Skating at the Newly Renovated Wakefield Skatepark

In recent months, Xuân has asked me to take him to the skatepark everyday. Of course, I comply. Đạo and Đán aren’t too happy about it. They would only join us if they get boba tea afterward. The main reason I want them to go to the skatepark is to do some outdoor activities instead of sitting around with their digital devices. The skatepark is a great place for that.

The newly renovated Wakefield skatepark (cost $1.5 millions of taxpayer money) is always crowded. Nevertheless, Xuân just rides around and enjoys himself. He focuses on his own development and progresses at his own pace. He is not intimidated by anyone else. Observing him riding his scooter in his orange jacket is like watching Nemo swimming in the sea of skaters. The orange jacket helps prevent other people from crashing into him. In addition to scooting alone, he makes friends with other scooters. They are all around the same age. It’s a nice bond at the skatepark.

Even as someone who is socially awkward, I have made a few rollerblading friends. Unlike Xuân, I get intimidated by other advanced skaters. Luckily, there aren’t too many rollerbladers around. I only see them once in a while. Of course, I try to focus on my own skills, but I often get distracted by other bladers. I am taking the clue from Xuân to just enjoy myself.

Out of our crew, Đán advances the fastest. His balance and his fearlessness allow him to pick up new techniques with ease. His lack of focus, however, holds him back. He would rather sit at home, work on his PC, and play video games. It is getting to the point where that’s where he focuses his attention on. I already warned him that I will have no problem confiscating his desktop if that’s all he spends his time on.

Đạo would rather spend time on his laptop too, but he knows that he needs to get out of the house to avoid getting banned from screen time. He is a careful rollerblader. He takes his time to hone his skills. He makes steady progress. He has surpassed me in rollerblading, but he is now trying out skateboarding. Of course, trying out something new is always encouraged. I can’t wait to see where he goes with it.

Protective Padded Shorts

To learn snowboarding, I will be falling on my ass; therefore, I bought a pair of Bodyprox protective padded shorts. I have been wearing it at the skatepark and I wish I had made the investment earlier. Falling on concrete isn’t easy on a 40-something body. Bodyprox saved my hip, thigh, sit bone, and tailbone on several occasions. I am now adding the shorts to my blading routines. It is so comfortable it warm. It will definitely keep my warm on the snowy mountains. My only criticism is that the product made in China. Then again, most of the products I am using are made in China. Other than that, this is definitely worth the investment in addition to the helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads. Call me a wimp, but I rather be safe than sorry. These sports can be dangerous and I don’t want to put myself at risk. Of course, my kids need to have protective gears as well.

Skating is Stagnant

My rollerblading progress has become stagnant. Even with the best protective gears and a helmet, I am no longer taking any risks to advance my skills. The newly renovated Wakefield skatepark is wicked, but I can’t do much. The ramps and bowl are more intimidating than fun. Somehow I am getting more fearful of getting hurt than when I first started. Dropping into the bowl seems so much scarier than before. I am doomed.

Last week, I met Eddie Chung who has a YouTube channel on rollerblading. Watching him flying through the ramps with effortlessness made me even more hesitant to skate. Eddie is a cool dude though. We had a nice conversation. I am not done with blading yet. I just need to find something to work on.

On the other hand, I am looking forward to skiing again soon. I have prepared and tuned up all the equipment for everyone. Xuân and I will ski and snowboard. I will try to learn snowboarding again, but on my own this time. I am confident that I will get it. If not, I will just focus on skiing.

I haven’t been to an ice rink in a while. I am taking a break from ice skating.

More Preseason Snowboard Training

I have acquired a used snowboard and a pair of boots for Xuân. We are working on some skills together based on SnowboardProCamp “20 Pre-Season Snowboarding Tricks:”

  1. Heel edge (learn to brake)
  2. Toe edge (learn to brake)
  3. Moving weights from side to side (learn to turn)
  4. Presses (side to side)
  5. Ollies & nollies (press then jump)
  6. Alternate presses (hopping back & forth like a walking penguin)
  7. Shifty (90 degree jumps)
  8. Jumps (straight jump up & down)
  9. Jump 180 (both regular & switch)
  10. Butter 180 (ollies & nollies combine with 180 jump)
  11. Nose & tail presses (jump on the roller with ollies & nollies)
  12. 50/50 (jump on the roller from front & back)
  13. Front board & front lip slides (jump on the roller & turn 90 degree then rest the head or tail of the board on the roller. Do these front & back)
  14. Front & back 180 (hop on the roller from the back then turn 180 to hop off)
  15. Tripod

