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50/50 Grinds
50/50 grinds on boxes, rails, and other features.

Number of posts: 1

LTF Feedback
User: bmoore
6/27/06
This is some teaser text from the LTF CD-ROM.

Trick 6 - 50/50 Grinds

Learning 50/50 grinds on boxes and rails is the first step to becoming a jibber and rail rider. Spend the time here working on your skills and confidence. 50/50 grinds are prerequisite for all other rail tricks. This skill will become your set-up move for more advanced slides and tricks.

The reason that this grind is called a 50/50 (fifty-fifty) goes back to skateboarding. In skateboading terms, grinding the top of a ramp or pool with a single truck (metal axle) is called a 50 grind (pronounced five-O as in the letter O). A 50/50 (pronounced fifty-fifty) is for both trucks (axles) grinding at the same time. Snowboarders can't do a 50 (five-O) grind (this is called a press) so anytime you have both feet on a feature traveling in a straight (forward) direction, this is called a 50/50.

Prerequisites

Basic Riding Skills

With your basic riding skills in hand, you will be much more comfortable riding up to features, grinding, and then coming off in a controlled manner. You need to be able to ride a flat base and go straight to do 50/50's. Balance, speed control, and being comfortable on your board is a must.

Moving Ollies

It's important to have ollies down solid before trying 50/50 grinds. It is very important that you can ollie and land with a flat board. Many beginners tend to land with slight pressure on an edge. Try to land on a flat base and look towards the end of the rail. This will lower the chance of slipping out and coming down on the rail (ouch!).

Most rails require a small ollie or pop to get onto the feature. Each feature is different and will require different amounts of pop (ollie height or length). Stay in control and only ollie as much as you need to for the feature you are grinding. Both ends of the spectrum, huge ollies and no ollies, have consequences on rails. Start small and work up. This allows you to be more in control and balanced when landing on the feature you are grinding on. Being balanced is a big confidence builder when you are grinding across a rail half the width of your board.

Basic Ground Spins (180's and 360's)

Basic ground spins are required for all rail tricks. Even though you are trying a basic 50/50 grind and hope to come out regular (forward), there is a big chance that you will end up in a boardslide and come out switch. Having the skills to do a ground spin will help you to change directions if needed. Ground spins are always helpful in learning new tricks.

Switch Turns

For basic 50/50 grinds, switch skills (riding and turning backwards) are a must. It is very common to end up switch when doing rails. When trying 50/50's, there is a chance that you will rotate into a boardslide (facing uphill or downhill across the feature) and come off the feature switch. It's comforting to know that you can ride switch if needed. Later on, being able to ride switch can open up different options on rails. Check out the section on switch rails for more info.

Exercises

Bamboo Jibbing

Bamboo is used for a number of different things on the mountain and in the parks. If you see an extra piece of bamboo laying around, you might want to borrow it. Then make sure and return it when you are done. Practicing on bamboo is a great way to get the basic concept of a 50/50 grind. This is also a good way to practice your ollies and landings with a flat base. If you land on an edge, it will show in the snow. This is also a great way to practice riding to the end by lifting your vision. If you fall off the bamboo, you are only an inch or so off the ground so the consequences are minimal. This exercise will help you get a feel for how to get onto a small rail. Balance is key. Find a place that is flat and not in the way of others. Then give it a go. Make sure and put the bamboo back after you are done, please!

First Grinds

When learning grinds on rails, it is OK to just touch metal and then get off. Use an approach angle that will lead you away from the feature if you don't plan on riding the whole thing.

Caution: Metal rails can hurt. If you attempt grinds at a slow speed and come off early, you will probably land near or on the rail. Having a little more speed will help you from falling straight down onto it. Be aware of the risks, and have fun.

Basic Moves

Basic Boxes (50/50)

Start practicing your 50/50's on basic fun boxes. Most parks offer a variety of boxes at all kinds of levels. A good starter box is wide, flat, short, and has a very casual ride-on approach.

You must be riding straight and flat for about 10 feet before getting to the box. Once you land on the box, continue to keep your board flat and look towards the end. If you need to slow down or add speed checks, do these way before you get to the feature. Practice and get this beginner skill down before moving on to more advanced features.

Caution: Boxes are very slick and the slightest edge move can put you down. Keep it flat and do not try to correct once you are on the feature. If you are going to come off early, go with it.

Basic Rails (50/50)

After you have practiced on basic fun boxes, try riding on a basic rail. Basic rails are metal, low to the ground, and fairly short (10 feet and under). Always start small and work your way up. The main difference between rails and boxes is that rails are narrower and are usually not as slick. Because rails are so narrow, your approach is very important. Line up straight and ride a flat base onto the feature. Lift your vision and look towards the end of the rail. Keep working on your basic rail skills until you feel comfortable with the approach, the grind itself, and the landing. This is a huge building block for all other rail tricks.

Intermediate Moves

Intermediate Boxes (50/50)

After you have practiced grinding on basic fun boxes, you can take these same skills to harder features. Intermediate boxes are usually longer, taller, or a different shape. They often have a gap between the take-off and the feature. Remember to line up straight and land with a flat board. Keep those eyes up and look for the landing. Your speed will vary depending on the length, the height, and the gap onto the box.

