A guy walks into a bar…or rather a ski and snowboard shop. That’s how my newest hobby begins. Under my arm my Rome snowboard its gorgeous sintered base with al its poor little pores bereft of the soft sumptuous wax that makes it so fast. The base is dry, and seeing as I was leaving for beautiful Saas-Fee for a couple of late season days on the glacier there, I was going in to get the board waxed.
As I walked in the thought struck me that it was the 5th time that season I was getting this snowboard wax job, and wouldn’t it be just a bit more cost effective to maybe, perhaps invest in doing it myself. But I was a bit daunted, thinking that this whole wax ritual was for the snowboard high priestish specialists. So, very tentatively, I asked the guys at MK Skiservice/Frosty Snowboarding what I needed to wax my own board. To my great relief I was not laughed at or booed away; on the contrary, and that is the cool thing about the local shop, not only did they quickly assemble everything I would need, but they als offered to gave me a little wax workshop/seminar. Hell yeah! 10 minutes later I had the basic covered and my wax bag full of new toys.
Back home I cleared my desk and set to work. Enjoying myself thoroughly and finding it remarkably easy to to. And for all of you readers who are wondering what this waxing thing is all about, despair not. Here comes the ritual:
I began by melting the yellow SkiGo wax using a special little wax iron. You can do it with an ordinary iron, bit the waxing iron enables you to choose the exact temperature of the iron which corresponds to the temperature the specific wax needs to be melted at. That way, I could melt the wax melted without burning it, which is what happens when the temperature is too high. The yellow wax in my case was a base wax for average snow temperatures. I later also used the blue wax from SkiGo, which melts at a higher temperature and is suited to colder snow such as the snow on a glacier. (check this glide chart from SkiGo)
I ironed out the wax I had dripped on the base of the board (like Jackson Pollock) talking care to really smear out the wax so that it covered every inch of the effective running base of the board. I was warned not to go to slow with the iron because that could heat the board to much and blister the base. So steady but smoothly spreading it out is the key. I loved this part, it was really like being kind to your board. Always running the iron from the front to the back, following the running direction of the board. The guys at the shop had told me to really run the board a couple of times, giving the wax opportunity to fill those thirsty pores.
After letting the wax dry (for the first layer of yellow wax I waited 15 minutes and with the second layer of the blue wax I waited 30 minutes) I took the special spatula and scraped off the excess wax, (once again from tip to tail) really making sure all the wax was well removed from the surface of the base. Because the only wax you actually need is the wax that has melted into the pores of the board, which in the end you can’t actually see anymore. You can still feel it however.
After scraping the board, the base didn’t feel smooth yet. Only after turning to the brush I had bought, and brushing out the final layer of wax did the base start to feel smooth. After finishing this step I set the board aside and when I got back to it later, it seemed as if the wax had really set further, hardenned out in the pores and what resulted was a very smooth and really fast base.
Which I noticed when a few days later I stood on that cold glacier snow and had the time of my life. Somehow it made me even happier that I was riding on a board I had prepared myself. It seemed to strengthen my relationship with my board. And I really mean it when I say a “relationship”. Because I feel quite strongly that I am trusting my physical health, even my life with this inanimate but very alive object. I can really feel gratitude when it holds its grip on a steep, fast icy turn, or when it is tough enough to charge through choppy slush, and when it just flies me over powder. So taking care of it means taking care of myself, and in the end, when it doesn’t hold, or runs like slug, it is my own fault. Moreover, what I was told by the guys from the ski-shop, a wax job that is applied manually will normally be better than a wax job through a machine. The wax will hold longer and be faster. So on many levels, it just felt better.
So I will drip away in the future, iron more boards than I have ironed shirts in my life, sharpen my own edges and just be a bit more self-sustaining in a way. Starting by waxing it again soon, not to go out boarding again, (unfortunately the season really has come to an end now) but so that my board doesn’t dry out over the summer. Come winter, we’ll have some more fun together!
And I guess I had better be a bit more kind to my muddy mountainbike I have hanging in the shed, still dripping from yesterdays trail…