Another Snowboard Acquisition

On Saturday, I acquired another used snowboard. It’s a 156cm Capita board with Flow step-in bindings. The board is way too tall for me to ride, but the seller wanted to get rid of it. He sold it to me for $20. Maybe when I become an intermediate snowboarder, I’ll give it a go. I am not even sure if I can learn snowboarding this coming winter. We’ll see.

I still need to find a snowboard package for Xuân. He wants to learn with me. Though I am sure if he can learn anything from me, having my son to learn together sounds like fun. We’ll switch back and forth between skiing and snowboarding. Đán is already committed to snowboarding. He has left skiing behind. In contrast, Đạo is sticking with skiing and refusing to pick up snowboarding. Vương will continue to ski and I hope to teach him the basics.

My wife still needs a pair of skis. I sold her K2 Jr. pair. It didn’t seem to support her weight. I am having a hard time finding a women pair of skis in the 135cm-140cm range. She might just end up using my Head pair, which I really love, but might be too long for her to learn.

I have been learning snowboarding on my carpet to get familiar with the beginner skills. I am pretty sure it will feel complete different on the snow. This will be my last attempt at snowboarding. If I fail, I will focus completely on skiing and I will resell or give away my boards. We’ll see. I will be blogging about my progress here.

Xuân Busted His Chin

On Thursday, we went to the skatepark after school as usual. As I was blading, I heard Xuân cry. He fell off the ramp and busted his chin open. We immediately took him to the ER to have his chin stitched up. He told me he needed to take a break from scootering for five days when his stitches were taken out. On Friday, we went back to the skatepark. I told him he didn’t have to scooter, but he decided to get back into the game.

I told him to avoid the ramp that he had fallen off. It’s a straight ramp, but has a gap at the bottom, in which you have to jump off. He did this ramp in the past with his old scooter. The new one is a bit faster. I didn’t see how he fell. I tried this ramp three times and I fell every time. I couldn’t keep my balance. Fortunately I know how to fall on my guards; therefore, I was not hurt. Out of all of us, Đán is the only one who can pull it off and he does it with effortlessness.

Seeing Xuân fall made me realize how dangerous skating at the park can be. We need to be more cautious. For a while, I hadn’t thought much about it because we had been doing fine. I worry about Đạo the least because he has always been careful. Xuân has been careful as well until this incident. I worry about Đán the most because he is confident and somewhat fearless. The trade off is that he advances very quickly. I haven’t learned new tricks because I just don’t want to take risks like I used to.

Benefits of Rollerblading

Amanda Loudin, writing for the New York Times:

Shaking up your fitness routine with in-line skating has big physical payoffs, said Esther Goldsmith, a London-based exercise and sports physiologist with the bio-analytics firm Orreco. “Depending on how you’re skating, you can reap both aerobic and anaerobic benefits,” she said. “But you also engage a wide variety of muscles you might not from a sport like running or cycling.” You’ll pull in stabilizing muscles from your abs and calves, for instance, as well as inner and outer thigh muscles.

What sets in-line skating apart from sports like hiking, running and most types of swimming is that you move in a lateral plane of motion, rather than just front and back. Over time, these types of functional muscles — those we use in daily life — decline if not challenged in this manner. “Skating takes your body side to side, involves your core, and improves your balance,” Ms. Goldsmith said.

Skating also trains your nervous system by requiring your body to do several movements at once, like squatting and pushing off to the sides (particularly if you’re mixing up your style). This is helpful in both athletic and daily activities, said Ms. Goldsmith. “When your muscles and nerves are more prepared, it reduces the likelihood for tweaking your back, for example,” said Ms. Goldsmith. “Skating trains your body for these daily activities without even realizing it.”

Careering around on tiny wheels can have additional benefits later in life. For one, it provides an equal aerobic benefit to running, but with lower impact on the body, presuming you don’t fall.

