You are already in your suit because its way too cold to change into it anywhere else but inside the comfort of your house. You count to three, then jump out, grab your board and run to the water. The soon your in the water the sooner your committed and then you can turn around. But, somehow its worth it. You and your buddy are the only people that are going to be out. Handing each other waves and having a simplistic blast. After each wave you take you dread paddling back out to the line up because you know your going to have to at least duck two waves and you know the brain freeze that will commence the second you go under the second wave. But then the second you come up and see the third wave and realize that it is setting up for you perfectly you forget about the brain freeze and the stoke is completely restored, adrenaline pumps again and then your in your happy place once again.
I have surfed a lot of places now and a l can honestly say that I like surfing in the dead of winter in the frigid water of New England the most. I will take an empty line up with snow on the beach any day over a SoCal line up with 722 people out all grilling me. I'm not saying it is the smartest thing, or the most fun at times, but I am saying that it is one of the raddest concepts I have ever taken part in. There's no way to completely describe the feelings and thoughts that I experience when I am bobbing out in the ocean waiting for another set to roll through and I don't think there is a true way to convince someone that it actually is fun. But, if you ever do get the chance to score a good Nor' Easter swell in the dead of winter, take the opportunity because it just might surprise you how much fun you have and how easily you forget about the cold.
"I will take an empty line up with snow on the beach any day over a SoCal line up with 722 people out all grilling me."
// OCTOBER, 2013//
MOTOCROSS is something that runs in your blood. Either it does or it doesn’t and there is no way of putting the possession it can have over oneself into words. I’ve got the bug, I’ve had the bug, and I will always and forever have to bug. I grew up submersed in it. Some of my first memories are just of watching my dad work on his bikes and me hanging around them. My dad would bring me to the races whenever he got a chance and I always just stood watching in awe of the power and intensity, and I just dreamed of being one of those racers one day.
This past weekend, I finally got my chance to race in my first ever sanctioned amateur motocross race. I finally was going to become one of those racers. The concept is something I have literally layed in bed before falling asleep thinking about for 20 YEARS; dreaming of banging elbows and getting roosted and feeling the power of all the other bikes that I am racing with all around me. Once again it is a feeling and a passion that I will never be able to completely put into words. It is possessive.
My dad was there, I was pitted out of my van, and I was in heaven. I have never had the kind of butterflies that I had in my stomach before that first moto. I was so excited and pushing my dirtbike to the gate in a state of content EXCITEMENT. All of those times I found myself day dreaming about this exact moment and it finally wasn’t a dream, it was reality. When the man running the gate gave us the sign to start our bikes and raised the 30 second board my heart was pounding, All of the bikes were SCREAMING and I could barely tell if my bike was actually running or not because there was so much noise and energy and vibrations in the air.
The 30 second board turned sideways, and the gate dropped and next thing I knew I was in the middle of the pack and I could hear was the sound of all the roost blasting my goggles and helmet. It sounds like putting your head inside of a sand blaster. My nerves were instantly gone, and I went to work trying to pick off and pass as many riders as I could. I located first place off of one of the jumps and just started trying to gain time on him. I made it up to third place before the checkered flag waved and I came up the track grinning ear to ear, boiling over with excitement and with the worst ARM PUMP I have ever had in my life. I road back to the pits and there was my dad waiting to give me the biggest of high fives and to take my bike and put it on the stand for me because there was no way I had enough energy to do that myself. Time to rest and get ready for the second moto.
Time for the SECOND MOTO. The nerves are gone and now I’m just focused. I went into the first moto with zero expectations and not knowing what to expect. Now I know, and now I have expectations. Time to WIN. I picked the gate In between the guy to won the first moto and the the guy who got second. All I have to do is beat them off the gate and I’m set. 30 second board goes sideways again, and the gate drops. I round the first turn in second, right behind the winner of the first moto. But, now it has started spitting rain and my vision is horrific. I blow through all of my tear-offs in a lap and a half trying to chase first place and now I can’t see a thing and it’s only the second lap. I am focused, only one option, ditch the goggles. So I pull my goggles off and instantly it’s like a whole new world, I can see again. Time to dig deep and charge; I gained a little ground on the leader again, I got to within the same turn as him. And then I just started pumping up, and it was getting nearly impossible to even hold onto the bike.
3-3 moto finishes was good enough to complete a goal that I have had since I was 2 years old, and that was to race my dirtbike and get a motocross trophy. It is set up on my desk in my bedroom, and now every night before I go to sleep I look and it and grin, and lay in bed like I did every night before I raced and dream about sitting on that gate again. Which hopefully will be really soon. It is safe to say that I already had the motocross bug, but now I have caught it worse than ever. Words can't describe what it is really like inside of the helmet while racing. But I can promise that it is VERY radical.
Third place was hounding me the entire time as well and I could hear him coming up the inside into every turn. He passed my right before the white flag. No way was I going to let him get me with one lap left, I dug as deep as I could, I was getting roosted none stop the last lap and there was so much dirt in my eyes from ditching my goggles on lap 2. In the last turn I dove into the tightest inside line I could hold and we went off the finish line jump side by side, he got me by a wheels length. We instantly high fived, that was everything I had ever dreamed about. That moto was true motocross. No goggles, lightly raining, eating roost the whole time, I was grinning the largest grin with dirt all in my teeth and could have been more HAPPY.
YOU GOT THIS... THIS TRY
The famous words of any filmer. If you have ever tried to film anything in your life you have probably heard these reasurring and overly confident words.They are exactly the words that you want to hear though when your pooring sweat and getting frustrated; about as far from confident in yourself as you could possibly get. It can be an awkward place to be when the camera is solely pointed at you. There's no other reason for the camera to be on, not even a reason for the person holding the camera to even be there except for documenting what you do. Sometimes you thrive in it and it is the only reason you went for and pulled something. other times it seems to be the only reason you can't land a thing. But in either circumstance you will have your filmer standing right their keeping your stoke up and keeping you
You will find yourself saying "Lets just get the ball rolling and start with this, I'll be able to get this line within like three tries." That is the worst thing you can possibly say, seventy-nine tries later the famous last words are coming out, "You got this... this try!" But, all a while that filmer is just there, content with what is going on, more confident in you than you are in yourself and never bummed when you don't pull the line try after try. You are also putting all of your faith into the filmer, you are sure that the one time everything clicks for you, they are going to be there and they will have filmed it perfectly, just the way you saw it in your mind.
There is this special kind of feeling after getting one of those clips though, that take an hour and a half to film, the heaviest weight is lifted off your shoulders and you feel the most amazing feeling of contentness. This feeling is shared between you and your filmer, it is not just the person getting filmed but the person filming as well. See they have the even more stressful job. Because they have to be the psychologist, possibly the doctor, and on top of it all they might only have that one chance to get the clip right, and they never will know when you actually are going to land the line. They have to film it perfectly each and every time because you just might pull it this clip, or the next one, or the twelth attempt from now. They also have to worry about the technical stuff, they things that you have no hope of ever understanding like the ISO and the color correcting and everything else.
It is an important relationship that has to be built for an athlete and filmer to really be successful and to produce the type of work that they both want to create. They have to see eye to eye on a lot of things, and they have to have enough respect and confidence in each other to allow the other to do something that they don't quite envision yet. You know it will work, you just can't quite see how, and they when they show you, you are again reminded why you are filming with them, because of those moments when they just blow your mind with making something look that much better. All the yells and frustrating moments when you are not doing your part and not landing what you are supposed to land become worth it when you are finally rolling away and you hear the filmer give their hoot of excitement and you know you both just got it done.
NEW YEARS RESOLUTION
"I WISH I COULD DO THAT" is probably my least favorite sequence of words that exist. I hate when people say this to me, because the simple answer is you can. The human being has taught itself to listen to the rules, to go along with the crowd and to limit itself. It didn't happen on purpose, or at least I don't think it did, it almost seems like an innocence. A simple acceptance of the way things "should" be. But, It doesn't have to be that way. It doesn't have to be any certain way. That is the beauty of the world, there is so much out there, so much to do, to see, to experience. It is important to step out of the norm from time to time. It's like trying a food you once didn't like again, because you just never know, today could be the day that you all of a sudden love it. You will learn something, that is a guarantee it.
