By Jared Teune
It’s about the middle of November as I take my cold morning ride to class on my short Sector 9 Bob Marley longboard, while listening to some Rolling Stones on my iPod. The sun filters through the clouds shedding a little warmth as I clunk over the little gaps on the bridge, it’s enough warmth to get me through the dreary day.
I’ve been longboarding for a few reasons-mainly to save money, but also as a way of meditation to temporarily relieve my anxiety and depression. When people are traveling through a rough patch of their life, they look desperately for temporary relief from their misery. For me it became longboarding, and I take advantage of its therapeutic relief induced by cruising from my car to college on the sidewalks. The route I take is usually the same. I start from Summer Avenue between the Big Boy restaurant and the YMCA building, head down Mt. Vernon and onto Front Avenue (while weaving between students from GVSU), then cross the bridge and hop on to Monroe, Pearl, and finally Fountain. It’s roughly a 10-minute ride.
I’ve taken excursions around Grand Rapids with a “push stick” that I use as a paddle to propel myself down the streets. I’ve taken some time to ride down Division Avenue on the north and south sides to explore the area.
There are plenty of benefits in getting a longboard. They are a more portable, creative, and self-expressive way of transportation than cars and bikes. Longboarding became popular for Hawaiian surfers in the 1980s when the conditions were rough, and it was a way to pass time. Longboards gradually became more refined as people picked up interest in them through the decades. What separates them from skateboards is that they are designed to achieve higher speeds and are much more stable.
Ultimately, there are wide varieties of longboards out there that accommodate your interests, whether its speeding down steep declines, cruising through downtown Grand Rapids, or doing tricks. But when getting into longboarding one thing you need to know is that you get what you pay for. A question to ask yourself would be what you’d primarily use it for, and how often. The prices range from around $60 to $200; it’s a matter of how much you’re willing to spend for a quality board. If you’re looking for something local, Wind Waves and Wheels, 3624 29th St. SE, in Grand Rapids is a store that sells longboards along with skateboards, surfboards, and many others.
As a creative writer I’ve come to realize that it’s necessary to unwind from the typical way of transportation, because there are a plethora of beautiful sights that fill up my windows every time I drive into Grand Rapids that I simply glance at. But whenever I longboard on the bridge in the morning I gaze over the Grand River and watch the sun’s rays slow dance with the river’s cool waters, see the cool quirky pictures streaking old buildings and live in the moment of the here-and-now.
When I longboard Grand Rapids becomes a wonderland, a Picasso-culture of people, and a vibrant city with a great view that we’ll only see.