A few days ago I finally got the chance to ride a Freebord1 (something I linked to years ago when I was using del.icio.us) and for what may be the first time in my life, I wasn't able to immediately master it. While that may sound a bit pretentious, I think that if you know me you know things like that (skateboarding, wakeboarding, snowboarding, skiing, blading, whatever) have always come very easy to me.
But this machine, this fusion of snowboarding and skateboarding, felt very foreign. You see, the Freebord is kind of like a regular skateboard, except that there are half-bindings for your feet, the trucks are stretched out well beyond the width of the board, and there are six wheels. That's right, six. The extra two are spring-loaded caster wheels that sit in the center of the inside of each truck. The basic idea is that you turn (or, more accurately, carve) by giving the fifth and six wheels pressure, which is done by centering your weight on the board until the ‘extra' wheels ‘take over,' at which point you lean to either side and the ‘regular' wheels that are on the same side as the side you are leaning, begin to slide across the pavement and act kind of like an edge on a snowboard.
I felt so sketchy on this thing and had I not seen videos of what it was capable of (some of which are linked to directly from the main page -- watch them!), I probably would have deemed it broken after only a few tries. That said, I was starting to get the hang of it near the end our session, but not before my body started telling my brain I wasn't 16 anymore2 and my brain started telling my body I could die.3
I was out with my brother and his roommate, both of whom bought Freebords minutes after I called my brother a couple of months ago and implored him to watch the videos of it in action. ↩
I hurt. Still. ↩
My brother's roommate cracked his skull open not a week after they got their boards; the incident left him in pretty bad shape. Did I mention that this kid was there when I was trying to learn how to do it? Yah, that kind of messed with my head a bit. ↩