Sweat and Wild

Illustration by TL AryMiniature golf and Hondas in the hills When we rode the horse we got some thrills Every now and then we hear our song We’ve been having fun all summer long. —Beach Boys, a Hawthorne-formed band (“All Summer Long,” 1964)

Warning: Don’t try any of the following unless you’ve got good medical insurance.

Despite what product-peddling pests on late-night Tae Bo infomercials tell you, a healthy workout doesn’t have to take place in a pricey gym with a drill sergeant charging, "And 1 . . . and 2 . . . and 3!" Make the entire outdoors your own personal fitness center and play some sports to keep your body fit and trim in this flesh-exposing summer heat. A little tennis, shooting hoops or a few laps in the backyard pool are all right if you wanna play it safe. But if you’d like to tackle something a little more offbeat and ballsy — something that may require a prayer for good luck — try a sport that includes the word "ultimate" or "extreme" and see how far the mind and body are tested.

Street Luge

Extreme trampoline wrestling, extreme bungee jumping, extreme Whiffle Ball, even the computerized extreme pinball. It’s as if sports outlaws with too many whacks to their heads are coming together every day to pioneer some game that’s harder, higher, faster and trickier than the traditional catch-and-run kind of activity. However, most are relatively the same as an existing version, with a few added twists, such as boarding not only on snow but also on water, on sand dunes and at 7,000 feet in midair.

Others evolve out of two or more sports. Street or road luge is about as crazy and high-velocity as any sport can get. No need to wait until the Winter Olympics to watch racing machines go downhill as fast as 80 mph. Street luge, a combo of ice luge and skateboarding, is an underground practice done mostly by seasoned adrenaline junkies and racing professionals who zoom down hills at breakneck speed on extended wheeled boards with heads just a few inches above the asphalt. Pushed by gravity and using nothing but their body weight, lugers wear a leather body suit, a helmet, and treadless sneakers that act as manual brakes. Bob Pereyra is probably the lone Southern California luge eccentric who’s brave enough to help any curious mortal take a crack, or crack his neck, at the sport for 75 bucks a lesson (18734 Kenya St., Northridge; 818-368-6826). You can also check out www.streetluge.com to learn more about luging.


Skateboarding itself can be traced back to surfing, when kids at the beach in the ’50s tried to re-create the feeling of riding a wave on a piece of wood that was originally a scooter, minus the push bar. No more a fad or even a rebel sport, skateboarding has become an eyeful of sky-reaching tricks, drops and flips where a sprained ankle here and a fractured wrist there are like badges of honor. Thankfully, there is a plethora of skate parks that caters to more than just the teen punk crowd from the Valley, and they’ll keep you from getting fined in those snooty cities that prohibit skating on public and private property. Prices at these parks vary according to session times. Vans Skate Park (20 City Blvd., Orange; 714-769-3800) is a 46,000-square-foot wonderland open seven days a week ($7–$9 for members, $11–$14 for nonmembers). Skate Street (1990-B Knoll Drive, Ventura; 888-85-SKATE) goes as low as $8 for members and $12 for nonmembers. And for 26 bucks on the weekend, beginners can learn at Skate Lab (4226 Valley Fair St., Simi Valley; 805-578-0040). For an even better deal, $10 will get kids a two-hour lesson on Saturdays at the ramp near Boards and More’s shop (660 W. Seventh St., San Pedro; 310-833-4124).â

Ultimate Frisbee

If you’re more comfortable being part of a team or like the feeling of camara-derie, tossing a Frisbee is fast becoming the "ultimate" sport. But this ain’t your grandfather’s Frisbee. Resembling soccer and basketball, although a bit more polite, ultimate Frisbee is a new incarnation that’s as much about protocol and being sportsmanlike as having good stamina and endurance. Played on a 70-yard field, the game requires seven players on two teams to throw the disk — slightly heavier than the Frisbee brand — across the opponent’s goal. There’s a lot of sprinting and blocking, but running with the disk and heavy contact are ruled out. If you’d like to stumble upon the game, The Los Angeles Organization of Ultimate Teams (310-712-DISK) posts on its Web site (www.laout.org) pickup games held at local parks and fields where you can just drop by and join in.

Mountain Biking and

Rock Climbing

For a lot of nature-loving, outgoing purists, the real adventure in a sport is the journey to pristine, undiscovered places where soaking up the scenery and surroundings is more satisfying than losing a few pounds. There’s an exhilaration of being totally lost in a dizzying, majestic landscape of nothing but trees, rocks, waterfalls and cacti, free from the fancy computerized machines that merely give one the feeling of being active. Mountain biking and rock climbing can be quite meditative, as well as a healthy course in learning to use rocks and the dirt road beneath your feet as your only cross-trainer. We may not have the glacier-draped splendor of the Rockies, but there are plenty of city parks and canyons with hilltops and bouldering areas to test your climbing skills. Stoney Point (Topanga Canyon Boulevard), Rock Pool (along Las Virgenes Road, a.k.a. Malibu Canyon), Purple Stones (Topanga Canyon) and Mount Rubidoux (Riverside) are some locals. You can call the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation (213-738-2961) or Angeles National Forest (626-796-5541) for more information. Adventure 16 (11161 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A., 310-473-4574; 5425 Reseda Blvd., Tarzana, 818-345-4266) not only provides outdoor clothing and equipment, but organizes trips with in-shop classes. Indoor rock-climbing gyms, for busy agoraphobes, are also perfect training grounds for those not yet ready to hit the real thing. Both The Rock Gym (600 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach; 562-983-5500) and Rockreation (11866 La Grange Ave., W.L.A.; 310-207-7199) offer a one-day pass for just $15.

Mount Wilson Trail (Sierra Madre), Cheseboro Canyon Trail (Santa Monica Mountains), Caballero Canyon (Tarzana) and Arroyo Seco Trail (Pasadena) are a few campgrounds and canyons with plenty of trails and roads for biking. For bike maps call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (626-458-3901). And partnering up with other biking enthusiasts in clubs such as South Bay Mountain Biking Club (310-214-5264 or www.usinter.net/SBMBC), Pavement Enz (818-361-4347), LAFORCE (L.A. Female Off Road Cycling Enthusiasts, 310-545-3554) and L.A. Wheelmen Bicycle Club (310-556-7967) is also a great way to share in the excitement of a fair-weather sport.


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