Featured rider: Tim Pritchard

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Tim tells us all the nuances of pumping, skating long distances and developing his own footstops – PSD’s.
Hello Tim! Where are you from?
Coventry, West Midlands, England. But, I’m half Canadian, my Dad has lived here for about 30 years.

Did you ever skate in Canada?
No, I’ve visited Canada 3 times and it’s a great place, but I was not skating then. My sister still lives there so a visit in the future would be really easy.

When did you start skating?
Around 5 years ago, I was big into push bikes before then. Well, I’m pretty into push bikes. Other passions have been rock climbing (indoor and outdoor) as well as Skiing. A mountain bike injury to my ankle about 3 years ago stopped me skiing and mountain biking so much, so focus has been on longboards for a while now.
Longboarding for me started with Chris Vallender. He was looking for something to keep him excited during the summer when he couldn’t snowboard, so he started longboarding when he’d recently moved to Paris. He somehow got me into the idea that I’d like it, without ever even standing on a skateboard. So, I ordered up a cheap longboard from America and received it 3 days before travelling to Paris. The next day, we skated the full width of Paris which was around 12 miles. It was truly epic, and I was broken! I could barely walk for a week! So, I basically started distance longboarding from the first day I skated.

Who is Chris Vallender?
Chris Vallender is one of my best friends. We went to secondary school together and both lived in Coventry until we went to University. Chris is a great guy and now into distance skating in quite a big way. He’s mainly a pusher, but after I got into LDP, he’s found that stoke too.

Is there a skate community in Coventry?
No. As far as I knew for a long time, I was the only longboarder in Coventry, and there still aren’t many. Instead of having a physical community, I shared my experiences, techniques and setups with people on forums and emails. I’ve made many friends over the internet through longboarding and it’s pretty amazing. It’s almost like internet dating, without the dating bit. Great friendships being made without ever meeting. I’ve since met up with a few folk and it’s been great  to meet them and ride with them.

What has been your most significant online skate lover?
The PavedWave forum is amazing for me. A group of friendly, like minded skaters, talking every day about LDP (Long Distance Pumping). I posted and read the forum almost every day for months. My greatest friendship through the internet and forums is Barry Brown who lives near London. A truly inspiring guy and we’re now great friends. We email every week. His focus is also on LDP, so we instantly had something in common.

Does your friend Barry skate in London?
Barry used to skate in London quite a bit. He used to skate slalom in Hyde park and I know that he’s been on a London SkyRide.

Have you been skating in London?
No, I’ve not skated London. I’ve skated through some of the train stations whilst on my way to Paris. I’ve skated Paris 3 or 4 times, it’s a really nice place to skate. All the pavements are wide and butter smooth tarmac. Some hills too, if you don’t mind searching.

Any plans to hit London?
I was hoping to make it to the London SkyRide this year but I haven’t been able to discover if it’s on or not? I’ll be going to the Birmingham SkyRide, anyway.
As for other London plans, I’ve recently heard about the Critical Mass Events and they sound epic! 1000 cyclists and around 100 skaters taking control of London’s streets for a couple hours sounds amazing to me and something I want to be involved with. The organisation also sounds amazing, just a meeting time and place, then some people head in one direction and the pack follows, no set route or plan. I can just imagine big smiles from everyone, everyone but the people in cars, buses and taxis, that is. It also sounds like a great message to people, that you can get to places without a car.

What is PavedWave?
PavedWave is a website and forum setup by James Peters (JP) in America. It’s focus is on Long Distance Pumping (LDP). There’s quite a bit of data on there about the unique style (such as shadow boxing and Hangin Loose, Rock the Baby etc) and board setup, as well as news from around the world on LDP, pushing, distance and other related topics. The forum is great and many friendly people share their thoughts and help people figure out how to pump, and what to change in their setup.