The biggest response I have gotten from people about this whole windowless van thing, and the concepts behind, is people just telling me that they wish they could do something like it as well. But, what my whole goal was and is, is to show people that THEY CAN do this. It doesn't have to be in a van, or to some extraordinary place. The whole point is the feeling that one gets from the adventure. The adventure could be as simple as going down a familiar road in your own town, and then turning off on a road that you have never gone down before, just to see where it goes. Pursue the unknown, go out of your normal routine, switch it up, surprise yourself. It is a lot easier than anybody realizes.
My favorite memories and best stories from over the years have come from times when I honestly didn't know how I was going to make a trip completely work out, but I knew that if I left and committed to it, then I would have no option but to see it through. I have driven to Pennsylvania multiple times with a full sized dirtbike in the back seat of my Jetta. I have driven straight through from Florida to Maine in 27 hours with the only form of working brakes in my car being the emergency brake. I have sold every article of clothing in my possession on a trip to get create enough gas money to get home. I have been more places than I could have ever fathomed, but it all just came from saying yes. Simply going for it. It is completely cheesy but when there is a will there really is a way. If there is something that you really truly want to do, then there are no excuses in the world that can keep you from it. There is always a way.
So, what I am asking is that you step out of your norm this year. New Years resotions are a tool to motivate oneself, so use this as your catalyst. Try a new food, say yes to something you normally wouldn't every do, seek adventure and never say "I WISH I COULD DO THAT". Always say "I CANT WAIT TO DO THAT". My new years resolution never changes, its simply to just do more. So get out there and go have an experience and I will see you wherever our paths cross!
IS THIS ILLEGAL?
Well, that's a very good question. You know how there is the saying "Age is just a mind set", I like to think that sometimes the question "Isn't that illegal?" is kind of the same thing and it just depends on who you ask. I am not talking about doing anything harmful or anything that would jeopardize or possibly affect any innocent bystanders. I am talking about harmlessly riding my BMX bike in places that are usually off limits to the common person. I am talking about riding empty and abandoned swimming pools. The holy grail of transition riding in my opinion. But the police don't see the innocence in what that is, they think I am some delinquent that is trying to destroy some property or spray graffiti or do drugs. But, that stuff couldn't be farther from my intentions. So I like to think of riding abandoned pools as a grey area.
The very beginning of riding transitions came from skateboarders finding pools and draining them. There is always this aura that surrounds an empty pool. There is so much that goes into riding an empty pool. Starting from simply finding one. Figuring out when it is possible to ride it depending on the area that it is in. You have to be somewhat lucky for the pool to even have rideable transitions. It has to be empty. Sometimes that means you are going to spend hours draining it and cleaning it. Once all of this has taken place then it actually comes down to riding it, which is usually very technical. Pools obviously were never built with an intent to be ridden, so the transitions are never perfect, the angles are almost always awkward or even plane wrong. But, this is what makes riding a pool so much fun. Because it is so different, it takes a lot of originality, and just thinking outside the box.
Last month I flew out to California with a goal to work with Brandon Means on our newest project, and a new edit that was filmed solely in empty pools. When I was flying out, I knew that finding pools wasn't easy, but the longer Brandon and I worked on the project the more it sunk in just how much work it was to even find just one pool. I spent hours on top of hours on google earth clicking and scrolling over countless miles looking for empty pools. We made calls to many friends asking for any leads, we drove around a ton of neighborhoods running recon missions, and we had to hop some fences. There were even a couple of times when I left an area because of the eyes I felt on me and was very confident that the cops were going to be called. There is no denying that to the average person Brandon and I looked very sketchy sneaking around and walking behind abandoned buildings and peaking into back yards of for sale homes.
