere it.

A tour ensued throughout the US, Europe, Australia and Japan. The director, Stacy Peralta, did most of the stops with me except for Japan. He was busy, so I went alone. In the undertaking of this assignment, we never thought that something like COVID-19 would have such an effect, but it surprised the entire world and certainly put up some hurdles for our movie tour. Japan had only just opened its doors to visitors when I got there. We had showings in Kamakura, Sendai, Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka: all cities where I had been before, with old friends in all of them, and the film showings went like clockwork.

The final stop was Amami Ōshima, one of the little islands near Okinawa that I’d heard about but never visited. The monkey wrench was that a typhoon with an unpredictable trajectory was aimed toward the same place we were bound for. For most people, a typhoon warning is usually a good reason to reschedule one’s trip. For a surfer, however, this is a sure sign of surf coming and serves as an attraction rather than a deterrent, and our entire Patagonia Japanese crew were surfers. Of course, we went.

Living on Easy
Gerry stops to smell the roses (or plumerias, in the case of Amami Ōshima). Photo: Hideaki Satou

As we flew into the airport, the ocean looked spectacular from above, deep blue with strong trade winds blowing whitecaps and swells toward the islands. Staring out the window, I was mind-surfing those waves on a downwind SUP or a wing foil.

We landed still in our city clothes, long pants, shoes. But all our friends in the terminal were waiting for us in shorts and slippers. Yeah, man, at a glance, I could tell they were all living on easy. I couldn’t wait to change clothes and join them. As soon as I walked out the plane’s door, something happened … a feeling, a smell, the green hills. I don’t know what it was, but I felt like I was back to some place I had been before. I looked more closely. The plants and trees were familiar, the ocean had a windswept look I recognized and waves were breaking in crystal-clear water over coral reefs, sandy beaches; it felt like I should know it even though I didn’t.

Living on Easy
Dreamy tropical lefthanders made Gerry’s surf career, and they never get old. Photo: Hisayuki Tsuchiya

We were greeted with leis by some old friends and many new ones who had an easy, friendly, familial excitement. Driving in the car back to our host’s home and surf shop was eerily déjà vu, too. When we stopped, I quickly changed into my shorts and slippers and just that made me feel more at home in these surroundings.

A quick walk down to the beach to connect with the sand and the water, touching them and seeing the weathered siding on the homes that comes from living on a windward shore, gave me an astonishing revelation for the strong sensations I was having. I was back at the Chongs’ house on the East Side from 65 years ago—that loving feeling had never left. It just needed the right coaxing to come rushing back like it always had before. Good feelings are strange and powerful. We usually take them for granted as we revel in them, never thinking how deep they go or how long they’ll last. The rest of our trip was totally smooth and seamless, as one would expect with family and friends. We drove to the other side of the island. For me, the whole way looked and felt like Hawai‘i. We surfed excellent waves with dear friends, ate great food, talked story—life was very good.

Living on Easy
Gerry and Patagonia Surf ambassador Hayato Maki from Okinawa, Japan, paddle back out for one more “one more.” But even that won’t be their last. Photo: Hisayuki Tsuchiya

The next day we showed the film to the local surf community. They were an awesome audience. That evening, with the hurricane hovering just over the horizon, we flew out, arriving late into Tokyo. The typhoon hit Okinawa, but maybe all the good vibes were strong enough to cause the storm to veer away from Amami Ōshima.

It was a wonderful trip, “island style” the entire way and one I won’t soon forget. I left the little island and its tight surf community with an absolutely full tank of premium-grade fuel. I’ll just bet that everyone else was topped off, too.

By Gerry Lopez

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Rock art, baboons and hiking in South Africa’s Drakensberg mountains

It’s 6am in the morning. I’m crammed into the back of a Toyota, rattling up a truly terrible unsealed road in blanket mist, about to begin one of the greatest walks of my life. The next few hours will also serve up mud, two chain ladders and, at times, a view that extends no further than the end of my arm. But in the Drakensberg mountains, special things lie in wait.

