Planning Ahead

I realised last night the cause of the discrepancy between what I know the AGM is about and what some of the riders seem to think it’s about.

For me, the AGM is a legal requirement. We do it because it is a requirement of the Companies Act. For the riders, it’s a chance to talk about next season. They don’t realise that we’ve been planning next season for the past five months and already have decided what’s going to happen. I assumed it was clear because we announce the dates and locations for next season at the AGM. It’s obvious to me now that I’m wrong, and that riders (the few that are interested) still think that the AGM is the time and place to put ideas forward for next season. We need to change that.

At next year’s AGM (2014) we’ll provide more time for discussion, but the discussion will be about the 2016 season. It’ll need a well-managed agenda, which could include things like the name of the series and entry fees, but it will hopefully be a better way to source the riders opinions and meet their expectations.

And it fits the ATBA-UK’s community-building business model, so it must be the right way to do things.

How to make a Nompa

A Nompa is a hybrid mountainboard made from a Nosno and a Trampa. Mix them together and you get a Nompa, which brings together the best elements of both boards; the stability and toughness of the nosno trucks and the customisability and indestructableness of the Trampa deck.

Why would you want a Nompa?

The answer is ‘Adaptability’. You build your Nompa the way you want it. If you want a downhill board for going really fast on firetracks you build it one way, but if you want a short, agile freeride board for getting between trees you build it another way.

Roger's Nompa

I built mine for exactly that. It’s light, short, has pretty good torsional flex in the deck, and hardly any turn in the trucks. I built it because I needed a board for riding steep singletrack with lots of trees around (and in the dark). It’s probably as far out on the extremes as Nompas get, and yours doesn’t have to be anything like mine.

So, how do you you go about making your Nompa? First thing is to decide what kind of riding you want to do with your Nompa and how you want your board to ride. Then you can select the parts you’ll need to make your Nompa and put them together in the right way for you.

Deck

Nompa’s are made with a Trampa deck. The advantages of the Trampa deck over any other kind of deck are that you can shape it make it ride how you want it to. If you want a stiff board for BoarderX racing you might choose a 17 ply 35 Long deck and only shape the nose and tail, but if you wanted your Nompa for freeriding you might go for a shorter deck and cut loads out from the middle to make the deck twist more.

Your three options for decks are: 35 Long, 35 Short or 15 Short. Let’s look at the 35 degree decks first. Having a 35 degree nose and tail means you’ll get plenty of turn from your Nompa, making these the right decks to choose for most people. The only difference between the Long and the Short is the length of the nose/tail tips. The length of the decks between the creases are the same on both. So, if you know you want the extra ground clearance and increased stiffness that comes with having your trucks closer together, you can get a Short 35 decks. If you want your deck closer to the ground for more stability, or you want to be able to decide which way to have the trucks after you’ve bought the deck, go with a Long 35. Short 15

Trampa Decks are available in 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 ply. The more ply, the stiffer the deck, but also the heavier. You can reduce the weight of the deck by cutting away parts. Trampa Holy Pro decks have holes cut into the footbeds, which is an ok way of reducing weight if you aren’t using snowboard board or nosno soft bindings, or if you figure out where the bolt holes are going before you cut big holes in the wrong place.

Wherever you cut the deck, think about how reducing the weight will affect the ride. If you will be mainly downhilling then you’ll probably want some weight over the wheels to help with traction (of course the nosno trucks will give you most of that weight). If you want to make the board easier to jump you might want to take the weight from the ends and keep the stiffness in the middle of the deck.

Trucks

There are three options for trucks; Nosno Alloy axles, Nosno Composite axles or making your own flexi axles from Trampa deck material.

Nompa

Nosno Alloy axles are the easiest to get, easiest to work with, and the toughest trucks available. Nosno Composite axles provide a nice ride with extra absorption over the rough stuff. They also have the advantage of having an off-centre axle which means you can give you board more or less ground clearance just by turning them around. I haven’t made any Trampa flexi trucks yet, but Brennig has. The hardest thing about them seems to be accounting for the curve in the material and how that affects the wheels (and what direction they point).

Placing the trucks closer together makes the deck stiffer (even if you’ve cut loads out to make the deck have torsional flex) and raises the deck height. Having the trucks mounted as far out on the nose and tail as possible will give the deck more flex, and so more absorption over rough terrain, and put it closer to the ground which will make it more stable at speed. It’s all about adaptability.

Bindings

You can pretty much put whatever bindings you want on your Nompa. Snowboard Bindings, noSno Soft Bindings or even MBS/Trampa/Scrub Ratchet Bindings if you really want to.

Brennig's Nompa

You can set up your bindings however suits you. And you can adjust them to suit how/what you’re riding. For Downhill you might want to set you bindings for getting into a speed tuck, and if you’re freeriding you might want your bindings set duck-feet to make falling leaf and riding switch easier.

Want to make your own?

There are a few Nompas out there in the world, made by people experimenting with building the right boards for the way they want to ride. If you want build a Nompa get in touch and we’ll chat through some ideas about what you want and how you can do it.

Seeing more – back out night riding again

Its autumn. That means no more ATBA-UK competitions and the evenings get darker earlier, both of which means its time to get back out night riding.