Is distance skating your first and only love?
A tricky question. I love my wife and my son the most. My first love was riding push bikes. The bigger the jump, the better.
As for longboarding, I do love distance. Something about the goal and the challenge, as well as seeing many places and being able to ride many places in one day. I think that very first day in Paris set the tone for me and longboarding; having fun and covering miles on a longboard. I have always liked the idea of getting to places under my own power and I cycle or skate to most places. I don’t see cycling or skating as being very different. I’d quite happily cycle or skate anywhere. I came to longboarding quite late and with average fitness, I’m not very good at downhill or sliding. So, I guess my love for longboarding is distance related.
More specifically, my real longboarding love is LDP. I think from very early on I wanted to “pump” like in slalom, carry momentum without pushing and pop hard stable turns in quickly. As soon as I rode my first LDP board, it was like a eureka moment “this is what I NEED in my life”.

What is LDP?
LDP is Long Distance Pumping. Basically, forward momentum is created by turning, or by releasing the energy that you’ve created from making a turn, it depends how you look at it. There are many different techniques to pump, all based around rhythmical left and right turns.
An LDP board setup is basically an oversized slalom setup, but with a slightly flexible deck instead of super stiff. The front truck turns very quickly and easily, the rear truck is very stable and turns very little, the common wheels are grippy 75mm’s and conventionally the deck has a slight flex that has a high return. The front foot is positioned directly above the front truck, and the rear foot is around the mid/rear of the deck.
To get an idea of LDP, I can pump uphill quite happily if the road is smooth. And on the flat, I can cruise at 16mph or wiggle up to around 20mph. I now solely ride my LDP board. It might be a top mount, but I’ll quite happily push it 30 miles. It just turns exactly how I want it to. Plus, it makes me smile.

I always thought the P in LDP stood for Pushing!
I think the abbreviation LDP has been adopted for both Pushing and Pumping. It’s certainly open for confusion.

How is LDP technique different from slalom?
You can certainly have a slalom stance and style for pumping many miles, but there are many that are quite different. It all depends on setup and preferences. Plus, it’s great to change styles to get different muscles working or resting. My preferred style is more of a wiggle or a hangin’ loose style, rather than a forward facing slalom version. I found that trying every style I knew of back to back one day, really helped me learn and understand how to pump; I’d highly recommend it. Also, your arms actually do more than you think, I guess it helps with body posture/movement/balance and keeping a good rhythm. If you don’t stay in rhythm, you lose speed and/or efficiency.

How can a beginner get into LDP?
The PavedWave forum and website give loads of information on how to pump. Any setup can be pumped if you know how, I know a few people who can pump a symmetrical “freeride” type truck setup, but I’m not able to. The easiest thing to do is to make adjustments to a current setup. The first things would be to get soft bushings in the front with a steeper turning angle, and harder bushings in the rear with a more shallow turning angle. Given the different pumping techniques a go wouldn’t hurt either.

What do you ride?
I ride a Subsonic Pulse v3.0, lightest flex. The front truck is a Grennett, a Bennett Vector 5.0 that’s been modified by Griffin Skateboards, my preferred rear truck is my Virage LDP but the Seismic is a close 2nd. And the Tracker is also fun and is easier to kick out. I change my wheels between the 75mm Big Zig Lemon/Limes and the Seismic Speedvents. I’d really like a Virage Vite front truck, but we’ll see. The only other extra on my board is one of my PSD footstops. I don’t think I could ride a pump board without a footstop anymore!

Are those your sponsors?
I’m not sponsored. I don’t think I’d like to be sponsored as such. I don’t race or get involved with enough events to promote a brand well enough. What would be great is to be involved in testing parts and developing. If any of the following people want to get some feedback on their parts, please let me know: Subsonic, G-Bomb, Octane Sports, Roe Racing, Tracker, Bennett, Sk8Kings, Longboard Larry, Galac.

