Nike SB Tre AD Wear Test Week

Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2008 by Ryan

Words by Ryan Clements
Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek
Wow, that's a pretty good looking hardflip. That's Neen Williams from Chicago
Daaaamn Neen! That's a serious heeflip
There was a fresh layer of sawdust in the new Nike TF built by Big Al and Mean Gene
Everytime I want new bags, I just shoot a photo of my friend Scott from Dakine and a week later, a box shows up in my office. Thanks Scott!
This is Shorty. He skated at SPoT in 93, a month prior to it opening, when pants were much bigger and wheels were much smaller than you see here
I've only seen Juice Magazine once a long time ago. The only thing I remember is thinking "they should call this Frontside Grind Magazine." I guess it's geared towards the leopard print pads and nine inch board crowd
One foot fakie ollies on tranny remind me of Matt Hensley
I like the nice wide step-up. That's Rob Sissi repping for Nike SB in Minneapolis playing a game of old man SKATE on the bank
I can only imagine what these harsh skateboard critics are saying right now. That's Ryan Clements, Chet Childress, Al Partanen, Trent from Cowtown (thanks for having Phoenix Am on my birthday), and Brian Schaefer
Burnside was soaked, but Clem still had to go for the photo in Frontside Grind Magazine. High five to the graffiti artist
Did you know Burnside had a hotel right next to it? I don't think they put a mint on your pillow here in the morning
Okay, enough of this skateboard crap. There's yet another open bar waiting for us. Let's party! That's Big Al and Ryan Dodge. Florida has a posse thick as usual
I have the Clark Hassler song from the enjoi video stuck in my head right now
What the hell is Chet Childress wearing? A jetpack or a life jacket? That's Kevin from The Skateboard Mag next to him wondering the same thing
Russ Digi gets the red carpet everywhere he goes
Oliver looks like he's applying for the Skatepark of Tampa Party Team
Justin Brock and Dan Plunkett are dancing on the table tops like wasted frat chicks
When it's an open bar, it's ok to order in quantities of six. Right after this, Hunter took the sauce to the dance floor
That's Dan from Nike SB. We both have yellow fever and a Mail Order Brides subscription
When in Portland, it's mandatory to lurk out with Brian Sloane
Schaefer graced us with his presence
Holy horse mullet!!! Damn, you can't even find them in Florida like that anymore. This dude should have a poop bag strapped on
I can't say what I want about this photo because it might be someone important's girl or something. Maybe Sandy's back there. Is he important?
Before I left, I went nuts in the Nike Employee Store. Yes, I have already been called out for getting a pair of Cole Haan shoes. One of these days I'm going to step out looking extra fresh
I always break my neck staring out the window while flying out of Portland. There are amazing mountains that go higher than the clouds. Thanks for the good times, Nike SB
The first order of business was dinner with our friends from Nike SB. They had this menu that had sersiously like 25 words I've never even heard of on it. May as well have been in another language. I am not a fan of fancy ass food
Fine wine and skateboard sneaker talk - thanks for dinner
That's Mark and Rob from Nike SB along with a dessert that's too blown out and high class for me to even try a bite of
So now we're at the Nike offices. They call it a "campus." It's like it's own city with no hookers and homeless people. Everything's super clean except my friend Kevin's desk here. Wow, what a pile. This one tops mine for sure. I feel much better now
People have some interesting things at their desk here. I hope they don't get any inspiration from these
I'm in James' office now. He's the Nike SB designer. You wish you had a shoe stash like that
There's tons of random stuff in the hallways like this. Looks like this is the Nike teenie bopper Hello Kitty division
Are we going to see these P-Rod's anytime soon? Ask James
They take their testing seriously
That's Hunter in one of the cafeteria's at the Nike campus. They got extra fancy food there, too
Michael from Nike SB took us to all the top secret spots. This place here is known as the kitchen. It's where a lot of the designers for Nike post up and create stuff. In here we met Tinker, the designer of the Jordan shoe for the past couple decades where he showed us his latest creation, the Jordan XXIII. No photos allowed. He mentioned that a pair just sold on Ebay for 13 grand. Everybody chill, they're just shoes
That's Michael there with Schaefer. He brought us to the department that makes foot molds. They have a foot mold of all these superstar athletes here. I guess they used the same molding process to make the Tampa Pro trophies. This is a sample here. Feels like it's a big sugar cube molded into that turtle
We ran into Justin Brock wandering the halls of the Nike campus. He's got some new ink. You may recognize it from all the tags we had to clean up around the Skatepark after the Am Contest. Frosty wants to fold Justin in half after that clean up job
Ryan Dodge is new to the Nike SB staff. That's Barak and Lee from Plus Skate Shop. It's almost like a mini-trade show this weekend
Did you know Chet Childress has a 14 year old son that lives in Valrico, Florida? After one more Nike dinner, everyone took off to go skate at Department of Skateboarding, the local skate park here
I chose to go to the Department of Drinking and Smoking instead. Tomorrow we will be skating at the new Nike TF
This nice little package showed up in all our hotel rooms. A backpack with every color known to man with some gear inside, including the new Zoom Tre AD
Arriving in Portland
The weather was exactly what we expected it to be, cold and raining. And that pretty much set the tone for the weather for the next three days. Honestly though, it wasn’t all that bad. I expected to be frigid and miserable, but it was bearable…and I guess that it just goes with the territory in Portland. Sort of like Tampa…if you visit us during the summer, you’re going to sweat. And if you go to Portland during the winter, it will rain.

Despite the lack of sunshine, we immediately ventured out to check out the town and grab some grub. The vibe there is very progressive and green. The mascot of our hotel, Portland Monaco, happened to be a dog and there were recycling bins in each hotel room. The sidewalks are bigger than the streets and there are bike lanes and even skate lanes in select parts of town.