The feelings that one experiences from finding a pool, to riding it and getting out are so hard to put into words. I want to compare it to the feeling of going into a bank, robbing it and getting away. Although I have never robbed a bank and gotten away with it I feel like it would be very similar. First there is the excitement of rolling up and the possibility of there being a pool. then there is the moment of first sight, When you first see that there really is a pool and it truly is open and this just fills you with stoke and you instantly start putting together possible lines in your head. But the next feeling is the butterflies and tightness that show up in your stomach. Because now you have only sixty seconds to get into the pool and out of site before any possible onlookers could notice and call the cops on you. You get in, and then its back to the pure excitement as you start riding and working on setting up some clips, but the tightness in your stomach is never going to be gone. The entire session your eyes and ears are working overtime, every little sound seems out of place, the flick of a car going past makes your eyes dart, your on high alert looking out for someone coming to bust you. All the while though you are trying to focus on your riding and trying to get your clips. Its hard to concentrate all of your focus in the right places. Once you've gotten your clips the hussle doesn't end, now its time to get packed up and out of there as fast as possible because your not in the clear until your in the car and a couple blocks away. When you reach that 2 block distance then you finally get to have that exhale and all the pent up suspense is released and then you and whoever you are with are finally filled with the largest amounts of stoke possible.
Now I'm not giving away any of the locations or details to finding our pools. Sorry folks but those are secrets of the trade. But you know the excitement of the search and the feeling of riding a pool that has never been ridden before, and may never be ridden again. I have to say thank you to Paul Williams also for the help he gave in the search for some epic pools and of course Means for always being down to break a couple laws all in the name of shredding.
THIS IS WHY YOU SAY YES
"WHAT YOU UP TO NEXT WEEKEND?" This is my favorite text to receive. It is the complete opposite of "I wish I could do that". This text means you are about to be diving into some kind of radical adventure. I received this text out of the blue on February 13th mid afternoon from my Bell Helmets team manager Allan Cooke. I hadn't talked to him in a couple of weeks, there was nothing leading up to this. My initial thoughts were he must be putting together a Bell trip real quickly and I was stoked. Then his next text came in, "You ready for this, maybe you should sit down." Ohhh man this is about to be a DOOZY! Now Allan has really got me intrigued, what the heck is he about to have lined up? The possibilities are endless with Bell, all I know is I am amped. I am already fully committed to whatever it is, I'm in. The next text came in, "You know that downhill ice skate racing?" Multiply that intrigued feeling by ten now. Next text, "Wanna race bikes down it?" Boom, done deal, I'm in, no question. Well, I have a ton of questions, but those can all be answered, the important thing is just know that I am in 100%. This was literally all the information Allan had for me. He said he wasn't going, but, he would forward my contact info and hopefully I would hear something from someone.
Now skip forward two days to February 15th and I get a random phone call at around 7 pm from a random phone number I have never seen before. And all my phone says below the number is "Quebec". I don't know anybody from Quebec. Like not one person, not even one name of one acquaintance. So, I hesitantly answered the phone, curious of what this phone call could possibly be for. I more so assume that it is just a wrong number or telemarketer. But then the lady on the other end asks if she is speaking with Zak Earley. I quickly agree that I
am, or at least to the best of my understanding I am. She says great and introduces herself as Marilou and she is working with RedBull to put on the Crashed Ice event this coming weekend. The light bulb now finally goes off in my head and I realize this must be the event Allan had mentioned. Cue in the very excited heart rate again. She asks if I would be interested in racing bicycles down the crashed ice course with SPIKED TIRES. Of course I say yes, very much so. She says great, we chat up some small talk real quick and Marilou explains that she is just waiting to hear back from RedBull to make sure that the bike race budget has been approved and she will get back to me as soon as she can and we hang up.
So now I have had two quick conversations with two different people, one I know, one I don't. What I have gotten out of these conversations is that I think I am racing down a track covered in ice on some kind of bike. I don't know where yet, But Marilou's phone is from Quebec, so maybe there, and the event is in 8 days. And also I am driving to Florida the day after tomorrow.
