Welcome to Grays on Trays®

Welcome to the Grays on Trays® guide to snowboarding for grown-ups, introducing a sport that’s too fun to leave to the kids. It is an online resource for all snowboarders, but especially adults snowboarders and those interested in trying it out. We aim to offer an informative guide.

Erika Dillman, author of Outdoors Online: An Internet Guide to Everything Wild & Green (Keep It Clean, Keep It Green), has said “Grays on Trays is one of the best introductions to snowboarding on the web–regardless of your age.” — Erika Dillman. We hope you’ll agree.

 

Why We’re Here

Why a site geared to adults? We enjoy snowboarding, but find that most existing publications dealing with riding aren’t written for adults; they’re written for kids. Read a few of them and you’ll understand.

Learning how to ride a snowboard is hard enough. If you’re a mature adult looking for information about snowboarding, you shouldn’t have to put up with a website that looks and feels like high school. And if you want to indulge in fake hip-hop or a street culture, there are places for that, too. On the other hand, if you want an introduction to snowboarding that you’d feel comfortable presenting to your boss or the grandmother down the street (or if you ARE the grandmother down the street), come join us. You might even say that we’re trying to make snowboarding safe for boring, conventional people with lives beyond snowboarding.

Instead of mocking the achievements of grown-ups–“Grandpas don’t snowboard”–we celebrate them. That’s one reason why we use the phrase “Grays on Trays.” It was first used years ago–the origins of it are now lost to obscurity–by adolescents to insult grown-up snowboarders. But today, we embrace it and relish the chance to blow away stereotypes. One 64-year old snowboarder told the Associated Press, “I love the term. I think it’s the ultimate compliment. If we keep active, we can contribute to the participation. Everybody’s gaining from it.”

What You’ll Find Here at GraysOnTrays.com

Our goal of the Grays on Trays® guide to snowboarding is to help the grown-up rider by providing information, encouragement, and a place where mature riders can meet and exchange information.

If you’re curious about snowboarding but have not tried it yet, know that you’re not crazy for having an interest, and you’re not going through a mid-life crisis. (If you are, well, that’s between you and your deity and your family members.) We don’t try to mimic some sort of snowboarding attitude or culture; we’re just here to encourage the love of the sport and support each other.

So let’s get a quick lay of the land.

Why go snowboarding? gives you some reasons–you guessed it–why people ride. We also let some older riders give you their insights about what is so great about this sport. If you look at who goes snowboarding after 40, you may find someone just like you. You’re not alone!

Snowboarding is unique, yet it’s like some other sports, so you may already have experience using some of the required skills. Still, we highly recommend that on your first day out you take lessons. One reason to take lessons is that you’re more likely to get hurt if you don’t have proper instruction. Consider this and some other facts from the page Is snowboarding safe for older adults?

If you have a lot of friends who are skiers, you might read riders v. skiers to get some perspective on the old and largely passed conflict between the two groups. There’s an interesting history to it.

One great thing about snowboarding is that there is always room for improving your skills, should you wish. One way to improve is to purchase your own equipment. The basics of snowboarding gear gives a quick rundown on the types of equipment. On the slopes, you’ll probably consult a trail map; our skills progression page is a map that tells you how well you are progressing.

As you master the fundamentals, you may wish to experiment with the various styles of riding, which include cruising on groomed trails, riding in the back country, and freestyle tricks in the terrain park. And there’s nothing to hone your skills like engaging in some friendly competition. Of course, snowboarding adults are competing against each other in real life anyway, so if you want to simply enjoy the ride on the mountain, that’s OK, too.

Aside from its on-slope thrills and challenges, snowboarding is an interesting subject on its own. Lots of kids come to this and other sites looking for information about the history of the sport. The snowboarding statistics page offers some interesting facts, including this one: there are over 1,000,000 adult snowboarders. They’re found at any number of the many slopes in our North American resort listing.

Too Fun to Leave to the Kids

That’s the quick review of the site. We hope it is a tool that will help you become part of the growing number of adults who prefer getting out in the winter to sinking into the couch. Poke around the site. Go to our discussion board and meet others who have learned the appeal of snowboarding for grown-ups. Ask questions. Encourage others with you experience. Introduce yourself; you probably have something to offer someone else.

And above all, don’t be afraid to learn. Snowboarding is too fun to leave to the kids.

47 Responses to Welcome to Grays on Trays®

  1. John Newcomb says:

    I’m 50 and been boarding for 12 years heard the grays on trays when we were at 7springs. I love teaching it too, our season is only 3 months usually.

    Peace
    John

  2. This video was filmed on my 60th birthday nearly two years ago and I’m still going strong on my ‘tray’ -enjoy.

  3. Sharper says:

    Just found this site but don’t see how to register. I am a grandmother, will be 70 in March and have been riding since I was 53. We live in BC and our yhome resort is Whistler. Would love to share experiences with other “mature” women … I feel there are not many of my ilk on the hill. Go FLOWS!!

  4. BoardOutOfMyMind says:

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only “not-20” out there snowboarding! This is only my second year riding. Last season we found that we picked it up rather easily and ended by carving blue trails. We just didn’t want it to end, and so we (my two teens and myself) invested in longboards … we loved it so much, we then bought skateboards and barely got started when snowboard season started again.

    We invested in good (Burton) equip and hit the slopes numerous times this season already, advancing to ‘blues’ and really linking turns while increasing our speed. Because I’m 48 years old, I am always very aware of safety and pretty much cover everything from my wrists to my tailbone. My problem now is that I’ve sprained both knees (minor tear of MCL and LCL respectively) and need advice as to why I sometimes fall onto them. Sometimes I bounce off of them! They are not happy. I’m not a maniac on the thing, I’m just catching my edge sometimes when I least expect it. These are separate injuries; the second happened while attempting to protect the first injured one by landing on my good knee. That ended in a cantaloupe for a knee by my 7th run. I did 3 more after that. I’ve since taken the last 4 weeks off with RICE and light therapy and I’m eager to get back.

    It’s all I think about! I have such a passion for this sport! Working on strengthening my thighs … I do use a personal trainer and am in quite good shape for someone my age. I didn’t simply hop on the board. I know my limits despite everyone telling me I’m too old to do this. I’m just frustrated on catching my edge and slamming my knees. I want to keep things minor and “non-surgical” and I know repeated blows will really ruin my knees in the end.

    Any advice? I’m thinking of going back to greens and working on controlling my board better. I ride a Burton Deja Vu 2012 146 channel board. It feels great but perhaps it’s a bit much for me right yet … or, I’m rushing into things before mastering the basics?

  5. Cathy says:

    Hi !! I am 67 and have been riding on and off for 20 years. Because of an injury that left my with a totally blind left eye..I am a bit “skitish” about riding but last month after 8 yrs off the slopes went snowboarding with my son and grandson and now..I can’t wait to go again…I was happy because by the time our vacation ended I was back on the blue runs.Yipeeeeeeeee !! Snowboarding is the best..I too have a passion for it and wish I could move back to Colorado again. To everyone out there..stay active, keep riding !

  6. Stephen Hannon says:

    In terms of catching edges – be very subtle a lot of the time with your movements on both toe side and heel side – just practice on gentle slopes but watch how very small movements will get you onto the new edge. Speed up movements after a while whereby you change from edge to edge more quickly but just be ‘quiet’ and ‘soft’ with your movements.

  7. Irene says:

    Hi fellow shredders. Its my first time on this site. Im pretty much addicted to riding, I didnt even know it existed until my mid 30s as I spent years in warm climates. Im now in my 40s, though I still feel young. I know the season is almost over but I love meeting new people to ride with and want to go to Chile this summer to ride. I get withdrawal in the Summer. Anyone want to ride the Basin, Loveland pass, or backcountry shoot me an e mail. Happy riding and be safe out there. Irene. PS, My oldest riding buddy is Barry, he is 70 and can ride moguls like a champ!

