Thrasher had the idea to pit four or five teams against each other in a race across the country to skate as much stuff as possible. Once all the teams were decided, I had to pick one of them to shoot along the way. To my relief, someone on eS requested that I go with them. I couldn't have had a better group of guys--Koston, McCrank, Paul Rodriguez, PJ Ladd--and the only girl, Alexis Sablone. Filling in the video guy positions were Scuba Steve and eS team guy, Tony Evjenth.
With only a week to go before the start of the trip, I saw Eric in SE and he said he didn't think Paul was going to make it because he was afraid of flying. But thanks to Tony and a few sedatives, most of the crew was on its way to Philadelphia on time, except for Eric and Rick, who had already committed to some contest the weekend that started off the trip. We would pick them in Pittsburgh two days later.
We spent our first two days in Philly dealing with FedEx, because the KOTR packages hadn't shown up to all the other teams on account of the East Coast blackouts. Finally, everyone arrived at the hotel. That first night, we all went out front and started to tackle the flat-ground page in the deKoTR book. PJ started at 10:30pm and finished eight out of nine tricks by 1:30am. I broke out back to my room and passed out. When I woke up two hours later, I looked out the window, and PJ was still there.
The next day we opened up the Philly envelope. The first of three things we had to do was eat lunch at Love Park, which was a no-brainer. The next question was where we should skate next. "Duh, stupid, right here." P J, Paul, and Alexis started attacking some ledges, until from out of nowhere appeared an undercover piggy, wearing nut-hugger jogging shorts and a tank top, carrying a walkie-talkie, waving his badge, and saying shit we already knew. Everyone scattered in different directions, and it took about an hour to regroup and get in the van.
Before we hit the road the next day, we had two more challenges; the first was to find and skate with Serge Trudnowski, who we were told was living outside Philly on a organic farm, or Matt Reason, who was living in an organic hut, whatever that means. The second was to grind the over-vert section at FDR Park. We failed, and then we drove to Pittsburgh to pick up Eric and Rick.
Upon arriving, we thought we were completely lost, merging from four lanes into one lane to an exit over a bridge through a tunnel to grandma's house we go." This place is worse than Boston." But all of a sudden, there we were at the hotel, As we were checking in, the receptionist saw all the boards and went right into a "When I was a kid, I would get my older sister's roller skates and nail 'em to a blah blah blah" story. Just give us the key and shut your face. We all put our shit in our rooms, grabbed our boards and whatever else we needed, and ventured out to find some shit to skate. Getting lost in a city where you've never been is usually the best way to go; you can get a reaction from the locals the next day, like, "You skated what? We get busted there every time we even think about that spot!"
There happened to be a mall close to the hotel, and by that time it was one in the morning, so the place was a ghost town ... except for that pickup truck with the flashing light on top that we could see from a mile away. Paul went around the back of an oddly-placed office building and found a rail he wanted to hit up, and before I knew it, Scuba and Paul had filmed a f/s crooks first try. That doesn't really do it for me, though (hello ... magazine ... photos), so I asked him to do it two more times. And being the nice guy that he is, Paul said okay. That made it three for three. The kid is amazing.
We packed up and went exploring. We passed a few schools and checked them out, but there was nothing but steep rails with kinks. We moved on to downtown and found a few ledges/manual pads, which the guys sessioned while I filled the sandbags for the lights and Tony drove around looking unsuccessfully for more stuff, it was 3:30am by then, so we called it a night and decided to call a skateshop the next day to find a tour guide.
THE SUN CAME UP TOO SOON, and checkout time was too early, but we had to go pick up Eric and Rick at the aeropuerto. It became a two-hour ordeal, but we finally got in the van and went to buy some gadgets and supplies at the local lumberyard and electronics store. Eric and Rick need cameras and video games to keep their minds occupied on the long stretches between cities, which wasn't a bad idea, as I figured out later after all the mags and newspapers were read two hours into a five-hour drive. We met up with the eS rep in Pittsburgh and went to the skateshop to schmooze with the locals and get them to cough up the spots. They were more than happy to oblige.
They took us to a high school with a nice little bank, curvy ledge, and steep, sketchy bricky drop-in with a bump in the middle. Rich didn't think twice about dropping in switch multiple times. On the bank, Rick also threw down a f/s tailslide to fakie the hard way. After all lines had been exhausted, we packed it up and went to eat.