What’s the greatest distance you’ve covered without pushing?
Probably not a massive distance. I enjoy pushing my LDP board and I don’t mind the tall ride height. So, I pump when it’s smooth and flat or downhill, and push regular and mongo the rest of the time. The first time I raced with my pump board at the GoodWood Marathon, I had the wind and hills on my side, so I managed to pump at least 90% of the time. I’ve no doubt pumped between 2 and 3 miles without putting a foot down in the past, but I’m sure I could manage 20 or more on the right day and venue.

Why do you have a footstop on your board?
I find that a footstop gives that little bit more grip for your front foot. When pumping, the position of your front foot is quite significant, if you move it forward or back, the board handles quite differently. I really like being able to jump on my board and get my feet exactly where I’m used to having them. Also, with your front foot so far forward it reduces or stops the chance of your foot slipping off the front of the board; I tried my board a while ago without a footstop and almost had an accident, my front foot was dancing around everywhere.

What does a footstop do that gnarly griptape can’t?
I think footstops give more support for your front foot, and it means your foot always gets positioned where you’re used to it. I had some heavy griptape on a pusher once and I found it quite annoying; I was used to old standard grit griptape where I could re-position or slide my feet. With heavy grip, you almost have to lift your foot entirely off the board and place it back down. This might not sound like much trouble, but after pushing for many hours over many days it can lead to accidents with tired legs.

What is PSD?
Pritchard Skate Designs. I’m a Design Engineer for a construction equipment manufacturer by day and I used some of my creative energy to start up the PSD Business. It’s more for fun than money and it’s also a great way for me to learn how “business” works. I’ve focused on footstops as I was interested in making my own already. There didn’t seem to be any made of plastic, so I went down that route. I now have around 5 models to choose from with the option of custom designs. I’m currently working on a footstop with Griffin Skateboard in America and Newton Shred’s in London England. I’m having great fun with the footstop’s and PSD.
The footstops are currently made on a rapid prototype 3D printer from ABS plastic. It creates the parts in many layers and builds up the parts. I’m hoping to move on to cast resin parts.

When did this start?
It slowly started around 2 years ago but officially in April 2011. My initial idea for a footstop was something a little different and gave loads of adjustment. However, my limited business knowledge and lack of backing funds meant that I didn’t want to run with that design to begin with (it’s still largely a secret and on the back burner until I know more and want to take out a patent). So, the designs I currently have are a single part that is more simplistic than my original design. From there, things have grown and I now have quite a few designs. I’ve done some bespoke footstops for people and I’m currently working on a design with Griffin Skateboards in America and another with Newton Shred’s in London England.

How long till we see the true revolutionary PSD stop?
I’m not really in a rush to start selling this design. I’m happy with my current design, they work well and they’re nice and simple. I’ve had more thoughts about the design so I’m sure it could be even better than it is now.

Who else is involved in the business?
My wife helps me out with some trips to the Post Office and threading nuts onto bolts. Other than that, I’m pretty much a one man band. Barry, near London, helped to design the Barrier footstop, named in recognition of the man himself. And I’m working with Griffin Skateboards and Newton Shred’s as I said. Many other people have helped shape the footstop designs through comments and testing. I have some other options for the future but it’s a bit early to divulge too much information. Solid plastic footstop’s I think would be a great thing for the future.
I also sponsor some skaters, I give them some footstops, stickers and T-Shirts. I’m currently sponsoring Chris Vallender, Aaron Skippings and Clement Gayraud.

