X-treme: Going by the board

Yes, yes, yes! A trip to north London does not usually fill me with me with such a zest for living but I had just spent the last couple of hours surfing around. Wait... on second thoughts, it was more like snowboarding, but then again, it was quite similar to skateboarding. Call it what you want, I am hooked.

North London's Primrose Hill cannot match the Alps, but it does have that certain something separating it from a host of other public commons... a hill.

I went to the park in the company of Dante Gray and Ned Conran and a range of contraptions which, they assured me, could finally bridge the "summer gap" for urban adrenaline junkies patiently waiting for winter snowboarding excursions.

Mountainboards, outbackboards and Grassboards may differ in design, but they all try to replicate the exciting feeling of snowboarding and surfing.

I began with a mountainboard. The fact that it had a break - similar to a bicycle break - did not influence my decision in the slightest - I just liked the red colour.

I picked a gentle descent and, as soon as gravity kicked in, knew I was in for a good afternoon. The riding sensation is somewhere between a loose skateboard and a snowboard. By keeping your weight on the front foot, it was easy to "carve" down the grassy hill.

"Mountainboarding has only been going for about two years in this country," explains Gray, the co-owner of the London Beach Store. In addition to other boards designed to provide adrenaline hits and small risk to your physical health, his store sells and rents out a range of mountainboards and Grassboards.

"The strange designs also attract other people who are into interesting and unusual machines, and designers are coming out with new innovations all the time," he adds.

Most of the materials used are similar to skateboards; basic plywood decks attached to various metal frames. The design differences mean that each board rides slightly differently, but the feeling on each is pretty addictive. If the terrain is wet, then you get the chance to slide the back wheels out - you may lose a bit of traction, but what a feeling!

Conran had been into snowboarding for around six years and was hooked on the new boards after one go. "It's the best buzz you can get without riding on snow or water," he says. "It hasn't really taken off yet in this country because so few people know about them, but they're going to be very popular."

Duncan McClaren, 25, has been importing Grassboards into the UK for a year. Designers use metal alloys and mountain- bike technology.

The boards may look simple, but there is a lot of hi-tech design behind them. They use in-line technology with a free-turning front wheel and the rear wheels set down the central axis of the board.

Things can feel very unstable when you first ride one of these boards, but once you know what you are doing, they give a fluid edge-to-edge feel that is similar to snowboarding.

Out of all the boards I tried, the grassboard offered the purest "carve". After trying it a few times my next question was "how much?".

The good news is that the prices are tumbling. Boards can cost between pounds 250 and pounds 400, but some mountainboards will retail at around pounds 200 from next month.

"When you have things under control it's very easy to turn and carve," says McClaren. "You can also put a handlebar on them and ride around town, or in a half-pipe.

"We've got some of the best US skateboarders riding them now with foot straps and freestyle snowboard bindings so you can land jumps and other aerial tricks."

For additional information call the London Beach Store: 178 Portobello Road, W11 (0171-243 2772). Mountainboards retail at around pounds 250-pounds 400 and can be rented for a weekend for pounds 50

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

    £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Recruitment Genius: Business / Operations Manager

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well-established and growi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive - Major Sporting Venue

    £29500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible