The sound of metal scraping on metal fills the air as a rider grinds his board down a 20-step rail.
His body pulls shapes to keep balance. Forget skateboarding. This is on a skate scooter.
Then this reporter overhears a spectator mocking: “He’s got to be the oldest kid on a skate scooter!”
The skate scooter riders are used to the constant teasing. Especially over the assumption that these two-wheelers are meant for kids.
But negative remarks turn to praise and applause once Muhd Nur Putra Shahfiq, 19, starts ripping.
“It’s a combination of BMX and skateboarding. You pump your foot to move yet steer with a handlebar,” Shahfiq says while casually spinning his bars 360 degrees.
These scooters are very different from the ones for children.
The beefed-up rides are more rigid and nonfolding. The bars are made of steel while the board is made of aluminium or an alloy.
These scooters are designed to take a beating. Do a quick search on YouTube for “skate scooter tricks” and you’ll get a trove of clips showing backflips and other extreme tricks.
Shahfiq rolls with his crew, ScooterSG – seven friends in their late teens.
They skate at least twice weekly; daily during the holidays.
The tight-knit group even does overnight sessions, and this evening, The New Paper on Sunday catches them at the East Coast Xtreme Skate Park.
The camaraderie between them is obvious. When 17-year-old Koh Choon falls on his ankle, the guys rush over and carry him out of the bowl.
The park is packed with inline skaters, BMXers and skateboarders. The ramps are fully taken except one – the notorious 3.6-metre vertical bowl.
It is designed for advanced riders, with steep sides. The only way out for those who fall is a rope ladder.
Only four members of ScooterSG say they would dare tackle it. Tonight, only Shahfiq makes good on the promise.
He drops into what looks like a drained swimming pool. Gliding up the other side, he builds enough momentum to take off on his return.
He catches air, then, is seemingly suspended there while pulling a “tabletop”.
The rest of the crew stick to the more manageable bowls. Combining tricks from skateboard and bicycle, these guys bunnyhop onto ledges before grinding along the edge.
This reporter gives it a go. Though these “grown-up scooters” are constructed of hardy material, it’s hard to fit both feet on at the same time.
I get a feel of what it’s like being hit in the shin by one of these mini-boards when trying a basic trick of whipping the deck around.
Injuries are to be expected.
“We’ve all gotten used to it,” says one of the ScooterSG guys, laughing as he rubs his shin.
The article related to these pictures was first published in The New Paper on 25 May 2014.