1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Sabina, just turned 58 and ‘retired’ last year. I am a skateboarder, a streetluger and a surfer. I am the owner of the online magazine Thrill Longboard Magazine
(www.thrillmagazine.com) and also have a personal blog (www.viewfromthecoffeepot.wordpress.com) which I started with my husband, Ralph,when we decided to sell up and live in a van for most of last year.

I have lived in England most of my life but was born in Berlin and lived in Germany for the first few years. My mother was German and worked in the NAAFI where she met my father, a British soldier. Together with my brother and sister, we lived mainly in Barracks in the north of Germany, eventually settling full-time in England when I was around 8 years old.

My teenage years up to when I was around mid-20s were a bit of a crazy and sometimes utterly miserable blur and it was about then that I chose to follow a Christian faith path which has held me in good stead so far. It was around this time I met my husband.

I went back to college in my 40s studying Horticulture and Landscape Design and worked in those areas until Spring 2018.

Three years ago I began studies in British Sign Language with a view to working with the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing community – hopefully in the areas of skateboarding, surfing and/or horticulture.

The irony of having recently been diagnosed with mild sensorineural hearing loss has not been lost on me!

2. Tell us about your journey so far with skateboarding? How did you get into skating? How did you decide that this is something you would like to do?

It was surfing which led the way to skateboarding for me. My family and I were in Sennen and took advantage of a 2hrs surf lesson. It was a life-defining experience and a real God moment for me – surfing and my faith have been intermixed ever since.

When we returned home from that holiday, I went online to sell what I could to raise enough money to buy my first surfboard.

Some months later, I was online again looking to upgrade my board and this time longboard skateboards popped up in my feed. I bought a cheap pintail from eBay more as a bit of fun than anything but as soon as I was on it, I was hooked!

 

3. What is it like learning to skate later in life?

The first time I stepped on the longboard skateboard, I flipped straight off the back as the board shot out in front of me. I got up, dusted myself down, regained some dignity and got back on.

Now that I was aware of body positioning, I was fine and pushed off again.Initially, I was slow but, with practice, finally got the swing of pushing with rhythm and cruising along with a certain degree of fluidity.

Skateboarding on a street deck was a whole different matter. I learn very, very slowly as I process things in parts and then put it all together.

It took me 3 months of skating up and down at the Brighton Youth Centre skatepark before the coach (Lucy Adams!) finally got me on one of the ramps and held my hand as she coaxed me to let go.

When I finally did – this ramp was about 2ft high, by the way! – I had such an adrenaline rush it was ridiculous!

I was stoked! Realising I could actually do it gave me the courage and determination to go higher and then try other things; at first, just rolling down a flat ramp and up a quarter pipe and rolling backwards, learning to pump, then kick turns and finally drop-ins!

All this took years for me, mind. That won’t be the case for others, it’s just because I have to process things first.

 

4. What do you like most about skating? How does skating make you
feel? 
 
Skateboarding, whether on the hill or in the skatepark, makes me feel ‘full’. I tried to think of a clever word to explain how I feel but ‘full’ really is the best word.
 
It makes me feel confident, makes me walk a little taller, adds to my sense of identity and belonging.
 
I love that it brings together all ages, all genders, all creeds, all tribes.
 
As a result of regularly attending the Girls Skate Sessions at Brighton Youth Centre I went on to do their in-house skate coach training and then volunteer as an assistant coach.
 
Later, the coaches all completed the Skateboard England supported skate coach training and I became a member of staff. As part of the team, I helped with both children and adult skateboard lessons as well as a project called ‘Go Skate’.
 
This project, which has been run a couple of times now, teaches skateboarding to young people who have many of the issues our youth are experiencing these days; low confidence and low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation – and I have seen how, as they achieve new abilities in
skateboarding, their demeanour becomes more positive. Seeing that is one of the best
feelings ever.
 
The best moment for me is always the moment where I do something which I didn’t think I could do.
 
I have made podium a couple of times, been 1st in the BDSL women’s category
and been on TV a couple of times – but nothing compares to landing a trick for the first time or going faster than before or finding you can grip the corners of that crazy hill and not bail!
 
 5. Skating can be seemingly a little dangerous and I assume that’s what makes it so thrilling – to push yourself to the edge of what is possible given a certain tool – the skateboard.
 
 
 
 
Have you always been interested in this kind of excitement? Could you have seen yourself doing this as a kid?
 
 When I was about 5 years old, I jumped out my bedroom window thinking I could fly – that didn’t end well. When I was about 11 I went down a really steep hill on roller skates – that didn’t end well either.
 
I drove dumper trucks around our estate as it was being built (back in the day when the foreman left the keys in the ignition and there were no safety barriers).
 
At 17 I got my first motorbike and, in my 20s, met my husband through rock-climbing, so I guess the search for the next adrenaline rush has always been part of my psyche.
 
We took our children rock climbing when they were young but other than that life did become a tad dull so the surf experience in Sennen, and subsequent shift into skateboarding, does seem like a natural path, even if I thought those days were over. What a relief they aren’t!
 
