Mountainboarding

 (Me all geared up and ready to ready to rock)
 
Mountainboarding has been a big part of my life starting since the late 90s. I have always enjoyed snowboarding even since the very early 80s when I first started. As soon as I graduated college from Wake Forest University I hopped in the car and moved out to Colorado so that I could be near the best ski resorts in the US. It was in the summer of 1998 when I was sitting on the coach and 'jonesing' for some snowboarding that I first discovered the newly emerging sport of Mountainboarding.
 
I was watching a back to back movie marathon of "Gleaming The Cube" and then "Thrashin" and got the idea of riding skateboards again in the off-season on large mountain hills. My internet search of the words mountain and board ended up directing me to a company called MBS Mountainboards. As it turned out, they were located in Colorado Springs which was less than 2 hours away. I called them up on the phone and talked a little while about their boards and decided right away that I would try it out. I drove down to Colorado Springs and went to their house which served as a office/factory.  It was there that I bought my first mountainboard and also where I first met Jason Lee and Patrick McConnell, who are the founders of MBS Mountainboards.
 
That summer I started riding anywhere and everywhere that I could in Breckenridge. I took ALLOT of falls and lost a good bit of skin but I was really enjoying the sport. It had started as something to do when the snow was not on the ground and it was quickly becoming a sport that I enjoyed as much or even more than snowboarding.
 
Back then, mountainboards where made from a large heavy metal frame with a wooden deck attached to the top with a metal bar bolted to it for you to put your feet in. They were quite stable on the ground, but were heavy and difficult to jump. Not to say that people like Jason and Joel Lee could not take them to the skies under the right circumstances.
 
The next summer I was stoked and ready for mountainboard season to start. I had begun to go down to Colorado Springs and ride down there at a few tracks that Patrick and Jason had setup. Patrick was always more of a downhill rider and he introduced me to a legendary track in Colorado Springs called the 'High Drive'. Patrick and I would ride that run more times than I could ever count. Patrick was a great friend to me back then and he was a big reason why I enjoyed the sport as much as I did.....and still do. Over the years he and I would ride together both on mountainboards, and in winter on snowboards.......he even got us some modified mountainboards with custom wheels so we could ride the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado.
 
By the end of that summer I had already entered in a few mountainboard races and Patrick asked me if I wanted to ride with them out to see the National Championships which was in California that year at a place called Boreal. I was happy to go and it was an amazing experience to see soo many people all interested in this new sport that I had fallen in love with. I met many people that summer that I continued to call friends for the next decade as I would see many of them often at the championships each year. The course was pretty cool and I was excited to ride the track, but by the end of the 2nd day I had blown out my right ankle and I could not even walk. I vowed that next year I would return and do much better.
 
By the summer of 2000 MBS had begun to make boards that were designed much lighter and without a metal frame. These boards were more agile and much easier to catch air. This made things like single track trail riding possible. I found many places such as WinterPark Ski Resort that would allow mountainboards down their single track runs designed for mountainbikes. I could purchase a ticket and ride up the ski life with my board and then ride down the mountain through woods in tight single track. After a while a local ski resort in CO called Copper Mountain also allowed us on the hill with the purchase of a lift ticket. This game me many more opportunities to ride since I could go out by myself and ride all day using the chair lift.
 
The Mountainboard Nationals that year were being held in California in a place called Kratka Ridge. To this day, Kratka Ridge is still talked about in the mountainboarding community as one of the most epic places to ever ride. The resort had spent soo much time and money to make the biggest and best course that had ever been seen. It was this year that I had my best performance in the sport when I finished 3rd place in the Boardercross division after winning some crazy races to make it to the finals. The course was soo gnarly that when 4 people went down at once in the boardercross finals there were crashes almost guaranteed in a few of the corners. I escaped past a few races by jumping over the carnage that happened in front of me and being the first one down by simply not wrecking.
 
 
 
I was thrilled to have done so well at the Boardercross races, but I knew that what I really enjoyed was pure downhill. I was able to get a custom made pro-model board called 'The Supercharger'. This was a very long metal framed mountainboard that had hydraulic shocks on the front and the rear. It also had a new quad-shock truck design that could be customized to provide extreme stiffness for very high speeds.  At this point mountainboards did not have any brakes and the only way to stop was to kick it sideways like a snowboard. MBS was starting to come up with the first brake designs that would be used on a mountainboard which were basically a mountainbike brake modified to attach to the rear wheels. With the help of a local bike shop in Breckenridge I was able to get a functional brake system on my Supercharger. I also got a bicycle speedometer that could be set for a small wheel diameter to accommodate the 9" tires. With this setup I could take to the asphalt mountains at high speed. All I needed was something to keep me alive if I were to crash at 50+ mph speeds. I settled on a racing motorcycle suit that had metal shin plates and spine protection up the back.
 
Back then in Breckenridge there was a mall called Bell Tower Mall and there was free public bus transportation would pick up there and then make a few stops in town and then would go to the top of Baldy Mountain.  I would board the bus with my huge mountainboard wearing a motorcycle speed suit and a motorcycle helmet........I can't tell you the conversations I had with people sometimes while taking the bus. The run from the top of Baldy Mountain was pretty awesome. It would wind down the mountain and head straight back into the town of Breckenridge. There was stretches of that run where I could easily break 50+ mph and my top speed ever one run was 62mph. The speed limit of this road was usually 35 so I would frequently pass cars on the way down.....which is impressive for a sport where my only means of propulsion is gravity.
 
For the next few years there were various competitions around the US where they would have downhill races and I would usually try and make my way out to them. One of the most memorable was the 1st Annual Donner Downhill Competition in 2001 where we were racing the same course that they had set up for the street lugers. I also have fond memories of an all mountain freeriding downhill at a place called Sunday River in Maine. That was an especially interesting trip as I drove a RV from Virginia to Maine and it caught fire while driving and burned completely to the ground. I was only able to escape the car with what was in my pockets.......my mountainboards which were in the back of the RV were burned to a crisp. I was able to replace the gear with insurance and my buddies at MBS got me replacement gear REAL quick so I hardly missed a race.
 
I would continue to compete in various Mountainboard events over the next few years until my last appearence in the Nationals in 2004. I would continue to go to the Nationals for the next few years as a spectator rather than a competitor where I was happy to meet up with my friends and watch some of the new mountainboarding crew take the sport to the next levels. In the last Nationals I attended  I was able to watch my good buddy Jason Smalls successfully pull off a double-backflip in competition. Jason Lee would also continue to dominate the sport at that time and he still competes today and is recognized as 'The Godfather' of Mountainboarding.