Matakana motorists who thought they witnessed a man on wheels fly past them at breakneck speeds last month weren’t seeing things.
Longboard rider Zain Solanki has published footage of his ride down a notoriously steep and winding hill on Matakana Valley Road, from near Govan Wilson Road to Whangaripo.
The footage may look frightening, but Solanki says it was a relatively slow ride for him, only approaching speeds of 70kph. On a recent ride in Puhoi he reached 85kph and riders can get up to 90kph.
He says he chose the hill on Matakana Valley Road because of its twisting turns, which provided a technical and challenging ride.
But it wasn’t a scary ride, he says.
“If I get an adrenalin rush, I just stop,” he says. “For me, it’s not about thrill-seeking, it’s about enjoying the process of going down, and I actually find it meditative.”
Solanki is a member of the Auckland Longboarding Society and follows a strict set of safety protocols.
Before undertaking a ride, he will drive up and down a hill several times to check for obstructions such as branches or pot holes.
“Conditions have to be ideal otherwise we will call it off,” he says.
During a ride, a car will follow behind to protect the rider from other traffic. The car also has a mounted DSLR camera to capture the action.
Solanki says he is more confident riding down difficult hills on a board than in a car or on a bicycle because it is capable of much tighter turns.
Riders slow down their speed by turning sideways and placing their hands on the ground, creating drag. Their hands are protected by gloves with PVC plastic pads.
He says a longboard can drop from 80kph to 30kph in about 30 metres, similar to a car.
“It’s a misconception that longboard riders go downhill and hope for dear life.”
Longboard riders also follow the same set of road rules as cyclists.
The footage of Zain Solanki’s rides can be viewed online.