The payoff from learning to glide balanced on one foot at a time is also valuable. “Our balance peaks in our late 30s and begins to decline in our 40s,” Ms. Goldsmith said. “Many accidents happen over the age of 65 because of trips and falls. Skating regularly adds balance to the routine and that can help slow down that decline.”

That doesn’t mean skating is without risk — falls happen, and sometimes sprains or broken bones accompany them. But by mastering foundational skills and padding up with helmets, wrist and knee guards, you can mitigate your chances of injury.

I have been drinking and eating steak quite a bit, but my gout hasn’t flared up. I suspect because I have been rollerblading everyday.

Preseason Snowboard Learning

I have been doing some snowboard training on carpet in my basement. I didn’t realize pre-season training can be done until I came across several YouTube videos. I am learning 10 beginner snowboard skills from SnowboardProCamp. Kevin Pearce breaks down 10 beginner skills including heel edge, toe edge, and hop turn. His “10 Snowboard Tricks for Pre Season Training” is also helpful to learn 180 jumps and butter 180 jumps. I also find 5 Snowboarding Skills You Can Improve From Home” from Snowboard Panda to learn presses, ollies, and nollies.

With these preseason learning, I hope to get myself ready when I hit the snow this coming winter. Since I already invested into all the gears, I have determined to learn snowboarding, but I won’t give skiing though. I still love skiing; therefore, I will do both if I can pick up snowboarding. If not, I will just focus on skiing.

I also keeping an eye on a snowboard package for Xuân since he also wanted to learn with me. We’ll learn together. He’ll pick up the skills much faster than me I am sure. Đán has left me far behind when learned snowboarding together. He is such an athletic though. He could figure things out on his own. I won’t be taking any lessons either. I’ll try to learn on my own through YouTube videos. I think I will learn better that way then having an instructor.

Committing to the Dark Side

Skiing is fantastic and I still love skiing. Last season, I learned all I could and reached my goal. I went from green slopes to double black diamonds. I will keep on skiing, but I also want to try snowboarding again this season. Last season, I took one lesson, snowboarded for one day, and gave up.

Several months ago, I bought a used board for Đán, but he didn’t want it. He didn’t want to change. Since he was comfortable with the last year’s board we rented, he ended up renting the same board again. The board I bought is a bit too long for him, but might be good for me. I sharpened the edges, fixed the base, and gave it a good wax. The board is now pretty slick. I bought a pair of brand new thirtytwo Zephyr boots on sale for a decent price.

Now that I have everything I need, I am going to make the commitment to snowboarding. I will learn on my own via YouTube. I will take my time to get it right this time. I will document my progress on here like I had done with skiing.

Getting the Band Back

My passion for ice skating has melted. I haven’t stepped into the rink in weeks. I miss it. I’ll get back to it someday.and continue to learn the jumps.

I have been rollerblading with my sons on a regular basis, thanks to Xuân. I am so glad that he has been asking me to take him to the skatepark. I am dragging Đạo and Đán along too. It feels like getting the band back together. The vibe is there. Xuân is getting his chops on the scooter again. Đạo is gaining more confidence. They both can drop in from high ramps. Đán is a natural skater. He dropped in with one foot. How crazy is that?

As for me, I haven’t learned new techniques. I am just taking it easy and enjoying spending time with my sons. It’s nice to get them off the screen and out of the house. They used to protest, but my wife made them go with me. It’s their benefit to have a routine and to get some exercise. I don’t set any goals or expectations. We just skate for fun. The skatepark is always free and usually not crowded. All we need is a good pair of skates, a helmet, and protective gears. We’ll continue to hit the skatepark as long the weather permits.

We can’t wait to go skiing and snowboarding in the winter. The boys have all the gears. Vương will be using his skis from last year. My wife got Xuân and Đạo brand new twin-tip skis. We rented a snowboard package for Đán for a whole season. I now have two pairs of used skis I had tuned up and ready to go. My wife can use one pair if she wants to. She just needs to buy the boots. I also bought a used snowboard to learn. I want to give it another try this season. I’ll learn it on my own from YouTube rather than getting lessons. We’ll see how that goes.