Anyone can roll downhill, but what about up? Inventor of hill-climbing SpikeBoard thinks it’s the next big sport


GOLDEN — When the realization hit Enrique Cubillo that he had invented both a new mode of urban transportation and a new sport, he got down on one knee in New York’s Central Park and wept for joy. The epiphany came at 6:15 p.m. on Aug. 10, 2010.

“I will never forget the day, the moment,” said Cubillo, a passionate man. “I cried and I said, ‘SpikeBoarding is born.’ I cried out of the realization of what was about to happen.”

He foresaw SpikeBoarding becoming a “transport sport,” with squadrons of urban commuters traveling on skateboards using long carbon-fiber poles tipped with spikes for propulsion. He even envisioned international competitions patterned after the World Cup tours of skiing.

OK, he’s a dreamer. He concedes there are currently about eight people in the world who could be considered SpikeBoarders, but he remains convinced he’s onto something big. And to prove its potential, the longtime New Yorker visited Denver recently and SpikeBoarded from downtown Golden to Buffalo Bill’s Grave atop Lookout Mountain to evangelize for his vision. Clad in a cyclist’s jersey, shorts and helmet, standing on a skateboard of his design and using nothing but his arms and a custom-made spike for propulsion — with a stroke reminiscent of gondoliers in Venice, but at a much higher tempo — Cubillo made the 6-mile, 1,600-foot climb in 56 minutes, 30 seconds.

Without stopping.

“All creative capitalism is done with dreaming, ‘what if?’ ” Cubillo said. “The only thing that has happened here is, ‘What if I treated one board like two roller-ski boards?’ I would make a skateboard spike, I would modify the kinetics and I’d get ripped. Look at me! All I wanted was to get ripped and not go to the gym.”

His arms and legs are big but hard-body lean. He’s built like a football running back.

Cubillo, 54, was born in Spain but moved with his family to St. Louis in 1967 when he was 2. An avid skateboarder growing up, he moved to New York to study cinema when he was 20. There he gravitated to cycling, riding more than 300 miles a week for 16 years. He also took up roller skiing for upper-body strength.

“Nordic skiing is the most comprehensive physical activity that engages strength, endurance and balance constantly,” said Cubillo, who supports himself as a commercial photographer. “SpikeBoarding has made it casual. Roller skiing is never casual. If roller skiing was casual, we’d just roller ski. You could just clip in and out of your boots and commute. But commuting with two boots, two poles and ‘snowplowing,’ it’s not casual. I can’t over-emphasize how casual SpikeBoarding is.”

Cubillo propels himself on the board three ways: Two involve the use of his spike along with leg power — what skateboarders call “pedaling” — for travel on relatively flat ground. But the climbing stroke Cubillo used on Lookout Mountain, the “stand up spike,” uses only the spike for propulsion — 10-12 strokes on one one side, 10-12 on the other, back and forth like the gondolier. (Cubillo looked at many forms of propulsion and counted 27 types of strokes people use; he invented three more, he said.)

“It is a human-propulsion stroke that is a slight modification of the double-pole stroke in skiing,” said Cubillo, who didn’t descend Lookout on his board. “Wherein double-poling emphasizes the arms to remain at 90 degrees and to engage the lats and the core, (with SpikeBoarding) the hips are shifted 45 degrees to the board as opposed to 90, and we’re going to engage the pavement with one shaft.”

Cubillo loves fitness but not working out (“I’m not an exercise guy — I’m an activity guy …”). He understands the importance of core strength but doesn’t like to do core-specific strengthening.

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