'Sliders': Racing Down Berkeley's Steep Hills

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Cliff Coleman, left, and Jim Cluggish bomb down Strawberry Canyon in the hills above the University i

Cliff Coleman, left, and Jim Cluggish bomb down Strawberry Canyon in the hills above the University of California Berkeley. Alex Chadwick, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Chadwick, NPR
Cliff Coleman, left, and Jim Cluggish bomb down Strawberry Canyon in the hills above the University

Cliff Coleman, left, and Jim Cluggish bomb down Strawberry Canyon in the hills above the University of California Berkeley.

Alex Chadwick, NPR
Tools of the trade -- blocks of plastic cemented to leather gloves.

Tools of the trade -- blocks of plastic cemented to leather gloves. Alex Chadwick, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Chadwick, NPR

Alex Chadwick travels to Berkeley, Calif., where he's introduced to "sliding" — a form of skateboarding unique to the city. Riders speed down steep hills wearing special leather gloves, which they use to turn and slide sideways to reduce speed while they race.

Cliff Coleman, 55, is one of the "founding fathers" of the unique home-grown sport. He and fellow sliders started sliding back in the 1960s, and now the sport is international, with enthusiasts hitting steep roads in Europe, Asia and South America.

The sliders wear heavy gloves, with hunks of plastic glued to the palms. To assist the slide, they drop their gloved hands down, braking against the pavement — leaving S-shaped skid marks on the pavement.

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