I nompa’d up and headed out to my local woods. I taped a head torch to my helmet and did my usual warm up run. I then switched the torch off and headed down a new run I’d never ridden before.

To ride in the dark you need to be able to switch off your brain, stop thinking, just let your body feel what’s happening and respond. You can see, just not much. The trick is to not try to see in the same way you see in daylight. During the day you use the rods in the centre of your eyes to see in colour and in detail. In the dark your rods no longer work, which means you have a blind spot in the centre of your field of vision, and instead, you use the cones around the outside of your eyes which see in blurry black and white.

So, if you ride through the woods in the dark and try to see with your rods you’ll get freaked out by the blurry black spot in the middle of your field of vision. Instead, you need to accept that you can only see the blurry grey blobs either side of where you are riding. And then, as you know where the sides of the track are you can orientate yourself and stay on the right line. You just have to stop your brain from thinking so it can orientate you quickly when you’re riding at speed.

Riding a track you’ve never ridden before in complete darkness is an awesome way to experience the leading edge of reality. Its direct experience with nothing getting in the way. Totally here and now.

What we do

What does the ATBA-UK do? Most people seem to think that all the ATBA-UK does is organise competitions. Granted, a lot of our time and energy does go into the competitions, but that isn’t all we do. Things like competitions and instructor training are our ‘products’, but like any business, there is more to what we do, why we do it, and what we’re hoping to achieve.

The ATBA-UK’s mission is to support the growth of mountainboarding in the UK. That’s what we do, sure, but the how is a bit more complicated. The ATBA-UK is a community-building organisation. That’s how we support the growth of mountainboarding; by building the community of mountainboarders. Everything we do is about building that community. So, what do we do?

We sell low priced secondhand boards that have been donated to us by members of the community. This generates income for the ATBA-UK, but it also makes it easier for beginners to get over one of the barriers of getting into mountainboarding; the cost of the equipment. But selling cheap boards doesn’t just make us money like most shops, we also make more mountainboarders, which will become members of the community.

Our competitions give mountainboarders with a wide range of abilities the opportunity to achieve in their chosen sport, but what the competitions really do is bring together mountainboarders from across the country. The competitions provide a time and a place for the members of the community to meet, spend time together, establish, maintain and reinforce those social connections. This is important for those mountainboarders who are part of the competitive scene to feel a part of the community.

Instructors are vital for growing mountainboarding. The more instructors we have teaching people how to mountainboard, the more people we’ll have mountainboarding. More people mountainboarding equals more people in the community. Mountainboarding is quite unique amongst action sports in that it has had instructors and a growing body of knowledge about how to teach it right from the start. Most of the other sports had people doing them for years before anyone thought about how to teach them, but Stu had the foresight to realise that the easiest way to get people into a relatively unknown sport is to teach them how to do it. That’s why the ATBA-UK puts a lot of time into improving instructor training; because it builds the community.

Membership Packages for new riders, recreational riders, competitive riders and instructors brings value to the community. I don’t know how many of the ATBA-UK members use the discounts they get at centres, shops, ski slopes, etc., but they are there and we add to them every year. I sometimes think that the ATBA-UK gets more out of riders being members than the riders do, but the truth is that members are really important to the ATBA-UK. Without a strong membership base we will never achieve Sport England recognition so in this case its the community that is supporting the growth of mountainboarding, which is exactly how it should be.

The last thing about the ATBA-UK and the mountainboarding community, the most important thing, the thing that gives it all its strength, is that the people who run the ATBA-UK are members of the community that the ATBA-UK is building. So, as the community gets stronger, the ATBA-UK gets stronger, which in turn makes the community even stronger.

A speed control approach to learning to mountainboard

Different Mountainboard Instructors teach in different ways. Some focus on turning as a fundamental skill for controlling a board, some focus on powerslides to ensure their students can stop effectively. Its great that we have so much diversity in the way instructors deliver Mountainboard lessons. Its such a stronger position for a sport to be in than instructors arguing that their way is the right way or for the national governing body to try to force everyone to deliver lessons in the same way. Instructors need to be able find to way that suits the hill they are teaching on, and need the freedom to experiment with different techniques to find new and better ways.

I was chatting to an instructor who had found a new way of teaching mountainboarding, and said he found that kids fell less and increased their confidence quicker, and also had seen an increase in kids returning for more sessions after their initial lesson. The hill he teaches on is quite steep and he had found that when getting riders to link turns they would accelerate part way through the turn (when the board is facing down hill), panic, and loose control.

So, he now takes riders to one side of the slope, gives them a target to aim for on the other side and gets them to ride diagonally across the slope with the instruction that if they want to go a bit faster to turn down hill a little, and if they want to go slower to turn up hill. This way they get a good understanding of how the angle of the board on the hill affects the speed of the board and instead of learning turns to control their speed because they are going too fast, they learn to use turns to pick up speed, and at their own pace too. Then they ride the other way across the slope, gradually getting better at controlling their speed and linking their turns right from the start.

Diversity is a good thing. Let’s find more ways to teach mountainboarding and share them.