The Coast News Group
Kale Brock, an Australian surfer/filmmaker/surf coach whose website, The Surfer’s Roadmap, breaks down the basics of surfing. Courtesy photo

Still learning

Monday, June 12, broke in dimly contrasting shades of gray as sea and sky competed with the onshore wind and drizzle to see which could make surfing less appealing. 

Is this North County’s version of some Pharaonic plague or an outtake from Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day”? Not that it matters to me. I’m trading in my trusty Frye “Gypsy” for the soft, sweet ride of the couch. 

The refrigerator and the couch are also in apparent competition, and it seems they have conspired to Jell-O-mold me into an object easily camouflaged in a beanbag chair. 

What little willpower I have left causes me to rise up in rebellion against the tyranny of laziness and seek non-caloric salvation.

It arrives in the form of my well-used, cat-chewed Surf-Fit Performance Mat, the best indoor trainer I know to keep a non-surfing surfer in shape for the long ride. 

Surf-Fit mats are available in different sizes, including keiki, and come complete with workout instructions. 

Using the well-established wisdom that popping up quickly and correctly is the basis for a good ride, the mat has proven its worth at times when deadlines intrude upon precious surf time.

It also defies the tired cliché that the only way to train for surfing is by surfing. After a few reps popping up, I sense some of the rust chipping from my joints. I’ll hit it again this evening, and all this week.

Weather and waves permitting, and if Cardiff Surf Co. carries portly board shorts, I expect to be paddling out by midweek. 

Inspired to dig further into surf conditioning, I located The Surfer’s Roadmap. There, I was virtually introduced to the affable Kale Brock, an excellent surfer/filmmaker who breaks down the basics of surfing into easily digestible chunks. 

Brock’s first lesson ties in with the one I am learning through the surf mat. Titled “Pop Up Exercises That Actually Work,” I decided to give it a shot. Now, I have been surfing for over 60 years and, come to find out, I was popping up wrong. Don’t hate me for this, but you probably are too. 

Like many of those around my age, I got stuck on longboards for years. Nothing wrong with longboards, of course, and I still enjoy riding them on occasion.  They are, however, not the best for snappy beach breaks, which is what we mostly have in North County during summertime.

Also, they can make you lazy as it becomes easy to drag your foot rather than lift your leg beneath you and stand up with both feet planted firmly beneath you.

Using both the mat and Brock’s exercise routines, I am in the process of breaking decades of bad habits and learning some healthy new ones. 

Of course, being in great surfing shape doesn’t matter if you don’t paddle out. Timing in turning, spanking the lip and cutting back are all factors that cannot be duplicated in the bedroom or home gym. 

And why would anyone want to? Training to surf is the hard part that leads to the reward.

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