by: Leo Aquina | November 17, 2015
“Spikeboarding is hundred percent Nordic movement”, says Enrique Cubillo. The 51-year-old New Yorker is a sports innovator. Six years ago he combined a skateboard with a skateboard spike to use upper body power in driving the board forward. The movement is very similar to Nordic skiing, the only difference is the single board and the single spike versus two skis and two spikes. Cubillo believes that transport sports will be necessary to keep people in shape in future society and spikeboarding is one of the most efficient transport sports to train the entire body. “It can be a tremendous help to athletes’ development in field sports like football and ice hockey”, Cubillo says.
When Cubillo explains spikeboarding he compares it to cycling and all endurance sports. The Spanish born New Yorker grew up in St. Louis and used to be a daredevil skateboarder as a kid. “Skateboarding is an acrobat and daredevil sport focused on doing tricks and stunts, like BMX bikes in cycling”, he says. “Imagine if in cycling you only had BMX bikes doing acrobatic tricks only, no road racing and no mountain bikes. That’s the state of affairs in skateboarding at the moment. There’s no real endurance racing on a board. Let alone full body function.”
Not a paddle but a spike
When Cubillo moved to New York he turned to the bike. “I was a very good bike racer, I won races and set records, but after eleven years of bike racing I was done with the sport. Winters in New York are very cold and it’s very tough to prepare for the new cycling season in these conditions. I turned to triathlon, but I found out that running was not for me. I went from injury to injury so I had to stop and eventually I decided to pick up my board again.”
As a 15,000 km per year cyclist Cubillo had not developed upper body strength and he decided that he needed more core power to avoid injuries and maintain life long full body fitness. “Then I saw people on long boards with a land paddle in Central Park. I instantly knew that the device and the movements very low performing, but I bought a paddle to try it out myself anyway. Land paddling doesn’t perform well because on land you don’t pull with your paddle like you do in water. When on land you have to push backwards with a spike like Nordic skiers do”, he explains. “That’s when I decided to make my own carbide skateboard spike.”
"I think spikeboarding could be a proper racing sport with real athletes who eat sleep and train to live their sport"
Eat, sleep, train, race
Cubillo went on developing his newly invented sport into a real endurance racing sport on a board. “There are skateboarders who hold endurance events on their boards, but they don’t really race. It’s more like a family who comes together for a nice event and a barbecue. They don’t eat, sleep and train for races, like a New York Marathon runner would do. I think spikeboarding could be a proper racing sport with real athletes who eat sleep and train to live their sport.”
Cubillo innovated two new propulsion strokes, stand-up-spike (SUS) and cubi-x-cross (CXC). In SUS the athlete’s legs remain fixed on top of the deck. The upper body swings the spike on a vector line to the rear with both hands grasping at the top to generate speed. In CXC the athlete switch kicks a traditional skateboard kick and for the first time ever spikes simultaneously with the arm on the opposite side of the kicking leg.
"I found out that there could be a more complete full body engagement while using a kick and an arm spike"
“I started out only stand-up-spiking. I soon found out that there could be a more complete full body engagement while using a kick and an arm spike. The CXC stroke was born 35 days after the SUS stroke. That’s how I got the idea of CXC. Once CXC was innovated I realized much like Nordic ski has various strokes to engage various terrain, V1,V2, Diagonal Stride, Kick Double Pole, Herring Bone for climbing, so too now with these two simple strokes all manner of terrain could be covered with the highest efficiency ever produced on a four wheels and a deck”, he says.
With his newly invented stroke technique's Cubillo managed to generate average flat land speeds of approximately 28 kilometres per hour and he also climbed mountains. He keeps his downhill speeds in check around 45 kph and stays on similar terrain to Nordic ski avoiding alpine ski type drops. “I went to the birthplace of the mountain bike: Mount Tamalpais in California and climbed it in an hour and 27 minutes using only the SUS stroke."
To promote spikeboarding Cubillo promised thousand dollars to the first man who manages to beat his SUS King Of Mountain time up to Mount Tamalpais. The first woman who manages to climb this mountain in SUS, no matter in which time, will get one thousand dollar too.
Cubillo also created a company, SUSOIX, to promote the sport and he produces spikeboards and the company’s patented SkateBoard Spike®. “SUSOIX (suh-soy) is an acronym”, he explains: “SUS stands for Stand Up Spike and OIX are the three race symbols on spikeboarding race courses. O indicates downhill and no spike nor feet may touch payment. I indicates SUS must be used only. X indicates CXC must be used only.”
