Ran into a man at the Start Haus last week (I’m pimping gear and stoke for them) who was headed out the door with a serious piece of speed machinery in his hands – I’m talking wheels, not edges – for pavement, not snow. Where the no fall zone begins a lot sooner, and the consequences of a wipe out get out of hand in a hurry. This is shussing with full armor, mental and physical.
I’m talking about a six-wheeled roller blade and I’m talking stability at speed but, gulp, no good way to stop. Until now.
Ellis was his name, his first the same as mine, and he had a cheshire grin, like he had just eaten something lip smackin’ good. He cradled the thing that was in his hands like a trophy and it was soon evident why. This was a pavement skiers way to slow down and turn, rather than just hold on, aim well, and ride it out. It makes six inline wheels under your feet, uh, “safe”, er, lowers the probability of a bloody wreck.
It works by using the mechanical power of your lower leg, like skiing, except you lean back to brake. It sounds unnerving but Craig was rather confident and exuberant about how stable it made users feel. It is tempting and looking at the connection it is easy to see how a person can drive the brake pad down with enough lower leg pressure to provide serious resistance and the power to control it.
“Does it burn through the brakes?” I asked.
“Ha, ha, yeah,” Craig chuckled, “it can burn through em.”
I don’t know how much it started with, but there was only an inch of pad left. It had been clearly ground to a smooth angle by #5 grid asphalt, with ridges running lengthwise. The pad looked strong enough to provide some serious stopping power, but I did not ask to take ‘er for a ride.
Adrenaline junkies, on the other hand, might be licking their chops for an opportunity to ride such a pair of rolling rockets. Give Craig Ellis a buzz (3-ten-seven-21-twenty-97), he’ll be happy to set you up.
Craig Ellis is a mechanical engineer with a degree from Rensselaer Polytechinic Institute (RPI), where he was captain of the ski team, and he holds an MBA from UCLA. He spent much of his career designing and building airplanes. He was the head of composite materials on the B2 stealth bomber and worked on many NASA structures programs during his career. In 2007 he was ranked #25 in the world by the International Inline Downhill Association. This Fall, Ellis worked with the Mammoth Mountain Ski Team coaches and athletes on his skates as part of their dryland training program.