Trans Scend Survival

Trans: Latin prefix implying "across" or "Beyond", often used in gender nonconforming situations – Scend: Archaic word describing a strong "surge" or "wave", originating with 15th century english sailors – Survival: 15th century english compound word describing an existence only worth transcending.

Category: Wheels and Fitness

My Fragile-Bodied Guide Scooter Safety

I like scootering.  I like riding and learning tricks so much I think it it safe to say 94% of all my major injuries occur from skatepark mishaps….  Which is part of the reason I really don’t ride much anymore, because there is an extraordinarily good chance I am either still recovering from some injury from last time or am still certain I will surely break something again and am not ready for that extra burden of healing just yet.  🙂

Below is my (in process) Fragile-Bodied Guide Scooter Safety.

-Jess

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pt. 1: Reflecting On Stunt Culture (Theories and Frisbee)

 

There are only tough times finding academic craziness to get involved with during spring break, so I decided I should break out the unicycle and do a trick.  It was a 180 unispin….  But that is unimportant.

I think tricks, fitness, and the subsequent cultures they create are a valuable asset worth cherishing.  From “grandmaster”, 50+ year old women and men duking it out armed to the teeth with ultimate frisbee discs, knee braces, ankle support, and vast quantities of beer to 20-30-year-olds scaling famous rock faces with nothing but a trad rack of cams and a bag of snow white chalk, to some french dudes doing unicycle ballet to the little lads and lasses on their skateboards and scooters, one can draw a clear conclusion: humans seem to benefit from physical and mental challenges that really don’t fit in with most primary evolution-related characteristics.

Oddly enough, even the most elite athletes in frisbee, climbing, and scootering will consider their sports part of their culture and a way to “chill” while also pushing limits.    Does that make sense?

I had a great friend a few years back- nicest fellow in town.  Not only was he extremely well educated and respected in the doctoral-level health services community, he was  one of the top competitive ultimate frisbee players in the country, heralding from Boston.  This dude is the definitive quarterback of frisbee for crying out loud- upon entering a stadium where he was playing on evening (I had not realized his elite-ness yet, I was just going to a game to be nice), I quickly realized the crowd was chanting, screaming my friend’s last name- when he came roaring into the field leading the team, I could feel the adrenaline in the crowd like helium in my lungs.  Yet: this was just his game, not even a “sport” (like pro baseball) to him as far as I could tell…  …My friend had unearthed the “ultimate” way to deal with stress from his lofty academic and work positions.   Despite the immense amount of time, energy, and failure put into a complicated, dangerous game (he definitely tore more ankles, shoulders, and labrums “playing” than he ever would working on his doctorate) he was able to find a balance between relaxation, play, and work while maintaining a cheery attitude and high octane, dedicated mindset.

Photo by Bob Durling – Ultiphotos.com

We see here a balance of playing, chilling, and working in this multifaceted fellow.  Why is this so important?  It turns out the balance being struck here is neither trivial or even fully understood.  researchers in the 80s convinced themselves all this play and relaxing in other animals was about preparing for adulthood, deciding the reason for all this extra work animals go through boiled down to a ultimatum of adult survival and reproductive success…

…These researchers were great and important in advancing this difficult-to-pin-down subject, but that idea  definitely does not complete much of our story here.  We can observe all animals who have play and chill in their student workbook will indeed play as a child, about the same amount.  We will then observe the data correlating any aspects of play to adult success really doesn’t provide amazing parallels or strong trends….   So it must be more fundamental than what simple 80’s observation studies can show us.

These boundary-pushing sports we engage with for fun teach us to teach ourselves things and support others doing the same thing; in this way, it is a self-serving cycle.  This learning, teaching, and progressing through extreme sport  is simply a way of living and experiencing life through a lens already suited for play, relaxation, and hard work.

