Long board is a sport not just recreation rider says

The conversation between Kimberley RCMP, City and longboarders will continue

Part II of II

Kimberley longboarder Noah Wesche met with Coun. Darryl Oakley and RCMP member Scott Milliken last week to discuss issues with longboarding in Kimberley.

Council has received complaints about longboarders on City streets and it has been identified as a priority in policing initiatives.

In Part I, the Bulletin reported that the discussion was around safety and a negative perception of longboarders. But Wesche says longboarding is also a sport, which he and many other riders take very seriously.

While many Kimberley longboarders use their boards primarily as transportation, it is also a sport. One only need look at the highly successful Sullivan Challenge, held every JulyFest weekend, to see that it is a sport that attracts a great deal of interest.

“It’s a really great group of people who travel to the races,” Wesche said. “Passive, easy going people. You never see a fight at the races.”

It is the sporting aspect of it that sees riders training on Kimberley’s steeper hills — and also the challenge of a more difficult ride.

Wesche says the Rails to Trails is great for commuting. If he goes to Marysville, he uses the trail rather than the highway. But there are also times when training requires more, as does the love of the sport.

“The Rails to Trails is great for commuting but I love cranking through pot holes and gravel,” Wesche said. “It keeps it real. Gerry Sorensen Way is a minefield. I love it. If I want to do the sport I’ll be on the road.”

Since most longboard races are held on city streets, then city streets are where you need to train to be ready for an event.

Much of the riding is done at night for a couple of reasons, Wesche says ­— better speed, and safety.

“We ride at night. The wind is going downhill so you can go faster. And at night, you can see the headlights of a car coming and you’ve gone by them before they realize you are there, so it’s much more predictable.”

And since every community in B.C. has steep hills, you are not going to get longboarders paying for the use of a track, even if a City provided one, Wesche said.

Oakley suggested that as longboarding was a legitimate sport, boarders may have to organize a bit more in order to deal with other bodies such as Council.

Wesche was against that idea.

“We don’t need another body. Cyclists and roller bladers don’t need to be organized. You won’t get everybody who rides longboards to go to meetings. I’d go to a meeting. I wear a helmet. But not everyone will. We need to act as role models but we don’t need a society.”

There is in fact a loose association of longboarders in the Kootenays, but that’s as far as Wesche would like to see it go.

Oakley pointed out that when Council wants to talk to longboarders they have to know who to talk to.

“When complaints get to a certain level, Council has to respond,” he said.

Wesche said he was more than willing to be a spokesperson and he also said he’d try to bring a few more riders to the next meeting (scheduled for September) but that it would be easier to get people to come if it were not held at the RCMP station.

“There has to be mutual trust,” he said. “I’m one of the few who would even come into the detachment.”

It was the decided the next meeting would be held at the Aquatic Centre meeting room.

Milliken said he would suggest someone in the Kimberley Detachment take the lead on the safety rodeo aspect and would ask that member to attend the next meeting.

Oakley said he’d try to bring another City Councillor along.

The discussion will continue on Thursday, September 19.