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Dead last.

LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW of my hotel room in Miami, Florida, our starting point for this year's King of the Road, watching the palm trees nearly fall over from 90 mile-per-hour winds, I realized this was the first time I've been in a hurricane. Finally. I mean, I've seen plenty of natural and unnatural disasters in my time, but no hurricane. I wanted to run outside and see if the wind was strong enough to help me catch flight. That would be sweet, getting whipped about by a hurricane. Then I remembered I could hardly even walk.

You see, several weeks prior to starting this King of the Road race I had been touring around the Deep South in jeans in August. I might be old fashion, or maybe I emulate the Fonz too much; nevertheless, I don't wear shorts and I don't dance. This is all fine and dandy when I'm back home in 70-degree weather all year and I don't go to clubs. When I get in 95- degree and 408-percent humidity weather, jeans get wet and never dry. I now know what they are talking about in all those Vietnam movies when they say "jungle rot," only that they are usually referring to their feet. My feet were doing just fine. I had a different problem--something your mom might like to call "diaper rash." I haven't worn diapers in years.

This was a perfect way to start a 3,500-mile race across America. I mean, how can one go wrong with a hurricane and diaper rash?


SOMEHOW everyone's flight was on time. Surprising, because of the hurricane that was getting weird outside. This was to be our second run at this King of the Road race. This year the crew was assembled of all Real riders, except Tony Trujillo, who was a part of last year's race. The rest of the line-up was as follows: Ernie Tortes, Dennis Busenitz, Darrell Stanton, and Peter Ramondetta. The media crew was Gabe Morford and Dan Vellucci. And I was the team manager/driver with diaper rash. We opened our first envelope at 11:59pm on Friday the 13th in Miami. The challenges seemed simple enough, except for one of them. That seems to be the way it goes with this race, and life in general. It's easy, more or less ... mostly less.

The one challenge that seemed impossible, or at least it should have been, mined out to not be so hard. The challenge was for one of us to get a piggyback ride from a gay man on South Beach. Luckily our hotel was on South Beach, and T remembered seeing some rainbow flags flying earlier that day. The rainbow flag is a clear marker for a gay zone. Now we just needed someone to man up. Did that sound weird? Anyway, that special soldier was Dennis. He volunteered right away. I was surprised it was that easy to get one of the guys to do this one. Now all we had to find was a gay man who wanted Dennis on his back for a while.

The first group of guys we saw wearing Speedos and hanging out near a rainbow flag seemed to be as gay as gay can be. When we laid out the challenge we had before us they were more than happy to help. Remember when I said it was 95 degrees and humid as hell? Well, that meant no one was wearing very much clothing. So when Dennis climbed onto the back of the eager, nearly nude gay dude, he was nearly nude himself. Skin on skin. Now that is just sick. I don't like to think of it, but I can't help thinking of the fact that sweat was exchanged. Dennis really took one for the team.

The other challenges consisted of doing doubles at the harsh banks and going clubbing with Joel Meinholz. That was much more fun. We got to skate a rad spot, then we had to party. It's a rough job, but someone has to do it.

After we finished our challenges in Miami we were off to our next stop: Alabama. We were just in Birmingham on a Real tour but it rained. Because of the rain we didn't get to skate much, so this was a second chance for us to see what Birmingham had to offer.


Go clubbing with Meinholz

Do doubles routine at the harsh bank to curb spot

Someone get a piggy-back ride from a gay man in South Beach


UPON ARRIVING after another long hall in the van, we opened our envelope. This is always my favorite part. We get to break the seal made of goat's blood and wax stamped with the true bible seal: Thrasher. In this envelope we had three challenges that were as follows: 50-50 something with Ben Gilley, kickflip the crooked double set that Mike Carroll 360 flipped, and everyone had to crailtap the ghetto banks. Finally nothing gay!

We got fight to work and hooked up with long-time friend of the family, Brian, from Ride skateshop. First he took us to the banks. I had never seen these before in photos or any video that I could remember, so I had no idea what to expect. Turns out it's one of my new favorite spots. The banks themselves are at the end of a dead-end street fight in the middle of the projects, a perfect place to pull out $25,000 worth of camera gear. 1 skated with one eye on the bank and the other on those beautiful brick estates surrounding us.

Once we all did the crailtap and had a good time laying 'er down we were off to our next spot. We met up with Ben Gilley, who was gracious enough to take us to the crooked double set and to his local shop where we 50-50'd the flat bar in front, which was about as good as the 50-50 was going to get being that Ben had a broken toe.

