As the sun loomed high overhead the mobile ruckus pulled into East Lansing, Michigan. Action Board Shop was the first and only shop stop of the day, which meant there would be skating in our futures. We went down into the shop and were warmly welcomed as any skater is. Promptly after arriving Jim, the shop owner made a suggestion that none of us could deny. “let’s go skate!” Jim said, and simply as that the wheels were set in motion. We filed up the stairs into the access road behind Action, threw down our boards and were off. After a good rip around the MSU campus we ate lunch and returned to Action only to stay and talk for another three hours. After much talk of common friends, good events, and current trends we retreated to the van for and a couple hours drive to Detroit.
Detroit is a really cool city. Despite its economic hardship and the reputation it has gained over the last couple of years; Detroit has a very enthusiastic skate scene with a lot of good people. We stopped in at Sun and Snow Board Shop to be greeted by a sea of groms and a couple rad employees. After selfies were taken, things were signed and everyone had been greeted the mass spilled from the Sun and Snows doors, around the corner and into the streets. The self-proclaimed core group hopped in the mobile ruckus. We got to the incline and skated as best we could. We threw a set of wheels to the skaters and by the way of the universe they ended up with the one kid who really needed them. The sky grew dark and just as we got to the van it started to rain; hard. We collected the stranded kids and brought them back to the shop. After dropping them off we rolled by South Street Skate Shop. South Street is a nice modern skate shop. The front of the store has lots of clothing, most notably socks. South Street has one of the vastest and most colorful array of socks I have seen. In the back of the shop there is an alcove with boards, trucks and wheels. After chatting with Evan, a shop employee we were on our way back the way we came. Andy from Sun and Snow was gracious enough to have us over for showers and a couch. When we arrived Andy and his roommates welcomed us with open arms. After dinner had been eaten we headed out to skate the local universities parking garage. At the garage we met rapper Louis Picasso and his friend who happened to be there skating as well. We closed off the night with a few bombs and brews through campus, got back to basecamp and melted into our beds.
The next morning was a trip to West Side Skates in Lakewood Ohio. West Side is a huge store with three rooms. The first room has clothing, skateboards, and skateboard components. The next room had more skates along with a wall of longboards and a case with trucks and wheels. The third room was a mini ramp. If you ever find yourself in Lakewood, Ohio and need something to do, go check out West Side and ask about the ramp. After tuning our productivity levels we zipped over to Akron, Ohio to visit Sun Valley Sports. Sun Valley is a really cool shop. With a summer focus on longboarding they also sell snowboards, and all sorts of self-propelled watercraft. They hooked us up with some rad shirts and sent us off with a crew of locals. After skating their favorite hill for a couple of hours we ran back to sun valley to regroup and split off with Jen and Isaiah for burgers and a rip through a favorite parking garage.
Exhausted after a long day of traveling I crawled into the back of the van, layed down my pad, and woke up at the bottom of the racecourse in Munnsville, New York. Munnsville is a town you need to see in order to get the full experience of New York. Far from the hustle and bustle of New York City, Munnsville is starkly different. With square stone waterfalls, rolling hills and other rural pleasures to occupy locals, there is the annual Munnsville Gravity Festival which brings gravity sports and rowdy participants to town. Due to budgeting I skated open, Morgan raced, and Nate stuck with the photo lurking, van shuttling position. The course has many places to pass and balances benefits for both light and heavy riders. The course begins with a straight away into a right hand curve. The hill then drops and enters a left hand sweeper with some interesting banking. The sweeper dumps into a straight-away which is optimal for drafting and has a maximum speed of just over 50 mph in a race setting. The straight away ends in a 90 degree right turn aptly named Crash Corner which continues into a left, then right and finally the finish line.
