For the last hour and for the next four ill most likely be sitting in traffic in the most annoying congested place i know, LA. Road tripping is a pretty constant phenomenom for me constantly driving or flying to anywhere with roads and pavement, but its uncommon for me to not be sitting in the drivers seat. This is most likely the only time i wont be out of service or pushong my limits in front of a camera before this is due, so creative quality is lacking with my brain being well stimulated by slow moving cars.
we did however get to stop at an iconic malibu run during this trip south. The break was a great way to tire ourselves out before sitting in the car. Our final destination is a camp site somewhere in the depths of the san diego backcountry. I came packed with dehydrated food, self roasted coffee, and a ton if wheels, excited to disconnect from technology and get rowdy on the hills with my fellow team members. San Diego has always had a lower priority for me to go and skate compared to up north, almost entirely because you need to drive through la and cities to get there. Wayz has been constantly redirecting us trying to find a way out of miles of traffic, its been fairly unsuccessful so far.
weve been on the road for three hours and only have three more to go. Traffic free our destination is less than 4 hours away. Being the first time in a while not driving on the trip, its a lot harder to forget where you are and what your doing, transitioning into autopilot.
Downhill skating is all based on fast technical winding roads that keep you on your toes. Where else is better than canyon roads, alpine highways, and mountain runs? They are all either fast, steep, technical, or all of the above. Many of the most sought after runs are deep in the backwoods or high in the mountains of national parks, adding to the joy and serenity that downhilling provokes.
One of the best perks of being a sponsored skater is being sent around to some of the most scenic places in the world. There’s a special feeling you get soaring through lava fields at 12,000 feet or navigating roads surrounded by massive sequoias. “Its a great feeling to look down at an empty canyon skating and just think ‘ THIS IS MINE!'”- Eric singer. Every trip I go on I bring my dslr planning on catching glimpses of my adventures… but I never remember to take photos because I look at the beauty for too long.
Skating has connected me with nature in a spiritual and loving way that i never would have felt if not for it. I had always enjoyed nature and scenery but I learned a deep and profound appreciation for it and how often we take it for granted, just by riding my skateboard staring at the sunset and the mountains. In my previous post I discussed camping and last minute detours, which were all for the experience of nature. If not for skateboarding I never would have traveled nearly as much as I fiend to nowadays nor would I have come to appreciate nature, as well as our own, as much as I do now. I am lucky to travel with people who feel the same as I, who would rather sleep under the tree or the stars than sleep in a hotel. I encourage you to go out into the backcountry of wherever you are and lose your thoughts in nature, to learn of how important our nature is and how little we remember that.
Over the weekend I drove up to santa cruz to take photos and videos for my sponsors advertising. Since santa cruz is a fairly long drive and needed at least two full days up their, I drove up thursday after school and had till monday evening to get home. Driving up thursday I packed some camping gear and decided to take highway one up and spend the night in Big Sur for some sights and long overdue camp vibes.
Since I left after school and had few hours till dark, most of the scenic drive was spent in pitch black, and on a narrow cliffside road with minivans was not fun. After talking my way out of a speeding ticket and dealing with construction and slow tourists, I made it to my camp sight at Big Sur around 9.
I continued to make my food and set up camp, hoping to get a good sleep before I finished my drive in the morning. I was surrounded my ginormous redwoods so finding some trees to rig my hammock wasn’t hard.
after squaring away my sleeping situation and putting my cooking supplies in my car I turned in. I woke up to dumping rain which made it impossible to take photos or even spend more than a minute un sheltered. I scrambled to take down my camp and get in the car. I was extremely disappointed that i couldn’t enjoy Big sur’s scenery and take some photos on my lag up the coast. I drove off early and drove for another two hours in the most terrifying road conditions i’ve seen. The roads were drenched, the fog was thick and the sharp corners and historically good driving road became a slow terror. Once the hwy 1 turned into a highway I was able to open up the throttle while still being blinded by other drivers spray and a torrential downpour. Despite all odds I arrived in santa cruz unscathed and my car unscratched ready for a miserable weekend of getting drenched in the rain and avoiding death for a few photos.
Traveling is extremely fun and takes me to a ton of great places meeting great people, that being said, nothings much better than taking a rip with some old friends on a local favorite. In the past few years Ive been all around the west coast, pacific islands, British Colombia and everywhere in between, but nothing seems to compare to our local roads. Our runs have a long history and have been spotted in downhill media for years intriguing many of our runs.
Many people find them selves traveling to santa barbara just to get a run or two on our runs that we constantly find ourselves hosting random skaters. The photo above shows oakland local and now good friend, Ryka Mohammadian, Ripping one of my local runs. Ryka came down and slept on my couch to get some media, something extremely common to see because the unique runs and ridiculous corners. Even though we get swarmed by tourists wanting to see what the hype is, just a one run hit and quit with the kids you started out with is hard to beat runs with pros. Starting out skating i was fortunate enough to start at a time where their was a large crew of kids starting out that were willing to show me the ropes. Even though one or two of them still skate today, they have all become life time friends from the fun we’ve had skating local neighborhoods.