What role do both companies play in the development of the footstop?
I’m the founder of PSD and I designed the initial footstop’s myself. I do all of the CAD work myself and the parts are made from my 3D files. They’ve changed a few times over the past 2 years but they’re essentially the same. The FWD+ came first, which soon shaped the FWD+ Short that is basically a shortened version of the FWD+. The idea behind this was that some people might not need all the movement of the FWD+, and it means that it would certainly fit on boards with brackets, like the G-Bomb’s.
Then I made the Barrier footstop for Barry Brown. He gave me some sketches and hand made some out of wood, then I designed the footstop on CAD. The Barrier is the shortest and lightest footstop I can make, whilst following my family resemblance.
Then came the Twin footstop which I created to meet the requirements of two things, being able to have your foot in almost any angle and position, and work in both regular and goofy stance.
The latest collaborations are with Newton Shred’s in London and Griffin Skateboards in America. They’ve created sketches and Thane from Griffin even made some samples out scrap wood from making decks. Each has been a development and many different model options have been created on CAD. I enjoy making new designs and working with people to give them exactly what they want.

What’s special about plastic footstops?
Nobody else makes them, as far as I know. The benefits I see are that they’re smooth, light and grippy. I always worried about falling onto my metal footstop’s and getting punctured. The great thing about my current 3D printed footstop’s is that a one-off footstop design is the same price as one of my existing designs, all it takes is time and imagination to create something new.

When will you move on to cast resins?
I’m trying some casting now but they’ll need some testing. Making good parts without bubbles is even harder than you might imagine.

Are the footstops only for LDP?
No. They’re for whatever you want to ride. Slalom, freeride, downhill, LDP, you name it. A benefit of them being plastic is they form to the shape of the deck. This means that there’s nowhere for your shoelaces to get trapped!

What sort of events/tracks are you happiest at?
The ideal track would be butter smooth tarmac, a wide track, 90% flat, little wind and nice or interesting scenery. The track from Paris to Dieppe ticked all these boxes, but I was a pusher then, and it rained the entire time. The other great place I’ve found, through Barry, is Dorney Lake near London. It’s a track around the Olympic rowing lake. Really flat and smooth, super for pumping a load of miles.
My favourite event is the marathon. Well, the GoodWood Roller marathon. It’s great to see so many people on wheels and great for the hype, as well as skating as fast as you can against other longboarders. I managed 3rd last year and narrowly missed 2nd, I just didn’t have as much energy at the end as Ben.

Have there been any events at this lake?
I’ve been there twice but not for any events. There’s been problems with management/security there in the past and I think skateboarders were banned for a time? I believe it’s okay for a few skaters to socially skate there but they wouldn’t allow an event. Also, there’s almost no chance of an overnight Ultra-Skate. I doubt their insurance allows people to be there after dark as it’s not lit. At the end of the day it’s a purpose built rowing lake and the path around it is for the trainers to speak to the rowers. It’s great that they allow people to use the paths socially.
I believe a couple of people have done an Ultra-Skate there but it was quite some time ago now, and it was on super special request.

You lost to little turquoise Ben?
Yeh, I got beaten by Turquoise Ben. We had a pretty amazing race. We were kept together for probably more than half the race, then I made a break for it and he counteracted with force and left me for dust. Then on the last lap I caught him up as I think he was chatting to Jon Steel? So we then were neck and neck for most of the last lap, but Ben had the legs at the end. He beat me by 7 seconds. It was a real race feeling for me and I know Ben felt the same.
It was also an eventful race. I got leg cramps and spasms so bad that my foot twisted in a scary way and I also got too close to a Roller Booter and ended up doing the running man, putting a hole in my hand when I hit the tarmac.
I also learnt some valuable lessons from Ben. Race day was pretty windy, so pumping was almost out of the question. So, this year I pushed almost the entire race on my pump board and copied Ben’s tuck position. The tuck was key in the wind and I hadn’t used it to my advantage before the day. I also discovered a stance where my foot didn’t need to ever move, I could push regular, mongo or tuck without moving my feet; all I needed to do was focus on going as fast as I could.
I think if it wasn’t for me, Ben would have been slower and the same for him, he wouldn’t have been as fast if I wasn’t a similar pace. We both managed sub 2 hour times.

