How To Slide A Rail by Sam Flammers
Getting that rail slide on!
Intimidation or fun? Why not both? Flammers here form CIB Yorkshire in England. I have been playing around on rails for a good year now and although I can get on, slide and get off I wouldn’t say I had mastered the skills yet. And that’s ok! All in good time... Tell you what though, I do enjoy the feeling of sliding a rail no matter how far I travel! Like most of the stuff we try in the skate park there is usually a way to break it down and approach it from a beginners point of view, and rails are no exception. It doesn’t need to be intimidating, find a nice low rail or build your own for ultimate satisfaction. (See my build idea on Dog Days magazine website)
Here are my top tips for getting started! We all begin somewhere right!
Work within your comfort zone. You can convince yourself to do many things…including falling so you ensure build-up to each attempt as safely as possible. Working with a friend helps a lot. Use them for physical support as you gain confidence.
Practice some jumps on the flat first of all. Try to jump and land both skates at the same time. Use a box ledge or a step to practice jumping on to when you are comfortable. You should be aiming to land on your Slide Blocks. Make sure you're warmed up and take yourself over to the rail. Gauge the height and the condition on the rail. Every rail I see I approach it the same way. I stand in front of it and I step one foot and take my weight on the skate. Then building up to both skates stepping up and stepping off and then jumping up to a relaxed standing position. Next, I stand parallel to the rail so my plates are in line with the rail and jump both skate a quarter turn to land on the rail. At this point, you may feel some lateral movement!
The school of thought is to jump and land both skates simultaneously! However, so many skaters jump and land one skate first, either lead leg or back leg. So the point here is to do what works best for you. The safest way seems to be landing together to keep the skater balanced continually throughout the slide. When one skate lands before the other there can be a chance of one leg traveling faster than the other (I have definitely done this), so your stance is very important! I tend to land my back leg first and that’s works ok for me. Make sure you keep your legs at a comfortable distance apart. Too close and you may tip to one side. Consider the skates to be just a bit wider than your hips, once you are traveling in the slide!
So you now need to add that lateral movement. Skate up to the rail from the left or right. The faster you approach the rail/ the longer you will slide (unless it’s on a hill then gravity will take care of you) so you can take your time with this and build up to a comfortable speed. Think of it as a clock with the rail being in a line from 3 to 9. I like to approach it from the right at about 7 or 8, some skaters will approach it from 8 or 9 on the right-hand approach. The closer to the rail angle the further you will travel on the rail as your body is continuing in that direction already. Skating straight on (6 o'clock) would not see the skater doing much travel for instance as the skater's direction would forward, then make a right-angled movement, it doesn't feel very nice. Left skaters will aim for 3, 4 or 5 o'clock. I’m still working on my angle and speed of approach.
It's also important to consider the direction of travel. If you find yourself on the rail...getting some slide action…look at the end of the rail because that is where you want to be heading, and don’t worry, your skates are still attached to your feet!
Love it or hate it, you will find it on a rail at some point. I don’t like surprises hence the reason I test out each rail I find. My personal plan is to get on and get off each rail I see…if I slide, then great. If your preference is a wax-free rail, take a cloth with you or better still some Brillo pads (the rough stuff you get on washing up sponges) and rub the wax away. Just be aware of other park users here. If somebody has waxed it and are still using it then maybe wait till they are done or ask if anyone minds you remove it as you are new to rails or don’t need/want the wax. The same consideration is to be taken before waxing a rail or surface of any kind. Be the kind of skater you'd like to encounter!
There you go, hope you find something useful here and I look forward to learning this aspect of park skating with you soon.