Four Wheels, Two Feet and Danger - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Four Wheels, Two Feet and Danger

Four Wheels, Two Feet and Danger

By Eugene S. Robinson


Because adrenaline addiction.

By Eugene S. Robinson

If you’d been paying attention, you’d have known that the wheel’s been around for a fair bit of time. That is, since 9500 – 6500 B.C. during the late Neolithic age, if anyone’s asking. Agriculture, pottery and eventually every crazy airborne thing you could want to do recreationally — skateboarding, Rollerblading, BMXing, biking — as well as the transportation that’d take you to and from the hospital after aborted attempts to master them.

Which is why we’re so happy about freeline skating. Clearly designed for people for whom skateboarding is now too easy and rollerskating and Rollerblading lack the requisite danger factor, freeline skating puts us one step closer to minimizing our recreational mass in search of a good time. Imagine chopping out the center section of a skateboard and then narrowing the wooden portion that is usually attached to the trucks — the metal part that, axle-like, holds the wheels — so that it fits under your foot. And then, with one on each foot, connected with nothing but your dreams and desires to go home uninjured, you start moving down the street. Fast.

“It’s more like surfing,” said a 16-year-old skateboarder at a local skate park, the only one who’d cop to having tried it. “I mean, harder than [skateboarding] even if it looks easier and it works great here, but street style? No way.” Which in a way makes sense if you know that skateboarding had originally been configured as a way for surfers to extend their love of boarded motion to the streets after they’ve left the water. Something largely reflected in early boarding styles with the focus on fluid turns and even surfboard tricks such as “hanging 10,” surfing with your toes hanging off the front end of your board.

Then Per Welinder (and Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen and a half dozen others) came along, and the more acrobatic street style that you see every time you see a video of skateboarders, which is almost everywhere, took ahold of people and never let go. But given that freeline skates are not strapped to your feet, you’re not going to be doing rail slides or ollies or really anything you have to leap in the air to do. Smooth, swooping lines cutting across broad concrete walkways? Yes. Jumping up over stuff? Maybe not so much.

But there was only one way to find out, and $140 later I was poised to do just so. Which is not as comical as it might first sound, since with a history that includes skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding and unicycling, fer chrissakes, no one could have been more ready. And yet while they didn’t feel nearly stable enough to sanely jump over stuff, the lure and the allure of being able to just yank something out of a biggish jacket pocket and glide? Had me sold. In a nice, big parking lot. The biggest trick being pulled is getting on and getting off in one piece. Give me another month though. 

Which is to say: Nothing at all like this.

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