In the not so distant past, a huge part of my identity was ‘I’m a longboarder.’ Even when I was a student of Psychology and Women & Gender Studies, and a waitress at a Jewish folk bar, the first characteristic I would use to describe myself was ‘a longboarder.’ I think a big part of this is because I’m exTREMELY attention-seeking, and for a while, I was one of very few ladies who were part of the scene. I was actively involved in the Toronto Longboard community at a point in its history when it was just starting to become popular. A rider would skate by on the street and I would either know them, or know that I’d probably see them within the next couple of weeks. I was, and still am, good friends with the founders of the OLF, an online forum that acted not only as a digital meeting spot for getting guidance for equipment and ride-styles or planning skate sessions, but also as an avenue for discussing many of the topics that bound our community outside of longboarding. I was at the 2006 Toronto “Board Meeting”, when it was exciting that we were more than 100 people (This year there were 900+!!) I was also part of the first finale in the 2006 Push for the Cure, where we rode from Hope, BC to Vancouver BC in 3 days, to raise awareness and funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. In the years that followed, I hosted many an after-party to hard-core and mellow sessions, and I weaved in and out of both traffic, and my comfort zone.
But then I took a break. A really long one. It was interspersed with periods of frantic skatethusiasm, and long periods of complete longboard apathy. My ride got sad.
I had been and still am, to an extent, going through a bit of a phase lately (probably the last two-ish years), where I’ve been trying so very hard to figure out who I am; what I want; where I’m going; etc. I’m so lost, that the only way I can really do so is by defining all the things that I’m not; by extracting all the things that take so much of my (what I once thought was infinite) limited positive energy.
So my soul has needed a really good recharge for the last little while, and on the first weekend of November, 2011, I got it.
A very good friend of mine was part of the organizing committee for an all-female (For Us By Us) longboarding event that, if you knew me, you’d probably guess I would be involved in organizing too. But, when this lovely lady came to me and asked if I wanted to participate I, defiantly, told her ‘No, this is YOUR thing.’ I assured her that I would come as a cheerleader and a support to her, but that I didn’t want to race, or even ride. I still brought my board, gloves, and helmet, just in case, but I also brought beer and chocolate, as I envisioned myself more as a spectator.
Little did I know that I’d need those as fuel for recovery from a day of riding pretty hard. I got third place in the amateur slalom, and it felt incredibly cool to be able to say that on Monday when I went back to my desk job!
Sometimes when you go to an event that has some element of competition in it, the very act of being there is sort of terrifying. There’s all sorts of hormones flying around, endorphins and adrenaline and definitely some sort of -osterone, usually of the test variety. This event wasn’t scary at all. There was so much lady-love and support and encouragement going on that no one could possibly feel like they weren’t good enough or cool enough to participate. Even when people fell, they were cheered on as they got up. When two girls were racing, and one fell, the other made sure she was ok before pushing on to finish. There were tonnes of incredible photographers and videographers there to ensure that it was all captured, whether we had NEVER attempted such a thing before, or were doing so with the style and grace of years of practice.
For an all-encompassing overview of the event, including the history of the first Toronto FUBU sessions, and links to many of the photos and write-ups about the event, check out the Nate – one of our most supportive fans. He also really likes broccoli (uh… because it makes you skate fast!? :) )