The airwaves go quiet again and I leave for Florida. The whole drive I am waiting for my phone to ring again with word that RedBull did indeed approve the budget and I am going to race ice bikes... somewhere. Around the fifteen hour mark of my drive the phone finally dings and jingles to life and on the screen the word "Quebec" is displayed. Alright this is it! I answer excitedly and Marilou responds back and says that its on, RedBull approves. Great news. Now I finally ask where the event is even happening and she tells me St. Paul, Minnesota. Whoa, didn't see that one coming, but radical. She takes down all my personal info for my flights and hotel and says that it will all be taken care of and I should get my flight info in the next day or two. That's good since it is now Monday, and I am flying out on Thursday. On Tuesday night it all became official and I received my flight in my email's inbox and I received one more phone call asking if I could bring my BMX bike, because they want me to race that. Sure I say, and so the stage is set. I still don't know one person that is going to be there, or what we really are going to be doing. But, that's just all part of the fun.
I Flew in in Thursday and got picked up with the other bicyclists. Two others, both mountain bikers, Richie Schley and Ali G. Shredders in their sport. We all get our bikes outfitted with spiked tires and now I am realizing how wild this is really going to be. The spikes are really just that, they are sheet rock screws screwed into the nobs of my tires. New goal for the weekend, to not get ran over by these things.
The other big thing to mention is the temperatures in St. Paul. I didn't really think about it until I arrived, but St. Paul is in the northern mid-west. It is bitterly Cold. Insanely, bitterly, COLD. On Friday morning when it was time for our first practice it was an enjoyable 10 degrees, and that's not counting the wind chill. First runs were scaring. But it was actually pretty amazing how well the spiked tires worked. It basically felt like riding a very slippery skatepark, but with more drag. It was surprisingly slower than I was expecting. Another local Got to practice and eventually race with us as well, Matt Ford. The whole plan ended up as the four of us were going to race right before the final of the actual Crashed Ice event. We were the act to give the skaters a little time between their semi's and the final and to get the crowd hyped and interested in BMX and Mountain biking. The race went of without a hitch. It was insane to race down the course at night all lit up and in front of the 120,000 fans that showed up. They got the adrenaline pumping to say the least. As we raced down the course they were hanging over the boards and banging on them screaming. It almost caught me off guard around one of the corners it was so over whelming. I ended up getting lucking and won the race, the BMX bike definitely handled the jumps a lot better than the mountain bikes suspension.
So now I am somehow the only BMX rider who has ridden and raced down an ice rink's best impersonation of a supercross track with spiked tires in the dead of winter. All because I said yes before I ever knew what I was doing. This is the point to get these experiences, just say yes. Accept that you are going to be out of your comfort zone, but understand and have confidence that everything is going to work out and just enjoy. Taking this back to the New Years resolution story, allow yourself to be pushed into new situations, and seek new channels of stoke! So get out there and go have an experience and I will see you wherever our paths cross!
ITS JUST FOR FUN
// August 2014//
Everyone remembers their first BMX road trip. Jamming five of your best friends and their backpacks with a couple of t shirts and socks into a Honda Civic because splitting the gas five ways was the only way anyone was going to afford the trip. Then attaching the five bikes with bunjy cords onto a bike rack that was only made for three and just laughing at it. Somehow that sketchiness was just motivating though. It didn’t matter what really happened on the trip. The car could have broken down twelve miles in, the bike rack could fall off, none of it mattered. All that mattered was that the crew was hitting the open road and riding something knew together. And it was all just purely for fun. No coverage requirements. For a lot of us it was even before the time of cell phone’s with cameras, and definitely before the time of Instagram. The only thing that was going to come out of the trip were the good memories.
That was the point of this trip. To take it back to what BMX is. Which is just good times with good friends. This trip wasn’t a specific team, or specific crew or a specific genre of rider. It started with a bulk email from two gentlemen named Luke and Paul that said “Who wants to have some random fun and ride some bikes along the way?” A handful of people in that email group jumped on it and that is how the group was formed. Simple as that. This trip was JUST FOR FUN. Luke and Paul took the reigns of coordinating the logistics of the trip, as one friend in the road trip crew always does, and then set the dates and everyone that was down got themselves to Portland, Oregon on that first day.
