Longboarding, travelling and Toronto.
Having picked up longboarding in Melbourne, one thing I certainly miss is being able to jump on my board and go anywhere in the city. As fun as bombing a hill or seshing a corner is, skating is a great way to get from point A to B. In a city like Kuala Lumpur however, you’d just get run over.
There’s just nothing like getting around town one push at a time. The freedom to ride pavement and asphalt alike is inebriating. The journey, liberating.
Over here in Southeast Asia, skatable cities are hard to find. But the great thing about longboarding is that it can take you so much further than a few pushes. Longboarding is travelling’s perfect companion because you can always find someone in the global skate family wherever you go.
I recently got the chance to go to Toronto for some serious work-do. I couldn’t let an opportunity like this pass me by so I packed a longboard as well as my suit.
Best decision ever.
I extended my stay so I would have about 3 days free after I was done with work. There’s really nothing like exploring a city one push at a time and Toronto is a rediculously skatable city. It’s almost completely flat end to end. The sidewalks are nice and smooth, and if it gets to crowded, you can always take to the roads as long as you keep to the bike lanes. You can even keep up with the cyclists if you push hard.
Its not legal to skate on the roads, but the cops don’t mind. But you know what they say, whenever you go to a new place make sure to violate the minor local traffic bylaws.
Hands down, the best part of the trip was meeting up with the local longboarders. I found a couch to crash on at Club 54, home to some of the raddest and friendliest people I have ever met. Toronto is the farthest I have ever been, but Mike, Evan, McLovin, John, Chantell, you guys made me feel right at home. The cat was kind of an asshole though.
One of my best memories of Toronto has got to be sitting on the deck, trying out some local beers and swapping stories over some delicious Poutine as it slowly gets dark-out.
Along with the CN tower and Kensington market, on the top of my “touristy destinations to visit was the local boardshop, Longboard Haven, which turned out to be a really cool place to hang out. Its run by the coolest guys ever, Rob and Mike. Lost an hour or more mucking around with an indoboard they had in the basement and now I want one too.
There wasn’t much time to get out and hit the downhill spots, especially since I was there around mid-week, but I managed to catch the weekly car-holing session (as they call it). If there is one thing Toronto has lots of, its carparks. There was about ten of us, including some local groms hitting the carparks for the first time. Making our way from one spot to the next and before I knew it we were on the other side of the city.
There were spirals and sick figure eight carparks. Some were pretty intense too, almost a drop-in to a concrete tube. With blind corners, boomgates, drain grates, and Eric suddenly doing a coleman in front of you. That was one fun crash tho and noone got hurt. I bumped him hard enough his board straightened up and he skated off. Fun times.
By the end of it, it was past midnight and time to head back. So we ducked into the worlds largest underground mall and skated through it. Toronto was having a bit of a heatwave, so the cool skate through the winding underground maze was refreshing. At that hour, there were barely any people and we did not see any sign of security.
The next day, I grabbed a train and bus out to Niagara Falls. Of course I brought my board along with me, so I spent the rest of the day cruising along the falls. It saved me a good bit of coin to, since I didn’t have to pay for the local bus circuit which was rediculously overpriced. In fact, I think the ride to Niagara and the trip back to the airport was the only public transport I paid for during my whole trip.
I reckon I easily skated over 60kms or more in my short stay in Toronto. Sure, skating isn’t as efficient as cyclling, but its way more fun. And the look on cyclist’s faces when you keep up with them is gold.
A week later I am banging away at my keyboard all the way back in Malaysia. Already, I can’t wait to skate Melbourne in September with the old crew, I’m just waiting on dates to book flights to the Philippines at the end of the year, and now I miss Toronto.
So if you must go travelling, go longboarding. And if you go longboarding, go travelling. But be warned: you’re going to get homesick for the places you skate and the people you skate with.
Tell your mom.
About the contributor
When he isn’t busy offending us with his jokes, he will be deflecting aluminum boards coming his way. Ben loves poetry, long walks on the beach and is currently working as a business journalist at the Edge when he isn’t skating.