Alex Proksch is one of the few who who still enjoys flying through canyons on some urethane. Living right at the bottom of the run he’s constantly flowing down sliding through corners barely having to look wheres he’s going. Skating a run that is so frequent, so well known, is different than anything else, you don’t think about what you’re doing, or anything for that matter, all you can do is let you’re mind be absorbed by nothing and let you’re muscles and board do what they do best while you seemingly float aimlessly down the run absolutely absent minded of what you’re doing. Even in state of crisis, a car in your lane, or a late predrift, your body, knowing the terrain so well, that it reacts before you have time to realize anything happened. You get up, laugh it off and skate on, quickly slipping back into a state of nirvana. That is what drives me to get up and skate everyday, unworried about police, kooks or overcompensating locals, just focus on forgetting everything on the way down.
With the increased interest on downhill skating, is the increased presence of police and highway patrol which instantly puts a spotlight on the downhill community to skate safely and faster than a cop car. The downhill community is extremely safe and self regulating keeping the whole of the community generally safe. Helmets and slide gloves are necessary for safety precautions and gloves as well for sliding and stopping.
For almost every skater, these two lines keep them from finding out what the hood of a car feels likes. Not knowing how to properly control speed and stay in your lane will never end well . Lately there has been a presence of locals on a very dangerous illegal road in Santa Barbara, Skating without helmets or gloves to take bad instagram photos and pose as cool skaters. This is worrisome not only for their safely but out of respect for local skaters who will not be able to skate as long because of cops, nor do they show respect in the road the are trying to skate.
Mountain passes are impossible for any skater, bike, or car to navigate with complete safety and awareness. Thinner roads and heavier traffic on fast, steep descents that can be taken upwards on 50mph. Seeing amatuers go and try to tackle something so challenging never ends well.
Over the summer I watched a friend of mine get run over on a local road and come very close to death. This could have easily been avoided by staying within your limits and not skating technical roads with minimal skill or understanding of the sport, but without her helmet or slide gloves, she would have never lived to skate another day. Racing federations take it a step further requiring leathers to be worn in races. Leather are essentially a secondary layer of skin protection to make it more comfortable to take risks at 45mph in races with 3 to 6 people within feet of you. City ordinances are also beginning to notice downhill and the issue of safety, sadly, most cities find it easier to ban the sport than create a safer environment for cars, bikes, and skateboarders alike.
Every year in San Diego, ca, a competition goes on called the downhill disco. The thing is its not really a competition, and theirs no disco balls. It’s comprised of a group of skaters not trying all to hard and lurking around trying not to be serious.
The event isn’t really too downhill either, but to make up for that some big ramps and rails are put on the run quickly making it interesting. The event is a great place to come to see your out of town friends and just enjoy your runs with no intimidation of qualifying or podiums.
Noah and I had a competition to see who took the most photos of each other, I think i won. Friends like Noah are the reason events like this are so special. Noah and I are teammates and friends who enjoy skating with each other as much as possible, but since he lives in LA its events like these where we can skate together.
Louis Pilloni, a San Diego local, transition into the hip. Even though I keep talk about this event not being a competition, they try to believe it is. Holding a skater-cross race and big air contest makes the event semi real, with a prize purse for the winner. Even though the event is not too serious, it attracts quite a bit of attention from the media.
After the long weekend with old and new friends pushing my limits on little ramps that are mote fun than they are worth, The six hour drive back to sd was one of the worst to date. In between here and san diego theirs two hundred miles of ugly brown military training and LA, making the drive neither scenic, nor easy. So after the usual heap of LA traffic that appears for absolutely no reason, we got past the grade into the valley, and eventually home. Despite the lack of seriousness or challenge, the downhill disco is a great event full of smiles and people not having to take things seriously, If you;re in san diego this may, its a must.
After getting out of school on a Thursday evening, I packed my car and headed north. I had 260 miles to drive through probably the most picturesc greenery thanks to the el nino rains. With a broken sterro and night falling quickly, It was a very uneventful boring drive. After 2 and a half hours of very safe and very slow driving, i stopped in king city to fill up with gas.
After filling my tank and checking my oil, I trekked the rest of the 100 some odd miles to Santa Cruz. Traveling to skate often i had wisened up and strarted traveling everywhere with a sleeping bag, which was fortunate for me, cause I had the floor.
After waking up early and drinking a heinous amount of coffee, we made our way to the caliber truck warehouse to get equipment for the days filming mission. After hitting the warehouse we made our way over the hwy 17 grade to palo alto.
After making it to a very well known and busty downhill run, filmer Tom Flinchbaugh set up his equiptment placing me in the spotlight. After an hour of filming and photos on a foreign board and road we packed up the cameras and met up with our friend Michal Cihlar for some more relaxing skateboarding.
This became a day to day process working hard to get shots for magazines and media for websites. The filming process is always very stressful and frustrating but filming with a follow car driver as skilled as Tom eases a lot of my stress. Even though the stress of filming was lulled, the complication of runs and parks got the best of me, leaving me with a dislocated shoulder at the Oakland city park. With Toms memory cards full of clips and my backpack full of homework, I said goodbye to my friends for now and headed back to Santa Barbara Monday morning.