Hey bro, how are you doing?
Great. Back home, settled in. Had a 45 minute shower as soon as I got in. Feel human again.
First shower since when?
First real shower in a long time. We had one on the RV, about 3 sq. feet large with a water tank the size of my fist. We could shower every couple of days but only for a few seconds each. You had to prioritize what needed cleaning.
Were you attempting break the guiness record for superhuman body odour?
Not trying, but forced to come close. I’m told that if you can smell yourself then everyone can smell you 10 times worse. There were a few times when I didn’t want to do that math.
Are you a missionary?
We’re a non-denominational group within the Church of Skatan. Spreading the good word.
Who were the ministers accompanying you on this crusade?
Landing in Chicago was Justen Ortiz, Dave (Guff) Leslie, Billy (Bones) Meiners, Dillon Stephens and myself. Good company.
What was everyone’s role?
Guff probably had the biggest responsibility on the trip. We all had to be places and do things, but Guff filmed everything and edited between stops. The rest of us had to hang out, work the booth and skate. Not too bad. Billy also had the job of keeping spirits high. He did great.
What did you hope to acheive on this journey?
There are crews everywhere with spots and sessions that are going off and there are some with potential without much happening yet. We wanted to visit these scenes, stoke them out and have them stoke us out. It’s a promotional trip at the end of the day but with lots of fun skating and making new friends.
What’s the purpose of visiting growing communities?
That’s where some of the more unique stuff is happening. People are still meeting each other, making connections. Sometimes long-standing communities can be split up among regional/age/style boundaries but the smaller and newer ones never are.
Where did you make the most friends?
Can’t say for sure. What’s the metric, Internet friends, phone numbers? Sometimes there’s not many people who show up. We had a stop with two people, though it was still a good time. Crystal Lake, IL, had the biggest turnout by far.
As for really making friends, though, some stops work out better than others. Every once and a while a cool group would offer their shower, a roof for the night, free food. In Madison they threw a kegger for us!
Shared bacon is the S.I unit for friendship.
Metric, I assume. Unfortunately no bacon this trip. At least not the type to write home about. Chicago-style pizza, though, was in abundance.
How did you plan the stops?
Once we knew we were headed through the Midwest, it was a task of searching online: Google, Facebook or whatever, and finding pages or mentions of the crews and clubs in the area. After making contact and getting the ducks in a row, we add that spot to the list and plan a route through there.
What did you do once you got to a stop?
We stuck to the plan for the campus stops: Show up early, set up our booth, hang out with the longboard club for a few hours then go skate. At the shops we we roll up and say hi and meet the people. But, rather than hanging around all day we’d usually get straight to skating.
How does the typical stop run?
The booth we set up on campuses are pretty fun, actually. We made a plinko board out of random old parts from around the shop. Everyone got one free drop and you could win anything from a fresh deck to us drawing on you with sharpies. Every stop was rounded off with a session with the locals and closed with a night on the town. Wake up and repeat.
Did you encounter any cowboys?
There was a distinct lack of cowboys on this trip compared to when we went through Texas on the first tour. We like cowboys. They often have mixed feelings about us, though.
Doesn’t the routine get monotonous after the first 5 stops?
Maybe the routine stuff did but, as a whole, the trip was different every day. The spots and people we different. The culture was new. We always tried to eat and drink local, mix it up every stop. And, with our time off we hit up the attractions that were unique to the area. Full-on tourists.
How many of these Exoduses have you done?
This was number three. The first was a straight shot down the west coast, the second down the east. Response was always massive, so we knew that we had to keep it up. At the same time, we wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t as well-traveled by other skate companies. So the Midwest made perfect sense for the third trip. Now we need to figure out what to do for number four.
Set off in May and do a star wars theme – May the 4th (trip)?
You don’t say? Might not be a bad idea.
Did you go on all 3?
Justen, Guff and I have been on all three. We need Guff for the footage, Justen organizes the stops and has the character and I’ve done a few rounds of university and know my way around campuses. At this point we’re the OG college tour crew.
You’re an ex frat boy?
Hell no. Not a pledgee, though I can keep up with the best of them on the taps.
What did you discover about skate culture on the opposite coasts in the first 2 trips?
West: Fast, hands up sweeper style. East: Slower, but more technical with shov-it’s, no complies and such. Hard wheels are huge on the east coast, too.
And the middle?
Exactly what you would expect. Until you get closer to the mountains, the hills just aren’t big enough for heavy bombing, so they make do with what they have. Freeriding is the go-to thing, everyone likes to get their sideways on.
Who sponsored you guys on these sojourn?