I’ve come on a hiking trip to the largest mountain range in South Africa, which can be found around four hours south of Johannesburg. It’s a grassy massif full of grand, muscular contours, almost 940sq miles of which are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ancient rock art decorates its caves, baboons caper in its valleys and footpaths thread over its buttresses.

On the afternoon I arrive here from the city, it feels something like deliverance. The foothills are a soft green, their slopes sketched with bracken. A herd of hartebeest appears at the roadside. Sunlight washes down onto villages of thatched rondavels (traditional round huts) and roaming hens. I drive past a ‘chameleon crossing’ sign, then weaver bird nests dangling from an acacia tree. The peaks on the horizon are tall and table-topped.

Drakensburg foothills

When I reach the Cavern Resort & Spa, a hill sanctuary where red-winged starlings swoop past tree ferns and the world’s best-exercised spaniels snooze in reception, Mike Mlangeni talks me through the following day’s trail. Mike is a hiking guide, a proud Zulu, a Liverpool fan and an early riser. “We leave at 4am,” he tells me. “When we get there, we’ll have to take a four-wheel drive transfer to the start. Bad road,” he says, fixing eye contact. “But worth it.”

This is how we come to be juddering up a track before breakfast, watching the dawn fog become thicker. We’re about to begin the Amphitheatre hike, a 7.5-mile circuit that culminates on an outlandishly beautiful escarpment. Or so I’m told. The first hour, in near-zero visibility, is slow going, and it’s not until a semi-view opens up, with rags of cloud settled in the clefts of a mighty mountainscape, that I feel my blood pumping. Then we reach the chain ladders.

“They’re simple,” says Mike, as we stand under a set of iron rungs disappearing up the rock face. “Just don’t look down.” Minutes later, we’ve negotiated both nerve-wracking ladders — around 78ft and 50ft respectively, although there’s a longer alternative route for those disinclined to climb them — and reached a grassy plateau. A malachite sunbird whizzes past, a blast of colour in the lingering mist. It’s at this point, after some 90 minutes of walking, that the sun breaks through and the scenery hurtles dizzily into focus.

We’ve reached an altitude of over 2,438m. A river is chuckling away from us across the plateau and, as we keep walking, I see that it’s flowing directly off the cliffside. My pulse quickens. A sign bolted to a rock reads ‘Tugela Falls — The Tallest Waterfall In The World — 983 metres (3,225ft)’. Seconds later, the view from the drop-off opens up and hits me physically: a dreamlike universe of plunging water, basalt precipices and miles-away mountains.

Cave paintings

The cave paintings in the Cathedral Peak area are thought to be 1,000 years old. 

I walk south, dazed, rambling along the cliff edge and staring out, then turn and do the same heading north. There are butterflies at my feet and gorges in the distance. Somewhere far below, cloud-shadows are patching the valley floor. I can’t take it all in. “See,” says Mike smiling when I rejoin him. “Worth it.”

Two days later, I’m sitting under a sandstone overhang examining 1,000-year-old paintings of hunters and lions. I’ve driven further south in the range to reach the thunderously handsome area around Cathedral Peak Hotel, a resort here since 1939. I had thought, foolishly, that the Amphitheatre’s scenery wouldn’t be topped, but here the peaks are more clustered, more hewn, somehow even more thrilling in scale. Groves of flowering protea trees dot the hills and black cuckoos echo from slope to slope.

The human figures in the rock paintings, which are thought to have been created using antelope blood, are shown running with spears. “They were done by the San people,” says my guide Zweli Sithole, his sun hat floppy above his scarified cheeks. “They were here before us Zulus, but they’re long gone now.” Zweli is the perfect hiking companion, with a warm patience and a habit of singing his words. “One step at a time,” he chants softly as we make the steep ascent up to a natural arch known as Mushroom Rock. “One step at a time.”

