As the evenings elongate into wistful molten orange horizons, your boots have become more sodden and odorous than a teenager’s “special" hand-towel, and your goggle tan makes you look like you have dipped your face in Marmite – your mind inevitably drifts like dandelion seeds towards the summer months and how the hell you will make it through from May to December without any snowboarding.
Here are a few basic tips on what you might want to do during the hot months, before it gets cold again.
Dominic ‘Howzee’ Zimmerman
Learn To Surf
Yeah brah, you can hang ten in the green room and shack yourself all summer bro. Or not.
As someone who has spent a big chunk of his life within a short walk or drive of a decent point break, but has barely managed to get beyond being slightly un-shit at surfing, I cannot help feel anything but pity for the landlubbers who head to the coast each summer in the hope of mastering the sport of Hawaiian royalty.
If riding switch is like wearing a chip hat and being attacked by seagulls, then surfing is like trying to do the same whilst riding a unicycle backwards down a cobbled street past angry yeomen who are pelting you with cabbages. Online snowboard retailers, in need of a steady revenue stream to satisfy their venture capital backers, will seduce you with images of hot babes / dudes, golden sands and the promise that surfing competence (or at least wearing technical boardshorts) will lead to exotic sexual relations with inquisitive foreigners at sundown. In reality you will spend all summer going straight in the whitewash, trying to get the seaweed out of your hair, burning your eyelids and being shouted at by frustrated locals who have had their break invaded.
"If riding switch is like wearing a chip hat and being attacked by seagulls, then surfing is like trying to do the same whilst riding a unicycle backwards down a cobbled street past angry yeomen who are pelting you with cabbages"
But since no-one will ever know if you are actually any good at surfing, as long as you learn when to use the word “dude" appropriately and get a couple of photos of you in a wetsuit, you will massively increase your chances of getting laid when you head back to the mountains in the winter – so it’s definitely worth the pain and humiliation.
No snow on the ground? Near concrete or tarmacadam? Let’s skate!
But wait…skateboarders think we are dicks – which is particularly hard to take if you can skate as well as snowboard (ref: snowboarders desperate to make sure their kickflips are in their video parts – "look, I can skate, honest!"). 20+ years of aping their style, tricks, vernacular and attitude have left skaters feeling that we are completely devoid of original ideas and have no credibility.
"Thanks to 8 year olds on scooters and groms with BMX bikes, even if you are a bit shit you still won’t be the most annoying person there"
Whilst they may be right, skating is still fun. And since most skateparks have now been invaded by 8 year olds on scooters and groms with bmx bikes that are too big for them, even if you are a bit shit you still won’t be the most annoying person there.
If even the skatepark is too intimidating and you are getting heckled by people without pubes then just buy a cruiser skateboard and hit the streets – as this is perfect for people who want to get the sensation of going sideways during the summer months, but can’t bear the weight of expectation that they are going to ollie up the kerb. However, unlike surfing, please be aware that skating will only increase your chances of getting laid with people who don’t like their parents.
Enhanced spatial awareness, fitness, smiles – trampolining is the perfect summer sport. It will help you eliminate the backflip to scorpion from your repertoire and make your core muscles glisten like those of a Health and Fitness cover model.
The only real downside with trampolining is that core snowboarders will accuse you of cheating. If you were a proper snowboarder (who are almost as grumpy as proper skateboarders) you would eat shit for months in order to learn your triple corks / frontside fives. Practising on a trampoline makes you a really weird combination of being both a pussy and a jock at the same time. Which pretty much makes you a rollerblader.
Still fun though. Especially if you do it in lycra with fluorescent leg warmers.
Wakeboarding sits somewhere below snowboarding but above kite-boarding in the sideways credibility stakes. It may well be primarily practised by people whose parents have wealth management specialists cold-calling them whilst they are reading the “how to spend it" section of the FT at weekends, but it is actually quite fun.
