NYC

TO ROCKAWAY AND THE THRILL OF HAMBOARDING Do­minique (Nico) Klimek ex­plains the free­dom of hit­ting the streets of New York and be­yond on her ham­board.

Surf Girl - - Spot Check - pho­tos CHELSEY ESTRIDGE

Iwalked into the of­fice with blood smeared across my knees and a smile stamped across my face. My lunch break was spent ‘ham­ming’ the streets of Green­point, Brook­lyn; rid­ing past apart­ments, cof­fee shops, parks and graf­fiti­cov­ered walls. Carv­ing and gild­ing across a river of black, I coasted down the streets with nowhere I needed to go. I just wanted to ride. My ham-time ended with a wipe­out in the mid­dle of the street, but I had enough adren­a­line pump­ing to mask the scrapes and bruises. Proud of my newly earned bat­tle scars, I looked down at my bloody knees and only felt an even greater pull to­wards hamboarding.

When I moved to Brook­lyn I knew that get­ting to the wa­ter or moun­tains on week­days wasn’t go­ing to be pos­si­ble. I also knew that be­ing a boarder, I’d need some­thing to feed my hunger. When I stum­bled across the ham­board web­site I knew I needed to get one of th­ese boards. They looked like surf­boards, and in the videos I watched over and over again, the rid­ers even looked like they were surf­ing.

I’d caught the feel­ing I was chas­ing: the hair down, sun-stained skin, sand-em­bed­ded-in-our-scalp ap­proach to life. That feel­ing that frees and em­pow­ers us. It’s so much more than cruis­ing down the street – it’s rid­ing to the rhythm of a cul­ture. The cul­ture of wak­ing up hun­gry for the sun­rise. Pad­dling out while ev­ery­one else is asleep, knowing that there are choices we can make. And now, even when wa­ter isn’t avail­able, the morn­ings can still be ours on the streets. We are con­stantly stok­ing our in­ter­nal fire by get­ting new toys, ex­plor­ing un­fa­mil­iar streets, and em­brac­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

On sum­mer week­ends I al­ways head out to Rockaway, to spend my time surf­ing and soak­ing up the sun on the beach. In Rockaway the surf and ur­ban cul­tures merge to­gether. The main street, set a cou­ple blocks back from the wa­ter, has walls painted with colour­ful mu­rals sprin­kled be­tween build­ings. Planes dot the sky as they shut­tle peo­ple around the world, and the train drags it­self along el­e­vated tracks, mark­ing the hori­zon. Surfers weave be­tween the delis and cafés, mak­ing their way to the beach.

Ham­boards are still fairly new to the board world. With their but­tery turns and surf­board shape, they evoke a lot of cu­rios­ity from board­ers and non-board­ers alike. I al­ways find my­self meet­ing peo­ple and chat­ting with strangers when I’m out ham­ming. They want to know what I’m rid­ing, and are in awe of the trucks and the mas­sive wheels.

At the end of the day I head to Rockaway Beach Surf Club – a feed­ing ground for taco-lov­ing, mar­garita-drink­ing beach go­ers. There is al­ways a mi­gra­tion that takes place around lunchtime and happy hour, as the hun­gry and thirsty drag them­selves off the beach to the lo­cal wa­ter­ing hole. Here, any dress code goes – wet­suit, bathing suit, t-shirt – what­ever. There’s sand be­tween our toes, hip-hop, R&B and reg­gae play­ing, and the smell of trop­i­cal sun­screen hangs in the air.

When sum­mer comes around,

I’m the first one to kick off my shoes. Sand is held hostage in our cars and our sheets, and sun­beams leak­ing through the win­dows are our alarm clocks. And when night falls the stars twin­kle over­head and ev­ery­one is silently wish­ing that time could stop. We know that it won’t and so we push on­ward, boards in hand, mak­ing the most of each day, and em­brac­ing ev­ery earned set of blis­ters and bloody knees.

@neeks.peeks

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