I got a phone call the other afternoon that made me kind of glad I live at the shore. It was from a friend who said, hey wanna learn to surf this afternoon? I was like, this is cool. A little change of pace from the usual late afternoon, hey wanna go to Starbucks? Let's do it. I had written about Stacey Marchel, the surfing mom who gives lessons, and so now I was ready to give it a whirl. Never mind I can't even boogie board. I have been rowing for the past two summers at the Viking Rowing Club in Ventnor, and that has been great. Great exercise, great discipline, total focus, lots of quirky cool people, no cell phones on board. I figured, if I can row, I can surf, yes?
Then I discovered the pop up. Like surfing the web, you can't get anywhere until you get through the pop ups. Pop up, it turns out, is the whole key to surfing. It's the part where you go from lying on the board, feeling groovy, to ending up on your feet, feeling really groovy. It's not supposed to involve your knees at all, much to my surprise. It's supposed to be one fluid springy motion. So it's like, lying on your stomach on the board, lift up your head and torso, push down, spring up to your feet, and -- presto -- or, in my case, no presto, crash into shore.
The thing I like about rowing is that all of my strengths seemed to be needed. My legs are stronger than my arms, check. I can focus, check. I can work with a team, check. I can master precise instructions for finicky stroke technique, check. I can power ten when commanded, check! I can hide my smirks under a Phillies hat and behind sun glasses, check. Except for that one time I left the hat home and pissed off the instructor with my raised eyebrows.
But the surfing pop up. Wow. Upper body strength. Nope. Agility and spring. Nope. Limberness, Nope. Courage in the face of rough surf and high tide, Nope. Another mom who was clearly pop-up worthy and getting the hang of it (it was her third time out) said to me after I complimented her, "Well, I'm just very athletic." That kind of irked me. I'm very athletic too. Wanna take this over to the Jerome Avenue basketball courts and work it out over there? I'm just not pop-up athletic.
Basically, I need to go home and do like many many dry land pop ups, as demonstrated by this fine limber young surfer dudette in the video below. And then maybe I shall attempt again. Or maybe it's just getting over the pop up hump. And once you make yourself do it, get on your feet, you get that surf buzz everyone talks about and then you're hooked. But at least the water was loverly warm, at least low 70s, and I stayed out in the big surf longer than I have in years.
The one guy I'm sure who totally could surf, though, is Raul Ibanez. If you saw his falling catch the other night against the Cubs, and the scramble to his feet, then you saw perfect pop up form. Here's the video of that. Really, compare it to below.
Previously: Oh those wacky Stone Harbor shoobies
How to Practice "Pop Ups" for Surfing Exercise -- powered by eHow.com