Son of Snowboard
If a snowboard and an SUV got married and had a baby, it would probably look like a mountainboard: a big flat board with foot straps, curved upward at each end, with solid truck-like suspension and four fat, all-terrain tires. It would get its breakneck attitude from its snowboard dad, and its mucky, dirty appeal from its mud-splattered mom.
Mountainboarding is, in fact, the spawn of frustrated snowboarders; standing atop English hills, draped in greenery most of the year, they decided to stop waiting for the next Ice Age and took matters into their own hands. By the mid-1990s, the United Kingdom was home base for a new adrenaline sport that has since captured the hearts—and a few skinned elbows and knees—of millions worldwide.
Throughout the U.S., Ireland, Australia, and the U.K., there are now dozens of mountainboarding centers that cater to fans of this fast, fun thrill ride. The best of them offer lessons and rental equipment, including boards, helmets, knee and elbow pads, and gloves. Though lessons can certainly help the newcomer, the spot you choose to learn this fast-growing adrenaline sport is perhaps more important. Some places offer several other outdoor sports as well as mountainboarding; at these, you’ll compete for slope space with other sports and often end up on gravelly tracks that are no fun to wipe out on. If only to save your skin, look instead for a mountainboarding center that has grassy, groomed hillsides dedicated to mountainboarding.
The All-Terrain Board Association, an organization based in Cardiff, Wales, U.K., gives instructor accreditation, but some aficionados claim that with a sport that most folks can pick up in an hour or two, one simple lesson should suffice. Within a single afternoon, even neophytes can be turning, carving, and—most importantly for a sport where speeds up to 64kmph (40 mph) are common—coming to a controlled stop.
Ivyleaf Mountainboarding, Bude, Cornwall, U.K. ( 44/0-777-306-9716; www.ivyleafmountainboarding.co.uk). Surfin’ Dirt Mountain Boarding, Tullyree Rd., County Down, Northern Ireland ( 077/3-921-0119; www.surfindirt.co.uk). Another World Mountainboarding Centre, Keighley Rd., Ogden, Halifax, U.K. ( 01-422/245-196; www.mountainboarding.co.uk).