Afterward, it was time to skate again; the sun had just gone down, and we had a good seven hours until the thing came back up. We headed over to a school we had seen a day earlier with hanks around the entire outside. The bank had a curb on the top and a foot-and-a-half dropoff on the bottom, so you had to come in from the top Alexis took one for the team, twice, and the second lime it was in front of a cop, who drove up a curb and straight through the park to get a closer look. He looked at me and silently shrugged his shoulders as to say, "What the hell?" Tony walked over to the little piggy in his portable pen and asked him if he had anything better to do. He said, "Hmm, yeah, I actually do" and sped off. That's not really how it went, but it should have been. In the end, Alexis made the kickflip into the bank.
Next we went to the Polack bowl, a five foot-high concrete skatepark with some janky quarter-pipes and flatbars and a two-foot high spine We cruised around and figured this was a perfect place to knock off some tranny tricks. Rick must have tried a tre flip pivot fakir a hundred times, but frustration and exhaustion got to him first. Meanwhile, PJ figured he could get the stale to fakie, and Eric did a Sal flip to fakie. Not soon after, the cops showed up and said they had gotten a complaint. This time we didn't argue; this night was over.
THE NEXT AFTERNOON, we took off fur Skatopia in Rutland, Ohio, Some of us had an idea about this place, but we still didn't know what to expect. A few stops and seven hours later we finally got there, checked out Brewce's skate museum, and went up the hill to check out the 13-foot bowl I'd heard so much about. Pretty fucking gnarly. There were about 20 dogs roaming around in every crevice of the property, and one of them was walking around with a bottle in its mouth. The dog walked up to the coping of the bowl and dropped the bottle in; it went sliding down the tranny and smashed into a thousand pieces.
While Rick and Alexis were skating, we opened up the second envelope with our tasks. One: everyone must f/s grind the deep end in the big bowl. Two: blow something up. Three: do a doubles line with Brewce or Science Fair. Four: spend the night on the property. We would accomplish only one task. For the f/s grind, I wasn't gonna be the first one to do it. Brewce and Science weren't even in the state of Ohio. And no one was prepared to sleep anywhere hut a hotel. So the only thing we could do was blow something up. We asked the guys who lived there if' they had any dynamite or guns we could shoot off. But they were all out, so it looked like we had to improvise with some gas from the generator and make a couple of molotov cocktails. Alexis and Rick chucked those at a brick structure, and then, as we were getting ready to throw the third one, we saw the Volcom motor home coming up the hill.
I told someone to light the thing and throw it at them. It landed about 10 feet short; just five feet more would have been nice so we could have freaked them out. They had to park the motor home down the hill to avoid the flaming road After all the fun and games, it was nice to see these guys and swap horror stories. Remy was anxious to get the pool up the way all cleaned out and dry enough to skate. With lights and generators humming, it was slow goin'. When all our rags and T-shirts were drenched, a little fire was in order: l put some gas in a cup and threw it in the bottom and lit it. Within 10 minutes, the thing was dry enough to skate, although the fumes from the burnt gas and generator exhaust were giving me a headache. Rick figured this was the closest we'd get to a backyard pool and tried to get us some points with a deep-end roll-in. That didn't fly with Jake, as the pool was made for skating. We were burnt, so we decided to get out of there and get back to civilization and a hotel.
THE NEXT DAY ON THE ROAD, Eric was trying to remember who had taken him around Indianapolis the last time he was there. He came up with the name Buddy Best, and when Tony got on the phone to the eS rep to ask for Buddy's number, it turned out that Buddy was sitting right next to him and could show us some stuff alter he finished work, The only thing was, he had to go to Louisville to meet up with the Tumyeto guys. One of their challenges was to become best buddies with Buddy Best, but they were too lazy to drive to Indianapolis. Too bad for them; we had him, and we weren't letting him go.
After leaving his shop in Indianapolis we drove 45 minutes to Bloomington, a college town with a shitload of spots. Buddy had another shop there and had to take care of some business, so we ate some pizza to kill time. When Buddy returned, we were missing PJ and Alexis, who had gone to find a grocery store because Alexis has this thing for fresh peaches. Fortunately, they returned after 10 minutes, and we went to the city hall, where there was a ledge down some stairs that went out flat for about 15 feet. We asked if it was a bust, and they said it was risky because our generator and lights would attract attention. After a few minutes, Rick did a f/s 50-50 all the way out and then a frontside 5-0. Alexis tweaked her ankle a little, so she was out for a couple of days.
With that in the bag, we decide to move on, and it was just in time; as we were packing up, the pigs drove by We went to the college campus to check out a spot that Eric had seen in an ad, but as we were going to get our things, some janitors said they had just called the cops. To make things a little more dramatic, the janitors had told the cops that it looked like we were going to blow something up, because we had a huge gas can and genny on the roof of the van. We split right away, but on our way out, the guy we were following made a illegal straight from the left turn lane right in front of the cops. Two seconds later, the lights and sirens were blaring, so we pulled over and waited. On the bullhorn, the cops told the driver, Tony, to get out of the vehicle and walk toward the lights with the driver's-side door wide open He gave them his license and a little explanation and was sent back to the van to wait. What Tony forgot to remember was that he had bought a very real-looking toy 9mm that was in the door pocket in plain view. He casually shut the door, reached down, and handed it back out of sight.
