Portland Adventures in Longboarding

Recently we took a road trip to Portland to visit friends and have some fun for my oldest’s birthday.  And in honor of all things my oldest loves… I set up a special longboarding session with none other than Robin McGuirk owner of Eastside Longboards and sponsored by Daddies Board Shop.  After my Starbucks year became widely known, I was fortunate to have Cory Poole, from  North West Skate Coalition contact me about coming down to Portland and trying out this sport.  Little did I realize until we got to Portland that this city is one of the top (if not the top) spots in the country for longboarding!  And Cory let me know why… Portland regulated skateboards and longboards into the same group as bikes back in 2000 with ordinance 20.12.205, basically letting anybody use this alternative form of transportation without worry, SWEET!  And as soon as you step foot in Portland you will see what I mean, the city is FULL of people using all sorts of transportation alternatives.  Portland is truly cutting edge when it comes to transportation alternatives and is a city to watch when it comes to being environmentally forward thinking, great job Portland!

Knowing we were going to meet with Cory and Robin months ago, I purchased my oldest’s birthday present at -where else- REI!  Did you know REI sold longboards?  YEP!  Online and in their Seattle flagship store.  And with beauties like this, how could you go wrong?

Longboard wrapped in REI paper

On the day that our Portland Adventures in longboarding was to begin, the oldest got his birthday gift… REI gift wrapped mommy-style (I LOVE their bags for wrapping!  Who else doesn’t want a gift with the words “loving the outdoors” all over it?!).  So with family, plans and longboard in hand we were off.  First stop was the Portland REI store

Portland REI rock climbing wall

Since visiting many of the REI stores across the country is on my agenda, I’m compiling a PAGE with the stores that I have visited so that REI visitors can see views of each store that all the staff and customers have come to love about the REI brand and their love of the outdoors.  Watch for updates regularly on my PAGE or EMAIL ME your local REI store photos to include if I cannot visit the store this year.

Upon first seeing the Portland REI store I knew there was a history to this place, an energy that was just awesome to engage in and when we met a manager, James Tiefenthaler, I quickly realized why this store was super great… the staff are all so friendly and engaging on their loves of recreational lifestyle and the REI brand and history!  My boys and I were given a wonderful tour by James, who was patient, kind and very friendly showing us all the different ways that REI takes the environment and people into consideration.  Here is James watching over the store with my boys…

REI Portland store manager James with my boys

The Portland REI store is a refurbished building with live-above lofts much like most of downtown Portland, making it a city that cares about rounded lifestyle.  We also were given a behind the scenes look at REI‘s dedication to keeping a green business; which by the way in 2004 the Portland store was the first LEED certified store for REI.  Way to constantly set a positive environmental example by keeping all the recyclable and waste management in check, which is just one way REI is working behind the scenes to keep us and earth happy.

REI Portland store recycling station

Before our Portland REI store visit, I was fortunate enough to find out about a new project that was started last fall by a Portland family called the Wishing Tree.  As soon as I found this reference on Twitter (Tweeters, you know I love you!) I was determined to find this lovely concept for my boys and I to participate in.  The site is easier to find now that I have Foursquared it (search for Wishing Tree) and let me tell you for only being 6 months into this project the tree is FILLED with wishes!  The boys and I made our wishes and then made way for the line of others waiting to wish too.  The sentiments were ranging from sweet to silly and everything in-between… it puts a new twist on the old coin-in-the-fountain style wishing and shows you all truly inspirational connections we all share as humans!

Portland Wishing Tree

Don’t be too surprised if you see more of these Wishing Trees popping up all over in a city near you… the concept is absolutely contagious!

Boys and I at the Portland Wishing Tree

So after a couple of days of sight-seeing with foodies trucks, REI visits and friendly evenings painting the town… it was finally time to get down to my next sport to learn, longboarding!  We met Robin and Cory at an absolutely beautiful park in the middle of Portland called Mt. Tabor which is actually a small mountain and a perfect spot to start learning this sport.  In fact, Robin teaches longboarding at Portland Community College and teaches at this same park so we were definitely in the right place to start!

Longboarding team in Portland

Robin (and Cory) are wonderful instructors and I would absolutely urge you to take a class or private lesson or hit Cory up on how to transform your commute.  There are so many things that I learned in the two hours we spend together that it’s nearly impossible to share it all, but check out this post’s video and watch for a longer video in the future that goes more in-depth into Robin’s teachings.  Long story short I went from NEVER riding a longboard in my life to cruising, starting, stopping and even going downhill in one session!  We even had runners stopping to ask how to get started in this absolutely relaxing and fun sport.

Robin McGuirk and I Longboarding at Portland Mt. Tabor

Here are a couple of highlights that you could find on your first longboarding lesson…

1. Making sure you have the right “starter” board.  As I quickly found, the difference between the first board I rode and the second that Robin gave me was drastic.  The first board was “loose” and the second was tighter (the terms for the tension in the trucks) which made it not rock so much and a bit more stable for me to learn on.  Also, Cory brought up that I could ride a “5 foot” longboard and that sometimes people found them easier to begin on.  Another board difference is the height of the board, which also can help or hinder a beginner.

2. The second thing I learned was the way to “balance” on a board.  It’s an upright stance but a relaxed one.  I only fell one time in two hours but when I did it was because my legs starting getting to “tight” which is actually mostly in your mind.  If you keep an upright stance with your chest over the center of the board and RELAX, you will fare better!

3. Third biggest lesson I learned was the “pivot” of the front foot.  Robin showed me this pivot over and over when he was providing example for me but it wasn’t until he actually had me stand there and pivot my front foot from FRONT POSITION (which is the position you hold when you push and break) and the SIDE POSITION (which is when you are riding or “cruising”) and the difference between the two.  This post’s video shows this concept in more detail.

Robin McGuirk's Longboarding lesson at Portland Mt. Tabor

Of course there are plenty of smaller items that you will need to discuss prior to and when learning longboarding like safety, goofy or regular, sliding, etc.  So take some lessons, read or watch video instructions and ask other longboarders.  This might be a sport, but in the long run it’s so much more!  longboarding is a valuable form of transportation, an engaging social activity or personal form of exercise and balance!

Eastside Longboards logo

Don’t be surprised if you see me longboarding more in my future.  I really, really loved learning this sport and appreciated all the valuable information from both Robin McGuirk, owner of Eastside Longboards and Cory Poole of NW Skate Coalition.  I hope to possibly be able to longboard with these two again someday!

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  1. May 30, 2014

    […] he absolutely loves nature and I planned multiple excursions with throwbacks to my Geocaching and Longboarding adventures, as well as May’s Bike to Work month focus…. […]

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