He leads me on a 10.5-mile loop through the empty green hills. Before I set out, the route description had sounded routine, but the reality is anything but. Craggy pinnacles frame the sky while slopes and ridges ripple into the distance. On a far hillside, elands graze in the sunshine. The views seem colossal and in all directions at once: spin on your heel and every way’s a winner. Zweli points out a high mountain pass that leads into Lesotho, then crouches by a stream to show me a crunched pile of crab shell left by an otter. We finish with a swim in the natural pool beneath Doreen Falls.

We stop so often to just sit and stare that it takes us nearly seven hours to get ourselves back to the resort. My boots are dusty and my calves are sore, but I’m absolutely buzzing for the rest of the day. Drakensberg translates as ‘dragon mountains’, while the Zulu word for the range — uKhahlamba — means ‘barrier of spears’. Never, I’m left thinking, were such dramatic names more warranted.

ByBen Lerwill
Photographs ByTeagan Cunniffe
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From summit to sea: a snowboarding adventure in the Arctic Circle

There are no lifts in Norway’s picturesque Lyngen Alps, so if you want to ride down a mountain to the shore you have to hike up it first

I’m on top of the world, in all senses of the term: we’re 500 miles inside the Arctic Circle in Norway’s Lyngen Alps and I’m buzzing at having reached the summit of Riššavárri, after a 31/2-hour hike.

Jagged white peaks rise starkly from snaking, deep blue fjords, the sun is shining, the light’s amazing – and there’s no one here but me and my guide, Mikal Nerberg. With more than 60 summits over 1,000 metres, the Lyngen Alps have a quasi-mythical status among hardcore skiers. It’s a purely touring destination: there are no ski lifts, so any mountain you want to ride down you have to hike up, using “skins” on your skis for grip. With ski fans increasingly wanting a fitness break, rather than just boozy lunches and downhill meanders, touring is a growth area.

The Lyngen Alps is where alpine guides come on holiday once their European season finishes, and where they bring their best and favourite guests. I’m here in early April but the season runs until June, when there’s skiing in the midnight sun.

We planned our route the day before, poring over a giant map, with Mikal pointing out the many peaks at our disposal. Riššavárri, at 1,251 metres, seems a good entry-level option. The temperature hasn’t fluctuated dramatically lately and it hasn’t snowed for a week so the snow pack should be stable, though as this is the high Arctic the weather can suddenly change. “This is more like a mountain expedition than you might expect,” said Mikal.

Instead of getting a resort bus or cable car to our starting point, we take a ferry across the fjord from Lyngseidet to Olderdalen. Our hike begins at sea level, rising up through a forest of elder and silver birch, the trees bowed under the weight of the snow. Mikal is on touring skis, while I’m on a splitboard – a snowboard that splits in two so it can be used like touring skis. The way isn’t too steep, but Mikal insists on a slow pace and makes us stop for snacks every hour to keep energy levels up.

Sam Haddad on her alpine hike. Photograph: Mikal Nerberg

Coming out of the woods we see our target summit, high in the sky, and still another 1,000 metres away. The climb quickly gets steeper but at the hour-two stop I still feel OK. As we reach hour three, however, I begin to wonder if I’ll ever make it to the top.

The silver lining is the view, which as we rise becomes an increasingly amazing distraction. For the last half-hour I really have to dig in, hypnotised by Mikal’s steps ahead of me but at the top the feeling of elation is intense.

I put my board together, while Mikal checks the snow to see which line would be our best descent. We set off, navigate some juddering wind-ruined snow then find a pocket of lovely soft pillow-like powder. Further down we ride super-fast spring slush, passing giant boulders of icy snow, and then cut into the forest we climbed through earlier, dodging the tightly packed tree trunks and stumps as if in a computer game. We emerge into a snowfield and ride down to the fjord, a complete run from summit to sea.

Most skiers and snowboarders stay at the Magic Mountain Lodge (bunks from £40pp full-board) in Lyngseidet – the main, albeit tiny town – but it’s fully booked, so I stay in a private rental house in a hamlet 12 miles north (Take Me Away, Holiday House, from £110 a night, sleeps four). Like almost every house in Lyngen it looks straight out of the Cabin Porn book: white wood with a pretty green trim and a 1960s-style kitsch interior. On my first night a white hare dances in the drive.