The final crew ended up being Luke Seile, Paul Williams, Anthony Napolitan, Ronnie Napolitan, KC Badger, Kevin Porter, Dustin Orem, Drew Bezanson, Zak Earley, Eddie Buckley, Jeremiah Smith, Austin Buckley, and a wildcard appearance for a couple of days from Aaron Bostrom. The Plan was to drive north from Portland up into Washington state and to go explore the coastline and the islands near the Canadian border and to hunt down the best cement that we could find and to of course stop at anything else along the way that looked rad.
We all packed into Eddie’s 5050 bmx Tahoe and Dustin’s Minivan somewhat comfortably and blasted away. We of course didn’t venture too far before hitting some amazing cement. I don’t know what happened in the northwest but the prefab companies never made it there. Every Park is some insane unique cement masterpiece with set ups you have never seen anywhere else. The first session set the mood for the entire trip. Everyone pulled up stoked, pulled out their bikes and just started riding. And when I say everyone I mean everyone. The person who was shooting photos, riding, the person who was filming, was riding, and everyone else. They were on the trip for fun first, business second. And it was perfect. Everyone started doing trains and opening up the lines and in a stoked environment like that one cannot just simply pedal around, its too motivating. The first one to find something wild was Anthony. All of a sudden Anthony started going around the deep end very fast, like listening to the sidewalls of his tires tear as he ripped around fast. And then on one of his rips, pop, he hit a quarter to quarter gap that had to have been at least twenty five feet corner to corner. The stoke meter was rising.
Every night we camped, no hotels on this trip. But, in true BMX fashion what that meant was that we were sleeping on the ground in sleeping bags, in trees in hammocks, or in Dustin’s case on top of his van, because why not? KC was the only one who came truly prepared, he had everything one could possibly need for camping and he pitched a tent every night. Myself on the other hand, I slept in my bike bag. Oh and have I mentioned the beer yet? Our friends over at Oskar Blues Brewery were nice enough to send us off with enough beers to fully pack multiple coolers. So every night we cooked out courtesy of Paul’s fine chef skills and Becomeco and then sleeping was made much more comfortable with the Oskar Blues that were consumed around the bonfire.With the crew that we had the bonfire convo’s consisted of everything from aggressive bashing to full on trips down memory lane to discussing the current state of BMX to actual politics. The politics conversations were the shortest. Usually just consisting of “Did we really bomb another place…? Crazy.” My favorite stories came from the BMX veterans that were on the trip talking about the old trips that they used to go on and how they caught their hotel room on fire with fireworks or somehow convinced their waitress at waffle house to let them do donuts in her car in the parking lot. My gut hurt when I went to bed every night from laughing so hard. Austin and Eddie stand out especially for having some incredible one liners that will not be forgetting any time soon.
We got to ride the best skatepark that I have ever been to in my life on this trip. It makes no sense where it is, or why it got put there. But I sure am glad it exists. You have to take a two hour ferry ride to one of the many islands off of Washington state named Orca Island. The island has a small population, less than 4,500 people. And yet it has a gigantic cement skatepark that has such incredible lines and original features that I wouldn’t even be surprised if I found out it was one hundred percent sculpted by hand out of quickcrete. The cement was as grippy as one could ever dream for but also smooth, not a single bump either. You could ride the park for an entire day and still never even have dropped into the main bowl and you wouldn’t be bummed. Everyone killed it here. KC had been there before so he was showing everyone the lines. Ronnie was absolutely killing the place hitting everything with so much power and speed. KP was killing the snake run with his very original style. Jeremiah and Drew are just mental on anything they touch so of course they were killing it. Luke was having straight up career making sessions. He couldn’t stop circling the park with the largest smile on his face. Once again it was just that purely for fun feeling. No one was stressing clips here. But because everyone was just so hyped on the place the clips and photos just started naturally flowing.