All of the Landyachtz family was on board: Landyachtz, Hawgs, Bear and Hammer Tape. For this trip we grabbed one more clutch sponsor: Moosehead Lager. They’re the oldest independent brewery in Canada and they had distribution through the whole midwest. We were well hydrated this whole trip.
If I remember my Chemistry, alcohol is a diuretic – pretty poor for hydration!
We balanced that by drinking another beer.
We think so.
I’ve seen one in a James Bond movie, do yours come with machine guns?
For team riders only. Sometimes being the first down the hill gets messy.
When did you hook up with Landyachtz?
Two years riding and one year working for them now. It was a great call to get when I was living out in Edmonton. Now that I live in Vancouver, it’s the best possible scenario. I live a five minute skate away from LY headquarters and they let me take the job on the road for trips like this.
When did you start skating?
Seems like forever ago. I was about 12 when a skatepark was built by my house, I had little choice. I skated park and street all through secondary until I was 17 when, in one season, I broke a few different bones in different crashes. I kind of got over handrails and drops after that. Got a longboard just to get around a few years later and here I am.
What’s Edmonton like for skating?
It’s a bit of the best and the worst. It also has the nickname of Flatland, there really aren’t many hills to ride and the snowy season can extend over half the year. But it has it’s gems. There’s a river valley with some short but technical bike paths. Add that to one of the most legit skateshops in the world, Local 124, and Edmonton is not too bad altogether. For what it has, there’s some crazy talent coming out of the area.
Who did you longboard with in the beginning?
Mike “The Colonel” Sanders, founder of Local 124, Ivan “Ping Jones” Nguyen captain of the Multi Cultural Dragons, Jacob Dutton, the wonder kid, and John Brodie, the tall guy.
Why are you the only one without a nickname?
There’s plenty floating around, though nothing has stuck fully. Nick Brenton is a menace when he’s had enough to drink. Bricin somehow found out my old school nickname of the “wizard” and he drops that on the mic whenever I ride by.
Nobody calls you Nick Norris?
Yet. I’m still working on the roundhouses.
What makes Local 124 more legit than the next shop?
I had been to plenty of shops before heading to Local and they were all more or less similar. But, since day one, the owners of local actually work the desk, know the products and skate better than most. They sponsor riders, events and give back more to the community than any of the other big shops out there. Before they even knew me, they gave me a ride and took me out to my first race that was four hours out of town. I owe a lot to them.
Who is the soul of the shop?
Aaron Francoeur and Mike Sanders. Aaron has come and gone between Edmonton and Hawaii and doesn’t race as much as of late but he and Mike founded the shop. They still work their nine to fives and run the place in their spare time. It was their passion that got it started and what keeps it going today.
What makes the Edmonton community special?
It’s never been huge but it’s always been great. The people who started the scene are, in large part, still out there skating with the new kids. The youngsters are keen to skate but aren’t too caught up in internet’ing and gear hoarding. The same spot can host a kid learning to pendy and a ripper charging the corners way too fast.
How did a little boy from flatland end up racing?
Blame Coast Longboarding. I had no idea it was out there when I got my first big board, I just thought it was easier to roll around on than hard wheels. I would hit hills in my own way but never thought much about it until I found Coast online. Back then it was extra gnarly, videos of playing chicken with semis, ramps over fire barrels and straight up stink-tuck bombing. Through that I found the small handful of guys doing it in my hometown and they taught me everything from how to slide to why I should sport a helmet.
What is Coast longboarding?
Whether people know it or not, we all owe something to Coast for what we have in longboarding today. Organizations have come and gone or just ended up tucked away; NCDSA, EDI, IGSA(?). But Coast has been around for over ten years and only grows bigger and stronger. Grassroots racing, origin of the longest running races in the world and still straight up community-oriented. I’m willing to bet that Bricin knows more downhillers than anyone else in the world.
Who is the Soul of coast?
Bricin “Striker” Lyons. He’s the heart and soul that’s seen coast through good times and bad without missing a step.
Where would downhill skateboarding be without Striker?
Can’t say for sure, but we’d be far behind. The best, and pretty much only, downhill videos in the early 2000s were from Coast. The events, even those outside of the Vancouver area, were getting their push and support on Coast. The mindset we all have to wear our helmets is straight from Bricin and Coast Longboarding. I have no doubt that people owe their lives to Bricin’s influence.
What contribution has coast made to your life as a skater?
Introduced me to downhill. Even though it was based thousands of miles away, it was the network that introduced me to the riders in my area. I’ve flown into a city not knowing where I was going or staying. But, thanks to Coast I had a ride from the airport in no time. Plus there’s Blankman. Blankman keeps everyone in check, sometimes even yourself.
Sounds like a supervillan?