  8. Luis says:

    Hi BoardOutOfMyMind and fellow members, I just turned 40 and started snowboarding one year ago, thankfully some friends at work invited me and I had the chance to learn with a coworker who’s only 25, I can say that we both progressed almost at the same speed, but we have to be a bit more careful protecting ourselves, I started by buying a couple of wrist protectors, specific for snowboarding, they fit under the gloves or mittens, then because I tend to fall and hit my ribs with my elbows, I adapted a hockey chest protector for that.

    To protect my knees used some volleyball knee pads, yes, it was kind of uncomfortable but it helped me a lot during my first steps into this amazing sport. One year later I’m only using the wrist protectors and a crash pads short to protect my coccyx, we hit the blues and blacks but I avoid moguls, they can hurt your knees. Doing some warm up exercises before the season starts or between rides can help A LOT too, in that way the muscles help the joints by absorbing and handling the constant impact. With time you can fine tune your equipment and have a more comfty ride.

    See you in the slopes fellow grayers!

  9. James Zueger says:

    Jim from 7 Springs, just found your website, I’m 61, several things to share that have been TREMENDOUS helps to me – 1. Lots of protection helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, shoulder pads, hockey pants with extra padding, fiberglass rib belt 2. Step-in bindings for bad back 3. Swivel plate under primary binding (no wrenching of knee to get on lift) 4. Very short ski pole with small hook to release bindings without bending down also use a lot to push off or push along flats. I would have been done for a long time ago if it wasn’t for these helps but now for the past several years I ride every day – never miss and LOVE IT.

  10. John LaPlante says:

    James, a lot of riders will scoff at step-in bindings, but I say, if they work for you, go for it. What brand / type do you use? When I started out, I used two different kinds of rentals. One gripped underneath the sole, and another gripped on either side (left to right) of the foot. I’ve tried strap bindings, and hate them with a passion. I used Flows for a long time, and now I’m using some CTX bindings from K2. They’re similar.

    From time to time someone brings up the idea of a swivel plate. I’ve never seen one in action. That’s some extra weight but I can imagine how it would be helpful. Could you post a photo of the plate or tell us more about it?

    Ditto for the ski pole. I know of some freestyle riders who roam the parks with tiny poles, but I’ve never seen one in use.

  11. Jim Zueger says:

    John, I now use Vans Switch step in bindings, which are so easy to get into that I am into them as I get off the lift. These are the kind that have the steel bars alongside the boots. I previously had Burton step-ins which were the kind that grabs the sides of the boots. Before that, the rental shop had a brand, I think it was Dynastar? Maybe someone can correct me and I don’t remember exactly how they worked.

    So I have only ridden with step ins and I think I do quite OK – I ride and carve hard and don’t feel that I am hindered in any way; although I don’t do rails and such in the parks – I was doing jumps. One thing I must emphasize to anyone thinking of using these types of step ins is that you make CERTAIN that they are locked in.

    The swivel plate works great. It is actually light and is only about 1/4 inch thick. The brand name is Swivler. It is definitely a knee saver. If the lift line is crowded to the point where I can’t put the board crosswise as I’m getting on the lift (keeping my knee straight), I ahead of time pull the pin on the swivel plate and twist my foot to be in line with the board then before I get off I pull the pin again and reset my foot.

    The ski pole is sort of my best budy. It’s only 24 inches long. I use it to release my bindings, pull the swivel plate pin, pick up my board (no bending over), push off when leaving the lift, push along on the flats (I must explain — I only weigh 120 lbs so I have like 0 momentum), and everything from scratching my head to using it as a baton. One of my favorite responses to questions is to jokingly say that it is to fight thru the crowd at the lift line.

    I have tried and I’m sure many have tried using a regular ski pole – didn’t work for me. This is used differently in that you use it in the palm of your hand and use a sidewise push of your arm – easy because you are standing sidewise.

    I hope this gives an understanding of what works for me and hopefully will help someone with a bad back and or bad knee to be able to keep going and having a blast. Or help someone to learn to board. Jim Z.

  12. shelby says:

    I am 67 started 18 years ago on a dare. I also do NASTAR. Like I say: once you go board, you are never bored.

