Eric Rineer had never stepped foot on a skateboard in his first 38 years, didn’t know a deck from a truck, an ollie from a kickflip.
“I had no idea whatsoever,” he said. “I don’t want to use the word terrifying but definitely, I was hesitant to try something like that. At that age, it was crazy to even contemplate.”
Roll forward a few years. The federal employee now travels the country with his longboard, skating 150 miles around Miami Speedway in a 24-hour race, hitting 45 mph on downhills, joining group rides in Texas, California and Pennsylvania.
Longboarding has become part of the fabric of those places. Lincoln isn’t there yet. Rineer wants to change that.
“I’m trying to bring a scene here,” he said. “I’m trying to bring exposure here.”
Over the past two summers, he’s helped host a pair of downhill races at Pioneers Park. And he’s staging something new later this month — a nearly eight-mile race down a stretch of the Rock Island Trail and back.
He expects a couple dozen longboarders to line up at 10 a.m. Oct. 29 — rain or shine — and skate south from near Bishop Heights Park to Cooper YMCA, then north all the way to South Street, for a total of 7.25 miles.
A five-mile-per-minute pace — or about 35 minutes total — would be fast, he said.
He’s funding the Rock Island Rip’s $200 prize money.
“My goal, my mission, is to let people know there are still a lot of cool competitive things you can do in a place like this.”
And he knows there are a lot of longboarders in Lincoln. He’s met some of them at his races, and he sees them commuting downtown and skating around campus.
“But it’s more about getting from place to place. It’s not the competitive atmosphere like I’m trying to bring.”
Longboards aren’t new to Lincoln. Precision Skateboards has been selling them for about the past 20 years. But sales started picking up dramatically in the last 10, though the demand appears to be tapering, said owner Phil Burcher.
“The serious longboarders are a smaller component of the skateboard scene, which is pretty small in the Midwest anyway.”
But he likes what Rineer and others are doing, trying to organize races and bring longboarders together.
“At the end of the day, we’re all just having fun together. We support all of the disciplines.”
His shop is sponsoring the race later this month, and has supported the downhill races, too. Burcher showed up at the race this summer, and ended up entering the competition.
“One of the funnest things I’ve done in a long time.”