Next up:  Scooters + Youtube = ?

pt. 2: Reflecting On Stunt Culture (Scooters)

Gone are the days of hoodies and hooligans (or rather, that crowd seems to be moving somewhere else) at the skate park.  In their place is the new generation:  12 year olds tearing about on scooters.  These kids are tuned into the vast, global network of scooter riders who wear their helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads and give strangers high-fives for doing a good job.

The key factors of playing, chilling, and hard work are all present on the scooter.  Indeed, it would appear after even a brief stroll through youtube, the amount of “work” put into this “chill” sport is astounding.

Theories aside, I have included two videos I think highlight the new, revamped, youtube-generation scooter crowd below.  Note how the ideas in pt. 1 apply…

Here is Claudius and his mini-sized friend.  Not much is known about where Claudius actually came from, aside from popping up on youtube with a bang a year or two ago.  He can be easily identified in other youtuber/scooter rider’s videos in the background with is iconic neon-everything gear and apparel and his exotic, titanium, and tennis-grip-gripped scooter (while doing wildly technical tricks while yelling in various languages with a thick German accent, often involving a backflip to signify he completed his run).  The odd thing is he is seen in the background of videos from australia , germany, the UK and California….  Regardless, he seems to have a good influence on younger kids with his amusing sensibility (or lack of sensibility in general).  He preaches things like knowing one’s limits, “staying hydrated”, using foam pits/resi/gymnastic gyms for safe practice, and always wearing protective gear.

This fellow is based out of NYC, and is one of the “original” (and really only) flatland scooter riders.   He has been actively working to keep the “chill factor” a big part of the scooter scene for the new young folks.  He generally doesn’t do wildly crazy tricks, instead focusing on cherishing practice, focus, and riding in fun spots with friends.  This ethos is very important for sports like this, when one can easily start asking, “why on earth am I putting myself through this difficulty trick?”.

Ideas to keep things in check – according to Jon, Claudius, and myself:

Have relaxed expectations for a session.  Going big, whatever that may mean, usually implies pursuing the hormones and their precursors (Epinephrine and dopamine respectively) instead of the primary intent of the sport: to play, chill, and progress.

Understand why it is alright to expect some level of injury.  Getting hurt happens, and doing things that look somewhat dangerous and perhaps a little stupid probably are.  Yet- safety is easy, almost as easy as getting hurt.  With that relationship in mind, we can aim to only ever get “a little hurt”.  The level of progression should ideally match the level of safety precautions- for instance, there are some 12 year olds doing backflip 180 tricks (flairs) in concrete skatepark ramps.  In most cases, this is actually fine (if they have knee, elbow, and head protection of course!)  because they probably threw hundreds of attempts into a foam pit, then a few hundred more to a soft, spongy ramp, then a few hundred more in a smooth wood ramp on which they could slide safely down on their knee pads.  That is a vast amount of safety measures to ensure every time they do that trick and subsequently go upside down, with the worst that could happen ending with them on their knee or elbow pads sliding down the ramp.  Similarly, an intro ultimate frisbee player should learn to condition and stretch their shoulders (hammer throws), calves (sprints) quads (epic jumps) and do proper warm-ups on their feet and toes to strengthen the worst and most common frisbee injury: the “out-for-6-months-softball-sized-ankle-sprain” or worse ankle injuries.  I see most older frisbee players with one or even both ankles wrapped firmly in a brace- not to say this is inevitable, but we should understand this is a huge danger and new players should be extremely careful with their fresh ankles, whatever sport they end up going into the deep end with.

 

Reflecting on stunt culture – A few references and further content:

Sharpe, Lynda. “So You Think You Know Why Animals Play…” Scientific American Blog Network. Scientific American, 06 Aug. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

Thorpe, Holly. “Sign In: Registered Users.” Action Sports, Social Media, and New Technologies. Te Oranga School of Human Development and Movement Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Wood, L., et al. (2014). Dispelling Stereotypes… Skate Parks as a Setting for Pro-Social Behavior among Young People. Current Urban Studies, 2, 62-73. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/cus.2014.21007