Distance Skateboarding in the Mountains
It’s happening again. Last year a small crew of looney low-riding longboard dudes hit the trail for an epic ride on an early morning in September. Summit County, Colorado is home to some of the most awesome bike trails we’ve ever seen. “Some of” is actually an understatement. It’s just flat out THE BEST distance skateboarding we’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing. The ups, the downs, the twists and turns, the incredible views and beautiful colors. There’s a reason mid-September was picked for a small outlaw get-together of distance skaters on this particular trail. The Aspens are changing, and we want to be there for it! And 30 miles of skateboarding through this epic terrain is the best way to enjoy it.
It was a small crew last year, and it will likely be a small crew this year as well, but the No Name Outlaw is open for any who wish to participate. The Colorado Distance Skateboarding group on Facebook is loosely organizing the event, with no real expectation except to have a great skate and enjoy the company of fellow skaters.
Skateboarding History of the Trail
The Copper to Frisco loop has been a longboard staple for years. I’m not expert on the matter, as my personal Colorado experience has only lasted a couple years. But here is what I know! You can ride a loop from Copper to Frisco and essentially ride downhill for about 7 miles at a pretty damn leisurely but fun pace, topping out possibly around 30mph if you’re full tucking, though you can easily stand up and carve and not go over 20mph. The kicker is that Summit County has a free bus system, and you can bottom out on the hill and jump on the bus right back up to Copper and do it all day long!
The Breckenridge-to-Frisco-to-Copper-and-back loop, however, is a completely different beast. Skating 7 miles down on a loop means that you’re going to skate 7 miles up at some point, as well. And it’s not like that is the only hill (but it is the biggest)! I don’t know that many skaters had decided to take this on prior to my experience, but it is definitely possible, as anyone with a knack for adventure and a passion for skateboarding could easily be attracted to it. I had the privilege of taking this rip 2 years ago with Peter right about this time of year, and we had such an amazing experience, we were immediately talking to each other about how we have to bring out more people next year. We talked it over with the greater distance skating community (just a few guys, but growing!) and decided to make it happen! Last year, we had a solid group, and all who skated came away with lasting smiles.
What is an Outlaw Race?
The No Name Outlaw is non-sanctioned. That means, skate at your own risk. There will likely be some bikers and possible walkers on the trail. None of the turns are so tight that you shouldn’t be able to respond according to your environment, and it is definitely advised to skate defensively. That said, this is a 30-mile loop and there’s plenty of room for people on the trail. We expect medium to low traffic. Last year, there was actually a running race going on, and I don’t think our presence on the trail affected anybody negatively at all. If anything, I think all the runners were wishing they had wheels, and maybe that would be the biggest complaint.
It would probably be in your best interest to bring water and maybe some calories. The entire loop has over a thousand feet of elevation change between 9 and 10,000 feet in elevation. Frisco has accessible groceries stores if you really got in a pickle, but just come with what you need so you don’t ever get to that point. Last year, I brought nothing and I was fine, but not everyone will be as comfortable depriving oneself of liquid and calories for a couple hours. I think you would be an idiot not to wear a helmet, though! You just never know what could happen, and the loop is in the wilderness. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for a deer or a rabbit to pop out of the woods and into your line. This is a risk for any bike trail in Colorado.
It is likely that skating 30 miles at elevation in the mountains and thinking it is a ridiculous idea in your head. Your concept of skateboarding might in fact be way different than what we are talking about, though. We make complete skateboards that are strictly for the discipline of skating distance. We are passionate about traveling distance on a skateboard, and it reflects in how our boards feel. We recommend as low of a board as possible and as big of wheels as possible. Even better, a thin overall setup will allow you to skate with more efficiency, making you more effective at skateboarding for longer distance.
Specifically, we are talking about double-drop style longboards, and we currently offer two models for this purpose – the Pantheon Trip and the Ember deck. I could go on and on for days on these boards, as it is clearly an extension of my passion, but I’d rather move on for the sake of this blog and point you toward two others if you’d like more information. Go check out the Trip double drop vs Ember commuter longboard blog and read more about why the Ember is the best mini cruiser ever, if you’re interested in moving past distance skateboarding and further into just using a skateboard for virtually all commuter travel. The key for any “distance board” is that it sits low and can manage huge wheels. Big wheels will roll over anything and hold speed better. Effectively, they’re both safer and faster. Best of both worlds!
Additionally, it is a good idea to bring a Camelback or something similar. The helmet has been mentioned. I wear a Black Diamond Vapor climbing helmet. It won’t hold up to multiple hits, but considering that it is the helmet I use for distance pushing, there’s never any expectation to land on it, and in the 2 1/2 years I’ve owned it, such has been the case so far. And it’ll be there for one big crash if it ever needs to be. Standard skate helmets are just fine and the most guaranteed to save your dome in a skateboard accident, but a lot of distance guys will choose lighter and/ore more airy options. Bike and climbing helmets are pretty typical. TSG makes a lightweight skate helmet worth looking at, too! Slide gloves not required, but they may be useful. I’ll be wearing my fingerless slide gloves just in case. I’ve only ever had to use them once on accident during a distance push so far this year, but that is one time I was thankful they were on!
Lastly, shoes. You are going to want some. A lot of skaters will choose Vans or Nike SBs, or possibly Adidas or Chucks. Those are all fine, except Chucks! If your foot fits in them and they’re comfy, fine. But mine definitely don’t. Dedicated distance skaters often find themselves moving toward minimalist shoes. Minimalist shoes provide the best foot to board connection of any shoe…period. I even find myself wanting to wear them for downhill. If they made them tougher, I would! I have tried just about everything. My favorite so far is is the Xero Shoes Prio, for it’s relatively durable sole. Just about any minimalist shoe will feel good, but most will not last, because the nature of minimalism means you’re going to have as little material there as possible, and that usually includes the sole. The rubber on the bottom of the Prio is adequately thin but durable enough to make them worth buying for your distance skates for an optimized, balanced, and efficient experience.
Did we mention it? Coupled with an uphill and thin air, it is likely that you will pass out from euphoria. Some people pay for this stuff…
All event details can be found here, and you can tell everybody you’re going. Simple enough.
Facebook Event – The No Name Outlaw Strikes Again!
Loosely, people will be gathering at Breckenridge skate park on Sept 16 around 9am, with the expectation that we will start at 9:30. Last year we tried to go earlier and it was literally snowing. That doesn’t happen much this time of year, but it is Colorado, and anything can happen. Once the sun is out, everything melts off quickly, so we are starting a little bit later this year. Hope to see some new skaters there!