  13. James Zueger says:

    I would just like to make a few comments about the importance of learning to do things right from the start and to relate how hard it is for me to break my bad “habit”. It is pretty easy to get locked into riding heel side only, go one direction only, take curves heel or toe only, etc. (been there and now wish there was someone around at the time to immediately break me of these habits). The one bad “habit that I mentioned that I hven’t ever corrected is that I learned to skate and get off the lift with my wrong foot locked in the board. After 8 years this is proving to be VERY difficult to do. At first I couldn’t take 2 steps without stumbling. This is week no.2 and I feel confident that by the end of the week I’ll be able to skate right up to the lift. But then it might be another 2 wks. to learn to skate off the lift THE RIGHT WAY. Jim Z. 7 Springs

  14. robbie Keen says:

    I just discovered this site,too, and am excited that there are other female “grays”out there. I am 61 and have been riding for about 15 years. I have seen older guys but never another female. It would be so nice to have a group of riders who could push you to be better but also who understand what old bones and joints feel like. Does anyone live around Baltimore or ski at Roundtop or Liberty?

  15. James says:

    The one and only true hero of our sport. With respect a constant personal insperation of life. George Bananaman Blair. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/picture-galleries/11342905/The-best-World-Records-on-snow.html

  16. ej says:

    I came across this page while researching the flow vs non-flow binding debate. Just like all other choices, “less filling, tastes great,” the debate isn’t based on tech or science so much as personal preference.

    I’m 53 and finally started snowboarding after trying it back in the 80s but not getting any good instruction. I like what I have seen so far and here in Japan there are lots of folks older that are boarding and having a great time. Of course there appear to be more under-40 then over-50 but I don’t care, I’m having fun. My 7-year daughter dropped snowboarding for skiing but I’m sure she’ll change her mind when she’s ready.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy skiing any longer but its healthy to challenge your brain and physical skills through out your life. Plus the workout I do to enjoy the sport has dropped me 11 pounds.

  17. David Jacobs says:

    It’s healthy to challenge your brain and physical skills through out your life.

  18. j says:

    Learned to snowboard in my late-20s, but with two kiddos in between it took a long while to progress. Now – at 42 – I’m snowboarding at a level that I’m pretty stoked about. My Jones Twin Sister is a prized possession. Snowboarding 4 me is life, its therapy, its freedom, its like flying. As a long time yoga practitioner and certified yoga instructor, I see many similarities in yoga practice & snowboarding – its about achieving balance in body, mind, & spirit. I always get a little weepy when the snow disappears for the season, but have discovered, through my snowboarding, that I’ve become pretty good on a skateboard … my 4th grader gets a kick out of mom picking her up from school via skateboard rather than mini van 😉 .

  19. Bob Workman says:

    Questions for James Zueger.
    You talk about a 24″ ski pole. Exactly what are you referring to?
    A commercial item or something you made?
    If 2nd can you give details? Sounds like a valuable aid

  20. Bill Hane says:

    Wrist guards almost always make the injury much worse, often needing surgery.
    http://snowboardsecrets.com/flexmeter-f-a-q/

    Editor’s note: Flexmeter gloves are great. They’re not wrist guards, but gloves with guards built in. We’re happy customers and users of the product.

  21. Rene says:

    I started skiing when I was 44 and boarding when I was 58. Since then I have been exclusively snowboarding. This year I will be 72. I love to snowboard. It provides me with excitement and physical challenges I do not experience any other way. I feel it motivates me to stay in shape physically and keeps me young in my mind. Even with the unseasonably warm temps this weekend will be my third one out riding. I am looking to hear the experiences of other seniors and super seniors; where you like to ride and the equipment you use. I am riding a Lib Tech Knife now. It is a 57. My last board was the Lib Tech Dark Series 2, a 62. I went lighter and shorter. I now use Gnu bindings. My posts since opening day can be found at http://superseniorboarder.com.

    Happy Riding!!

  22. Rene says:

    Also if you would like to email me directly I am at Rider@superseniorboarder.com.