The cop came up to the van, a little calmer now that he knew we were just skateboarders. After his spiel, he said his kid skated and asked if there was anyone famous in the van who would sign an autograph for his kid. Eric and Rick handed up pieces of paper with their signatures, and I added a Thrasher T-shirt so we could just get out of there. We headed to another school with a hubba ledge in the front, There was a big crack at the top of the stairs that had to be covered with what Eric called the rain gutter. Paul seemed to like this place and began throwing all kinds of' warm-up tricks; that eventually got him to a switch b/s tailslide shove it, which he made in the nick of time, because (you guessed it) cop number two was attracted to the intense lights like a moth. He basically said we couldn't slay with those toys on school property, so we packed it up and moved on. It was about 3:30am, so we decided to call it. Tony wanted to get to Milwaukee ASAP. We said our goodbyes to Buddy and his crew and started our 330-mile drive to Miltown.
WHEN WE EXITED OUR VAN, the doorman at the hotel was stoked to see that the band had shown up on time. We all found our rooms and slept most of the day. The setting sun peeking through the hastily drawn shades was our sign that the skating would soon start. I rounded up the others, and we headed over to the Four Seasons Skatepark, where everyone had to do a benihana. This one was going to take some time, and it was only for the comedy factor. The trick should be stricken from the records. It was pretty funny watching Scuba Steve stress out, throwing his board and being on the verge of focusing it. And I was sure it was the same for everyone else watching me. After everyone suffered for hours, wondering what we were doing, things kinda calmed down, so we got out the KOTR book to get some shit dime. Rick said he could do a f/s invert in the bowl, and after 30 tries, it was in the bag. Eric went to work on the mini-ramp and knocked off a crailslide revert, a b/s Smith revert, and a b/s noseblunt revert. By that time, the park had actually closed, but Neil, the owner, was cool enough to hang out and let us skate. We also asked some locals if they would show us around the next day and left to catch up on some much-needed sleep.
We all woke up fairly early and decided to go to the mail so everyone could get everything they needed all at once, but everyone scattered there, and we ended up spending hours in that hell hole. We all met for lunch and then followed the directions to our next challenge: the old Turf Skatepark, where we had to play a game of SKATE. The place made decks for houses and had some premade samples on the side of the parking lot, which made for some pretty good manual pads. Eric, PJ, and Rick started the game, and in about 15 minutes, PJ had won. We stayed around to get the last of the manuals finished, then met the guys who were going to show us around at the skatepark. We drove about 20 minutes north to a small rail and had been warming up for about a half-hour when someone spotted a cop car lurking around the neighborhood. We decided to shut the lights off to see if they would pass us by, but no such luck; they pulled up and told us to beat it. We drove to a couple more rails, but the guys weren't feelin' it. The night was over.
ON MONDAY MORNING, we had to drive 1,300 miles to Denver to be at the skatepark by 5:00 the next day; if we made it, we would get 50 points. So for the next 20 hours or so, we barreled down the freeway. We also had to get to the airport to pick up our mystery guest. We were all wondering who it would be when a car came skidding to a stop and reversed right up to the van. It was Phelps. He greeted everyone and told us that we'd be picking up Harold Hunter. I don't think anyone really believed him until I swore to them that it was true. I called Harold to see if he had arrived yet, and after four calls, he finally appeared. After all the usual formalities, we piled into the van and sped off to the Denver skatepark to be there by five. By the time we got there, the Volcom and Tumyeto guys were already poppin' off tricks and points left and right. Most everyone migrated over to one of the big bowls, and a bro lest ensued for about 45 minutes. Then it was time to go to the mini ramp BBQ in Boulder, and nobody really had any interest, but we had to go to Boulder anyway because one of our challenges was to go to the S rail. But first, there was one little thing Paul wanted to do but was too shy to. Harold finally stepped in and told one of the two girls who Paul had been kickin' it with for the last hour that the team could get 50 points it' she (Trash, December '03, on the left) french-kissed Paul for 10 seconds. With no hesitation, she said yes, but Paul didn't end up getting any points, because she was the same age as him and was supposed to be older. We all knew that from the outset, though.