Back in 2002, when I returned from a long winter spent in Whistler, and settled into the fulfilling rhythm of kissing corporate ass and executing a career development plan in London, I turned to wakeboarding to keep my stoke alive at weekends. I was amazed at how entertaining it was being dragged by a cable around a lake full of duck shit, and it also gave me the chance to learn upside-down stuff in a low risk environment (without having to go full pussy/jock on a trampoline). Yes, I had to adopt some dubious fashion tics to fit in (shorts over the top of a wetsuit, bad look), but it helped me learn some new tricks, and bulked up my guns in the process.
But for god’s sake, don’t let any skateboarders know you wakeboard.
Take Up Vandalism
This is a tried and tested mechanism for handling boredom and hopelessness. As the months of doing nothing stretch out before you, rather than letting your inactivity and the worthlessness of your existence get you down – go and smash some stuff that no-one cares about any more.
Nothing beats the simple pleasure of breaking the windows of dilapidated industrial buildings, especially if you combine this with acne and a second hand iphone with a cracked screen playing tinny music at over 140bpm, and some fags.
It may not be constructive, it certainly won’t enhance your CV, but by hanging around on deserted industrial estates you may actually spot some urban rails to session when the snow returns, and you will almost certainly enhance your credibility with the grumpy skateboarders that you want to impress (although you may have to do some skag first though to win their trust).
Learn A Musical Instrument
If, come the end of the winter, you find yourself struggling to deal with the prospect that you won’t win every contest you enter, you can always turn to music. The recorder or piccolo are easy to pick up, or the bongos, or perhaps the guitar.
Learning an instrument may require a mind-numbing dedication to executing a selection of standard riffs that you repeat in the same order, over and over – but it is nothing like snowboarding. Isolating yourself from distractions for several hours at a time will be important, as will hiring a good coach or teacher who will keep you on track when your motivation wanes. When you have finally learned to execute all the chord changes to perfection after a long summer spent on your own, you can unveil them to the world, and seek approval.
Like I said, nothing like snowboarding.
Perfect Your Look
With a whole summer to get your look right, you have no excuse to look like a dweeb when you hit the slopes. Look in the pages of skateboard mags to see what snowboarders will be wearing next year, research which brands are run by people with tattoos, buy a decent graphic design package for your Macbook pro so you can properly assess the merits of different sticker configurations and under no circumstances should you buy anything that is actually waterproof or practical in any way.
Whatever you ultimately go for, be sure to have a couple of back-up looks worked out, in case when you get to the park you find that everyone else is wearing something different.
Work Like a Dog, Definitely Don't Enjoy Yourself
For a proper snowboarder who can’t wakeboard, the summer months mean doing a shitty job, sleeping on a floor and eating dog food and toenail clippings to save enough money to be able to eke through the winter without starving or having to sleep in the bin shelters.
When choosing your summer employ, you should look for a job which is so utterly meaningless and depressing that, like traumatic childhood memories, you will simply forget about it when it is over. You will wake up somewhere around November, realise that you have got a few grand in your pocket, and be able to head to the mountains for another 6 month bubble without any negative thoughts whatsoever.
"You may find yourself actually considering the merits of a career... this is clearly stupid"
The temptation is to look for a rewarding job with people you like, but this will only start to confuse you. You may find yourself actually considering the merits of a career, thinking that you can earn a steady wage, hold down a relationship with someone who loves you, and still satisfy your shred craving with a few weekend breaks to the Alps and a 2 week holiday in March. This is clearly stupid.
You will be much more miserable if you work a shitty job, but this will make you much happier as you won’t be leaving anything worthwhile behind when you disappear off into the wilderness to ride pow like Mike Basich.
What the hell were you thinking? Why would you stop snowboarding when you can hit up the plastic fantastic, the snowdome or even better – head off to a glacier and speak in a generic European accent all summer?
You don’t need to risk losing your credibility by trampolining or wakeboarding. You don’t need to subject yourself to the pain of a crappy job, smash stuff, spend months second-guessing what look everyone else will be rocking, or learning your piano scales in a private music school… just max out a credit card/take out a payday loan and head to a glacier for a shred, before it shrinks to nothing forever. Have barbecues and drink beer all afternoon, high five people you barely know and snog Scandanavian teenagers on gap years who are desperate to lose their virginity.
The summer is awesome dude! Keep snowboarding!