What’s the most fun way to travel from uptown New York to downtown Hoboken? Cruising on a longboard, of course! At least that’s what Adam Dabonka, a 29-year-old longboard enthusiast from West New York thinks.
Dabonka recently organized and participated in a commute on a longboard, (a longer, faster skateboard) from Manhattan, across the GWB, through parts of North Hudson and finished in Hoboken.
The 11.5-mile journey called “The Bridge and Tunnel Cruise,” was a well-attended trip that united longboarders from throughout the North Hudson area together in an organized event for “street surfers.”
“I created the event in order to share a great place to skate with other people as well it being a social event where people can meet other longboarders,” said Dabonka, a lifelong West New York resident.
Developing a following
The event was host to 35 longboarders, a record-breaking number for the group called the Jersey Jumpoff.
Dabonka began the group in 2006, which he started as a way to meet other longboarders, who were interested in touring the area.
“This has been our biggest turn out yet,” said Dabonka about the bridge cruise. “The first time I [organized a cruise], I thought I’d have 100 people. I thought it’d be real easy, but it wasn’t.”
Dabonka remembered the first time he hosted the event only three people participated, and the second time, only one person showed.
“I was going to stop doing it, but after the third time, 10 people came and little by little, more people came out,” said Dabonka.
Through word of mouth and his website on MySpace, the Jersey Jumpoff grew to attract more and more people from the area. Participating longboarders, ranging from ages 16 to 40, enjoy the camaraderie and sport of local tours by longboard that Dabonka said are not too common.
“It’s the first one in the county,” he said, referring to the group.
Dabonka attributes the lack of participation to the early stages of the sport in Hudson County.
“Lonboarding is steadily gaining popularity. It’s not a group sport, and normally, longboarders skate by themselves. [The Jersey Jumpoff] is a chance for those individuals to chill and meet people who also longboard.”
What a ride
The group gathered at 179th Street in uptown New York City, and from there, crossed the nearby, ever-busy George Washington Bridge. Upon arriving in New Jersey, the crowd traveled to Fort Lee’s Historic Park, where the riders enjoyed a plethora of hills and downslopes.
The group eventually made their way to West New York traveling down Palisade Avenue and continued to 53rd Street and Boulevard East in Weehawken where the riders stopped briefly for a raffle.
Thanks to the help from local sponsors, all of the participants enjoyed gifts including a pair of socks from Skater Socks. Other goods like DVDs, stickers, and a longboard deck by Bustin Boards were raffled off to a lucky few. Then, riders proceeded to the PATH in Hoboken where attendees from as far as Brooklyn, Queens, Connecticut, and Delaware were able to make their way home.
Dabonka, who had seen less than ample numbers in the past, said that the event was “very successful.”
Although he doesn’t have set dates for upcoming tours, Dabonka said he tries to arrange cruises about three times a year.
Yet talk of an upcoming cruise in May is circulating.
“The hills around here are really good,” said Dabonka, adding, “Everyone’s welcome to join us. We have no rules. Although helmets are suggested.”
For more information about upcoming events, visit: www.myspace.com/thejerseyjumpoff.
Nicolas Millan can be reached at NMillan@hudsonreporter.com
Longboarding explained – The sport of longboarding emerged during the 1950s in the sunny state of California when surfers wanted to recreate the sport’s sensation on the street. They soon found that with a longer board, speedier wheel bearings, and larger wheels, they could duplicate the rhythms and movements of surfing. Thus, the mechanics of longboarding are more closely associated to that of surfing or snowboarding rather than the longboard’s predecessor, the skateboard. The longboarder’s arena is usually a paved area with many downhills and turns, which is why longboarding was such a hit throughout places like San Francisco. Dabonka explained the lure of North Hudson, “There are really great hills that wind along the Hudson River and Palisades. Only the locals know about the hills – most people are unaware of the steep inclines that the area has to offer.” Traditionally, longboards range from 36 to 60 inches making them more agile and easier to handle. The sport also benefits from different styles. Riders can carve (travel quickly side-to-side in a graceful, swaying motion) or perform tricks with the help of slide gloves, gloves specially made to slide on concrete and recreate surfing methods. With specialized trucks (a specialty wheel/steering device attached to the board), quicker wheel bearings, and wider wheels, the possibilities of longboarding are left to the individual. It fuses the labor of transportation with fun and exercise, as seen in its recent popularity surge in urban areas. Interested in pursuing longboarding? Visit: www.silverfishlongboarding.com. – NM