1500 Miles To Minneapolis
Posted on Thursday, June 03, 2004 by Rob Meronek
1500 Miles To MinneapolisWords by Ryan Clements
Photos and Captions by Afro-Jim Choquette and Rob Meronek
Wednesday, June 02, 2004 @ 7:15am – Holiday Inn Louisville-Downtown
How could I really leave Allen? The rest of the kiddies knew that they would be left, but Big Al is somehow grandfathered in at Skatepark of Tampa – he doesn’t really have to follow the rules that everyone else abides by. Allen put us behind by 22 minutes. Although that doesn’t seem like a big deal, it did have an ill effect on the skate session at 8pm.
Thursday, June 03, 2004 @ 8:27am – Super 8 Motel in MinneapolisI don’t really know how to explain how gnarly and great the Louisville public skate park is. If you like bowls and you like to go really fast, then that place is for you. The street course is a bit hurting, with really tall pyramids and steep ledges, but the rest of the park is fast, smooth, and fun as hell.
Scotty just walked in and asked me to go skate – I’ll be back.
Thursday, June 03, 2004 @ 11:04am – Super 8 Motel in MinneapolisThe park was fun, but I’ll get to that later.
As for driving from FL to MN, the next time someone tells you that we’re all overcrowded in this country, tell them to drive to somewhere in the mid-west. I’m serious…there wasn’t too much going on from Louisville to Minneapolis. Don’t get me wrong, there were some beautiful things to see – mountains, hills, farms, and several deer were sighted, but it just seems that as the miles pass through the rural towns that cover our countryside, that it’s a long drive in between where things are ‘happening.’
Admittedly, I don’t know a damn thing about the farming industry, but I did observe dozens of dilapidated old silos and barns as we went up and down the hills and through the mountains. What’s the reason? Why don’t they just tear down the old ones down?
When we stopped for gas in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, we got to see a living example of small-town life. There were three kids on BMX bikes trying to get extreme. I’m talking the type of kids that have never seen a skate park in their lives – all these guys know is what’s on TV. They were trying to do tricks, but all the one kid had was a riding handstand with one hand on the seat and the other on the handlebars. It got even funnier when the cashier of the place wanted our autographs. I have no idea why, but she was really psyched that we gassed up at the BP she happened to be working at. She even gave me a free cup of coffee. Rockstar treatment in the middle of nowhere…
As the sun set over the hills, it started to get pretty cold. 59 degrees is chilly for a bunch of guys from Florida. We arrived in Minneapolis at about 10:30pm. We were beat from the long drive, so no one even asked to skate the park, which happens to be skating distance from the hotel. We hit the bar next door and then called it a night.
Friday, June 04, 2004 @ 2:35pm – Super 8 Motel in MinneapolisScotty busted into my room when I was typing this yesterday morning and wanted to go skate the park, early session style. I was impressed considering it was only 9am. Of course we were the only ones riding, and then the rest of the crew slowly made it in. We had it to ourselves for about an hour, and then some school rented it. Thanks to them and 3rd Lair for letting us ride during the private session. Giles had to go on and ruin it though – he had a freak-out episode, yelling and cursing all over the place. Skatepark of Tampa…the lame guys once again, setting lower standards than anyone.
The session went on and on, but I can only take so much, you know? Actually, I’m pretty exhausted today from skating for the last two days. We pretty much chilled all afternoon, everyone going in their own direction. I ate Taco Bell. Man, that place really sucks. Now I know why I only go there about once a year. I think I’ve had my fill until mid-2005.
The session got going again later on in the afternoon. This time it was on the mini-mini-mini-ramp. It’s barely three feet tall, but it’s big fun. No-fear-involved-skateboarding…just my style.
The evening was spent at Mark Mueller’s house, one of the owners of 3rd Lair. He and his lovely wife, Carrie (spelling?), had a feast prepared for us. The entire Skatepark Adult Crew watched the Lighting game and gorged the grub and spirits. Thank you very much for such a lovely evening.