How is the season going for you so far?
Unfortunately I’m taking a slight break from training and events this year. Last year I focused on the Goodwood marathon and did as well as I’d hoped for. After Goodwood, my focus moved over to moving house, my wife and now my new son. Goodwood marathon isn’t on this year so it’s felt even more like a recovery year. I haven’t skated anywhere near enough this year but it’s not over yet. I’m hoping to get to the Birmingham SkyRide and get some miles done then. A rough plan is to start pretty early and take a relaxed time to do as many miles as I can; somewhere between 50 and 101 miles would be great. I’ve never popped my “100 miles in a day cherry”, so it could be then. Then there’s the Bath-to-Bristol run that is always a good bit of fun. I’ve not heard about that one yet this year?

Where would you like to see PSD in the future?
I think cast parts will be more desirable to skaters so I’m hoping to sell a few more. If they’re made out of similar material to bushings and wheels, people will have a really good idea of what that footstop will look and feel like. In the future, it would be great to see the PSD footstop’s for sale on all of the online skate shops. Also seeing them on boards in Concrete Wave Magazine and on downhill boards at the races would be really great. More adverts and merchandise would also be cool. I’d really like the PSD brand to grow. As for future products, I’ve designed some light brackets but I need to work out a suitable manufacturing method. I’m sure I’ll continue to develop accessories and other parts for Longboards.
There have been recent PSD developments! There are plans for RipTide in America to start pouring the PSD footstop’s and using their own urethanes. They’ll then sell and distribute to all over the world. The new RipTide made footstop’s should be really strong and give a huge amount of grip. So far, a small batch of prototypes have been made for testing in 3 different duro’s. Production should start very soon after testing has been carried out.

What else would be in the PSD roster aside from footstops?
I’ve designed some light brackets for longboards. One for the front that allows you to attach a front bicycle light, and a rear for a rear bicycle light. They basically mimicked the handlebars and seat post of a bike. Unfortunately I don’t have a suitable material for these to be made from, but the design is now proven.
I’ve also put together a trailer for a GoPro camera. The idea of a camera following you as you skate is quite a nice idea. I have a few improvements that I want to make to it and I hope it will work really well.
As for future products, I’m happy to stick with footstop’s for the moment. We’ll have to see what the future brings, but I’m sure I’ll find something.

What do you do when you’re not skating?
I listen to music, read What HiFi Magazine, work on my house and garden, and have good times with friends and family. I’ve also been spending some time painting and moulding footstop’s in my garage. It’s a really good feeling when you develop an idea from nothing to something in your hand. As for a job, I’m a Senior Design Engineer for a Construction Equipment Manufacturer; I design Dump Trucks, Tarmac Rollers and Diggers.

Choose 3 numbers between 1-33.
11, 14 and 23.

11 – What’s your favourite website?
I’m struggling to think of one. I really enjoy visiting the PavedWave website and forum, and I love checking out the Subsonic website. I don’t seem to regularly check any in particular.

14 – If you could have any super power what would it be?
If I couldn’t get hurt, that would be cool. Hit everything at top speed without the fear. You’d soon get good at loads of things, as long as you could afford to replace broken bits.

23- Bacon/Chocolate?
Chocolate. I’d easily live without bacon as I could have something similar. No more chocolate; that would be a disaster!

It’s been awesome doing this interview with you bro, come down to Critical Mass soon!
I certainly hope so. I need to get to one or two, before they somehow get banned? You never know!

Any thank yous?
A big thank you to my wife, for pushing me to fulfill my ambitions and do everything that makes me smile. To Chris Vallender for getting me into longboarding. Check out Chris’s blog here: http://hereandla.wordpress.com/
My son for being a superstar. And lastly my parents for being great people and giving me all the opportunities I could have hoped for.
A thank you needs to go out to my Coventry skating friends too, Chris Thompson, Pete Oldfield, Johnnie Holden and Mark Mitrofaniuk.

Links
www.pritchardskatedesigns.com
From the website you can link to my Facebook and YouTube pages.

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