 6. What would you say is your biggest motivation for being active and getting outdoors?  
 
My mental health. There it is. I’ve said it.
 
Let me be very honest here … I could easily not do anything. It is easier to not do anything.
 
Ever heard of ‘Impostor Syndrome’? I know I can surf. I know I can skate. I know I can climb. But I think one day someone will find me out and see I am an impostor. I fight this every event I go to, every race I compete in, every article I write, every social media post.
 
But – when I am actually doing these things I feel full, I feel alive, I feel I actually can fly!
 
It’s not just the activity itself, either. It is the meeting people, the conversations, the laughs, the joking about, the silliness, the sharing of stoke, the challenges, the outcomes, the results, the days well spent, the memories being laid down.
 
And mostly, during all that, it is the time not thinking about all the problematic life throws our way – at least for a while.
 
 7. What do you feel are the biggest challenges that women have when looking to improve their fitness/health/mental well-being?  
 
 Time. I recognise there is a shift gradually taking place but it is still usual for women to be the main carers at home.
 
Raising a family is full-time work in itself but most will have to be actually in full-time paid employment too. I was mainly self-employed and had quite a lot of flexibility but I certainly found it very difficult to maintain a routine of fitness and this impacted my mental health.
 
Sometimes I never left the house except to meet the children from the school bus, especially if I had a big design project on. Even if you think about how you can do a quick work-out indoors, using YouTube or DVDs , you tend to push it down the ‘To Do’ list, after clearing up or laundry or shopping.
 
And then there is the constant visual imagery imposed on us suggesting how we ‘ought’ to look. Again, there is a gradual shift to more honest representation as we see many brands beginning to use women of all shapes and sizes to advertise clothing and activities, and not airbrush out wrinkles!
 
Having a good level of fitness does not equate to being thin or otherwise, but fitness does, I believe, equate to mental well-being.
 
We must all recognise that we owe it to ourselves to be well.
 
We are all living longer too. When you are in your 50s you possibly have another 40 years ahead of you – that’s a whole other lifetime – maybe two! Once, I was running – I use the term lightly – a half-marathon when I was caught up by a women who stopped and walked alongside me for a while. She was 75 and 5 years earlier had decided to give up smoking and start running instead. I think of that women nearly every day!
 
8. When you aren’t skating what else do you like to do in your free time?
 
 Mostly, I like to eat cake and drink beer – preferably with friends. Also, I like to eat cake and watch films – preferably lying on the sofa.
 
Otherwise, when I can, I like to go to the beach where I’ll either try to surf or get the kayak in – or swim – if there are no waves.
 
There are some great cafes nearby for cake. Since being back from our extended trip away, I have managed to get to a local gym – which is open 24/7 – and work out 3 times a week. I’m into week 11 so pretty chuffed about that!
 
My fitness takes priority now as my cardio health suffered quite a bit – as did my back, my knees, my waist – whilst we were away and, as I want to continue with these trips abroad and continue to help out on projects, I need to get in shape!
 
 9. What advice or tips do you have for women who maybe feel that the outdoors are not for them – for reasons such as health, age, ability, experience, etc?
 
 Whether you are single or not, young or old, and regardless of your mobility, there absolutely is something outdoors you can participate in and people around who will help you, encourage you and inspire you.
 
Just take the first step!
 
Social Media is your friend – use it. Obviously, don’t put all your personal details online, it’s not necessary, but sites like Facebook are a huge resource for finding out what is going on in your area and every activity will have a Page you can follow or a Group which you can join.
 
For instance, search ‘Green Gym’ and you will find a group of people who meet to work in woods or gardens whilst, at the same time, improving their overall fitness.
 
Search ‘Micro Adventures’ and you will find groups you can join who share their experiences of smallscale outdoor adventures. It was started by Alistair Humphreys (www.alastairhumphreys.com/microadventures) who has huge adventures but realises that isn’t possible for everyone, yet we can simply walk out our front doors and experience those same adventurous feelings on a smaller, and less expensive, scale.
 
Buy an Ordnance Survey map of your locality or download an app then find and explore your local footpaths – you will be surprised what is right on your doorstep. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and that you have a small picnic. En route find yourself a good sturdy walking stick 🙂
 
Get yourself a small pocket size identification guide so you can learn the names of the wildflowers, or the trees or the birds.
 
T’ai Chi classes are very commonplace now too and, along with yoga and pilates, offers a calm and gentle way route into fitness.
 
You can go at your own pace and as your strength increases, you can add more effort. Many instructors offer an outdoor session too.
Join the local walking group, or volunteer at your local community garden or buy a membership to the RHS or National Trust – we did when the children were young and it was worth it!  
 
10. What exciting ventures are you most looking forward to in the near future?
Long term, we aim to find some land and build our own small, simple home. We want to develop a permaculture-based environment which enables us to tread lightly on this earth and one that we can share with others.
Short term, we are settling down as I continue my studies for another year, explore more of the UK in our van and re-connect with the UK skate and surf communities.
Personally, I’m just longing to get back on the hill and get that adrenaline hit!
– Sabina Edwards