It was about midnight when we rolled back to the hotel and the guys were claiming that they were heading out. I don’t think that it happened, but it didn’t matter to me anyway ‘cause I hit the sack.
Saturday, June 05, 2004 @ 8:35am – Super 8 Motel in MinneapolisWe had to wake up early yesterday morning (Friday) to put stickers on the course. It was a breeze compared to Tampa Am and Tampa Pro. That got knocked out relatively quickly and then Big Al, Lehman, and I had breakfast at Perkins. It was nice to have something legitimate for breakfast after eating continental grub at hotels for the past several mornings.
Our next mission was to find some public skate park that we were given bogus directions to...they sent us on a wild goose chase, but we finally found the YMCA gnar-park. It was one of those deals that was build by Grindline. If you haven’t seen their work, check out their site, because it is some of the most uniquely huge stuff that I’ve ever seen. I don’t think there was a single thing in the park that wasn’t vert – no joke. Since it was a YMCA, I guess that includes busted hours and regulations, too. So instead of jumping the fence and risking an arrest, we decided that it would be best to try to come back later.
Back at 3rd Lair, heads started rolling in. The street course is pretty big and there are like 100 skaters in the Street Contest, which means there was no complaining that the course was too crowded. We once again skated the mini-mini-mini-ramp – that session lasted for nearly two hours...but the real focus was on the Bowl Contest that was about to go down.
Their bowl is 6’ deep in the shallow and 10’ in the deep end with about a foot of vert. It’s really well built and the coping is super-fast. The contest was a “donation of something worth $10 to enter,” but everyone pretty much just gave money anyway. The format consisted of this: You get one, one-minute run, then there’s an open, 20-minute jam, and you get to end with one more run until you fall. And we threw it in there at the last minute that if you fell on your last run, that if you did some weird type of drop-in that you could keep skating. That was pretty sick because John Muldoon did a boneless into the deep in, Emmanuel Guzman ollied into the deep end, and Josh Folley put his board into the blunt position and pulled it into the shallow end.
The actual jam part of the contest was completely dominated by no other than Chris Lehman. That lucky little bastard only made it on the trip because Ian Gow was hurt. Chris was killing it so hard that he was literally learning tricks as he skated. He seemed to drop in every other time and land his moves better and better each run, skating until he either slammed or until he was completely exhausted and lost in the bowl.
Other highlights included some dude named Mike Owen spinning 540’s, but never landing one. After typing that I just realized that since he didn’t land it, it really wasn’t that much of a highlight. Kenny Anderson graced us with his presence and was cruising around, but not in the contest. Darren Navarette wasn’t a cool guy – he took a run when called by Schaefer on the mic. And you can always depend on Charlie Thomas to be ripping...he threw down a nice eggplant in that piece. His sidekick, Jayme Erikson (a girl), ripped the entire contest with her asscrack showing and got a pair of boxers that she’s required to wear the rest of the weekend.
When we went back to the private room to discuss the results, I didn’t want to suggest that I thought Lehman should have won. Although I thought it, I didn’t want to be that Team Manager guy that thinks his guys are the best. But Judge Jason Rothmeyer immediately said, “I think that Lehman took it.” Everyone in the room agreed, and greenhorn Chris took the honors at his first bigtime contest, winning $100 cash. The rest of the results are right there at www.damnam.com.
Everyone was going out, but I wasn’t feeling it. I think that I was hung-over a bit yesterday from the previous night. So there was no way that I wanted to feel like that again this morning. I was even more confident with my decision when I was woken up by Allen’s arrival at 4am this morning. Although he’s crashed out in the bed while I type this, he’s nowhere near in the shape Abdias is...he’s passed out in the bathroom of the other room. As Tommy Presley would put it, he’s “P.O.W – passed out whack.”
See kids, there is a good reason that the legal age to drink alcohol is 21. Chris Lehman, Matt Giles, Tommy Presley, and I are the few that missed the party – those dudes are already down at the park skating and I’m working. The Street Qualifiers start at 11am.
