Eric Cruz originally moved to Austin in 2009 from the Amarillo area. He is 31-years-old and received his first pair of skates when he was 13-years-old. Eric started aggressive skating when he was 15-years-old and started branching out into other inline skating disciplines in the past 5 years.
How long have you been off–road skating?
I’ve been off-road skating since April of 2015. It started with the Powerslide Metropolis SUV 125 skates. But I can remember for years always wanting to get a pair of Coyotes when I was younger, but they were so rare, luckily it seems that off-road skating products are going to stay readily available for the future.
What setup/s do you currently use for offload skating?
Since early this year, I’ve been on the Powerslide Kaze SUV 150mm on the Trinity mounting system. I also have the SUV 125 frames off the PS Metropolis SUV. Having skated both, I can say that I enjoy both but for different purposes. I’ve been telling people that if you want to get tricky in a pump track or something like that, I will go with SUV 125s, but if you want to ride trails, do more distances, and take on tougher terrain, I will go with 150s.
It is not that you can’t take on tough terrain in the 125s; it just feels more stable and confident on the Kaze 150s. The Trinity really helps make the entire setup feel stable; even at 150mm vs. 125mm, you aren’t sitting much higher on 150 Trinity than you are on 125 on a normal mounting system. I think a really excellent overall sweet spot would be a Trinity mounted 125mm SUV.
Cruising through the cedar forest.
Did you ever skate the original off-road skates the Rollerblade Coyote?
I always wanted some of those skates, but they were so rare by the time I started skating that I never had the opportunity. I remember a string of heated eBay bid wars for Coyotes, but I eventually gave up.
What PSI do you recommend? Do you adjust PSI for different terrain?
I typically over-inflate the tires by half to 1 full PSI; it feels faster that way, there’s a squishy feeling skating air up tires, and I like to eliminate it as much as possible. I’m sure I’m much more likely to bust a tube that way, but I think it’s worth it for my purposes. I’ve never messed with adjusting the PSI for terrains, mainly because I’ve mostly skated hardpack trails meant for mountain bikes, so just having the over-inflated PSI I enjoy has worked for me so far.
Have you modified your skates at all or changed liners?
I haven’t needed to make any mods at all to the Kaze SUV; those skates are so solid. They have a comfortable built-in liner and perform excellently; the only thing I could want to add to the Kaze is rustproof bearings. I have been toying with the idea of throwing the SUV 125 frames on a DOOP shell I have; conceptually, it sounds so cool to be able to hike around and check things out on foot, then easily throw the skates on when you find something cool.
What is the furthest distance you’ve skated with off-road skates?
I haven’t done much distance on these skates at all; the 125s never felt close enough to the regular feeling of skating for me to want to try, really; I enjoyed those on downhill runs, dirt jumps, and pump track environments. However, the Kaze SUV 150s do feel more similar to regular skating for me, and I could see riding those further, but it depends on the trails really; unless you have poles, it’s hard to maintain speed on the narrow trails where you can’t stride at all.
What is the scariest crazy thing you have skated with these skates?
In all honesty, I’ve kept it pretty reserved with the off-road skating because I’ve always gone alone, which is already kind of a no-no, but I definitely never wanted to try anything too crazy and get broke off alone somewhere just hoping for someone to pass by me. That being said, I’ve still done some stuff that got the heart racing, as well as things I never really imagined being able to skate on or down. The coolest was when I was home for a visit in Amarillo and skated Palo Duro Canyon. It’s the second-largest canyon in the United States. I did some pretty gnarly roll-ins that day.
Have you tried grinding on these skates?
I’ve never tried grinding in any off-road skates, and I’m not too interested. The awesome thing to me about the overall acceptance of different skating disciplines has been opening new avenues of expression on wheels. I know I can grind, I have skates built for me to grind, and that will do a much better job of it than these skates would, so when it’s time to grind, it’s grind time, but not when I’m off-roading. That’s not to say I would rule it out entirely if I came across some random obstacle in the woods just screaming for me to do a grind on it.
Air through the trees.
What is your skating background?
As a kid at 13, I had inline skates, and I remember skating all day, jumping whatever curb or obstacle we could find. Right before I turned 15, I got my first pair of aggressive skates, and my life would never be the same. I only saw aggressive skating in those days, and I would never have imagined how varied my skating would become. So aggressive was good, but changes in aggressive skating lead the way to “Powerblading,” and I became a super early adopter of that
The feeling immediately took me back to the early days of just rolling around; it reinvigorated my love for the feeling of just rolling and skating. At this point in my life, I had gained quite a bit of weight and was looking for a way to change that, and skating would come through for me once again. I logged my first distance session a little over 3 years ago, and it slowly began to take over as my predominant skating discipline. Along the way, I began freeskating and just fell in love with that for so many reasons.
Do you skate big wheel skates (110/125)?
I skate both 3×110 and 3×125, although I’m mainly on 125s for my distance skating and commuting. I don’t have a 3×110 setup right now because I still prefer 4x80mm for my FSK sessions, but I think a 3×110 would be cool for our Monday Night Skates.
If so how do the offload skates s compare to 125/110 street skates.
Height wise you are still sitting higher on the Kaze 150 than any other 110/125 setup would. It’s not going to feel the same because of surfaces and the ability to stride or not. It’s definitely a different skating experience but not so different that a good skater can’t adjust and have a fun time.
What terrain do you prefer skating with these?
I prefer the hard pack mountain bike type trails early on a weekday morning. It’s just so fun; you can get the most speed, and those trails are built with challenging features that keep it fun.
Hitting the berms.
What terrain / conditions do you recommend not skating?
I don’t like skating mud, and I find you just kind of slide around more than anything. Silty type stuff will take you right out most of the time. Rolling through shallow water is pretty cool, but the bearings I have now aren’t rustproof. If you brace yourself, you can make it through most small bouts of loose gravel, mud, sand, and silt, but if you have to keep rolling through it, you might lose your roll.
How does it feel skating BMX tracks and pump tracks?
It’s enjoyable but super challenging and an insane leg workout from all the pumping. The one thing I will say about BMX tracks, as we learned when trying to get photos for this, is to clear everything with the locals. These guys are really territorial. Which to an extent, I can understand as these guys groom and maintain the trails themselves, but there’s only an extent to where I can agree with you on your perceived possession of an area in a public park. So clear it, and maybe they’ll be cool; for reference, I have skated this local track twice, the first time, one guy was super cool and even got a clip of me skating, but the second time wasn’t as happy.
Do you recommend people to get into off-road skating? What should they know before they start?
As with any new program, consult with your doctor…of course, I recommend people get into off-road skating. What I don’t recommend is people to go in super gung ho and get themselves hurt. Concrete and roads hurt enough to fall on; now imagine adding rocks, tree branches, water, and all sort of other fun stuff. It will hurt when you fall.
A helmet is mandatory; you don’t see mountain bike riders without a helmet for a reason. Even though I currently only wear my helmet, a whole slew of pads could be recommended. For me, I definitely want a spinal protector as I feel I fall backward more than anything if I take a fall. I always try to walk and check out my runs before I ever try them. Just take it slow, feel out the new experience, feel the difference in your skating, how you need to stop, how you stride, all of those little things, and adjust.
What do you call this kind of skating?
All photos shot by Joseph Gammill at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park in Austin, Texas.
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