SECOND WIND IN DENVER
WE WENT TO THE BBQ to make a quick appearance and then go street skating, but as soon as Eric got to skating the mini and Paul found an adult beverage lying around, our 20 minutes turned into two hours. We finally made our way to the S rail, where Eric got a grinding start from Tony's shoulder. We putzed around for another half-hour and went to a 10-stair, where the Volcom and Tumyeto monkeys had the place lit up with a couple of 25-watt lightbulbs. We shooed them away and handled that 10-stair like nobody's business. Koston: nollie backside heel: Alexis: switch heel; Paul: switch flip, tre flip: and Rick: f/s 180 on a flow board. The cops did a few drive-bys, the bums did some walk-bys, and we said bye-bye.
On Wednesday, things got started a little late. We had one more thing to do in Denver before we split: go to the Tech Center ledges. It was a weekday, so we had to kin some time. Someone said we should go to the skatepark down the street. I had been in Denver five times in the last two years and didn't even know it was there. When we got over there, Eric and Rick busted out an old-school show of five-foot stiffles and JT airs for days, Paul tried to jump in and got served. With all the dorking out of the way, Rick's elusive tre flip pivot fakie session got started, with Erie joining in and taking the honors. The sun was on its way down, so we got over to the ledges and set up as quickly as we could. People were starting to leave work, and we were getting nervous that we would get kicked out before we had even started. In the long, slightly downhill parking lot, Alexis started to put on a blindfold and went for a good ol' Rohan challenge--kickflip, heelflip, pop shove-it--all with Eric running along to guide her away from the curb. Meanwhile, Rick was trying to get a line of his own on the rail above the ledge below, but he broke his board. That was our sign to pack up.
The next morning, I called up Jasin from Deluxe to get some spare trucks for Eric, as he had bent the axles on his last remaining set. They were packing up their assault vehicle for the next leg of their trip, and I had to get back to my crew to do the same. After some general lagging, we didn't get out of town until night. With no time to spare, we headed to Salt Lake City. After a power nap, everyone was rarin' to go. Tony got in touch with another rep to take us around, but first we had to go to the skate shop to set up some boards. Once we got everyone squared away, there was no stopping until the sun came up the next day. After all, we still had three city challenges to take care of, but after asking the locals where we could jump into the Great Salt Lake, they told us you could get some serious diseases and advised us not to do it. Finding someone to show us their sacred undergarments was going to be next to impossible, so we forgot that one. The only easy job was to start a train at the skatepark. Tony rounded up at least 100 kids, and Eric and Rick started the train a-rollin'. A couple of the cars fell off the track, and the engine caught up to the caboose.
With that done, the lights shut off, and we went into town to get to the serious stuff. We went to the convention center that had a set of stairs with a rail going diagonal. The boys wasted no time getting down to business. PJ switch heelflipped, and Paul f/s flipped and three-flipped it. We got the boot after two hours, then went around town looking for other spots, with no luck. We packed it up and got out of there the next day.
WHILE DRIVING ACROSS the Bonneville Salt Hats on the 80, we stopped at a sculpture in the middle of nowhere, and Rick got down to destroying this little egg-shaped tranny that looked like it had fallen off a big tree-looking thing in the background. It was about 100 degrees and brighter than all hell. We powered it all the way to San Francisco.
With about 20 hours left to get our remaining points, we went to the wood rail on the waterfront, then to Pier Seven for out last manual tricks. Midnight rolled around soon, and that was it. See ya next year.
TEAM ES PHILLY CHALLENGES
* Grind the over vert section at the FDR park
* Find and skate with Matt Reason or Serge Trudnowski
* Eat lunch at Love Park
TEAM ES SKATOPIA CHALLENGES
* Blow something up
* Everyone (including media and management) frontside grind the big bowl
* Speed the night on the property
* Do doubles with Brewce or Science Fair
TEAM ES MILWAUKEE CHALLENGES
* Play a game of SKATE in the parking Let of the old Turf Skatepark
* Woodstock Challenge: Build and skate a wacky board made out of something not meant to be ridden
* Everyone (including media and management) perform a benihana at the Four Seasons Park
TEAM ES DENVER CHALLENGES
* Pick up the Mystery Guest
* Find the S-Rail
* Rohan Challenge--bets trick while blindfolded
* Skate the Tech Center hubbas (night time is best)
* Be at the Downtown Skatepark by 5:00pm on August 25th with your Mystery Guest
TEAM ES SLC CHALLENGES
* Pick up Mystery Guest
* Find the S-Rail
* De a 5-0 howl-to-bowl at the Boulder Park in the spine bowl
* Rohan Challenge (see who can do the host trick blindfolded)
* Be at the Downtown Skatepark by 5:00pm on August 25th with your Mystery Guest