When we pulled up at the skateshop we ran into Jamie and the Zero van. It's cool running into friends on any tour--except this one. The chance for any kind of trickery is very high. All they need is something as simple as our license plate number. He could call us in as having a gun or for drunk driving. The cops would then find us and slow us down big time. This I couldn't let happen, because I hate cops. So I stood guard by the van while the rest of the guys did 50-50s with Ben. We finished our challenges in one day and hit the road. We were trying to haul ass because we wanted to stop in two cities that weren't mandatory


50-50 something with Ben Gilley

Kickflip the crooked double set Carroll 360 flipped

Everyone crailtap the Ghetto Banks


ON THE WAY TO TULSA, our next stop, we were in the van doing another long one, chasing those white lines. I was going over the bible's Tranny Challenges and I noticed one of the challenges was to roll-in coffin-style over coping. This would be fun after a couple of beers at the skatepark. I started to think more about where we could do this. Then I thought how much more fun it would be if we could get a real coffin to mount wheels on and roll-in--with someone inside the coffin.

Since we were going to a town where we knew plenty of people, being it's Ernie and Peter's hometown, I hoped we might be able to find a coffin ... until I thought more about it. Who in the hell would have a coffin lying around? Then it came to me. We'd have to build it. I have plenty of tools in the van. One stop at a Home Depot and it would be on. But we would still have to build it, and that would take time we didn't have. So I called on a long time loyal partner of the family, Jimmy Bagwell. He's known for getting things done so I figured I'd give him a call and see what would come of it. I know, it's a weird thing to ask for from the average man. Jimmy isn't average. He's one of a kind.

When I asked him if he could help, he answered without missing a beat. "Hell yes," he'd have us a coffin by Tuesday, he said. It was Sunday night at the time. Excusing himself from the company he had over at the house, he got to work immediately. He went out to the neighbor's workshop where they teamed up on it. Within 30 minutes after our first conversation, he called me back to get exact dimensions and the style we wanted. We wanted an old 19th-century coffin with an inverted cross cut out of the lid. "No problem," he said. "I'll have it by Tuesday."

Then he called back again, with two questions. "Okay Jasin, how long do you plan on keeping this coffin around?" he asked. "I mean, are you going to bum it in the first 30 minutes or is going to stick around a while?"

I said I wanted to keep it around for a while. Maybe I'd use it at the house for a coffee-coffin table.

"Okay, by inverted cross, what do you mean?" he asked his second question.

"A cross upside down cut out of the lid," I said simply.

"No problem," he confirmed. "We're on it." With that he was off to creating a coffin that even Dracula could call home.

The next day we skated all the spots we needed to in Tulsa. Hell ditch was insane. One of the best ditches I've ever skated.

When Tuesday morning came around I called Jimmy to see how the coffin was coming. He said they were putting the trim and piano hinge on and would have it for us by 5:00pm. We skated some more Tulsa spots during the day, and then eventually met up with Jimmy at the skatepark around five.

He arrived in true Jimmy fashion, with a cooler full of beverages of all types. He's very good at making sure everyone is happy. We were psyched to see the idea of the coffin had turned into more than just an idea. It was a real coffin with a hinged door and handles on the side. The door even had the inverted cross cut out of it, just like we ordered. All it needed now were trucks and wheels mounted on the bottom. I really couldn't believe how good it turned out. He made it real sturdy with the hopes of having strippers dance on it at some point of the tour. Jimmy rules!


AFTER TULSA we had to get to Colorado for the next mandatory stop, The Carbondale Run. On the way we stopped in Kansas City, Missouri to gather up some more points. We've been through KC a few times on other tours so we had some connections, especially with older women, since one of the challenges was to make out with someone of the opposite sex over 40. So we called on one of the skate Betty's mom we met last time. She was 50 and down to get down, if you know what I mean--and I think you do. Needless to say we got our points and hit the road for Denver. It was another straight shot, 10 hours in the van.


ONCE WE ARRIVED in Denver we had another envelope to open. My favorite part, it's so exciting! The contents of the envelope were as follows: Await Jake Phelps' call with the info on your Mystery Guest, who you will pick up at the Denver airport. The other challenges were to check in with The Phelper the next morning at 10:00am in Carbondale, a small mountain community about three hours away from Denver. Everyone must also roll-in on the back of the cradle, get a photo wearing Jake's glasses, beat Mic-E in an arm wrestling contest, and do an entire run with a plate of food in one hand and a beverage in the other.

All the challenges were fairly easy and fun, although the roiling in on the back of the cradle was a little weird. It was nearly a 10-foot-tall waterfall-type structure that had a very fight tranny at the bottom. It felt cool to roll in on it, but the slam factor was really high.

