Long-distance longboarding, aka longboard LDP or long distance pushing and pumping, is a discipline of its own. While cruising and downhill are the first styles that come to mind for longboarding, LDP longboarders form a very passionate bunch with strong dedication and performance goals similar to marathon runners and triathletes.
So what exactly is longboard LDP? It’s about covering very long distances in the shortest time, mainly through kick pushing but sometimes through a blend of pushing and pumping. Casual LDP longboarders take pleasure in riding their longboard across town or between towns. Serious LDP riders, on the other hand, train hard to build up endurance and speed, constantly measuring performance and taking parts in challenging athletic events.
In this post, I take a deep dive into this fascinating longboarding style, discussing its goals, challenges, techniques, and equipment – a very important aspect of LDP.
Why LDP longboarding
When asked the things that drew them to LDP longboarding, riders have varying answers, including:
- Some riders initially enjoy getting out and wandering on their longboard and progressively start pushing over longer distances, and LDP becomes as a natural extension of cruising.
- Some riders start with commuting to and from work or school and love the feel of floating on pavement with each push, leading them to start pushing over longer distances.
- Some have an opportunity to travel between cities on a longboard, and get hooked to LDP.
- Others get into LDP longboarding as a more exciting alternative to marathons or long-distance running.
- Many riders are drawn to LDP traveling after reading about and watching Adam Colton’s travels, a frequent source of inspiration for LDPers.
The main purpose of serious LDP longboarding is speed and distance. People getting started in the discipline typically push 10 or 15 miles every other day, at average speeds of about 12 mph. On the other hand, serious LDP longboarders can travel distances of over 100 miles in a single session on an open road or doing dozens of laps in a closed bike path. Ultra skaters commonly engage in 60+ mile races.
LDP longboarding events
There are many LDP events worldwide, including world-renowned races. The Miami Ultra-skate event is a very popular endurance longboarding and LDP race event hosted at the world-famous Homestead-Miami Speedway in Miami Florida. Longboarders skate as many miles as they can over the course of 24 hours – the focus is more on personal performance than racing.
The Chief Ladiga Silver Comet Skate Challenge is a 3-day, 188-mile stage longboard LDP race running on the Silver Comet trail between the states of Georgia and Alabama. Longboarders compete for fastest finishing time over the 3 days.
There are many other LDP events, such as Skate Central Lakes Endurance Festival (Minnesota), 200+ miles of paved closed-course racing; Bear Creek Lake Park (Colorado), a 3-lap longboarding marathon around the park; the Annual Centennial Sk8 Fest; and many more.
Besides races, LDP longboarders also often go on personal cross-country adventures e.g. skating from the Netherlands to Czech Republic, stopping in campgrounds along the way, from Seattle to Portland, about 206 of longboard pushing. Some set out to spend the summer skating across the U.S or along the coast of Gaspésie in the province of Québec (pushing for 90+ miles), while others choose to go on a 2-year longboarding tour around the world.
One last type of LDP longboarding event is relay races, where you have no more than 2 skaters on the road at any time with each one skating 20-40 miles per day (120-200 miles per team) for 23 days.
Key skills and techniques for LDP longboarding
Long-distance longboarding is one of the world’s most explosive endurance sports. The stance, posture, and pushing motion are key elements for achieving high efficiency, which in turn allows you to skate longer distances faster.
The challenge is to build an ability to kick push with minimal effort and maximum speed and efficiency while maintaining good stability and avoiding exhaustion and strain over long distances. It’s important to remain centered and reduce wasted movement as much as possible, so as to be able to hold a very high pace for the longest time over a run.
LDP longboarders are constantly seeking many subtle increases in efficiency and associated small speed gains, while trying to sustain such speed over longer distances.
During the leg outreach phase of the kicking motion, LDPers tend to use smaller muscle groups vs less efficient major hinge movers, both for efficient pushing and keeping themselves from rotating. Riders often start with small kicks to get the longboard up to speed and then big strong kicks to maintain pace.
Techniques such as switch pushing are also essential for LDP longboarding, as they help spread the effort across both sides of the body, contrary to same-foot pushing.
Well-trained LDP riders can easily reach top pushing speeds of 22mph while remaining very linear. Once they get past a certain speed, however, typically around 24 mph, LDP skaters run the risk of losing control and falling out of sync, and possibly of crashing.
Pushing on the longboard can also be alternated with pumping, which requires a very different motion and different muscles and type of coordination. Learn more about pumping is this other post.
LDP longboarders agree the best way to build up endurance is to maintain a given pace over longer distances week after week. This is a better approach than increasing the speed on a given distance over months of training.
Certain gym routines provide effective cross-training for LDP longboarding. Specifically, combining big muscle exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, row pulls, dips, lat pulls, shoulder press, shoulder side lift, and leg curl, help improve overall stability. You can use heavier weights once or twice a week, e.g. with 3 sets of 7 to 10 reps.
Such a weight lifting routine must be complemented with something like running for building endurance. You should alternate long slow runs with intense interval training. Use running shoes or medium-cut basketball shoes.
LDP longboarding setup characteristics
Though you can pretty much LDP on any type of longboard, the best longboards for LDP have certain characteristics in common.
Deck and shape
The main thing to consider is, for long-distance pushing you want a deck that rides as low the ground as possible so that your kicking foot reaches the ground with less knee flexing and squatting on the other leg.
