It’s a Saturday afternoon in Jo’burg and the sky is grey. I receive a text and it reads, “Headed to steez, see you there.”
I’m lucky enough to live underneath one of the highest points in Johannesburg and that ridge is home to my favourite downhill skate spot, it goes by the name of steezeways.
On the Highveld we get a lot of late afternoon thunder storms in the summer season. Fortunately they are usually so abrupt that we can wait it out and skate after the roads have dried. But this day was different. Looking at the skies it seemed as if it would be as wet as a day in London.
Itching to get on my skateboard I decide I can’t wait for the weather to clear this time. I chuck my helmet, board and safety gear into my boot and head off to meet Juan.
I’ve found that the key to skating in the rain is patience. In the beginning of a session in the rain it’s nearly impossible to stay on your board but with a little persistence you quickly get the feeling. It takes quite a bit more strength to skate in the rain as you have to account for a lot of extra distance when sliding.
Safety is a crucial part of longboarding. Control and awareness of your environment and what you are doing is vital in avoiding injury. The required focus for skating in the rain is almost double that required for skating when it’s dry. Many wouldn’t dare to attempt it.
If you have skated in the rain you know how icy it feels drifting on a wet road. Once you start sliding it’s like you just keep going. It’s a fun way of practicing control while doing massive pendulum slides.
Skating in the rain is almost like re-learning everything you can usually do on you board from scratch, except that progression happens much quicker since the muscle memory is already there, it’s just the feeling that’s different. I find that really adds to the exhilaration of downhill skateboarding. It’s just a matter of being very calm and focused, acknowledging that the tricks you can do in dry conditions will be extremely difficult to do in the wet. But once you get it, you feel the same stoke! Taking your time to get used to the conditions and descending slowly down the hill is good advice.
Here in Jo’burg we are generally blessed with predictable weather conditions which aren’t often enough to cancel a skate session. But the next time there is a drizzle at your session, don’t let that be an excuse to get back to your couch in front of your TV. Take it as opportunity to enhance your skills and have a good time doing so. Don’t let too many variables become excuses to stop you from enjoying what you love. Get out there, skate safe and have fun.