Back to Wheelabrator. It’s close, it’s safe and it’s a great place to shake out the winter cobwebs. I just love the vibe of this place… Sharing tips, trying gear, talkin’ trash… this place brings out the best whether you’re a pro or a grom, Wheelabrator is a great place to get your urethane on the pavement.
Gravity Sport University is how I got involved with Public Access Television in the first place. Back in 2009 I was laid off from my printing job I had for over 25 years. I decided to get involved with Westborough TV after reading an article about the station and the role of Public Access Television in the community. Instead of becoming intimate with the couch during my “unenjoyment”, I introduced myself to the friendly staff and pitched my idea for Gravity Sport University. The rest is history…
In this premier episode, I attempt to explain Gravity Sports to the uninitiated and get the first season started. I tried to stylize the production to the point of near obnoxiousness. This one is hard for me to watch.
The second GSU show is all about that very first Central Mass Longboard Festival in Harvard, Massachusetts that Mike Girard has developed into the Northeast’s most anticipated skateboard event. Now in its 6th running, this look back is really a piece of Downhill history.
“The Farm” event was the only slalom event I had ever been to. I was impressed with the skill and dedication of these athletes. Some of these riders had been skating since the 70s. This episode has a bonus “vintage” class segment that is pretty cool.
A “Road Trip” to Pennsylvania provided lots of great footage and some quality downhill fun. Follow a mass of gravity junkies at an “outlaw” downhill race.
I look back on these first four amateurish productions fondly yet with a bit of embarrassment. As I prepare for Season 2, I hope to step up the production and focus more on the people making Gravity Sports happen. Expect lots of interviews and rider profiles for this next season of Gravity Sport University from Westborough TV. Follow me downhill.
Its that time of year again. The colors start popping on Facebook, skate forums and downhill blogs in the form of Gravity Sport event posters. The poster artwork seems to be getting better with each new event. I really love the 2015 Gravity Fest poster as it effectively captures the essence of a gravity sport competition (and because it features street luge). It seems the artists are on their way to creating a whole new genre of “street art”. There’s quite a collection growing from artist Stefan Kaiter-Snyder grinds out the good stuff for Mike Girard’s Central Mass events.
The 2015 Gravity Sport season is stacking up events making for a very busy season for all those downhill artists out there. Of course, then there’s the event tee shirt to be designed, a swag staple of any downhill event.
The Gravity Sport Posters are a global phenomenon. Gravity works just as well all over the world and downhill events are popping up all over…
In 2013, I even got an opportunity to craft my own poster design for Tom Barnhart’s first Acme Downhill race in Port Jervis. Collecting the logos of the sponsors was the hard part.
20 or 30 years from now, I can see a new and profitable collector’s market for these gravity powered posters. Hoard on, downhill fans…
Yes, building streetluges and classic luges was quite an adventure. Build, ride, repeat. The Noreaster Street Luge (pictured above) was the end result of my research and development, a street luge for the people. This project was all part of an unrealized dream of a career building and selling Gravity Sport Gear.
That First Street Luge Build
My basement was a dusty lab filled with all manner of wheeled toys for going downhill and I was always there tinkering on some crazy gravity powered project. After watching the first X Games on College Hill in Rhode Island, I set about constructing my first street luge in the 90s.
I built this “rail type” streetluge right after those races in Rhode Island. A very basic design, this streetluge would never pass a tech inspection (inadequate padding at the ends, for one) nor could it keep up with today’s dropped designs. There was no headrest on this model but I used a pivoting shoulder plate which helped me to maintain my postition on the street luge, especially in turns.
The lessons learned from this project include the importance of “dropping” a luge to lower the center of gravity and the conclusion that footpegs aren’t necessary to street luge. I had a lot of fun with this street luge, earning my high speed gravity scars with my first wipe out over 40 mph. Yes, I was riding without a leather suit and the resulting roadrash was a painful lesson even though I was wearing a heavy jacket. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR PROTECTIVE GEAR!
FRAME: 6061 aluminum square tube / welded steel double tube for stiffness.
SEAT:1/8″ aluminum with hardwood hand rails and closed cell foam padding.
TRUCKS: Siesmic with “black” tension springs installed.(About 210 mm)
WHEELS: Roadie Racers, nylon core, softish (80 durometer) 70mm diam.
