Monday, November 14, 2011

Not David Hawk

I've always been active; I've never been an athlete. Not even close. Not only am I not an athlete, I am not even close to being an athlete. By non-athlete standards, I am not an athlete. That is to say, comparing myself to non-active non-athletes, I am still not athletic. I am a non-athlete by orders of magnitude! My natural sense of balance is inferior to that of the average sedentary person. My reflexes are slower than that of the average sedentary person. Most notably, my athletic intuition is inferior to that of the average sedentary person. These things, these innate qualities of athletic persons, of non-athletic but active persons, and even of average sedentary persons, cannot be taught.

All that said, my natural sense of balance, my reflexes, my intuition, are all present to some degree. They measure greater than zero. I know this because when I first stood on my skateboard and propelled myself back and forth holding on to a guard rail, I was able to maintain balance on the board, and more importantly, I was able to tell intuitively that going one direction felt better than the other. I've since learned that I am NOT goofy-footed, meaning I prefer to set my feet on the board such that I face toward the right. I've also since learned that in the lingo, if I set me feet this way but am traveling backwards, I am not in fact riding goofy-footed but rather riding "fakie." This is more than an issue of semantics to me; this is a matter of board theory which I do not understand intuitively and have not had time to sort out yet. It is something I, because I am very intelligent, will eventually understand in great detail cognitively. As my skating progresses, I know I will find myself in precarious transitions from one familiar skateboarding state to another familiar skateboarding state in which I do not know intuitively whether I'm skating fakie or goofy and will not have time to analyse the question cognitively. That lack of athletic intuition, combined with my disequilibrium, lack of proprioception, and body boundary problems, will no doubt cause me many painful wrecks.

Take this weekend: Most people, and this includes non-active, non-athletic people, sedentary people, when they first step on a skateboard, know intuitively how to start the board in motion. More specifically, they know intuitively which foot to use to start the board in motion. Most people who are not goofy-footed, that is to say they hang their toes off the right side of the board with their right foot roughly square to the board and . . . This is very confusing . . . Let's say instead that the board is pointing north. Try to follow me here. The skater is standing on the board with his right foot facing east and his left foot and torso pointing roughly northeast. His head is pointing north and he intends to propel the board northward. The average person knows intuitively to lift his right foot, the one on the south end of the board, and place it on the ground to the east of the board forward, or northward, of where it had been on the board. That person would then push essentially southward which, since that foot is planted on the ground while the left foot is planted on a wheeled skateboard, causes the person and the skateboard to both go northward as intended. Once the board, with it's new momentum, progresses to where the part of the south end of the board where the right foot should be placed has passed, in the north-south direction, the point on the ground where the person's foot is planted, the person will then lift his foot from the ground and place it back on the board. He does all of this without thought. It just happens.

I am not the average parson. This weekend, I was standing on my board in a similar fashion with my board pointing northward and my feet and torso facing east or slightly northeast. Actually, most of the times I tried, the board was facing either east or west due to the orientation of the parking lot at my apartments. I am only saying the board was pointing north to maintain continuity from the previous paragraph and avoid confusion. I'm cool like that. Anyway, my intuition (I call it intuition because it is intuition. It is profoundly wrong intuition, but still intuition.), my intuition told me to lift my left foot from the north end of the board, the forward part of the board, if you will, and plant it on the ground to the west of the board. I then pressed my foot southward which, since it was planted on the ground, caused my body and the skateboard underneath it to move northward just as intended. Here's the problem: Since, at the start of the kicking motion, my left foot, the kicking foot, was in roughly the same position in the north-south direction as the spot of the board where the foot would eventually be replaced at the end of the kick. As I executed the kick, that spot of the board, where my foot would need to be returned in order to bring my body's center of gravity back to a stable position over the now-moving skateboard, that spot was now far northward of my left foot's plant on the ground. Worse yet, my body's center of gravity, contrary to that of the average person described in the previous paragraph who intuited correctly that he should kick with his right foot, his rearmost foot, and execute that kick on to the east side of the board, my body's center of gravity is now square above my right foot. My right foot, then, is planted on the skateboard which is moving northward. My left foot is behind my body, because I incorrectly intuited that I should execute the kick on the west side of the board, and it is planted on the ground. As my feet get further apart, necessarily, my body's center of gravity is shifting even further rearward relative to the moving skateboard where I will eventually have to replace both of my feet. Fortunately, my natural reflex ability is greater than zero. It is enough that I knew intuitively that I would have to finish what had been a controlled, measured kick with a much more forceful kick in order to help my body "catch up" to the board. This meant also contracting the muscles in my right leg such that the extra kick propelled the bulk of my torso northward without also propelling the right leg and the board northward. It would be useless to propel both my torso and the skateboard northward while my body's center of gravity is still located southward of my right foot. This extra kick would need to accelerate my body sufficiently with respect to the board that I could then lift my left foot and swing the mass of my leg and foot forward the distance it's proper place on the board has traveled since the board was set in motion. That's what I did.