From wheels to fields
Nordic Skiers would benefit tremendously from spikeboard training, athletes in other sports could use it as a powerful cross training too. “All trainers in competitive junior sports are drumming the same beat about cross training, but nobody really does it. The hardest things to train are core and stamina. Spikeboarding delivers constant development of core and stamina. Nordic Skiing rips your head and toes, spikeboarding does the same. If you crosstrain these sports you will benefit so much.”
Cubillo even thinks that football players could develop higher rates of ambipedalism because of spikeboarding. “Football players are very often single-footed. When I innovated spikeboarding in August of 2010, I had no ambipedaling skills, none. I only used one foot to kick. Then I thought: if this sport is really going to be an effective endurance activity, I need to switch kick. Never on earth would I have thought that I could develop my feet to become equal in strength and coordination, but after six years of training you can hardly tell which foot is my dominant foot anymore. Take nine-year-old kids and give them spikeboarding and football and you will create champions of ambipedalism. They would develop both feet equally. I know switch kick and CXC strokes can create astonishing athletes, football monsters.”
Wheels crucial to fight inactivity
Apart from the benefits in sports, spikeboarding together with other transport sports like cycling, are going to help society as a whole to stay in shape. “Look what’s happening to society now. People don’t have time to move and do sports. Inactivity is a great enemy of human well-being and transport sports have the qualities we need to fight inactivity. Children need to learn to speak different languages at a young age to speak them when they grow older. If they speak the language of cycling and spikeboarding, they will be able to pick it up when they quit their field sport activities as grown-ups. If I want to play baseball at my age, I’m not going to find enough people at the same time to join me for a game, but I can always work-out on my wheels because I speak the language. If people speak the languages of wheels sports they can use those tools not only to work-out, but to commute as well. That’s why wheels are so important.”
Raising children with the tools of wheel sports is not the only way in which Cubillo sees social possibilities of spikeboarding. He even tried to set up social programs for high school drop-outs, but his efforts were turned down or simply ignored. “There’s 20.000 high school drop-outs in New York every year. I called Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Collation and spoke to his development director to ask whether they could get me some high school drop-outs to get them back on track with spikeboarding, but they did not call me back. I even called to Ferguson, Missouri, I’m from St. Louis myself, I told them I would bring 35 boards and 35 skateboard poles and I’ll train those kids. They told me they didn’t have the bandwidth. What’s that? I did not even ask for any money.”
"Nordic skiing could explode from spikeboarding. Imagine the first Afro-American kid to win an Olympic medal in Nordic skiing"
The board and the Skateboard Spike® are relatively inexpensive sporting goods equipment compared to bicycles or skiing gear, which makes the sport affordable for the many. Cubillo: “The interface between the ski’s and the snow is difficult and that’s what keeps people form Nordic movement. With a spike and a board we could really bring Nordic movement to the urban child quickly and logically in the traffic flow. Then spikeboarding suddenly becomes a very egalitarian sport and it will be like running. If you win an Olympic medal in running, you have beaten the entire planet. If you win a medal in speed skating, you’ve beaten a couple of Russians, Koreans, Japanese, Canadians and Dutch. You didn’t skate against the entire planet. Nordic skiing could explode from spikeboarding. Imagine the first Afro-American kid to win an Olympic medal in Nordic skiing for USA.”
Cubillo does not only focus on American children, he wants to spread spikeboarding all over the world and therefore offers European kids to come over to New York. “I offer European kids free boards, food and housing if they come over to learn spikeboarding in New York. The question is which country is going to adopt the sport first, which country is going to be the first real powerhouse in spikeboarding.”
Not if, but when
Despite Cubillo’s relentless efforts to sell his sport to a greater audience, he hasn’t managed to convince sports federations or Nordic ski gear manufacturers to invest in spikeboarding. “They looked at it and basically said nothing”, Cubillo says. The passionate New Yorker doesn’t give up that easily however.
“All sports are invented by humans. It hasn’t automatically fallen off the tree of nature, it’s a design, a game which is played with rules that everybody agrees upon. Spikeboarding is the same, it’s a designed human movement like other sports.”
Cubillo managed to convince early adopters of spikeboarding in the USA, the Netherlands, Norway and France already. One of them even climbed Mont Ventoux on a spikeboard. “It hasn’t become widely accepted as a sport yet, but it has such great possibilities, that I don’t think it’s a question of whether it will attract a greater audience someday, but when it’s going to happen. There’s money to be made, history to be made, human progress to be made. The sport is undeniable and waiting to happen."
Cubillo hopes to find schools and universities who want him to come and tell the story of spikeboarding: “I would really hope that European colleges hear this call and that they are open to the idea. There’s a lot of research to be done with regards to the possible development of ambipedal and the possibilities of cross training and benefits to be gained in core and stamina with Nordic movement.”
More information: www.susoix.com. To get a good impression of spikeboarding watch this movie