Introduction into the World of Longboard Racing
Anytime a new method of transportation starts gaining popularity, it isn’t long before people begin racing it. This has been true throughout history, and longboards are no exception.
For longboard racing, the preferred style of race is known as downhill racing. Downhill racing is the pinnacle of longboard riding and is the most challenging (and risky) type of longboard riding there is. Every year, talented longboard riders across the globe line up at the top of a hill and begin the race towards the bottom, often reaching speeds in excess of 60 mph on the way down.
Riding on a longboard at these speeds is truly one of the most adrenaline-pumping activities that you could do, and because of this, the sport is quickly gaining popularity across the world.
Events in Longboard Racing
Longboard racing events take place on steep stretches of road all across the planet, and are usually divided up based on difficulty and category.
While there are some courses that are less difficult than most and where speeds above 40 mph are rarely reached, longboard racing is, for the most part, a sport for only the most experienced longboard riders.
Along with being segregated based on difficulty, many races are divided up based on the age and gender of the participants, though there are open classes in which anyone may participate in the same race.
Lastly, there are two different types of racing: standard and luge.
- In a standard race, the rider stands on his board in the accustomed position of most every riding style.
- In a luge race, however, riders lie down on their stomachs with their feet facing forward and their bodies spanning the length of the board. In this style, higher speeds are usually reached, and the board is also more difficult to control, making luge races the most challenging to participate in.
As far as the locations where longboard races take place, there are a variety of roads across the world that play host to longboard races, though some of the most popular races often take place on iconic stretches of road such as the Pikes Peak Downhill that takes place in Pikes Peak, Colorado.
The Mechanics of a Longboard Race
A longboard race begins with four riders lining up at the top of a hill. Then, at the sound of a gun, the riders push off and begin their descent to the finish line at the hill’s bottom.
After starting down the hill and gaining speed, the riders enter in to what is known as a speed tuck. In a speed tuck, the rider leans forward with his or her hands clasped behind their back in an effort to streamline their posture and further increase their speed.
When rounding corners, the riders generally try to stay on the inside edge of the road to retain their speed, though sometimes, especially around particular tight turns, the rider must use their hands (which are protected by gloves and slide pucks) to control themselves.
As with any race, the first rider to successfully navigate to the finish line at the hill’s bottom is declared the winner.
Safety Concerns of Longboard Racing
When talking about traveling down a hill at 60 mph on a stick outfitted with wheels, the risks associated are easy for anyone to recognize.
While riders take careful precautions to avoid injury, many of which are mandated by the International Downhill Federation, a bad crash can still result in serious bodily damage.
To help prevent this, riders must wear a variety of protective equipment:
- The first piece of equipment worn by downhill racers is full closed helmet which is designed to protect the head and face against serious trauma in case of a collision.
- Along with this, riders must wear protective pads on their elbows knees, and wrists, as well as gloves and slide pucks (which are hard plastic sleeves that fit inside the rider’s gloves) so that they can place their hands on the pavement to help with tight turns.
- Lastly, a downhill racer must wear a leather suit that is designed to shield against road rash should the rider go sliding across the pavement.
Though it will always be risky, if the right precautions are followed, downhill racing can be a fun and satisfying sport to enjoy.
How to Get Started in Downhill Racing
If you are interested in getting involved in downhill longboard racing, a good place to start would be by further researching the sport and attending an event in your area.
Along with this, you can start out by purchasing a good downhill longboard and practicing on the hills and roads nearby where you live.
This will help you to better decide if the sport is something you might enjoy as well as give you valuable experience that will come in useful should you ever decide to participate in a race.
While downhill racing is something that you can enjoy with a few friends under no regulations, if you want to participate in a sanctioned race, you can check out the International Downhill Federation’s list of rules and instructions on how to participate.
Having done all of this and filled out all of the necessary forms, you are ready to find a race that has been organized near you and start participating in one of the most exhilarating and fastest growing sports in the world today.