The island itself was incredible to go explore as well. We found a super fun tree jump into a lake near our camp site that we got to session. And Then Drew and Paul and Dustin hiked up a bit further and all sent some insane cliff jumps that were Mental. Straight rolling down the windows for minutes. It was also the strictest camp site we stayed at on the whole trip. We were confronted by a ranger before the sun had even gone down about not getting too rowdy. We assured the ranger that we were going to keep it very mellow of course. We were visited again at 10:55 being reminded, but more so warned, that quiet time for the camp ground was at 11. Our retaliation was that we had five more minutes then, and we made the best use of those five minutes. The ranger didn’t have a comeback for that one.
We left Orca Island and began our journey back down into Portland and road all the cement we could on our way down. One session really stands out to me and it was when Eddie landed his very first ever footjam. First off if you haven’t met Eddie yet then I feel bad for you because he is one of the most genuinely stoked and nice human beings out there. He loves BMX and has been a staple part of the Utah BMX scene for over twenty years. And even though he has ridden for so long he had never landed a footjam. And everyone can relate because we all have that
one nemesis trick that has just never worked for us. So again Eddie tried a couple on this one quarter like he pretty much always has for twenty years. But, then he came really close to one, and the entire crew hooted and screamed and jumped for him. Then it was game on. No one was going to let him put down his bike until he landed one. Several tries and a couple falls later, he hopped back in with both feet on the pedals and yelling with stoke. Everyone erupted for him. It was a really cool site to see as Eddie rode up the next wall and popped out and proceeded to pedal straight over to his son Austin who was riding a different section and said some awesome wise crack that only a father can say to his son and then they high fived a riteous stoke high five. And that again was what it was all about, just for fun, just like the old trips we all used to take before real bills and sponsors and social media and contracts.
We got back to Portland and everyone worked on packing up their bikes and we had a final cookout with everyone and we all high fived and said our goodbyes and went our own ways and the trip was over. It was an amazing time riding some of the best skateparks that have ever been made and it was a great time with great people. I really want to thank the people that stepped up to make this trip happen. Just like the friends that stepped up during your first road trip and said “We can take my car!” I want to thank Eddie and Dustin for letting us spill coffee and put our sweaty helmets in their cars and for simply carting us around for the whole time. I want to thank Luke and Paul and Becomeco for orchestrating such a good time and making the opportunities possible for all of us and I want to thank everyone that came on the trip because everyone came on with the idea to have fun, and that is all they did. There was never any complaining or vibes or anything. Just pure stoke, JUST FOR FUN.
ZEN OF A MOTORCYCLE MECHANIC
// January 2015 //
The mind is an amazing concept to think about. Every single mind works differently. Every mind is stimulated in different ways. Provoked by different things and consumed by different thoughts. But, there are also these patterns that show up of different minds that will be attracted to these similar stimulants. There are millions of different things that minds can be stoked on. One of the stimulants that my mind somehow decided it was going to be stoked on was working on motorcycles. I don't know why it chose WORK to be stoked on, but it did, and I truly enjoy it.
It is a true source of zen, a sort of mental retreat for me. There is so much that goes into working on motorcycles. So much knowledge that can be gained and there are never ending mods that can be made. This could possibly be one of the reasons my mind chose working on motorcycles. Because my mind is always jumping from one idea to another and moving way too fast. There really is constant stimulation in working on a motorcycle. When I walk into my basement and pass into my work shop area I let go of everything else going on around me. I let go of the day and I slowly just sink into the stoke of the motorcycles. I look at each motorcycle and day dream about past rides on them or future rides that are going to happen. When I sit down and begin sanding gas tank for my current project, my Honda 400f, I get lost in thinking about riding it up and down the beach with a surf board strapped to it looking for where I am going to paddle out.