Blankman fights for both good and evil. He/she keeps the balance when someone is out of line and even adds some excitement if things are getting too tame. If you haven’t been lambasted by Blankman yet then you haven’t been on Coast enough.
What is the longest running race?
I suppose it would be a tie between Danger Bay and the Sullivan Challenge, both going into their 12th consecutive years. Danger Bay was first, though. Either way, they’re both Coast events at heart.
What was your first big board?
Before I really knew what I was doing, I bought some no-name big trucks and combined those with some hard wheels and an old snowboard. It sucked, but it got the ball rolling. My first real longboard, in fact, was a Landyachtz.
What was your first race?
Danger Bay 666 was the first sanctioned event I attended. Opened my eyes to some of the gnarliness that was going on on the coast. Nate Lang, Benny and a couple of the LY ol timers got us nice and wobbly on drinks and then took us to Jake’s Rash for the first fast runs of our lives.
How did you do in the race?
It was wet, something I wasn’t used to at the time. We were all bugged out by it. I ended up advancing two rounds, nothing major but I was proud. Danger Bay is more about the weekend than the race.
Jake should probably have that checked.
Jake was fine until he crashed on the hill, then he had plenty of rash to get checked.
Who else went with the Local 124 bus that first time?
The OGs of 780 Longboarding: Mike Sanders, Tim Mercer, Mike Grotchowalski and Ping Jones. We really had no idea what we were getting into. Every year after that Edmonton had bigger and bigger groups going out to events.
What other races did you do in that first year?
The Sullivan Challenge, the other most grassroots event in BC. I think I made it to the semis in that one and felt fully stoked. That one still is one of my favorite races in the world.
How are grassroots events different?
The more you go between the two kinds of events, the more the differences become obvious. It boils down to the fact that independent events have the freedom to do or not do whatever they’d like with their race. Add that to the fact that it’s always an actual member of the community running the show and you get something that’s properly tailored to the people who shelled out the time and the cash to be there.
What would be the opposite of a grassroots event?
IGSA bashing is in high fashion as of late. They’ve done plenty of good as far as exposure and support for events but, in the end, many of their races would be the opposite of a grassroots event. Closed roads see the least amount of skating at these kind of events. We’re told sternly when to be and where or we’ll miss our spot. Which is all well and good but if you’re silly enough to listen to them you’ll spend 2-3 hours waiting at the top of the hill for nothing.
Grassroots events put the riding and the riders first. Many races ran by sanctioning bodies lately put red tape and regulations above all else.
Is there a future where the G turns from gravity to grassroots?
The future is now.
What do you like about the Sullivan Challenge?
The road is no more narrow than any other, is never swept of gravel, full of potholes, garbage, etc… and has eight man heats with only one push. It’s fully hectic, the skateboarding equivalent to a downhill bar fight. Better yet, you don’t have to be on the hill until noon and by 5PM you have more runs in that most weekend-long events.
Soft weapons allowed?
Jody, the organizer, doesn’t like complaining. If the racers can’t settle it amongst themselves that’s too bad. One push, helmets and gentleman’s rules. That’s all we’re told.
How did life change after getting this first taste of racing?
I was partway through school at the time so I continued to hit events and balance studies with work and all. Even got a real job. But, the downhill bug kept biting. I had been to almost every event in western Canada, skated in Europe and the States and had to keep the ball rolling. I ended up quitting my job, moving to Vancouver and spend all of my time working and riding for Landyachtz. Who knows where I’d be if I didn’t ride that shitty snowboard/skateboard around.
What year did you go to your first danger bay?
2007. Haven’t missed one since.
What did you race on in 2008?
I finished my first degree and started working full time mid-2007. This brought in a whole lot more money than what I was used to when I was learning. For the next year I went through plenty of gear figuring out what I liked best. I wrapped up 2008 on a topmount and I’ve been riding that way since.
How did you experiences in 2007 prepare you for the next season?
Knowing how to pack ride and getting rid of the first race nerves went a long way. 2008 went pretty well. In fact, before I even started racing some (non-skateboarding) friends and I planned a backing trip through Europe in the summer of 2008. Once I had gotten into downhill, I called the ticket agent, had them extend my stay and manage to hit Almabtrieb and Rock & Roll after my friends flew home. I still didn’t have the best idea what I was doing but I had plenty of help. Somehow I managed to get a hold of Stephan Risch online and he let me mail my helmet and leathers to him and brought them to Almabtrieb for me. Great guy.
If anything, it was more so the experience off the hill that I gained in ‘07 that prepped me and got me excited for upcoming seasons. At every race I was meeting new people and doing new things. I had always been excited about downhill itself, but attending these events got me excited excited with the culture behind what we’re doing.