Intermediate Rails (50/50)

Intermediate rails are longer, higher, steeper, multi-angled, and with gaps onto the rails. You will take your basic rail skills and use the same technique on these harder features. Know what you're doing before getting onto one of these features.

Tip: Watch other riders use the feature if you are unsure of your speed or approach.

Common Mistakes

Approach Problems

The approach is the most important part of grinding on rails and boxes. This will set you up to keep your board flat and straight while on the box. Get your speed under control way before you get close to the approach ramp. Look for rutts, bumps, and other problems with the physical approach. The smoother your approach, the more control you will have going into your 50/50. Once again, make sure you have plenty of time to line up and get straight before you have to deal with transitions, lips, and the feature itself.

Correcting Mid Feature

Do not try and correct while riding on the feature. All corrections and speed control issues need to be dealt with on the early part of the approach. Once you are on the feature, just ride it out. As you can see in this clip, most riders lose their balance when trying to correct their positioning. Keep it flat and straight, flat and straight.

Tip: The real key is a good approach and good take-off.

Looking Down

It is very common to want to look at your feet. This usually indicates that you are not comfortable with your ollie or grind. By looking down, it is very difficult to see what lies ahead. Keeping your head up not only allows you to see where you are going, but it also helps with your balance and ablity to ride to the end.

Bad Take-Off's

A good approach helps with a good take-off. Allow yourself ample room to set up and make sure you are lined up correctly before hitting the feature. Once you leave the snow, your fate is sealed.

A very common problem is catching your edge off the top of the jump. This will throw you sideways and makes it hard to finish the rail. Make sure you are aware of any gaps onto the feature. Skip features that have bad take-off ramps or are above your skill level. Start small and work up.

Speed Control

Being able to estimate your speed will come with practice. If you are unsure of what speed to use, take the time to watch other riders hit the feature. This will give you a lot of insight as to what speed is needed for the approach. It is easy to have too much speed and over shoot the feature and the landing. On the other hand, going too slow makes it harder to stay balanced and in control.

Caution: Speeds will vary depending on the snow conditions.

Hitting Front of Rail

Hitting the front of a rail usually means that you are trying a rail over your ability. You may need to brush up on your ollies before moving onto harder features. Hitting the front of a rail can really mess with your balance and can cause bodily harm. If you keep hitting the front of a rail, practice on a smaller rail first and then come back and try it again. Ideally, you should land with your board completely on the rail. If there is a step-up or large gap onto the rail, you are dealing with an advanced feature. You must have your ollies down and be comfortable in the air and landing. Stay within your own abilities.

Riding to the End

When you first start learning to ride rails and boxes, it is very common to only slide a portion of the feature. Most basic features have minimal consequences for an early exit. However, once you get into intermediate features and beyond, the consequences of coming off early can be severe. Make a scope-out run to gather info about the feature before hitting it. Check out the length, width, height, and landing of each feature before you commit to riding it. Also check for ice, flat landings, bare spots, ruts, traffic, damage, bare metal sticking out of the snow, etc. If something looks sketchy or you are unsure of your ability, skip it and try something else.

Caution: Be aware that features change throughout the day due to usage, weather conditions, and time of day. Once again, start small and work up to harder features.

Freeride

Freeride 50/50

50/50 grinds can be done on benches, rails, snow, boxes, and all kinds of fun features. 50/50's are the basis for all other rail tricks. Spend the time here and it will pay off later. Have fun with it!

Next Steps and Style Points

Bigger Gaps On

Step up your skills by riding features with bigger gaps. Know what it takes to step-up, gap on, gap over, or whatever. Look before you leap. If not, you may find yourself in the air going into instant panic mode because you are coming up short or going too long.

Odd Shapes

Parks these days offer all kinds of different shapes and sizes to their features. There are rainbow rails, C-boxes, A-frames, roller coasters, S-boxes, waterfalls, whaletails, traps, elevators, down rails (handrails), kinks, double kinks, urbans, etc. Some of these are advanced features. Be very comfortable with straight rails and boxes before attempting any of these random shapes. Build up from smaller to bigger features and you'll be a happy camper. Remember, 50/50's are a gateway trick for all other rail tricks.

Grabs Off the End

Now you are starting to feel comfortable with your 50/50's. A fun way to spice it up is to add a grab off the end of a feature. This adds all kinds of style to your runs. It often helps beginners to try a grab off the end of a basic rail if they are having a hard time riding to the end. This helps change their focus and makes the grab the important thing. It is highly recommended that you only do grabs if you already know how to do grabs without the rail under you. If you need more help on grabs, check out the LTF Volume 2 CD - Jumps, Grabs, & Spins.

Gapping up and Over

Once you have a good feel for a particular gap to a feature, there is always the option of going bigger. Check out this clip and see how these riders clear the up-slope of rails, or even gap the flat of a trap rail. Speed control is very important here. Start small and work up.

50/50's Back-to-Back

Take your 50/50's and throw down some back-to-back lines through the park. Start on the smaller rails and then work up to harder rails if you are ready. By linking them back-to-back, you will get more practice and start developing a good flow. It is very common for advanced riders to do a scope out run without hitting any of the features and then to do a casual 50/50 run to check out all the features in their chosen line. Your 50/50's will become your bread and butter and will help you move on to more advanced tricks and moves.


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