The term freeride
The term freeride can mean several things. It’s used in several sports such as snowboarding, ATB and skiing. In relation to longboarding it can mean 3 things;
- freeriding as an organized downhill event on a closed road
- just going downhill with some friends on an open road with traffic (we like the term ‘wild ride’ better, to mark the difference)
- freeriding as a style: instead of bombing hills full speed, you freeride them, as in carving, some sliding and drifting to check speed
Your first freeride
If you have never been to an organized downhill event on a closed road, it might be helpful to know a few things about how it’s all going down. There are no ‘written standard rules’ yet about downhill events, but the following points apply to lots of freerides;
- Full-face helmet, gloves, kneepads and often back-protector are mandatory
- At the start line there is a starting order (almost always fastest first):
- Street lugers/buttboarders
- Fast boarders (also sometimes together with rollerbladers)
- Slower boarders
- Drift bikes (also sometimes together with slower boarders)
- Always follow the track marshalls ‘orders’.
- Never cross an active track without the track marshalls permission (goes for both riders as well as spectators).
- Overtake on the left side (on straights) like in normal traffic.
- Longboarders: clap your sliding pucks if you want to overtake someone.
- Longboarders: if you’re going to do a slide, raise your hand and rotate it, so people behind you know what you’re going to slide.
- Longboarders: if you’re going to footbrake raise the hand of the side you’re going to.
- Leave the track as soon as you reach the bottom, other people are coming behind you.
- Freerides are almost always organised in clean nature areas. Keep them clean !
Safety on open roads
During freerides (on closed roads) you don’t have to take (oncoming) traffic into account. If you’re going on a ‘wild ride’ with your friends, there are some things you can do to improve safety:
- Stay in your lane !!!
- Always wear protection. The best way is still to wear a leather suit.
- Put a spotter on blind spots/corners.
- Decide on which signals to use for traffic. Example: 1 hand raised means clear/go, 2 hands raised, arms crossed, means STOP.
- Even better is the use of simple flags (made from some pvc tubing and a piece of old cloth like an old t-shirt); red for STOP, yellow for skater down, but continue with caution.
- Wear something with a bright colour, so you’re seen.
- Going uphill hanging on the back of a car or on a rope, can be fun, but it’s not allowed and not safe. So minimize the risk of getting fined or getting into an accident and just get in the car. Going uphill goes faster when you ride in the car as when you hang on the back.
The things above are things you can easily do yourself when you go riding with friends. You can however also take safety a step further.
- Have a car drive down in front of the group, with blinking alarm lights to notify any oncoming traffic to keep their eyes open.
- Use a telephone or walkie talkie connection (between the car and the first rider (with headphones/earplugs); the rider doesn’t need to speak/reply. He only needs to hear any comments/warnings the driver is giving.
Corner to corner
If you’re riding down in a pack and you’re lucky enough to have a road which is long enough to ride but has blind corners, you can do the following.
The first rider rides to the first blind spot, secures the spot and waits for all riders to pass. When everybody has passed, the second rider is now the first rider and it gets repeated until the end of the road.