Therefore, the best kind of deck for LDP (pushing, not pumping) is a dropped deck, i.e the standing platform is lowered relative to the truck mounts, and dropped-through, i.e. the trucks are mounted through the deck rather than bolted under it. The combination of dropped platform and drop-through mount results in the lowest riding boards for pushing.
Be aware, though, that one caveat of such a low deck is that it may touch the ground when riding over bumps and curbs and get scratched!
Another aspect of a good LDP longboard deck is a slight concave for tucking your foot while the other pushes. Slight foot pockets also helps with pumping if you’re going to alternate with pushing over long distances. Too much concave, though, can get in the way of LDP by locking in your feet too much.
Another consideration is flex: a stiffer deck means better stability and control when pushing (less springy), but on the other hand, a bit of flex provides suspension and helps absorb cracks and bumps and vibrations from the pavement, making for a more comfortable LDP ride. Comfort vs efficiency, the choice is yours!
More advanced LDP longboarders may opt for a bracket setup e.g. using G-Bomb brackets. These are the Formula 1 setups of LDP longboards, they’re a good choice for serious riders doing intense LDP training and competing in events. However, regular maple or composite decks are more comfortable and less costly than bracket setups, and a better choice for most LDPers.
Trucks and wheels
Many LDP longboarders use Randal trucks, reputed to be excellent pushing trucks. While many choose regular, 180mm trucks, depending on deck width some riders prefer to run narrower trucks so the wheels stick out less and there’s less risk of stepping over them when pushing hard (which can cause a nasty crash).
For pure pushing, 50º trucks front and rear work great, offering a good balance between stability and turn. For LDP longboarders who use a blend of pushing and pumping, on the other hand, it’s a whole different and more complex story. Short answer, a classic setup for these types of riders is a low-angle Randall truck for the rear and a Bennett Vector in the front. Be aware that true pumping setups are very different from pure push settings – topmount decks, smaller wheels, de-wedged trucks, etc. Again, see this post.
The best wheels for LDP longboarding are larger wheels which are faster at full speed – although smaller wheels have faster acceleration. As for hardness, softer durometers (78A-80A) result in a smoother ride on rough terrain and better grip, while harder wheels (83A) roll faster and longer on smooth surface. Therefore, large hard wheels are generally the best choice for LDP riding on bike paths and similar.
Popular longboard LDP setups
The following are some of the most highly-rated longboard brands for LDP:
Many big dogs in the LDP scene Like the 33″ Pantheon Trip because it’s quite small, low riding, and has a deep platform drop. It has many performance records under its belt. The Trip is often coupled with Orang Otang Caguama wheels or huge Pink Seismic Defcons (Amazon) with Zealous bearings, and narrower Paris V2 trucks 150mm (50º). Some riders prefer to run pricier low-angle 20º Don’t Trip Poppies in the rear for better stability when pushing switch at high speeds.
The Pantheon Ember and Pranayama are also great double-drop push setups. Like the Trip, the Ember is designed around big wheels (up to 85mm) and narrow trucks (e.g. 150 Indy’s). The Antidote Hurricane stiff carbon version also works quite well for commuting and trips up to 50 km.
Another example of high-performance LDP longboard setup used for races such as the Miami Ultraskate is a Bossa deck with G-Bomb brackets, Don’t Trip Poppies trucks, and Seismic Mango wheels with ceramics.
The Zenit AB 2.0 Push is another great LDP longboard option, super flexy and low pushing. You may associate it with Independent trucks (Amazon) and huge Orangatang Caguamas or similar wheel. You can also reduce the flex a little by switching to Paris trucks as that will reduce the wheelbase slightly.
Another great choice for LDP is the Subsonic GT40 which works with most symmetrical setup trucks (no wedging in the front or back). The default setup comes with Randall R3 180mm/50º (Amazon) but you can go narrower with 140-160mm trucks to avoid wheel kicks, e.g. Don’t Trip Poppy Euphoria 1500mm or more.
Some riders choose to turn an old dancing longboard into an LDP platform, e.g you can chop an old Loaded Tarab (stiff version) or equivalent and fit it with a G-Bomb torsion tail and bracket, a Don’t Trip Poppy front truck, and some Orangatang 77a Caguamas.
For some riders, LDPush & LDPump go hand in hand when riding long distance. For efficient pumping, unlike for pure pushing (symmetrical setup) you want to wedge your front trucks up high but keeping your back trucks solidly angled or down-wedged, so as to get the most acceleration out of your pumps. Messing around with the angles makes it way easier to pump. Pure pumping setups, however, typically use topmount decks that are high off the ground (contrary to pushing) to make it easier to put more weight over the front truck/wheels.
For an all-around LDP pushing and pumping board, the Subsonic Century 36 is a good hybrid option for any rider level. For more advanced riders and LDP competitors and elite riders, the custom Illuminati or La Maquina with G-Bomb brackets are top-tier, high-performing LDP longboards. While the Illuminati is primarily a pushing platform with a stable and consistent ride, the La Maquina is a hybrid with both good push (including switch) and pump LDP capability.
– Featured photo: “The Endless Push” by Ruth Clapes Diaz – permission: Loaded Boards
– Photo: “The Pusher Man” by Rob GreenRider; Rider: Max Vickers; permission: Loaded Boards