  23. Rene/Phil says:

    Hi James,
    I am one of those riders that prefers step ins as I can keep moving and snap in when getting off the lift. I started with Burtons with the clips that inserted into the side of the boots and then went to two different Flow rear entry models and now I am riding Gnu’s

  24. Seb says:

    Hi Rene, congrats on boarding at 72 ! I’m 41 and can ski ok but really want to try boarding this year. (i had one lesson last year) I have a crappy left ankle from too much martial arts training but I felt that i couldn’t put too much weight on my front foot (left) to make the turns. I live in Helsinki and hopefully we will have snow this year. i can’t make it to Lapland this year unfortunately.

    So far my friend took me boarding who isn’t a teacher and managed to get me to go down straight down the kids slope at 1000 mph and then, turn my board and come to a stop. It was fun but i need to make turns as i don’t want to break my arms. The instructor I had for my first lesson wasn’t very good, he didn’t inspire too much confidence so i’ll try for a different instructor this time.

    Any tips ?

  25. Rene/Phil says:

    Hi Seb,
    Thanks.
    Yes do try a different instructor. For openers they should just have you learning to balance on your heel and toes and then j turns before linking turns to board properly instead of barreling down the hill without learning some fundamentals.

    This will also help you ankles to ease into turns. I would think that stiff boots would be a good idea with binding support up the back of the ankle. An ankle wrap or preshaped compression brace if it fits easily under your boot may also be a good idea.

    Being a Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Exercise Therapy, I would suggest you also begin to do ankle strengthening exercises.

    There are many ankle strengthening exercises utilizing elastic bands which are demonstrated on YouTube. Also, the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle society (Google them) has some guidance in this respect.

    Go easy, but know that snowboarding has a learning curve which starts slowly and then increases sharply after the fundamentals are established.

    Good luck.

  26. Jim Zueger says:

    Hi Bob Sorry I’m late getting back with a reply – I’ve been away from the site. The pole I’m using now is 27″ and seems to work a little better. Yes, I make them from 2 broken poles where the cut-off handle of one will fit over the cut-off lower and rivet together. You can also buy short poles for kids. In either case, it’s most often necessary to smooth the end of the handle down so that it fits more comfortably in the palm of your hand (which is key to using the thing) And yes it is very valuable and helpful to me.

    I initially made collapsible ones to fit in my pocket because I was afraid of hurting myself with a pole when I fell. It’s not an issue because when you go down, your arms automatically go out and so the pole is away from you. And it is also a lot nicer to always have the pole in your hand ready for when you need it. Jim

    We have had a very late start to the season here in SW Pa. Unusually warm temps and practically no natural snow. Our local resort, 7 Springs, has made snow and now has 2 slopes open. I expect (hope) things will progress rapidly now with them opening more terrain.

  27. Seb says:

    After falling on my arse a few times and it hurting, can anyone suggest and protection ?

  28. Bill Hane says:

    You need an Azzpad. Check online.
    Flexometer gloves.

  29. Jim Zueger says:

    Seb Hockey pants work well also if you have any of those around the house. I put extra padding inside. Jim Z.

  30. Seb says:

    I’ll have to check those out, living in Finland now most sports shops sell hockey gear 😀

    I also saw this armour which i can also use for DH biking but may not offer so much protection when taking a hit. What do you think ?

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/fi/en/body-armour/body-armour-underwear

    I had another fall on my side yesterday and ending up in the perimeter net, but who cares, I enjoy boarding and I’ll just get better.

  31. Bob Workman says:

    Question to those using Flow or other slip in bindings.

    OK at 71 finally got on the “hill” for my 1st lesson. Major problem getting into bindings.

    How do you keep your board from sliding all over the place as you try to get into the bindings?

    NOTE: 1st time out so going directly into downhill movement is not an option.

    Thanks

  32. John LaPlante says:

    Bob, first of all, congratulations on taking a lesson. That should serve you well. I sympathize with your concerns about bindings. After being a skier for a few years (an activity in which you simply step into the bindings), that was a concern of mine. I use, as you call them, slip-in bindings whenever I can.

    The most powerful way of dealing with the problem of board slippage is to put the board on a flat ground. It can be quite difficult to get into a Flow or K2 CTX binding if the board is on a hill. In fact, it can be nearly impossible if your heel edge is digging into a downward slope. So have you tried putting your board into the slope and then digging the toe side into the snow and then slipping your foot in? That’s what I would do, and then stand up and ride away.