I wrecked spectacularly this weekend. Twice. Fortunately, though, because I am intelligent despite my utter lack of intuition, I knew cognitively that I should not ride my skateboard before going back to Hastings to buy wrist guards and elbow pads, which I did. Otherwise I would no doubt have suffered two broken wrists. No. That's not right. I would have broken one wrist and stopped, thereby avoiding the second wreck in which I landed on the other wrist. As it is, I just got multiple contusions. Okay, a few bruises. And a cut finger. A scratched finger, really. It wasn't till later that night, as I was searching the web for information on selecting skateboard wheels, that I saw a link to a video: "Skateboarding, the Basics." I watched this gal smoothly and effortlessly propelling her skateboard across cracks and expansion joints using her rearmost foot, in front of her rather than behind her, and it looked completely natural. So naturally that anyone, even a non-active, non-athletic person, would do it that way with no thought at all.


bulletholes said...

You already have the knee pads and helmet, yes?

red dirt girl said...

Bwaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Laughing my mule hooves off ....

Now, could you please draw me a diagram of what you just wrote as I am a visual learner and need to see diagrams to understand, cognitively, what you are saying. I mean, yes, I get it intuitively, because I'm a woman and I'm very intuitive. A video would work just as well, because it involves auditory, kinesthetic and visual learning modes - all of which I am quite good at .....for future posts as in FYI ....!

Hi Dave!

Anonymous said...

Best way to lose weight! The more abrasive the riding surface, the more weight lost as one skids across it. The real trick is to be sure and fall on right on the belly button. (scraping off an ear didn't do much for the artist guy either)Once, in Miami, Florida, there was a big huricane. I hopped on my skateboard wih one corner of a bedsheet under my feet. The rest of the sheet I held up as a sail. Pretty soon I was going real fast. Then I realized I could not see where I was going. I have been skinny ever since!
Quack, Quack!

Anonymous said...

Helmets are for pussies! Hi, Steve!

Mule friend, let me rewrite this whole post so you can visualize what happened: I pushed off with the wrong foot and wrecked! (I've been reading Beckett again.) You're tops, mule friend!

Hey Rod! Glad to see you doing so well! I love your language here. From now on, whenever I do a faceplant, I'm going to say that suddenly I could not see where I was going. That's seriously funny!

Love you guys!


red dirt girl said...

Ohhhhh I love it when you're succinct!
love you right back!

Jen T said...

Dave, I completely agree with this statement about you: "I am not the average parson".

I cannot dispute the rest of it, but I also can't agree with it, since I got rather lost in the south/north/left/right details. Perhaps my brain is just addled to to lack of air or too much dissertation writing. I will try again later.

Glad you're sufficiently undamaged to blog!

Martijn said...

Finally I found the time to read this lenghty but totally worthy post. (I had shit on my mind. Bad shit.)

Seeing people doing things seemingly effortlessly is a blow. Take Jimi Hendrix or Dion Phaneuf and you loose the will to play guitar or hockey respectively.

Perhaps this will boost your confidence, a clip of the Netherlands last President trying to skateboard:

Hey Dave! Skate like the wind!

Martijn said...

Dave! What happened to my comment? Is it lost, or was it not funny or something. I forgot what I wrote... all I know is that it had a link to footage of a skateboard crash of our former fice president.

Hey Hey!


Anonymous said...

Martijn Dude, that is awesome!


Dave Renfro said...

Martijn Dude, that is awesome!