Strapped onto a neon wakeboard by a pair of soft bindings, I hold a long rope that rises skyward into a series of cables encircling a small lake. My weight is bent over my back leg, and my arms are tensed and tucked into my chest.

Strapped onto a neon wakeboard by a pair of soft bindings, I hold a long rope that rises skyward into a series of cables encircling a small lake. My weight is bent over my back leg, and my arms are tensed and tucked into my chest.

From the edge of this small wooden dock, a list of concerns swirls just beneath a bright yellow helmet: nose dive, whiplash, dislocated shoulder, complete humiliation. And not necessarily in that order.

I don't wait long before a pulley attached to the cable speeds into view, catches the rope and sends me into the water. It's zero to 19 mph in under a second - first my face into pond, then my board onto open water.

Starting with my second attempt, it's smooth sailing into the world of cable wakeboarding, a more convenient version of the esoteric aquatic pastime. The sport has exploded across the globe, and Cincinnati's Wake Nation has brought it to the boat-less Ohio masses.

"It's such a unique place and unique concept," said Nick Binkley, who opened the park last year with friend Peter Kennedy. "Peter had seen one of these in the Philippines and thought it was the coolest thing ever. We've had an amazing response."

More than 140 cable parks dot the globe, with the bulk in Germany but only a handful in the United States.

For those familiar with traditional wakeboarding, its cousin on cables is similar - just switch out the boat for a sturdy wire system strung about 25 feet overhead.

"Convenience is something that works in our favor," Binkley added. "You don't need a boat, trailer, truck, insurance or a lake to go to. You can come out here as a lone rider or with a bunch of friends."

The water is always smooth and towing speeds are generally slower than behind a boat. Riders are less concerned with timing wake and more about hanging on for the ride.

Already Wake Nation has drawn traditional wakeboarders, snowboarders looking to stay in shape and some who've never been near a boat. The wide-open water is dotted with rails, kickers, pyramids and other street-style obstacles, so riders can choose easy rides or sky-high airs.

First-timers can learn on a practice pond that introduces a shorter, slower experience perfect for learning the ropes. And the suntanned staff is quick to offer helpful tips, when not shredding during breaks.

If you have surfing, waterskiing, snowboarding or other board-sport experience, the learning curve is quick. By my third time around, I only fell during some poorly timed ollies and when my hands were exhausted after consecutive loops.

Once you're accustomed to the initial jolt on the big pond, the payoff is huge: gentle cruising on flat water, wide curves through a series of buoys and the thrill of surfing a wave that never breaks.

"You progress super fast," said Chris Bistany, an Ohio University student who travels weekly to Wake Nation. "It's very forgiving. This is the future of wakeboarding."

For a slideshow of Wake Nation, click to the Ohio Adventure Map at columbusalive.com/venture.