How to Avoid Pebbles While Skating
A skater's worst enemy is pebbles. There are countless times when I have failed a trick, landed on my face, lost my balance, or felt my soul leave my body, all because the tiniest pebble decided to mess with me.
Pebbles won't be a problem most of the time, but that's the problem, they hit when you least expect it, and that leads to humiliating scenarios and often injuries.
Pebbles suck, and they are especially irritating when using a regular skateboard. Because of my personal vendetta against pebbles, I have decided to make the ultimate guide on how you can avoid pebbles. In this post, you will learn how to minimize the damage pebbles do and effectively avoid them.
Learn to Spot Pebbles
Learning to spot pebbles is an essential skill for a skater. If you know where they are, you can easily avoid them. Let's take a look at where it is most necessary to look for pebbles.
In the Skatepark or at a Skate Spot
It is important to look for pebbles before you skate at your skate spot. When you perform street tricks, you don't have the time to look out for pebbles before the landing, so your best option is to look for them beforehand.
Scout the run-up and landing off your skate spot and remove any pebbles in the way. If there are too many pebbles to remove them all, and you don't have a broom at hand, assume that you are going to get held back by pebbles; this way, you at least won't be surprised when it happens.
The area is much bigger when you are at a skate park, making removing all the pebbles hard. If you are skating at one spot in the park, just follow the same guidelines as when you skate at a skate spot, but if you roam around the park, you need to look ahead and focus. The pebbles you can't see will probably not be able to stop your board.
If your local skate park doesn't have a broom, I encourage you to bring one that you can leave at the skate park. It feels so nice to brush away all the pebbles ruining a spot.
While Cruising on Your Skateboard
You are going to hit a lot of pebbles if you like to cruise on your skateboard. You can't remove the pebbles while cruising, so the only thing you can do is pay attention to the road.
Don't look directly in front of you while skating; if you do this, you will end up crashing into people or an obstacle. Try to look almost straight ahead but check the ground every few seconds to make sure you aren't riding into a pile of pebbles.
My experience is that you only fall when skating at low speeds. Pebbles might surprise you if you have a decent speed, but your board won't suddenly stop. If you are new to skating, you will probably fall, but it won't affect you as much when you have experience.
Get Softer and Larger Wheels
Skateboards used in the park tend to have smaller wheels; since the surface is often smooth, they also have harder wheels. The harder and smaller wheels have a harder time getting over the pebbles without stopping, so changing your wheel types can make a huge difference.
Larger wheels have more surface area, which makes it possible to go faster, and they have an easier time getting over cracks and pebbles without stopping. Small wheels catch pebbles and stop rotating; this is why Longboard wheels and cruiser board wheels always have a decent size.
Soft wheels make a smoother ride. Harder wheels would be faster if the ground were completely smooth, but softer wheels are much better on a rough surface. You can easily roll over pebbles and cracks with soft wheels, unlike hard wheels, where they try to bounce the pebbles away instead.
It is the combination of soft and hard wheels that makes a nice cruiser board; this combination is probably the most effective way to avoid falling when riding over pebbles.
A softer wheel is less practical for doing tricks; it is much easier to land with harder, smaller wheels. This is why you shouldn't get cruiser board wheels if you plan to do tricks, but get softer wheels than skate park wheels.
What to do When Skating over Pebbles
When you are skating and spot pebbles, you can do it the easy but ineffective way or the hard way but effective way. I advise you to stay safe, but it feels so much better when you master the basics of skateboarding instead of playing it safe.
The easy way is to simply maneuver your way around if possible, and if it's not, pick up your board and continue to skate when you have walked past the pebbles.
Let's take a look at the skilled way to do it.
Learn to Shift Your Weight
When you hit pebbles, your board will slow down, making you fall forward. If you shift your weight towards the back of the board, you will ride over the pebbles more easily because you will fall forward when you hit the pebbles. By shifting your weight to the back, you have more time to catch yourself, and the front wheels will go over the pebbles easier.
When you know how to shift your weight properly, you can shift your weight to the front after you are past the pebbles; don't do this unless you have practiced it. When executed wrong, you will fall off your board.
It is much easier not to fall if your back wheels hit the pebbles; this is why I recommend doing a wheelie over the pebbles. Your nose will fall down fast, so be ready to land, but you get amazing results when executed correctly.
Resist Falling Forwards
You are going to fall forward, but if you can resist it, the worst thing that will happen is that your board will stop. A good way to practice resisting is to ride into a patch of grass; your board will slow down fast, and you will need to hold yourself back.
How to Skate Over Cracks
The best way to skate over cracks is to do a small wheelie. Lift the nose up when you ride over the crack, and you won't have any problems. If the crack is larger, you can do a small pop; it doesn't need to be a full ollie since a simple pop will help get some weight off the board.
Softer and larger wheels will also help with skating over cracks. Longboards cant pop, but Longboard wheels are soft and large; this makes it possible to skate over cracks with ease.
Get a Cruiser Board
If you love cruising on your board, I recommend getting a cruiser board. The wheels are so much different from a regular skateboard that you will be shocked. You can ride on any surface and expect a smooth ride, and they are able to go faster than a regular skateboard.
I use my regular skateboard for cruising if I want to do tricks, but if I just want to ride around the city, I will pick my cruiser board 100% of the time. You can get cruiser board wheels for our skateboard deck, but you will need riser pads; riser pads are ok, but they will make it harder to perform tricks. Unless it is to save money, you should get a cruiser board instead.
Great Skate Wheels for Pebbles
If you want a great skate wheel for pebbles, just get yourself a wheel from a reputable brand like spitfire, and make sure they are over 60 mm and have a softness of 97a or a little less.
Cruiser board wheels are entirely different. I recommend using my favorite cruiser board wheels from Hawgs.
Larger Wheels can Cause Wheel Bite
You have a bigger chance of getting a wheel bite with large wheels. You will either need to use riser pads or sand your board down to make wheel-wells. If you want to learn more about wheel bite, click here
Pebbles really are the worst, but there is a lot you can do to make them affect you less. First, learn to look out for pebbles and remove them when you can.
Cruiser boards have the best wheels for skating over pebbles, so I recommend getting one if you like cruising around.
Try to master riding over pebbles without falling forward; you can do this by doing a wheelie or shifting your weight to the back. Of course, you can do the same if riding over cracks, but a small pop will also work.