1. Sports
Matthew Gibson

5 Summer Sports to Keep You Standing Sideways

By October 4, 2012

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A surfer in Jinshan TaiwanI love board sports, but you know what drives me crazy? Watching snowboarding videos in the summer. Making me watch snowboarding videos in the off-season is like making a recovering alcoholic watch Leaving Las Vegas.

I lived in Taiwan for six years. Six long snowless, boardless years. When my brother came to visit me he insisted on watching snowboard videos almost every day.

I finally snapped, but in a good way; I bought a surfboard. Surfing has a steep learning curve so it was hard for the first several outings, but being back on a board was exactly what I needed.

Six years is longer than it takes most snowboarders to figure out that if they can't ride the coldsmoke, then they need find another board to keep them standing sideways. This post is for those who miss the feeling of floating through fluffy glades this summer. Here are five "almost-as-awesome-as-snowboarding sports" to keep you riding year-round.

1. Longboarding

Longboarding is one most accessible dry-land sports you can do in the offseason. Longboards are cheap, with low-end models starting around $50 USD, so buying a longboard isn't going to bankrupt you. It's also easy to learn and you can do it pretty much anytime anywhere.

Did I mention that it's a lot of fun? If you don't believe me, take a look at this video.

2. Wakeboarding

Learning to wakeboard is slightly more difficult than learning to longboard, but experienced riders pick it up quickly. A decent snowboarder can be up and turning in less than an hour. Having waterskied and snowboarded before, I was able to get up on a wakeboard without too much trouble. Although getting up and turning were easy, I had a lot of trouble trying to catch air. Perhaps it's because the boat I was behind didn't create a large enough wake.

Yeah, that must have been it. The boat was the problem.

Look at how good the boat is that these guys ride behind. That boat looks fantastic. If you can find a boat like that, you'll have a blast.

3. Kitesurfing

Kitesufing is harder. It requires the same basic skills as wakeboarding and snowboarding, but also requires you to learn how to control a kite, which is basically a small paraglider. I'm no expert on kitesurfing, but I did take lessons once. Although it takes most people about 15-20 hours spread over a few weeks to get started, I was ready to get in the water after one eight-hour day of instruction.

Kitesurfing lessons and gear are quite pricey, but it has one significant advantage over most other board-on-water sports: you can do it on both lakes and oceans. And, you should see the air that these guys catch.

4. Surfing

Now we're getting into the tough stuff. Your snowboarding skills won't help much in the waves. Surfing is relatively inexpensive (my first board only cost around $200 USD) but learning to surf well takes time and commitment.

The hard part isn't learning to stand on the board -- a good teacher can have an 8-year-old standing up less than an hour -- it's learning to read the ocean. You have to learn which waves to catch, which to pass up, and where the sweet spot is. Those things come from experience.

That said, surfing is probably my favorite sport on this list. Half the fun is spending the day sitting on my board staring at the waves. It's very zen.

Well, my surfing is zen. I don't know what to say about this maniac.

5. Sandboarding

I grew up in a small town and one of the places we'd party as teenagers was a gravel pit. One summer evening, I had my banged-up old Look Lamar snowboard in the trunk. Our teenage intellects decided it would be an exciting experiment to try riding it down the rocky hills. My friend Tyson fell on the first run and got pretty banged up.

That was long before I'd heard of sandboarding. Since then sandboarding has grown from an activity practiced at night by otherwise intelligent teenagers into a sport of its own.

Sandboarding is more common one would think. The world's first sandboarding park is located in Florence, Oregon. There are also popular sandboarding spots in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, and North Carolina, Central and South America, the Middle East, Australia, and Europe (more details are available in this list)

Sandboarding is similar to snowboarding. There are just more consequences if you fall. Although there are boards made specifically for riding dunes, it can be done on a snowboard -- just make sure you never want to ride that board on snow again.

I'm always looking for sports to try.  What do you do to train in the off-season? Tell me about it in the comments!

Photo © Matt Gibson

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