Sunday, June 06, 2004 @ 8:02am – Super 8 Motel in MinneapolisI’m at a point where the road is definitely taking its toll on me. Life currently consists of hotel, 3rd Lair, and dinner out…sounds great I know, but I’m used to home cooked meals and relaxation time. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m having a great time. Traveling, skating new stuff, and meeting new people is what skateboarding is all about. That’s how we really used to do it back in the day. We had basically no money, but we knew that we wanted to see what this country had to offer as far as terrain, so we hopped in our vehicles and made it happen.
We didn’t have money to eat out…we didn’t even have enough loot for fast food. I had one of those Coleman portable stoves to cook grub on and we slept in the van, or outside on sleeping bags. The kids have it good nowadays. We have the transportation and lodging and all they have to worry about is eating. But if you’re Abdias, you don’t even have to worry about that…sponsors give you money. That type of treatment doesn’t happen overnight – you have to earn it, and that’s exactly what Abdias has done over the past few years. Dedication has its payoffs.
The qualifiers yesterday were great. For the most part, the skating was top notch. For some reason, no matter how high the caliber of the event, there always seems to be a few dudes in there that don’t really belong in there. Without going into a bunch of detail, one kid that entered could barely kickturn on bank ramps and then apparently tried to learn fs boardslides right there in his run. He took one hell of a slam and had to be coaxed into taking his second run, where he proceeded to try and learn regular boardslides. At least it was entertaining…
There were certainly some rippers up in that piece, too. I watched a few of the heats in their entirety, played team manager for Abdias, and even got to announce the fifth and sixth heats. The entire Adio team absolutely killed it, and the kids from Hawk Clothing ripped as well. The standouts to me were Mark Bussey (rock to fakie on the vert wall), Tyler Bledsoe (mad steez), and Nate Compher (switch 5-0’s and 360 flips). As for our guys, the only one to make it to the semi-finals was Tommy Presley. Abdias only missed it by a couple of points and Giles and Lehman were a bit farther down the line. Big Al finally showed up about 10 minutes before his run and ‘rockstared’ it with no practice. He even brought it to a new level of ‘rockstardom’ when he didn’t show up for his second run. Andrew Cannon was announced as the number one qualifier, with Grant Taylor in second, and we peaced-out of there.
The rest of the evening was spent at the closest bar, JJ’s, watching the Lightning victory and sharing stories about Baby Schizo with Rhino from Thrasher and Josh Perkins from Maine. Not to change the subject entirely, but now that I’m thinking about it, I heard that Ronald Reagan died yesterday. Man, I remember where I was the day of his attempted assassination – I heard it on the radio and I asked my mom if it was real, or if someone was telling a story. I don’t think that I was even six years old.
I’m out of here. We’ve having a bowl session at 9:30am. It’s the finals today (let’s see what T4PREZ gots), and our last day in Minnesota. We’re driving out at 6am tomorrow morning…heading back to beautiful, humid Florida.
Sunday, June 06, 2004 @ 1:35pm – Motel 8 in MinneapolisI enjoyed a nice session at 3rd Lair this morning, but Rhino and Gabe Clement (DVS) didn’t show. I skated pretty much all of their stuff, that is, until guys skating in the contest started rolling in. The first heat of the semi-finals just finished and it looks like Tommy Presley won’t be making the finals. Both Skatepark of Tampa and Shaqueefa Clothing are proud of T4PREZ’s effort…he skated well and did his best. That’s all anyone can ask for.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004 @ 2pm – My office at Skatepark of TampaI haven’t had a chance to sit down and document our adventures in the past two days. After driving 14+ hours on Monday and 12 yesterday, I wasn’t really in the mood to sit down at my computer last night.
