Switchbacks Race – 2014

By: Pete Benda
Switchbacks Longboard Race

Switchbacks is a 60+ rider event, that’s free for anyone race. It’s located at Washington Park in good ol’ Portland Oregon. Anyone from advanced riders, to beginners are free to come to this wonderful event. But if you’re nervous about the race, don’t worry, we’re here to help you win. Switchbacks is a tricky course. It has three hairpins in total, two lefts and one right. It’s not a very steep course, so what makes the course so tricky is the extremely tight pack runs and technical riding needed. Every little thing makes the difference, so we’re here to help you decide one of the most important factors in this race: Wheels. There are a few things to consider when choosing the perfect wheel – your push, weight, drift, and your hookup.

Your Push

To decide on what size wheel you’ll want, you need to think about your push. If you are extremely fast off of the starting line, you can run a slightly larger wheel. The larger wheel will be great to give you a much higher speed on this slower course because of the larger size and higher velocity. But that doesn’t mean that a larger wheel is fit for everyone. If you don’t have the fastest push in the game, you may want to consider a smaller wheel. The smaller wheel will have a faster acceleration compared to the larger wheel, so you may not be able to push as fast, but you’ll be able to accelerate faster with the smaller wheels. So if you’re a pusher, go with a bigger wheel, if you’re slow off of the start, go with something that is a little bit smaller.

Your Weight

This is something that really needs to be put into consideration. If you’re a lighter weight rider, or a grom, you have a little bit of an advantage here at Switchbacks. You’re gonna have more grip and traction around corners. This means that you won’t need something as grippy on this course. So you could go with something that is a little bit harder of a wheel, which means something that is a little bit faster. If you’re a heavier set rider, gravity is going to be your friends. Because of your natural weight, you’ll be going a lot faster than some of the small guys out there, but you’ll in turn, have less traction. So we’d suggest going with something a little softer to really grip up well after your drifts.

Your Drift

This is absolutely key for winning switchbacks. You need absolute control in your drifts if you’re looking to win. If you’re known to highside a lot in your slides, you might want something that’s a little bit extra slippery. This way, you’ll slide for longer, rather than grip up as much. If you are washing out in your slides, you’re gonna be looking for something with a little bit of extra grip to it. We suggest something that is a square lipped wheel. This will give you a little extra traction for you when you’re wanting have more control over your drift.

Your Hookup

And finally, the hookup. This is a really key factor in racing Switchbacks. If you slide for too long and don’t hook up fast enough, you won’t come around the corner with enough exit speeds. This means you’ll surely be passed around the straightaways. But if you slide too short and you hookup too early, you’ll wash out later in the corner and slide into the dirt, swinging you off of your board. A good way to get very predictable hookup is a square lipped wheel in a durometer that accommodates your weight.

When you put all of these things into consideration, you’ll be sure to be on your way to winning Bitchswacks, we mean, Switchbacks!

Pete has been living and breathing skate culture since he was a damn baby.…
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