Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Flow

The waveboards are great fun. We've used them to go up and down streets for 2 weeks now. They give a good workout and roll pretty quickly. In fact, they seem to roll too quickly! After an evening at Tabor, I was bummed from having to "jump and roll" so often after the board got really moving. It seems like turning to "carve" on a waveboard just doesn't deliver enough friction to slow you down. Carving then, is short progression from super fun to insane panic, then dumping.

Enter the Flowboard. Han picked up a pair of these for some fun downhilling. And man, they are perfect! Now, on flat streets they ride much more like a regular skateboard. But on hills, they allow you to really dig into a turn, and the sideward friction does indeed slow you down.

Pumping around on a flowboard is a bit tougher, since they wobble like the trucks are loose on a regular skateboard, but I've taken that challenge up on my calf muscules, which are always up for a workout. Riding down (and up) curbs is pretty standard. In fact, the flowboard is so similar to a standard skateboard, I'll probably use it a bit more than the Waveboard. But no matter, either is great fun!


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Love letters

Last month I spent a couple weeks traveling in Asia for work. This post is not about that trip, however. Instead, I wanted to share a snippet of hilarity sent amidst the love letters Jim sent from home. I had been off the grid for a couple days when I read the following, and it literally made tears squirt forth from my eyes as burst into screaming laughter... your results may vary... enjoy!
"Malo must have swallowed some salt water during his swimming adventure (we all went in the cold cold water today). On the way home, his ass burst so violently that he ended up on the front floor. I cannot describe how awful the carnage was. He shot a turd directly into the passenger seat, along with a belly of poopy salt water. It was a crazy awful brown circular smear about 8 inches across the seat, splashed onto everything nearby. I was screaming like a horror movie. We almost went into a ditch. It just exploded. I was wondering why he was crying. I have to start listening to that.

In other news, the car was washed. The seats are in the washing machine, and there's a Seaside junior high team with 20 of my dollars. I made them work hard for them - external only, but wheels, roof, windows, anything I could think of. Internally, I'm going to have to clean and disinfect the cabin. We all had our head out the window on the way home, looking quite queasy. It was rank enough to make the prom kids wince as I pulled up to the red light downtown."

The Wave

Recently, a friend was at a party and rode an interesting device called 'The Wave'. Born of a skateboard, but modified to make every part fluid, he described it to us. "Good workout", "hard to learn", "looks funky", etc.

After 10 minutes watching videos of it, we hopped over to Amazon and bought a pair. 2 weeks later, we "worked from home" to open a package the moment it arrived. Bike helmets and gloves on, here's a quick review:

The Wave comes with a short bit of printed material, a mis-sized allen wrench and an 8-minute DVD that duplicates the web site content. Trash. Get your own wrench if you want, but it won't change much on the board. Read the booklet, toss the DVD.

In the street, we used the cars along the side to right ourselves and start sliding. Definitely begin facing downhill on a moderate slope. Starting is harder than continuing. Pumping the board to move forward isn't tough to learn. It is quite a work out, however.

Also, be ready to "dump and roll" on the big hills. Carving is smooth and exciting, but it does not slow the board as much as a normal skateboard. You will continuously gain speed until you cry and jump - or until the hill bottoms out.

The Wave is mostly plastic, and rides with a bit of rickety noise from the torsion bar vibrating in its housing. The wheels, casters and bearings are very smooth. The action of riding and turning wears the wheels evenly. While riding, your feet cannot easily leave the board for a "push", so the wiggle-method of propulsion is it, so mastering it is key. One can use kicking legs or a full hula-hoop dance to move forward, but either can climb small inclines.

There are few things to do with the board after riding it. I started spray-painting and sticker-ing mine, but there's little good surface. The board is only slightly heavier than a normal skateboard, and can be carried easily. Small bumps or cracks in the surface aren't much of a problem, and the rider can quickly get over whatever is in range for the wheel diameter.

The torsion bar is fairly weak, even at full crank. This doesn't matter much, since one doesn't rely on it while riding. The friction of the top surface is key, since one needs the feet to stick when the board is twisted. Wet surfaces are a disaster because all of the movement of the wave is in a curve. Wrists and elbows will be the final judge.

Taking The Wave on a packed trail, I was able to roll quite a bit. However, the small diameter wheels forced me onto only the flattest trails (well let's say, it forced me off of all others). Also, the lbs/sq inch of the 2 wheels is higher, demanding a harder surface than a normal skateboard. One spectacular dive was spawned from a trail that suddenly went soft, throwing me sideways at a good clip.

Since you are positioned in "snowboard" stance, rather than facing forward, dumping is not easy. You must jump, turn in the air to face forward, then perform the usual foot-slapping run to slow down. The board slides to the stop quickly, which is better than the traditional runaway skateboard.

Overall, I think this is a great addition to anyone's toybox. You definitely look like an overgrown kid. Be prepared for lots of comments and questions from the curious. Avoid letting kids try it, since they will possibly end up with a mouth full of asphalt and legal hand on your wallet.

Check back soon for helmet cam vids of my adventures on this device.