As a fan and supporter of distance skateboard racing from its beginnings around 2000, I've seen this part of skateboarding inside and out and most importantly have enjoyed seeing it grow. It seems to me it never really happened until after the birth of longboarding for two main reasons. One that longboards versus regular skateboards are much more suitable for distance with the longer board and bigger softer wheels. I often explain this concept to non-skateboarders as longboards being the monster trucks of skateboards, able to roll over and plow through rough pavement and roads. They are much more efficient as far as roll speed carrying momentum with less effort. Also able to handle downhill speed with stability adding to the thrill and rush of going fast with control. Another is the attractive quality to skaters by being able to ride with traffic in urban settings like bikes do. So for the skateboarder it is the ultimate and funnest form of transportation. I'd like to believe and can most confidently say that skateboarders in general have been riding their boards for getting around since skateboarding began. However it became one of the first uses for longboards as they were introduced, and a key reason why it became popular in general. They are suited for a wider audience than skateboards, which typical focused on tricks and riding in one area like in a skatepark, versus longboards that can get you places covering distances faster. Riding longboards for transportation led to the other main factor creating the emergence of distance racing, which were the events that began to appear around this time. Pioneers of these first events and the enthusiasts who participated in them paved the way for others around the world to began organizing their own events. What I'm about to state as the origins of push racing events are to the best of my knowledge, you may disagree but this is what I witnessed during this time. The first phenomenon of events that I accreted are from the folks behind the Central Park Race and the Broadway Bomb in NYC. “You Could Die” was a slogan that basically highlighted the premise of racing from the top of Manhattan to the end of the island at the Bull statue on Bowling Green for a distance of 8 miles. During this duration riders go through over 100 intersections of intense of city traffic, also through or around major pedestrian areas like Union Square and Times Square. The other phenomenon took place in Vancouver, BC with a crew called Coast Longboarding headed by Bricin “Striker” Lyons. The events he created were the legendary Lions Urban Assault Race, 11km of downhill bombing followed by 14 grueling km of cross town endurance racing. Followed up by the Coast Sea Wall Cruise where many riders join in later that day. Each of these crews were very different and located on opposite sides of North America. However they both simultaneously spawned during this time period between 1999-2000. And both came from the same passion of racing across a city on a longboard with the focus of getting from point A to point B anyway you want as fast as possible. Also both sets of events were considered “outlaw” and not sanctioned by city permits. Many first longboarding races began as “outlaw” events as the sport was new. Longboarding overall was underground and a sub sector of skateboarding at the time. It was not viewed as a legitimate form of transportation yet and mainly viewed by the masses as a vigilant activity as was skateboarding in general. Over the years both of these off-the-radar events grew to such numbers that either the events were shut down by authorities as seen in 2012 in NYC. Or in the case in Vancouver never really attracting too much attention because it happened at 4am and was over before anyone noticed. The much bigger Sea Wall Cruise event that coincided the same day was not a race but rather a fun gathering on a multi-use bike path where many less skilled riders could enjoy a mellow ride around the city. Both the NYC and Coast Longboarding's events are now over 13 years old now and have now turned into longboard gatherings instead of real races. The focus being a fun mass cruise versus racing and going as fast as you can. Now that longboarding has become more popular, it has grown into a more positive view by being associated with other forms of distance riding like running or bike racing. And more and more people are used to seeing longboarders cruising city streets for transportation. This has set the way for the acceptance in the mainstream in order for official organizations like the IDSA to be created and thrive. They acquire permits and insurance to close sections of roads to legally organize events. This promotes the sport in a more positive light in general and opens it up for more people to become involved in this sector of skateboarding. Now riders have events all over the country that are legal and safe to attend which spreads awareness of the sport. Despite this there is something to be said about being in a race where your life is on the line dealing with traffic and other obstacles. It created a rush of excitement closely associated with the roots of push racing. To make in through with your skin unscathed or not get caught by police adds to the thrill of making it from start to finish. But it's not for the faint of heart, and in the long term doesn’t promote the sport or encourage as many new riders to participate. These types of events are not sustainable and are now just another chapter of skateboarding history. If you experienced it like myself, you know it was something special that would only last a little while before it got too big. We can look at it now as how push racing got started, but like every sport starting out, it has to evolve in order for it to grow properly. Having been there done that, I'm ecstatic to see what the IDSA has done so far. And would much rather race at legal events where many riders can enter and experience in a safe environment. This takes out the gnar factor of dodging traffic and police and focuses on true distance skateboard racing. I support it and hope it continues to build the progression of push racing. Over the last two years I've seen it grow sustainably as new events are created all over allowing locals in each area to enter a race. These new riders come out of the wood work who may otherwise not be noticed or get an opportunity to race if they can't travel. I look forward to meeting them and spreading the good vibes as well as to veteran riders I see around the country.
Post Created: April 2, 2014
Making my way with the HD GoPro in this intense outlaw race through NYC - "You Could Die"
From 116th and Riverside to the Bull statue on the south end of the island.
11 km of bombing and 14 km of pushing in Vancouver, BC.