For this band of longboarders, age is no impediment to a smooth night ride

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Skateboarders utilize parking garages as slopes to ride down on their long boards in Towson, Md.
By Lonnae O'Neal Parker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Late at night, adrenaline fills the empty spaces and some of the guys like to get real low.

They ride their boards squat, butts parallel to the concrete, gloves on so they can touch hands to the ground if they do an extreme lean on the turn or get ambitious on a slide.

Some prefer to ride high, constantly shifting their weight so they can carve the ramps in wide, graceful arcs, like a giant ski slalom, weaving between the painted yellow lines. It would be impressive enough if these guys were teens. That they're not makes it something else entirely.

When everyone reaches bottom, they head seven floors up, back to the roof, a half-dozen riders and their boards, crowding into the elevator, their ski lift.

On a humid night, with a poetically crescent moon and industrial fluorescent bulbs for light, they make five or six runs, until they get antsy or until the security guards come for them. Then they hop their longboards and hit the streets, off to the next winding slopes, the next set of waves, the next looming tower of asphalt waiting to have the sweetness of its lines extracted.

Daytime people know them as the municipal parking garages of Baltimore and its northern suburb of Towson.

While the rest of the city is sleeping, there are guys -- mostly guys -- out there, reveling in an urban surf's up. Wind in your face, wood underfoot, the vibration of the wheels running the length of your spine. Rolling with your tribe. Barely legal.

Now this is how you do the night!

Twice a week for years, without pause, it has been the regularly scheduled mainlining of Whoosh! An evocation of freedom and bonding; a night of thrill rides decidedly not for kids.

For these longboarders, that's almost exactly the point.

* * *

The sun still has a few fingers in the sky when Scott Frias arrives at the Towson garage.


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