(shown above with Xtreme Wheels SS)
FOOTPEGS are standard BMX wheel mount, SPEEDOMETER is inline skate type.
NERFBARS are formed from standard conduit stock.
LENGTH: 7′ 7″ (including nerfbars)
WHEELBASE: 4′ 10″ (adjustable)
WIDTH AT WIDEST: 15″ at seatpan
TOTAL WEIGHT: 28 lbs
Stacked Laminate Street Luge ~ 2004
I got into Classic Luge in 2002. I played around with a bunch of designs and ultimately realized I needed to have a skateboard company “press” my shape into plywood. And that’s what I did. I started selling the HAE Classic Luge on the ‘net with moderate success. Then I started cutting up the decks with blemishes to build a new kind of streetluge. After a couple of tries and a whole lot of sawdust, the stacked shaped emerged and I was enjoying some high speed runs and discovering how much fun Street Luge actually is. I tried many different handle designs and liked the bar end cycle grips that were available in various shapes. I think I tried every one available.
BODY: Stacked 9 ply birch laminate
SEAT: Stacked Laminate w/closed cell foam padding.
TRUCKS: Randals – RII-B
WHEELS: ABEC 11 FLYWHEELS – 90mm diam.
LENGTH: 62 inches (including bumpers)
WHEELBASE: 51 inches
WIDTH AT WIDEST: 12″ at seatpan
(not including the side grips, another 4 to 8 inches)
TOTAL WEIGHT: 33 lbs
Fiberglass Street Luge Part 1 ~ 2005
Now I was hooked. Making Street Luges is as fun as riding them. I was driven to find the cool shape. I started working with fiberglass. I was covered in foam/fiberglass dust for weeks. And soon the Green Monster was born. A beast, the Green Monster dwarfted all other street luges on the track. But it worked. I loved this ugly greenie but I knew there were better designs… I had to go SMALLER, SLEEKER and LOWER to the street.
BODY: Foam, plywood wrapped in Fiberglass
TRUCKS: Randals – RII-B
WHEELS: ABEC 11 FLYWHEELS – 90mm diam.
LENGTH: 70 inches(including bumpers)
WHEELBASE: 54 inches (double front trucks)
WIDTH AT WIDEST: 18″ at handles
TOTAL WEIGHT: 37 lbs
Fiberglass Part 2 ~ 2006
It was back to work on a flex free, fiberglass clad wood design. The result was my ultimate weapon. This new street luge had it all: sleek shape, low slung profile, great handles, slick graphics and HEFT. Yepper, this beast was built for the race track. This was the design I was looking for. But it took forever to make. Hours upon hours of futzing with the file and sanding myself silly. There had to be a better way…
My goal was to develop a street luge design that would bring more riders to the sport. The Noreaster Street Luge is inexpensive and very easy to ride. By using a well known skateboard company to press my decks, I was hoping the “industry” would take notice and other skateboard manufacturers would jump into the street luge game.
It’s been epic journey that has me going downhill with a great group of people. I may not be building as much but my high speed gravity powered adventure will continue for as long as this body can handle it. Follow me downhill.
Lots of Street Luge and Classic Luge gear For Sale
I’ve been into Gravity Sports, specifically street luge and classic luge, for well over 2 decades. During those years I spent more time building street luges than I did riding them. My quest to design an inexpensive and easy to ride street luge I could build and resell has filled my basement with all manner of skateboard gear and street luge “experiments”. Combined with my years developing the Skateluge, my basement has become the set of “Extreme Hoarders; Skateboard Edition”.
Seriously, one more skate bearing and I’ve reached max capacity.
Sooooo… in order to please my landlord and help fund my 2015 Gravity Sport travels, I’m selling as much of this stuff as I can. Yeah, some of this gear is not “very fast” and would be more suited to the wall of a cheesy family restaurant but that doesn’t change the fact that its gotta go…
What you’re not seeing are the tiny tears in my eyes… I love this stuff as it reminds me of all the quality time I spent in that basement fiddling with all the coolest skate gear. At one time I foolishly thought I would make a living from Gravity Sporting and the associated gear. My folly is your gain… come pick through my basement and get going Downhill.
Items for sale include various complete streetluges (see top pic), many used buttboard and streetluge decks, various skate trucks and wheels… Of course I have my usual selection of new products from Skateluge USA. Lemme know what you want by email, I’ll see what I have… otherwise stuff might show up on eBay over the next few weeks.