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"Longboarding" has been around since skateboarding began back in the 60's and 70's, but has seen a huge renaissance recently, with it's own sector within the extreme sports market growing faster than any other in recent years. Specifically the last 10 years has seen it go from a very niche sport to a much larger scene.
Longboarders can still be called skaters, and longboarding is often referred to as "skating" by longboarders. Some elements of longboarding have now started to draw inspiration from street skateboarding.
"Longboarding" differs from "skateboarding" in the style of skating and the equipment - bigger boards with softer wheels allow higher speeds for commuting, cruising and racing, with board shape becoming specialised for different disciplines (see below - graphic to come). Competitors in downhill skateboard races can reach speeds in excess of 50mph during races, and so for official world cup races must wear motorcycle leathers to reduce crash damage. The less competitive elements tend to try to emulate the feel of surfing and snowbaording, and you can often see longboarders "carving" down big hills to control speed and for style.
For more detail/until I post images, check here!
Redbridge cycle centre was built for road circuit training using Olympic funding, but due to it's track having downhill sections has been used for large longboarding events three times a year since 2009. It's an ideal "fun hill" with lots of different slopes, an easy to learn but hard to master corner, good facilities and friendly staff.
Skateboard Slalom is the reason the venue has become a staple for longboarders - they started running World Cup slalom races on the hills and invited other skaters to use the falcility. Slalom skateboarding involves timed runs on set slalom courses for seeding followed by timed knockout heats to find the fastest rider.
The venue for Hogtoberfest allows downhill riders to only reach just over 30 mph and most riders will wear pads, gloves and a helmet rather than leathers for comfort and manoeuverability. The gloves are made with velcro palms to allow low friction pads to be attached - these add an extra balance point and help with "slides" - sideways drifts to control speed and line going into corners. The racing at this event is points based heats.
At Hogtoberfest there'll also be Downhill inline - rollerbladers who race with the downhill skaters at comparable speeds, buttboarding - essentially laying down on a custom longboard, and sliding - a variant given over to tricks based on the speed-controlling drifts.
The longboard community is very diverse - ages range from 10 to over 50, and there is a larger contingent of girls who longboard. The general demographic in the UK is older than that of skateboarders. Many riders who attend events are in their 20s and 30s and are employed professionals. Recently there has been a surge of younger riders becoming more active in the scene. Hopefully you'll get to experience it yourself, but the atmosphere at longboard events is relaxed, friendly and welcoming.