On day two we drive north to the waterside hamlet of Koppangen, where the road stops abruptly and turns into mountain. From here we set off for the 950-metre summit of Goalborri. Yesterday’s blue skies have switched to snowy showers. Before long it’s too steep and slippery to proceed by splitboard so I strap it to my backpack, put crampons over my boots, and Mikal hands me an ice axe for stability.

A view across the fjord. Photograph: Sam Haddad

This feels more aerobically tough than the day before – like climbing a snowy ladder, with the odd rock to scramble over – but we cover a lot more ground. After 21/2 hours we reach the top. Tiredness only hits as we start to ride the steep but reassuringly wide couloir. Lower down, we put down fresh tracks in soft spring snow, before popping out at the fjord.

Later that night I see the wisps of the northern lights rise in the sky. It’s beautiful but doesn’t come close to being the highlight of my trip, nor does the snowboarding down, fun as that was. The bit I love best has been the hiking up, the hard work of earning those runs down in this wild, silent and most un-ski resort-like place. Which also happens to be as easily reachable from the UK as the European Alps.

History of Skateboarding !

Skateboarding is more than just cruising around. Skateboarding is a lifestyle. Skateboarding is love. Over the past 60 years Skateboarding went through a kind of evolution.

By the early 1950s,

surfing can be traced as the source of skateboarding. Some surfers had the idea to transfer the feeling of riding waves onto the streets to defy times of days with a gentle swell. Not without any reason these dudes were called “asphalt surfers”. At two spots in the world a kind of a skateboard was developed at the first time in the early 1950s: California and Hawaii. They used shorter surfboards and wheels made out of metal without some bearings. In the late 1950s, skateboarding had a first peak. During the post-war period, the U.S. economy boomed and this also affected the toy industry. During that time, the toy industry became aware of the board with wheels. In 1959, Roller Derby released the first official skateboard with some new technical developments. Thereby, the handling characteristics have been improved. For this reason, skateboarders were able to develop new tricks and maneuvers. 

die ersten Boards

THE 1960S

Between the years 1959 and 1965, skateboarding became more and more popular in the United States. Particularly affected were the states on the east and west coasts. Due to the industrial development, the skateboard’s status changed from toy to sports equipment. In 1962, the surf shop “Val-Surf” in Hollywood sold the first self-produced skateboards. These boards featured a typical surfboard shape and roller skate trucks and were sold as complete boards. In the same year, the company Patterson Forbes developed the first industrially produced complete boards with more developed trucks. In 1963, the publisher of the “Surf Guide Magazine” Larry Stevenson released the first advertisement for skateboards in his magazine. Also the clothing industry specialized more and more on skateboarding. One of the most famous skateboarding shoe brand named Vans was established in 1966. From this day on, Vans supported skateboarders from all over the world. Especially shoe companies like Vans, Etnies, Converse and DC Shoes developed and manufactured skateboarding related footwear and streetwear. 

Vans Old School

Another landmark event in 1963 was the first skate contest in Hermosa Beach, California. Skateboarding was not just cruising anymore. Skateboarders showed their skills in different disciplines like slalom or freestyle and companies started to assemble a team to sponsor the riders. As the popularity of skateboarding began to expand, the first skateboarding magazine “The Quarterly Skateboarder” was published in 1964.

A next big step was the further development of the shape of the boards. Larry Stevenson invented the “kicktail“, and with it came a lot more possibilities to ride a skateboard.

Old School Boards

THE 1970S

The only consistent thing is change and so it came to a point where everything changed for skateboarding. Frank Nasworthy’s invention of urethane wheels in 1972 made it possible for skateboarding to come back. Nasworthy started the company Cadillac Wheels and with the new material it was possible to ride smoother, faster and more comfortable. A variety of disciplines such as freestyle, downhill and slalom experienced a real high point. New magazines like the “Skateboarder Magazine” from 1975 were published and new events were launched. In 1976, the first artificially created skate park was inaugurated and new parks emerged with new elements such as vertical ramps and kickers. 