It seems as if the city is very healthy. I got a feeling of vibrancy. And how can you not when the City has 17 new cement skate parks being built within the city limits in the upcoming year? That’s amazing. Thanks for leading the way, Portland.

Day 1 – Bid’ness Meetin’s
Barak and I were up early and took a trek in the drizzle down to the river and around town. It’s easy to roll up with the sun when you’re on east coast time. Our driver (for real) was waiting promptly at 11am to take us over to “campus.” Campus is what they call Nike Headquarters and after visiting I now know why. It’s enormous, just like a college campus.

If we had an aerial photo of the entranceway, I swear that it’s formed like a swoosh. You don’t realize it though because your eyes are pretty much dialed-in on the manmade waterfalls. We were greeted and then had lunch at Tarheel with the SB crew, one of the many restaurants on campus. The food was delicious, healthy, and inexpensive…just like the Skatepark of Tampa Snack Bar at home. After-lunch-coffee was served at a legit coffee and smoothie shop. That’s how they do.

From there, Michael, a long-time Nike employee and one of the leaders at SB was like, “You guys want to go to The Kitchen?” I was perplexed thinking, “Why would we want to go to the kitchen considering we just ate?” But “The Kitchen” is the term that is used for the top-secret research, design, and development area of campus. It’s an entire section of a building that is off-limits to pretty much everyone.

Apparently entering The Kitchen is a really big deal. There are Nike employees that are “high up” that have never been in there. The sign on the door reads something like “No entry without authorization. Absolutely no tours. No photos.” You get the point. Rob literally wasn’t allowed to take photos, but here are some things I saw in The Kitchen:
  • People looking at us like, “What in the hell are these derelicts doing in here?” But everyone was super-cool and figured we must have been in there for some good reason
  • Tinker. He’s the cat that designed about 21 of the 23 Michael Jordan shoes. He sits in a messy office lined with trinkets, along with two other people, and is considered the Michael Jordan of shoe design
  • “They’re only shoes.” That’s what it says on the chalkboard in front of Tinker’s office. If that were only true
  • Nike has its hands in many different baskets. We viewed and handled all of the different footwear of the Chinese Olympic Team
  • Some crazy-ass machinery. Barak stepped over the line and immediately got questioned on why we were in there
The remainder of the afternoon was spent planning the future of skateboarding. There we sat in a corner office of one of the most well-run and innovative businesses in the world, looking out over the rolling green hills and gigantic pine trees, spending hours charting out the next decade of skateboarding. We know who’s going to be pro, what companies are going out of business, and the next hot trend. Along with our evil corporate companions, Nike SB, we will slowly control your skateboarding thoughts over the upcoming 10 years.

Okay, I’m joking, but we did talk about Tampa Pro and maybe doing a Damn Am in South America. It was getting dark and our loyal driver Darren got us through the rain and traffic, safely arriving back at the Monaco to meet the rest of the retailers for dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery.

Day 2 – The Wear Test
Our first stop of the day was at the Nike Employee Store. Just getting in the joint is a big deal because you have to be an employee to shop there, and if you’re into shopping then you’ve arrived at the right place. Everything is pretty much half the price of retail and they have everything Nike that you could possibly imagine, with the exception of SB. You have to get that stuff at skateparkoftampa.com. I’m not a shopper, but I got caught in the excitement and purchased things that I will never use.

From there we went to the Tiger Woods Building. Dude has an entire building named after himself, with all kinds of Tiger memorabilia lining the hallways. This is where I had the best meal of the week. They had a quesadilla bar set up with a chef cooking up your custom-created quesadillas. I was stoked.

I’ll tell you though, if I was Tiger I would just chill in the lobby of my own building. If the receptionist asked what I was doing, I would just say, “It’s my building. I’m just hanging out.” That would be sick.

We left the Tiger Woods Building and went into a theater where James, the designer of the new Tre AD, gave us a breakdown presentation on the shoe. It was truly interesting to hear all of the thought, planning, and new technology that went into the design process. His shtick lasted about 30-minutes, but he could have upped it to an hour as far as I was concerned. I’m sure that I’m butchering this, but in a nutshell, they’re trying to create an indestructible shoe that feels like it’s vulcanized, but is not vulcanized.

Now was time for the moment of truth…the wear test at the brand new Nike SB TF, built by Allen Russell and Mean Gene. The session was hot and my feets felt good in the Tre AD’s. My itinerary said that we get to skate with the pros. So I commented to Chet Childress, “I thought that I was going to get to skate with you, not watch you heckle people.” He’s one entertaining guy.

The session lasted a bit over an hour and after Nick Halkias closed down the TF we ventured back to the Monaco, but not before a quick pit-stop at Burnside. It was 90% wet, but I still had to roll around to say that I did. That was pretty epic for me.

Dinner and drinks were served at Kell’s Bar, an apparently historic stop in Downtown Portland. Black and tans were the drink of the evening, and when they’re served at no charge people tend to get drunk pretty quickly. I can’t remember the name of the next bar, but it was really smoky and crowded; however, I did see something I had not seen all weekend: girls. It was no longer dude-fest.

Thanks
The trip came and went very quickly, but was great the entire time. Visiting an exciting, new city is always something to embrace…and I guarantee I will be coming back to Portland sometime soon.

Thanks to everyone at Nike SB that worked so hard to make sure that everything was taken care of. We had rides, meals, booze, and you name it all lined up. You pretty much didn’t even have to think at all, and in the words of Tyler Tufty, “I’m not sure that that’s such a good thing.”

See you in the Pacific Northwest.

Ryan

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