The first day was all practice. Morgan and I leathered up and got ready to skate. We took some runs and later in the day met up with teammate Ed Kiefer. After Taking countless runs and running to Walmart the campsite was live. People meandered from tent to tent sharing food, laughs, and stories. The next day was Practice and Qualifiers. We leathered up early for fresh tracks and hopped in the back of the U-Haul. Some kind lady came by with homemade granola bars which she gave out to us hungry skaters. If by any chance you are reading this I have to say that they were delicious. To the top we went and after a few runs I stripped off my suit and picked up my camera. At the end of the day Morgan and Ed killed it and advanced past qualifiers. The next day was race day. Nate and I lurked around, took pictures, and snuck off to photo document a run just off the racecourse. I took a run and then out of nowhere and older man named Ernie drove up. He slowed his car, rolled down his window, looked me dead in my eyes and said “hop on the back!” He shuttled me up and down for about 10 runs while Nate staked the shots. Ernie drove off and we were back to the races.
Morgan had been slaying it all day. Either first or second in just about every one of his heats he was on track for the finals until one slip up in his Quarter-Final heat. Looking faster and faster, Morgan took the G line and decided the tighter the better. After leading his heat with LP, Cam Brick and Max Vickers, he just seemed to pinch his drift to tight. With all the spectators watching him and the drones up in the sky, all cameras were on him. According to Morgan, “I blew it, the hay looked ultra nice at the time!” After lurking around, snapping shots of Morgan eating it, we hung around for the semis and watched some of our homies make it through.
When it was time for us to leave we piled into the mobile ruckus along with Eric, a buddy who needed a ride back up to Toronto. On the way out we stopped by the waterfall to get our daily shower, then we were off to Canada land. We zipped through the boarder with a disconcertingly easy passage and quickly drove into typhoon style rains with the lightning to back it. After dropping off Eric we drove an hour and a half north to stay the night with Jeremy Shoom and his family. After rolling it at just around One O’clock Nate and I spilled onto the sofa and passed out. We woke up the next morning, met Jeremy’s family and took off for a session that he had set up in Toronto on some of the local gems. We started off on a sweepy hill next to a bike path. Nate, Morgan and I got a chance to meet a new omen rider Sam Flint for the first time and I must say that dude shreds. We moved hills to “fight club” which is a fun windy road ending in a left hander. We got in a lot of runs but decided to call it quits when the spotters lost focus and Morgan and Nate got close with an F-250 bumper. We dropped off Shoom and friends then headed back to the city proper to go crash at Club 54. In the morning we woke up with a session of the “Jank City” ramp behind the house. It was new tricks and smiles all around. We headed out to Moguls in Mocean, a board shop in Orangeville Ontario. Moguls in Mocean is a great store with a very diverse stock. Longboards, Snowboards, Skateboards, and some super cool threads. The shop is in a great location right downtown with a prime spot on the corner. The shops layout is rad with a comfortable feel for all experience levels.Nate picked up some shoes and Morgan picked up a quarter on the way out the door.
After our time at Moguls we headed to Longboard Haven in Toronto proper. Rob and Chicken, two long-term members of the community who have supported it since day one, own the shop. The shop has a great selection with just about one of everything and the knowledge to get you set up. We ordered pizza and spent hours hanging out, talking, and learning about all the skate history that is hanging around the shop. It was a great, enriching time that taught me a lot about skateboarding as well as my place in it. We walked out to the van and drove back to Club 54 where Chicken, and John Barnet opened their doors to us yet again. Earlier that day while ripping Jank City I had taken a spill. My shoulder had been bugging me all day and without delay John worked his magic. A couple of weird arm movements and fingers in my back later it felt like new. Thanks for the hospitality and good vibes fellas!
This morning, still half asleep we shuffled out of the house and over to the van. We took the nightly parking fee from under the windshield and set off for Québec. That brings us to now, sitting in the passenger seat of the van, words of new memories spilling from my fingertips. Thinking over what has passed and wondering what is to come, what new experiences our next two weeks will behold; Poutine in Montreal, City slashing through Boston, events to be visited? Keep your eyes open for next weeks blog to figure out as we do.