Gadillac Wheels

In the mid-1970s, skateboarding reached Germany. The American soldiers brought the trend with them and by 1976 Munich became the first German skateboard center. In Munich Neuperlach, the first skate park was built, first skateboard magazines followed and in 1978 the first German skateboard championships were held in Munich.

All the different riders with their individual styles enhanced lots of new tricks. Therefore, skateboarding hardware was developed further and further: Shapes changed, boards became wider, got more concave and they featured nose and tail.

Then in 1978, Alan Gelfand invented a maneuver that gave skateboarding another revolutionary jump: The “Ollie”, which counts as the greatest trick ever invented and completely revolutionized skateboarding. That was the birth of street skateboarding!


Alen Gelfand - Ollie

THE 1980S

Rodney Mullen was one of the first riders who transferred the Ollie for different maneuvers onto the streets and spread a new style of skateboarding. Next to other fun sport activities like BMX or inline skating, street skateboarding developed more and more and became very popular. 

Rodney Mullen

In 1981, the “Thrasher Magazine” was founded and since then, this magazine stands for street skateboarding, the core scene, punk rock and the lifestyle slogan “Skate And Destroy”. In 1983, another well-known magazine was founded, namely the “Transworld Skateboarding Magazine”. Next to these magazines, a few smaller ones were founded and more skate shops opened. Because of this, the popularity of skateboarding continued to grow. A global dissemination of new tricks and unseen skate maneuvers allowed the first skate videos on VHS. Videography has become increasingly important to the scene.


Titus Dittmann was instrumental in the development of skateboarding in Germany. He imported skate-related products from the US and organized contests and various skateboarding events. The “Münster Monster Mastership” became one of the biggest international skateboarding competitions in the 1980s. For that reason, skateboarding became more and more famous in Germany.

From the mid-1980s on, it was possible to earn good money as a professional skateboarder and the skateboard industry boomed in the US. In the late 1980s, companies like Powell Peralta, Santa Cruz and Vision dominated the international market of the scene. The fashion was mainly determined by shoes. Shoes by Vans, Converse or Vision became flagships for the skateboarding scene.

Powell Peralta

Skateboarding was now absolutely established the US and in Germany and vert skateboarding was replaced by street skateboarding. The number of skateboarders increased significantly and professional skateboarders became more and more famous just like baseball or football stars.


In the early 1990s, skateboarding went through a further depth phase due to the increase in various trend sports. So skateboarding went back to its roots. But because of the digitalization, skateboarding maintained its presence in public. From the mid-1990s, the modern skateboarding experienced a next high phase, which continues until today. Mega events like the “X-Games” were launched and televised. Due to numerous magazines, all the events, videos and last but not least the internet, skateboarding became common worldwide. 

Because of brands like Chocolate, Girl Skateboards or Flip Skateboards, the skateboarding hardware was developed more and more and skateboarders could buy high-quality skateboards in every bigger city.

Reynolds & Koston

More indicators are the big and worldwide known events of “Street League”. “Street League Skateboarding” is a contest series for international pro skaters. Here, you only see the best street skateboarder you can think of like Nyjah Huston, Eric Koston, Paul Rodriguez, Andrew Reynolds, Ryan Sheckler or Torey Pudwill. Due to the cash prizes of 200.000 US Dollars or more for the winner and 10.000 visitors at the “Street League” stops, skateboarding has become a professional sport.

Street League

In Germany, street skating is the most popular discipline at contests just like in the USA. The European and German skate scene is independent, has its own industry, pros and a national contest series. This is an evidence of how big the role of skateboarding is in our society.

Skateboarding has become a job for a lot of people. Because of the increasing networking inside the skate scene, skateboarding will grow and bring more innovations in the future. But for the most of us, skateboarding is and will be a hobby and an attitude to life.

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