The rest of the semis and the finals were very entertaining. As I mentioned before, Nate Compher has great switch ability. Nate was very close to nailing a switch kickflip to backside smith down one of the hubbas, but he did land switch everything else. That explains how he ended up in third place. It’s hard to believe how good little 12-year-old Evan Mirchell is – he was kickflipping to 5-0 from the bank to picnic table every single time. I honestly don’t think that I saw him miss it, so Evan landed second. The top spot went to Andrew Cannon from Pennsylvania. Andrew threw down a flawless run that consisted of 360 flips, 360 ollies, kf to 50-50’s, and ended it with a kickflip late shove-it over the pyramid hip.
The Adio Best Trick Contest was on one of the handrails. First place went to Trace Saylor for a perfect switch frontside feeble. Nate Compher landed second with a switch backside lipslide. Third went to Jose Rojo for a kickflip backside 180 nosegrind up to the flat part of the rail. And finally, fourth went to Skatepark’s own Abdias Rivera with a fs feeble to fakie. Almost more entertaining than the actual placers was one man in particular, Yoshi. Yoshi is the guy that skated from LAX in LA to Volcom in Costa Mesa for one of the Damn Ams a couple of years ago (you’re talking a several hour skate). Since then, he’s been in Tampa Am twice and at all of the Damn Am events. He’s been trying to land laser flips to boardslides down handrails for a couple of years now and had never even gotten close until this past weekend. He actually landed on one, slid it almost down the entire rail, and then fell off. The place went nuts and Yoshi got some recognition. Schaefer announced the awards and that was a wrap. Check www.damnam.com for all results.
The after-party was at a restaurant/bar right up the street from 3rd Lair called Majors. It was actually pretty nice and had great food. All drinks were 2 for 1, so by about 10pm the place was seriously happening. The highlight was definitely the Karaoke. Scotty started it off with some G n’ R – “Welcome to the Jungle” and Afro-Jim covered some Neil Diamond by singing “Sweet Caroline.” Jim went from dork to cool in a matter of minutes…he had the place blowing up. It probably had something to do with his hands all over Roxy Team Manager, Caroline, who happened to be sitting on stage with him. I cut out early because the wake-up call was set for 5:30am.
I think that the rest of the crew enjoyed their evening because there were about 10 cones and a barricade surrounding my truck when I saw it from the hotel room window at 5:35am the next morning. Maybe it was symbolic for not wanting to leave? The groggy-eyed kiddies hopped in the truck and we were off, but without Allen the Nomad – he went to the train station to catch one to NYC. Afro-Jim kept me company for a while, but then he was passed out along with everyone else, too. I may as well have been driving by myself.
There sure are a lot of farms in Wisconsin. When everyone woke up, the phrase of the day became “kickin’ it old school.” It came about because we kept seeing farmers tilling their fields with really old farm equipment and then I was telling stories of Amish farmers actually using oxen to turn up the dirt…that’s really the old school style.
14 hours of driving and only stopping twice tends to take its toll. We stopped just outside of Chattanooga to watch the Lightning game and ordered pizza to the hotel room. After the Lightning victory we hit up the pool hall that was right up the road. They had all of my favorites – Galaga, Ms. Pac Man, and Centipede were all the original games, not the retro ones that you see at Gameworks, but the O.G.’s with cigarette burns on the panel and all. Tommy was schooling everyone in pool and I went back to the room to sleep.
We were on the road on Tuesday morning by 5:20am and arrived at Skatepark of Tampa at 5:30pm. We gained an hour on the way by passing from the Central to Eastern time zone. That’s the one thing that sucks about traveling east…time gets the best of you. It’s always great to be on the road though. The terrain on this trip was a new experience for most of us, so that made it even better, but it’s always just as nice when you return home. Now that I’m back sitting at my desk as usual, all I have left are the memories. I’m sure that after a week of ‘normal’ life I’ll want to do it again. Thanks to Damn Am, 3rd Lair, Big Al, Lehman, Giles, Tommy, Scotty, Afro-Jim, Abdias, and those girls that we saw driving next to us in Georgia that hydroplaned in their SUV and nearly killed themselves and us.