Photo: Eric And Jack Decker
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It began with a simple goal: to successfully obtain an untouched title in the Guinness Book of World Records. But it would require riding an electric skateboard for 225 miles in less than a single day.
It’s possible that others were too scared to tackle the dangerous feat, or found such an expedition too daunting, costly, or just plain physically exhausting. But 22-year-old Atlanta resident Eric Decker was up for the challenge.
Last week, he started the journey in San Francisco and documented his travels in a YouTube video. It has since garnered just over 2,000 views.
“I almost cried when I went across the Golden Gate Bridge, because I had waited so long for this to happen,” Decker said. He’s fantasized about moving to the city for years.
Working for a video production company, Decker has always had an affinity for chronicling his everyday adventures. One of his more recent videos depicts his escapades while spending 24 hours in the actual town where “Stranger Things” was filmed.
Yet, Decker says, his true passion since childhood has been exploring the world on wheels. When he first learned about the Boosted Board – a Mountain View company touting electric scooters and skateboards – he was desperate to obtain one.
“I thought it was the coolest invention of all time, but I couldn’t afford it,” Decker said. While in college, he came up with the idea of using one to travel across the state of California. He approached Boosted Board for funding, presenting the idea as a “crazy PR stunt,” but heard little to nothing back.
He decided to raise the money himself, and after saving up for three years, he finally obtained the coveted board. He began to use it constantly.
“I literally don’t even drive my car anymore,” he said. “This is my main way of getting around.”
Next, he reached out to the one person he knew of that would be willing to join him: his 19-year-old cousin, Jack.
“I said, ‘Here’s what I want to do. I’ll pay for your plane ticket there. All you have to do is drive a car for 24 hours and hold a camera.’ He thought I was crazy but agreed to do it,” he said.
The pair travel together frequently. They’ve been going on annual backpacking trips to different states around the country for the past four years. They visited Arizona, California and Colorado before deciding they wanted to return to California again for this particular voyage.
Armed with a board, a rental car and two extended-range batteries, the Deckers aimed to travel 10 miles at a time – Eric on his electric board, and Jack warily following him in a trusty silver Ford Fiesta. Neither were certain how they would be able to accomplish the task – all they knew was that they had to do it.
“This requires inhuman amounts of energy. I have no idea how to acquire that kind of energy,” Jack mused aloud in the video. “Do I buy a 24-pack of Red Bull and just be absolutely blown out?”
The two agreed that as little preparation as possible was key – if they planned too much, they might chicken out. As they arrived in San Francisco and took off at 6:30 a.m., reality set in.
Skating across the Golden Gate Bridge provided what Eric could only describe as “immediate euphoria.” It was an unbridled joy that he wasn’t able to appreciate in later parts of the trip, which were stippled with consequences.
Shortly into the trip, Eric’s board ran out of battery life. They were in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, their rescuer – a man on a small tractor with a box turtle in the passenger seat – was there to keep them company while they recharged.
They set off again. Hundreds of miles into their trip, Eric grew tired. He had slept for less than three hours. The sun beat down on him as he sweat profusely, riding through countless crosswalks in less-than-captivating suburban settings. In one part of the video, he’s seen collapsed in exhaustion in the back seat of the Fiesta.
With a mouthful of banana, he cries out that he should have brought sunscreen with him. As a spectator, it’s a more empathetic version of watching your older teenage brother pouting about having to mow the lawn during the summer.
Nighttime boarding also came with its perils. Because they were on a time crunch — breaking the world record meant they would have to complete the journey within 24 hours — they sometimes traveled in complete darkness. Late at night, somewhere north of Sacramento, Eric began to notice the glinting eyes of fearsome creatures shrouded in pitch black.
“I thought they were bobcats, but they were definitely just deer,” he said.
Everyday dangers faced by pedestrians were also brought to light.
“Even though my GPS was taking me down a designated route for bikes, I realized the roads weren’t built for bikes or skateboards whatsoever. I worried about getting hit,” he said.
At one point, he was forced to skate along the edge of a highway.
“People were honking and screaming at me, but I didn’t have a choice,” he added.
Especially because he was so close to his destination. But another obstacle quickly arose – this time, in the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe. Stop-and-go traffic slowed him down at Echo Summit, as workers stationed there informed travelers how to get down the other side of the mountain safely.
Eric approached with his electric longboard. He was stopped immediately, and almost wasn’t allowed to pass.
“I explained to this woman that we were trying to set a world record, that we were so close. That we had come all the way from San Francisco,” he said. The battery percentage on his board was at 13 percent, and he still had 17 miles to go until he reached Nevada. Not making it down soon could mean that he would have to stop and recharge his battery and wait another hour. If that happened, it was possible he wouldn’t break the record.
His appeals were met with skepticism as she narrowed her eyes, looking him up and down. Then, she radioed her coworker at the bottom of the mountain.
“Listen, there’s this kid on an electric skateboard,” she began. “You need to stop traffic until he makes it down to the bottom of the mountain safely.”
Eric couldn’t believe it. The rest of the trip – sleep-deprivation, sunburn, and all – still felt like a dream. As he cruised through the final mile, he watched the mountains, trees and cliffs breeze by in a blur.
It felt like flying.
Jack, on the other hand, was lonely. He had to drive separately from his cousin, so he was eager to spend the next few days camping in Yosemite with him.
And finally having some time to sleep.
“I Rode a Ford Fiesta Across The Entire State of California… Double post?” a commenter wryly suggested.
Looking back, Eric describes the trip as equal parts “dangerous, difficult and demoralizing,” as well as “beautiful and the most exhilarating.” He hopes others are encouraged to chase similar adrenaline-pumping pursuits.
“There were so many reasons this trip should not have happened,” he said. “I didn’t hear back from Boosted Board. I almost wasn’t able to bring my batteries through TSA. I wasn’t sure if I was physically able to do it.”
Nonetheless, his doubted dream came into fruition.
“If you have the audacity to do something like this, you don’t need anyone’s permission,” he said.
Boosted Board has since reached out to Eric.
“What can we say? Looks like our inbox was full,” they commented. “But this is awesome. And impressive. And awesome. Now for a ride across America?”
Amanda Bartlett is an SFGate editorial assistant. Email: email@example.com
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/This-dude-rode-an-electric-longboard-across-SF-CA-14274725.php.