Alex Mendez interview

Great chat with Alex about the local scene in Atlanta, skating around the world (Madrid, Puerto Rico and Australia) and the recently completed Chief Ladiga Silver Comet Skate Challenge.
Hola Alex, where are you from?
As simple as the question seems, it is a bit tricky for me. I was born in Spain, moved to Puerto Rico at the ripe age of 2 and then back to Spain at the age of 16. I guess I consider myself being from both.

When did you start skating?
I first picked up a skateboard when I was 12 years old or so but nothing really came from that. I didn’t get serious about skating until I got into longboarding late in 2009.

You started in Spain?
I started longboarding during my first year of college. In 2009 when I was at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. Probably one of the flattest places on earth, or so it seemed. I picked up a longboard because it was a great way to get around the small city.

Was there a community there?
At the time, no. It was just starting up. I only knew a handful of longboarders. Now, Savannah sports a much bigger scene that makes the best of what they have. The main group located there is the SCAD Longboarding Club now being spearheaded by the very talented Jake Galloway.
What kind of riding did you do in those early days?
Mostly pushing, carving, whatever you can get away with in that area. There are maybe three hills in the entire city which would make most skaters laugh. However, that is where I first started learning how to slide and quickly fell in love with that aspect of skating.

Do you still ride there?
Sadly no, after my first year at the Savannah campus I transferred up to the smaller Atlanta campus where I am now. Essentially I traded a bigger campus for bigger hills.

Have you spent all your skating life in America?
For the most part, yes. However, I do go back to my hometowns in both Puerto Rico and Spain at least once every year so I spend a good amount skating there as well.

Where in Spain have you skated?
Whenever I go visit family in Madrid I always spend most of my days out and about skating in the beautiful city. There are some great spots there like the Moyano hill and Parque del Oeste (West Park) but I’ve been itching to get out of the city and onto real hills in the outskirts.
What was your first impression of skating there?
Awesome, but at the same time it was a bit awkward. I was definitely not the only skater there and it was my first time ever skating at a spot with locals I didn’t know. In the end, the scene turned out to be very welcoming even though I was technically an outsider. In no time I was talking and sharing with the locals who were all very curious as to what skating was like in other parts of the world. It has definitely turned into one of my favorite places to skate due to the great atmosphere and I can’t wait to go back this summer.

Who did you skate with while you were there?
Any and all locals that would frequent those spots. Always someone different every day. I would have loved to meet some of the better known skaters from Madrid like Javier Tato or the legendary (in my opinion) Alberto Alepuz, better known as Perropro. Maybe this year that will happen, who knows?

When are you going back?
I plan on being there for most of July this year and possibly in December as well. If I could, I would stay there all year, mostly because of the amazing food.

You must be there for La Noche en Blanco!
Gah, I wish, I was there for that two years in a row but I had no idea about the longboard meetups. The first year I was there I met Suso33, who is my favorite graffiti artist.

Have you skated in any other Spanish cities?
Only around Oviedo when I go to visit my grandmother. I’ve had my eye on skating Barcelona for a good while now too.

What do you ride?
My go-to setup right now is the Rayne Supreme with 46 degree Gunmetal Trucks, RipTide Bushings and Landyachtz Mini Zombies in 80a.
What sort of riding do you enjoy?
I enjoy freeriding the most. There’s no better feeling than going down a hill and breaking traction on purpose. The closest comparison I can make is probably carving hard while snowboarding and kicking up a bunch of powder. I’ve also been known to be a dancer from time to time and lately I’ve been working on improving my downhill.

Where do you skate these days?
Everywhere and anywhere around Atlanta with the Longboard-Atlanta crew. Atlanta is full of awesome hills most of which we haven’t even discovered yet, I’m sure. I also try to make it out to any longboard event within reasonable driving distance in neighboring states.

Have you been to any longboard events so far this year?
So many. If I go in chronological order it would go something like this: King of Clermont in Florida in January. There I met so many awesome skaters staying at Sarah Paulshock’s parent’s house. A lot of the Bustin crew like Jeff Vyain and Steven Sanchez. Also a few skaters from Original who made it down, including Brian Bishop and fellow Spaniard Axel Serrat.
Nashvegas in March in Nashville, Tennessee was an incredible amount of fun. Also, Splendiferous Slide Jam in North Carolina where the Landyachtz crew was judging the competition. Most recently I was at The Chief Ladiga Silver Comet Skate Challenge. The experience was indescribable . I met too many awesome skaters there to mention here by name but the most notable of the bunch included Paul Kent and the amazing Laura Hatwell who inspired me to get into distance skating.
Did you compete at these events?
Of course I did! Otherwise why would I go? The only exception would be the Chief Ladiga where I opted out of the third day because the previous two had thoroughly kicked my ass.

How did you do?
I think I did well. I definitely exceeded all my expectations for that event, and it was all thanks to the incredible level of stoke that constantly surrounded me. On the third day, I was not feeling up to it so I decided to volunteer handing out water at feed stations and take pictures instead.

Who is Chief Ladiga?
I don’t know but whoever he is, he really likes very long and very flat trails. I’m not sure if I like him too much.

When did you get into distance skating?
My first real experience with distance skating was when Laura Hatwell came down to visit us here in Atlanta last summer. We skated 40 miles from Smyrna to Rockmart on the Silver Comet trail as well as take part in a city-wide longboard scavenger hunt organized by Chadd Hall. From that point on I became a distance nerd, as she would say.
Who is Chadd Hall?
Chadd Hall is pretty much the father of longboarding in Atlanta. I’m not really sure how this came to be as his past is still quite mysterious to me. All I know is he started Longboard-Atlanta and that he is a ton of fun to hang out with.