Being up in the Rocky Mountains made it good for difficult breathing, as well as random showers of rain, which put a damper on the whole contest aspect of the run. No pun intended. So in between the dry patches of the day we would retreat back to the beer gardens that the lovely people at Pabst Blue Ribbon provided. Was it because they had the biggest tent? Or maybe it was the free beer? Who knows? The whole event was insane.

Imagine a really small, very pretty mountain town with only a couple police officers. Sounds like the beginning of Rambo. Well, that town never really drew first blood, but I think everyone thought they did. So we did kind of what Rambo did in the movie. You know, the fires, the stolen/crashed police cars, the generally scared and disappointed citizens. It was awesome. I was actually lucky enough to get kicked in the head by two cowboys at the saloon. It was kind of like what happened to Rambo, only not really at all.

AFTER CARBONDALE we headed back down the mountain to Denver. We needed to get some more points street-style, holmes. We stayed in Denver another day and hit up some of the spots. The highlights were Darrell's switch backside flip down a man-sized 10, and Ernie's front blunt on this nine-stair rail wearing my sombrero. After a full day and night of gathering points we decided we should hit the road. On the way out we stopped in Boulder to visit the skatepark. I knew of a perfect spot to have Ernie roll into a tranny, coffin style. It was a perfect way to end the Colorado portion of' the race.


Pick up Mystery Guest in Denver

Check in with Phelps at Carbondale Run event no later than 10 am on Saturday the 21st

Get a photo wearing Phelps' glasses

Beat Mic-E arm wrestling

Do an entire run with a plate of food in one hand and beverage in the other

Everyone roll in on the back of the cradle


OUR NEXT AND FINAL city on the list was Reno, Nevada. We didn't have much time left before we had to be in San Francisco at the finish line, so we had to haul ass. We opened our envelope at the famous downtown strip. The one with the sign, you know, "The Biggest Small Town Known to Man." Or whatever.

The Reno challenges were as follows: Build a three-man skateboard, and jump it down three chairs. Have two dudes do a kickflip at the same time down the world's smallest double set on the UNLV campus. Skate a skate-proof spot.

Luckily none of the challenges took too much time. We did them all in one day and hit the road. We needed to get pool points so we stopped at the famous Strawberry bowl. It's on the way to San Francisco so it made perfect sense to stop. I guess maybe a little too perfect, though, because the Almost team was already there and there were signs of the Zero team as well. We skated the pool and got all our points within a 45-minute session. Then to make sure the Almost team was bummed out, I decided to take a couple runs totally nude. This was for points, but look out Brewce Martin--I'm coming for your job.


Build a three-man skateboard--with three men riding it, jump a three-stair Two dudes kickflip the world's smallest double set on UNLV campus at the same time Skate a skate-proofed soot


WE ROLLED INTO SAN FRANCISCO about seven hours before midnight. That was the end of the race. We scramble around The City collecting last minute points. We did everything we could, even running to the bar last-minute style to get some of the make-out points out of the way.

The ending point this year was at Hubba Hideout at midnight. Standing there with all the other teams and The Phelper was surreal. We thought back on all the tricks that went down on the original hubbas. It really is crazy how heavily skated those things have been.

We handed over the footage of all our tricks and went to bed. I think this was the first time in two weeks we all got to sleep. It felt good to be finally home and done with the race.

The next day we all had a big skate jam at 3rd and Army where the results were given. This is where we were reminded that we didn't score high enough. We may have had the most fun--but fun didn't transfer into points.

We had a great time when it was all said and done. You can't go wrong with the coffin and all the sweet spots we skated. Oh yeah, my diaper rash finally did go away once I broke down and wore shorts.

I'd like to thank everyone who helped us on the way. You know who you are and I'm glad you're all in this big family called skateboarding. Jimmy, you're the King of the Midwest.


10. Start the race after three months of consecutive touring

9. Watch Night of the Living Dead every night in your hotel room until five in the morning Sleep in 'til 2:00pm

8. Focus on making out with a lady who's at least five years older than you--every night. Only worth 10 points (lowest point category)

7. Spend half of the tour/budget building an evil coffin for a trick worth only 10 points

6. Get beat up by two cowboys at the halfway point of the race. Try to earn points in the pool with bruised kidneys

5. Get sympathy points from a lady instead of real points for the contest

4. Fly one of your riders home to win Battle of the Bands midway through the race

3. Win it all last year and still be celebrating during this year's race

2. Spend most of the race searching for reasons to incorporate a sombrero into the mix (worth no points)

1. Have your last years MVP softened by his girlfriend
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Author:Phares, Jasin
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Previous Article:The mystery guests.
Next Article:Almost? (Not quite).

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