No motorcycle is ever really finished. I bought a brand new dirt bike straight out of the shipping crate and the first thing I did was work on it. There are about five more motorcycles sitting in my basement. None of them are running. All of them are at different levels of completion. Some are taken apart to the point of just nuts and bolts and are on shelves. Others at least have wheels and are rolling and others are inbetween. It's pretty crazy to think that somehow in my mind I have almost every part cataloged and I know what it needs, what it is going to look like and how I am going to do it. But, at the same time not knowing or having the specific skill to make it all happen. My current project is wiring, I have no idea how to do it. I am going to probably have to sit down for a solid day and one wire at a time run them and hopefully they don't arch and catch something on fire or electricute me. That's the fun in it though. Shooting from the hip and learning as you go. Because when you go to start that bike for the first time after it was nothing but a frame and some rusty parts and it actually goes. There is no better feeling.
There is such a large sense of pride that goes into working on a motorcycle. It is one thing to just go out and buy a bike. You get the feeling of riding it. But, that is it. Until you have been the one who put the drop of loctite on the screw that holds on the front brake caliper and you have been the one who sat for an hour cleaning the carburater and messing with the air mixture and needle height because the bike just wasn't running quite right then you haven't had that real connection with the bike yet. When I look at one of my bikes I can look at a bolt and smile because I remember when I was holding it with a set of pliers polishing it on the wire wheel and it came loose from the pliers and shot across the room. (This is also why I strongly suggest always wearing eye protection) But it is the moments like this that give bikes character. Bikes need a soul, they need stories behind them. Otherwise they are just more obsolete objects, and they are so much more than that.
Everyone should have an activity that they can be passionate about and lose themselves in. find it. immerse yourself in it. and most importantly, ENJOY it.
I have to start this piece by saying that I know I have never been a very good spokesperson for CALIFORNIA. Most of my videos and stories have in one way or another expressed how I favor New England and the east coast over traveling west. But, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and for all of the annoying things about California there sure are some pretty incredible positives about the state as well. With how crazy the North East has been lately with its weather and pollen and insane lack of waves I have found myself thinking a lot about the golden state and its perks. Time to shed some light on them.
The first thing you have to give California credit for is its WEATHER. Its insane how often it is perfect weather to be outside and active. Try 350 days a year, literally. A cloudy morning is like having scattered rain showers and an actual raw rainy day in California is like having a foot and a half of snow in a howling Nor' Easter. Every night there is an amazing sunset and it is a perfect dry 67 degrees out. During the day the temperature hovers around 72-76 degrees and every once in a while you may have a hot one where it gets up to 82-84. I remember literally after a month stint of staying out there I woke up one morning just praying that it was raining because I was so sore from just doing everything everyday. But I couldn't let myself be lazy because each day was so nice I had to take full advantage of it.
CEMENT SKATEPARKS. Almost all of the skateparks in California are cement. Which is an awesome change from New England. Over the years we have been getting more and more cement parks but they still are a ways off from the level that the California parks are on. If I drive out to the Corona/Riverside area I can easily ride five or six amazing cement parks in the day. They are everywhere and they all have at least one really rad feature that makes it worth the drive. And then there is always a session going down. The number of people in California in general is crazy. But it makes it so that there is always someone at the skatepark that is truly stoked to ride and to have some fun whether it is 9 am or 9 pm.
Everyday is surfable. LIke really actually surfable. You start getting truly spoiled out west and how you make your choices of whether its "worth" paddling out or not. And yes I put worth in parenthesis on purpose. Because if I saw some of the days I questioned whether or not to paddle out right now at my home wave in New Hampshire I would be sprinting out with zero hesitation. Out west it just starts coming down to whether it is better to paddle out or do something else sweet. If you surf everyday all day like you really should you start missing the other rad things that you love like BMX and motocross. So you have to start regulating your surfing, and taking some mornings off that are only waist high. This way you can get to the moto track early when it is still nice and groomed and there is still moisture in the dirt. Or so then you can get to ride seven skateparks for the whole day instead of only three in the afternoon.
CALIFORNIA is an awesome place. There is so much to do out there and it really is the land of opportunity. But, it also has some wild and frustrating things about it. Life is about the pros versus the cons, and I can never be the one to make your decision for you. I absolutely recommend spending time in California and seeing it for yourself. Some of my best times ever have come from my time living there. But still for me personally home is New England and I love it here. But that doesn't mean a homie can't rest in the west from time to time.