There are a lot of ways to go down a mountain but few seem as risky as on four wheels (and we're not talking about a car). The sport of downhill longboard skateboarding has taken off over the last few years – and it's quickly become one of most thrilling things to do without an engine.
In the video above, Sebastian Hertler and Matthias Ebel scored at a secret spot high in the Italian Alps (just where? They won't say – probably a smart move!), hitting top speeds of up to 80kph.
The road – which begins at close to 3,000m and goes all the way down to about 1,150m – was open to vehicles, as evidenced by the fact that they ran into a guy in a Ferrari having the same kind of fun, getting sideways. "We cheered him on as he was sliding around some corners, and he came back to see what we were doing," says Hertler. "He really knew how to handle the car."
The road bikers they encountered were no match for the longboards, which are more aerodynamic and have a lower center of gravity. "They can't take the same lines we do," says Hertler.
The skaters use specially designed skateboards with wide, soft wheels to increase grip, and give them the control they need to make the turns. "They're much softer (and bigger) than normal skateboard wheels," says Hertler.
The risk of cars is obvious, but other than that, it's just about staying in control and not hitting a solid object. Rocks in the road are by no means preferred, but the wheels are big enough to roll over small pebbles, and fist-sized rocks will get knocked out of the way.
The biggest challenge for this ride was the mix of wet and dry road. The dampness changes the consistency of grip, making slides difficult to control and predict. Fortunately, the guys managed it safely.
"In the end, it's all about freedom of movement and finding a new way to ride a mountain," says Hertler. We just suggest they try and obey (some) of the speed limits.
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