Did you enjoy your first taste of Euro hills?
Absolutely. Longer, smoother and a bit more narrow that what I was used to. They needed to be approached a little differently than the North American hills. If our races are ”rally car”, then European races are ”F1”.
How did the races compare to the ones in Canada?
The mindset is a little less hectic, a little more orderly. But really not too different. Once you get over the language barriers (luckily I’m moderately fluent in French) and people are there doing the same thing you are. It’s a combination of old friends, new ones and skateboarding.
What did you take away from your experiences here?
This is worldwide and getting bigger. Most people are cool, especially in the downhill scene. You can buy cheap, good beer by the crate in most European grocery stores.
Were there any familiar faces there?
I knew a few out there, Scoot, Chiara and Nate Lang, from previous events Canadian events. But, even then, I didn’t know them well. Luckily they were cool with me tagging along, as I took a bus out there by myself and didn’t know anyone else.
I’m pretty sure I met Brianne Davies all the way over there. Fast forward four and a half years and she’s dating my roommate. Funny how those things work.
You reside in a skate house?
Yes and no. I live with two great people/skaters; Jeff Radomsky and Graeme Hystad. We’re all heavily active in downhill and house plenty of rad people who come through our area. That being said, we like it a bit more orderly than most skate houses. The floor is swept every day, the dishes are clean. You can bring your parents over for dinner, they’ll like us.
One sentence to entice people to visit you.
If I like you, I’ll share the Henessy.
What was the highlight of the season for you?
I made the jump and knew in my mind it was the right decision. I put my career on hold and began to commit fully to downhill. I began picking up sponsors and things started falling into place.
How was the 2009 season?
A bit hectic, but good. I went back to school full time and had to juggle the low-income travel dilemma again. At the time I was riding for a company that was having it’s own management problems so there was good and bad. I came out still hitting plenty of events and loving what I was doing, just a few hiccups to get over.
You missed the library?
Something like that. I missed school in general. Hell, if I can afford it in the future I’ll go back again. Love it.
What did you study this time?
Pure Mathematics; the only study of absolute, universal truth.
How do your studies affect your skate life?
Though studying can be a bit of a juggling act at times, it’s been a really good thing for me. Not only do I enjoy it, but it’s something I’ll always have. Most of the ground work for any future career I may have is already taken care of. With my degree wrapped up I can work for a skateboard company and disappear for random lengths all I want.
What do you do at this skateboard company?
While I’m not on the road I’m working marketing and promotions up at the office. It’s a fun gig and there’s always something new on the go.
What was the highlight of the 2010 season for you?
2010 was a hectic year of travelling. I was still in school at the time and from the start of summer break to the very end I was on the road. It was a good year and at the end of that season that I started working with Landyachtz.
How had your riding evolved up to this point?
Things are starting to come full-circle. I started on a little board, popping ollies and all. That kind of riding took the back seat for years while I learned on bigger boards and soft wheels. Now I’m spending a lot of time in the middle. Racing is great, but nothing can beat blasting down rollers, popping gaps and slashing up urban downhill runs. The more I do this, the more terrain I learn how to skate, so things just get more and more fun.
What sort of skating makes you smile most?
Whatever my friends and I feel like doing at the time. With the rainy season moving in here you’ll have the best luck finding me skating the park under the bridge.
How was this season for you?
What’s not to like? It was my first season living in Vancouver which made things so much easier. Made it to more places with less travel time spent in between. Plenty of good sessions while I’m not travelling. There’s always something going down close by with skateboarding. It’s easy to see after living here how Vancouver can incubate talent.
How does living/skating in Vancouver differ from the other places?
Diversity. There’s so much to skate here, you can never get bored of the terrain. And fresh, cheap sushi. That’s good to have.
What races did you do this season?
Maybe too many to list… SLAP kicked off this year and, with a few exceptions,I hit most everything in the Northwest until the World Cup in Calgary at the end of August.
What’s your favourite type of bacon?
Sometimes it’s hard to play favorites. Applewood smoked, definitely applewood smoked.
Choose 3 numbers between 1-40.
2, 23, 31
Did I do good?
You won aides.
I’ve been thinking about hiring a personal aide at work. More than one? Great.
2 – Would you rather have a hook for a hand or a wheel for a foot?
A wheel for a foot might be more fun but the hook is indisputably more badass.
The combo is good. Do it.
31 – Do you like fish-sticks?
They’ll do in a jam. Give me some lox, let’s get some flavor.
The amount of fun I’ve had during this irreverent conversation should be illegal. Good to pick your brain bro!
Thanks for having me, you’re alright. It’s a great day at the office when I get paid to be a goof on the internet.
Any thank yous?
Get off the internet, go outside.