Racing down Pikes Peak on a skateboard

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Photo: Downhill SkateboardNext weekend, Sept. 6-7, elite skateboarders will race down part of the Pikes Peak Highway, reaching the kinds of speeds cars hit on an Interstate.

Zak Maytum, 23, of Boulder won the inaugural race last year. A win again this year might give him a shot at the World Cup for the sport. He's ranked fourth in the world right now.

"I know it looks crazy," he says of his sport, in which a skateboard can achieve speeds up to 80 mph.

According to Maytum, skateboarders who have reached his level have confidence in their ability to control their speed and brake when necessary, so the fear isn't as high as one might think.

Still, he says, 60 mph crashes are not uncommon. That's why a helmet is an essential part of a downhill skateboarders gear. He says there's a culture of safety in the downhill skateboard community.

"Anyone who doesn’t wear a helmet is a complete pariah," he says.

Maytum also runs his own Denver based skateboard parts company, Venom Bushings, which makes the special wheels used in this kind of racing.