Who do you skate with in Atlanta?
Here, I skate with Mason McNay and Robbie Trotta of the Jati Boards team along with a few more locals including Possala Wang and Taylor Martin, who landed second place at the Chief Ladiga Silver Comet Skate Challenge, only a few minutes behind Paul Kent.

What is longboard Atlanta?
Longboard Atlanta is our local group of longboarders in the Atlanta area. It used to be organized exclusively through Google Groups and has recently moved onto Facebook as well. The scene is growing slowly, but surely.

What is Jati?
Jati Boards is local to Atlanta. So naturally they sponsor riders in the area. I skate with a few of them a lot and they are all a great bunch of guys. On the weekends, you’ll usually find me skating neighborhoods with them unless we decide to drive out to nearby mountains.

Do you have a sponsor?
None yet, if you know any looking for a guy called Alex, send them my way!

What disciplines do the locals enjoy?
Like me, they all enjoy freeriding and some downhill, with some favoring downhill more. I know there are some newer riders around that enjoy simply cruising around, but I have a feeling that will change once they learn more about the sport.

Tell me more about your most recent adventure?
The Chief Ladiga weekend is definitely one that I will remember for the rest of my life. Everyone I met there treated each other like family. On the trail and off. Even though it was technically a race, no one was in the competitive mindset. That is one thing that really surprised me. I was expecting it to be a much more serious and rigid affair and it turned out to be the opposite. At the end of the first day we were welcomed in by the city of Rockmart who treated us incredibly well and with tons of warmth. At the end of the second day, we took over a local hotel in Weaver, Alabama and made it our own. We even set up a slalom course in the middle of the parking lot. That didn’t last long however since we were soon asked, politely, to take it down. Overall, everyone was still excited for Day 3 despite knowing that they would be skating both of the previous day’s distance combined. On the dawn of the third day, this was not the case for a lot of people, including myself. It was raining pretty hard and it was going to continue to rain all day along the trail. This is where I decided to drop out since I did not feel like I could finish within an amount of time I was comfortable with. The racers soldiered on but there were many that didn’t finish that leg of the race. I spent that day dry and warm inside the Skanunu bus, traveling from checkpoint to checkpoint making sure the lead racers and feed stations had what they needed as well as picking up any skaters who felt unable to make it to the finish. At the finish line, I spent all day cheering and photographing the racers as they came to the end of their epic 94 mile journey back from Weaver. The whole weekend was an epic experience and I was really bummed that I had to wait a whole year to repeat it.
How did you get into photography?
I guess I consider myself an amateur photographer of sorts. I only recently got a real camera to take pictures and video with and I am definitely enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. The only problem is that many times I have to choose between skating or documenting and it is really starting to tear me apart.

When did you start skate photography?
When I say recently, I do mean recently. Just this past April I got a DSLR and I’ve been using it at every opportunity. Going to an art college really helped me in attaining a good eye for design and photography allows me to practice design in a new medium.

Where do you curate the material you document?
I post all my pictures on my skating blog, flickr, and of course on my Facebook page. There really aren’t that many people in this area dedicated to documenting longboarding so I’ve taken it upon myself to be “that guy with the camera” for now since no one else seems to want the job. You can find my blog at http://sk8b.it/

What are your plans for the rest of the season?
I don’t currently have any big events on my calendar. But I do plan on visiting Spain in July like I said and Puerto Rico in August. After that, not sure, last year I went to Australia late in the year to visit friends and I might want to visit the southern hemisphere again around the same time in order to avoid the cold here in Atlanta.


What do you do when you’re not skating?

When I’m not skating you can usually find me pretty much exclusively in front of the computer either making games or playing them (for school, I promise). Also editing videos, pictures or making funny gifs out of other people’s skate videos. I also spend an inordinate amount of time on the website reddit, especially the longboarding section. Go r/longboarding!

Did you skate in PR & Oz?
Indeed I did. In Puerto Rico I haven’t skated as much of the island as I’d like but I do plan on visiting more skate spots there this summer. In Australia I was lucky enough to be staying in Sydney for a a bit more than a week. I skated down to the Hopkin shop and met Lea Roberston who invited me out to skate with her crew in the Inner West side of Sydney. There I also met Josh Monk who you interviewed recently. People on the ASRA website were very welcoming and I was able to skate lots of garages with the Sydney City Bombsquad as well. After Sydney, I was down in Melbourne and took a roadtrip out to the Gold Coast Road. My friend and I spent the entire day stopping and skating various points of the coastal highway. The scenery was incredible and all the cars passing by were amazed by us flying down the hills.

Choose 3 numbers between 1-26
3, 21, 11

3 – What impact has longboarding had on your life?
It has had a tremendous impact on my life. I’ve made countless friends through the sport and have had so many amazing experiences in my life because of it. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without it.

21 – Would you pick the red or blue pill?
The red pill, if I was in The Matrix, I would definitely not want to stay in it.

11 – What’s your favourite website?
Oh this is a hard one. Hmm…. reddit?

Thanks yous?
I suppose I should thank my parents above all else for putting me into this world and being supportive of what I do no matter what it is. Mason McNay and everyone else I skate with in Atlanta for making me a better skater. Finally, I want to thank the longboard community as a whole, those of you who I have met and those of you who I haven’t yet. As great as longboarding is by itself, it would be nothing without those who support it, so thank you!

Thanks a lot for your time tonight bro! I really appreciate it. I hope to feature some of your documentation on our site

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