    On ground that isn’t so sloped, say, the top of a hill that has a slight gradient, I sometimes dig the toeside edge of the board into the snow, get on my hands and knees, and then put my back foot into the binding. At that point, my foot is almost vertical.

    If the ground is flat enough, then I just step into the binding, as if it were a loafer. If the back lever allows, I can bend down and pull it back up. If it’s got a lot of tension, again, I may drop to my knees and then pull the lever up into position.

  33. Bill Hane says:

    Scrape snow with board, make hill very easy.

  34. Bob Workman says:

    The “bunny” hill I am doing my initial learning on has no flats along the slope and you are right any kind of heel dig makes getting into bindings impossible. I will have to experiment with toe dig to see what happens. I have read some people suggesting that you can use gloves under board as a kind of brake as I also get side to side shifting throwing off my balance, my problem is I am not flexible enough to retrieve gloves. Maybe a leash on the gloves ala kids mitts.

    Knew there would be challenges, but so far nothing that would stop my trying again.

  35. Rick Carter says:

    Bob, I am 61 and have been boarding 16 years. I have used Flow bindings most of that time. I do the same as John La Plante. You see all the kids sitting down putting on their regular bindings, but Flows are rear entry. So I also find it easier to get on my hands and knees, dig in the toe edge and slide in the rear foot and lock the back. Hope this helps. Good luck.

  36. Bob Workman says:

    One question, Rick and John both say dig in the toe edge, get on hands and knees to put on bindings. Are you facing uphill or downhill during this operation. As I am still working on Heel edge slide – facing uphill won’t work or adds another layer of problem.

    I am thinking of trying facing downhill and dig toe edge in at slight angle (basically make a level area) then get into bindings. A slight rock back onto heel edge should clear board and I will be ready to go. Want to get independent, right now instructor helps me up, so I can work on getting comfortable with hell edge slide with out the expense of an instructor. Then another lesson to add new skills.
    I may be progressing slowly, but I am finally having fun in the snow.

  37. Bill Hane says:

    Dude, we put on bindings were the lift lets us off, where it’s flat, we scrape our board to make a flat spot.

  38. Bob Workman says:

    That is a possibility once I get to riding chair lifts. Right now learning VERY BASIC skills on training hill, no Lift, no flats. I intend to try making mini flat spot and use a bit of toe edge still facing downhill. Find that there is also side to side motion as I shift around getting into bindings. Hopefully trial and error will find a technique that will work.

  39. Jim Zueger says:

    Bob The short pole idea that I mentioned in an earlier post works very well. I just plant it in the snow to steady myself as I get into my step-ins (one foot already in). I’ve gotten in on steep grades no problem (well maybe a little). Jim Z.

  40. Bill Hane says:

    Step-in bindings have no place in snowboarding.

  41. Jim Zueger says:

    Bill Why? Jim Z.

  42. Bill Hane says:

    They often open when you least expect.

  43. John LaPlante says:

    Not my experience.

  44. Bill Hane says:

    Try teaching for a few years with students coming louse from their bindings. Step-ins just suck if you have some that work; you’re 1 in 1,000,000.

  45. John LaPlante says:

    I was mistaken when I said “not in my experience.” I thought you were talking about quick-rear-entry bindings, such as the K2 Cinch or the models from Flow. I see now that you said “step-in,” which is of course a different animal.

    If you are in fact referring to binding systems that have metal release bars that require compatible boots, I have this question: Where do you teach? Even in “commuter” ski areas in the Midwest, I’ve not seen true step-ins in rental departments for at least a decade.

  46. Bill Hane says:

    You’re right it was 9 years ago. I taught at Afton in MN. No one uses step-in anymore unless you count Flow.

  47. John LaPlante says:

    Thanks for the elaboration. No, I wouldn’t count Flow. I understand that people have issues with those bindings (personally, I love ’em and won’t use anything else unless I have no other choice). But (especially with the newer versions that also use ratcheting straps), they’re not the same kettle of fish as the step-ins that you taught with (or that I learned in).

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