I was sitting at Sequoia restaurant in Georgetown enjoying happy hour outside with the Surfrider DC chapter. The sky was turning bright orange and pink during a jaw dropping sunset, when flashing lights on the street caught my eye. What looked like twenty skaters were stopped nearby with blinking lights and music radiating out of their speakers. I craned my neck to get a better look at the commotion. Too nervous to ask what exactly was going on, I stared longingly at the group of people. After a couple minutes of trying to play it cool, I decided to saunter over.
When I got closer I realized these weren’t regular skateboarders. The boards resembled longboards, but with slim battery packs on the underside and blinking lights flashing on the rear. I stood there marveling at the beauty of so many different boards. Before I could even ask, I had five different people asking me if I wanted to try their boards.
Even with my background in snowboarding, I was still nervous about trying a skateboard that could zoom at the switch of a button. But I put on a full-face helmet, compliments of a tall Hollister model looking guy standing nearby, and precariously stepped onto a board. Someone handed me a remote, and I couldn’t stop thinking it was a joke for a second. It seemed hilarious to me that a remote, like in a video game, was needed to make the board accelerate.
My finger tenderly pushed the trigger down and I felt the jolt of the torque from the board as I started up the hill. I bent my knees to keep myself stable. It was so much smoother and steadier than I anticipated. I made a shaky turn at the top of the hill and braced myself for the descent down. I pushed the throttle a little harder, testing the limits of how fast it could go, feeling the whoosh of air around me as I glided across the pavement. As I reached the bottom of the hill I was greeted with smiling faces and excitement.
I hopped off the board and everyone started cheering. “Try this board!” someone yelled. I swapped boards and was on my way racing up the hill, this time with someone following close behind. “Have you done this before?!” he shouted. I pulled back the trigger making the board lurch forward and speed up screaming a “NO” in response. I was having fun, and the rush of speeding on pavement was addicting. I was immediately hooked.
Going by the name DCESK8, this group of electric skateboard enthusiasts was created from a meetup group. With members ranging from college students, to shredders in their 50s, this eclectic mix of e-board riders all share the same passion. I exchanged contact info with one of the members from the group and left with my heart racing.
On the metro ride home, I did a little research that made my jaw drop harder than the sunset. The first board I rode, a Meepo conversion with a Loaded Vanguard deck, cost around $800. The Boosted V2 I rode second, came in at $1,499. The board I had my eyes on, the Boosted Stealth, was $1,599. I was shocked at the price of getting a board. Even the low-end models cost more than a snowboard, and they certainly were not the $80 skateboard setups I was used to.
The following Wednesday I met the DCESK8 group at their official charging spot and sponsor, City Tap House in Dupont. With the help of Instagram, I had met Erwin, member of the club, who was kind enough to lend me a board. I was incredibly more nervous and excited for my first ever group ride. I arrived at the bar and within minutes we were heading off. We rode for what felt like miles, swerving through the streets of DC and dodging traffic. I slowly gained confidence that lent to deeper carves and faster speeds. I couldn’t get over the rush. A rush I had only felt prior while snowboarding.
About six miles in, we stopped at Player’s Club. I was surprised we were stopping at a bar, but I forgot that a key aspect of riding these boards is their limited range. An average board gets 7-14miles range, with the premium boards like LaCroix and Kaly.nyc getting 20-30miles. We plugged in our boards, ordered some drinks, and played a couple rounds of pool while the boards juiced up. I mingled with the club members being sufficiently impressed that I had officially joined the coolest group on Meetup. After everyone was charged we continued our ride, this time passing the monuments, reflection pool, and hitting the curvy roads down near the water. The entire ride I was in awe of these amazing humans all speeding across pavement like they were shredding down a mountain.
After that first group ride I was hooked. Any opportunity to ride I pounced on like it was my last chance to ever ride again. I’ve only been riding for a month, but in that time frame I’ve made every group ride (Wednesday’s at 7pm) and spent multiple nights riding through George Mason, NYC, and DC. I am so thankful to have met such an awesome group of people who have encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and shred the night away.
If you are in the DC area and are interested in trying out an electric board, Boosted is having a demo event this Sunday from 12pm-5pm at Alpine Ski Shop in Fairfax where you can try out an electric board for yourself. Be careful, they’re more addicting than they look.