A new design of skateboard engineered by a man in Portugal is custom fit for San Francisco: This skateboard hooks into cable car tracks.
Portugal-based engineer and skater Ricardo Marques was challenged by production companies FCB Lisbon, Fuel TV and Bro Cinema to create a special board to ride down rails of cobblestone streets in cities like Lisbon, Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro, according to his publicist.
Last month, the allure of sloping hills and cable cars brought Marques to San Francisco.
“Just the idea of riding down the amazing, iconic hills of San Francisco was enough to take us there and enjoy the guaranteed adrenaline rush,” Marques wrote to the San Francisco Examiner from Portugal.
The board is made of pine and birch, sports two large wheels in the back and a handheld brake connected to the board. A third wheel in front descends into a tram or cable car track, the innovation that allowed this new “extreme sport,” which he calls “cobblestone riding,” to spread to skaters around the world, according to Popular Mechanics.
Video of Marques’ trip to San Francisco in early April shows him careening down California Street, with the front wheel lodged in a cable car track, as a cable car ascends gingerly nearby. The video also shows him whizzing down Hyde Street with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
Noel Mora, a 37-year-old lifelong skater who works at the iconic store Skates on Haight, told the Examiner that skateboard companies and individuals try to “mod,” or modify, skateboards often.
“You’d probably get off your board,” Mora said of normally crossing cable car tracks. “If not, you’re gonna go flying!”
The daredevil stunt may even have historical precedent, as an 1896 issue of the now-defunct San Francisco Call newspaper featured an illustration showing a man rolling up cable car tracks in roller skates, attached to a cable car line by rope.
But not everyone was impressed with Marques’ video.
“This type of dangerous behavior is not encouraged and could jeopardize the safety of themselves and the people around them,” the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages cable cars and streets in The City, said in a statement. “We will work with [police] to ensure that we can prevent this type of activity.”
Marques said the challenge was worth it.
“I always thought it would be difficult to beat the descents of Portugal,” he wrote. “But in fact, going down the streets of San Francisco was really another level.”
He added, “It was scary. But spectacular, truly spectacular.”