by Beau Brown
Mike V was one of the six riders
chosen to compete in the King
of Skate: a pay-per-view event where each contestant sets-up his own
specially-designed spectacular stunt in attempt to win the $25,000 winner-take-all
prize. Mike had chosen to do a big jump, but not just a simple ramp-to-ramp-that
wouldn't enough for Mike. He added to the mix by jumping over two school
busses and his band, The Rats, while they were playing! He was towed in
by a motorcycle (by Skate Street Tim) to attain the necessary speed. Initially,
he wanted to throw-in a barbed-wire fence, but that got scrapped because
it interfered with the band.
We got on the road late and hit every red light and traffic jam all the
way from the coast to the Inland Empire. Getting to our "secret destination"
in a San Bernardino airplane hanger had been no small feat, but was well
worth the wait. There were industry big-wigs, punk-rock band types (The
Rats), family types, the 900 Films camera crew and union construction jocks
all going about their business. Impromptu sessions were to be had with makeshift
ramps built from the remaining plywood left from the jump-ramps. Throughout
the whole thing, Mike had a sense of calm-like he was so sure about the
Hours passed as the union guys continued to build and rebuild the stage
for the band. The camera crew worked hard to get all the different angles.
It's funny to see those guys in action-so much goes into a small segment
of what we see on the screen. People got restless, played SKATE, soccer,
read, came and went. Finally, at about 10:00 PM, the call came down that
the crews were almost ready to go.
The whole time, Mike stayed calm and focused. They had finished building
the ramps and stage, pulled the busses in, and set-up the band equipment.
We heard the bike fire-up and knew that it must be getting close to show
time! I found out that Mike had already done the jump at a shorter distance
earlier that day, but had yet to really stick it. Here he was going in totally
cold with all new variables. The launch-ramp was only eight feet wide, and
looked much more like a freestyle moto-x "step-up" ramp. Some
initial test runs proved that Mike was not only capable, but maybe a bit
too capable as he was getting launched approximately forty-plus feet in
the air. The landing was a sixteen-foot wide bank, which doesn't leave a
lot of margin for error when you're going thirty-plus mph! Seeing Mike's
attempts was a testimony to knee-and, at times, elbow-pads, and his confidence
in his equipment. Imagine sliding out of a thirty mph bail and then jumping
right back on your board-no broken bones or bruised heels.
FINALLY at about 11:00 PM, The Rats took the stage and started playing.
If you haven't seen these guys yet, you're missing it. Just straight-ahead
PUNK RAWK. This got Mike's juices flowing-again maybe a bit too much-as
he was getting towed faster now and seriously overshooting the stage. He
was consistently landing half-way down the ramp, which didn't allow him
enough room to stick the landing. Time for a little physics-if you go up
higher, you don't go as far out. Of course the likelihood of landing on
your bass player is radically increased! Mike was also playing around with
different airs to figure out what would work best.
By now, everyone in the place was quite familiar with the opening chords
to the song The Rats were playing. You could feel the tension rising from
everyone but Mike. At approximately 1:30 AM (I forgot to look at my watch!),
the RPMs revved high on the bike and the band was playing loud. Into the
hanger came Mike Vallely, hitting the jump-ramp going at least thirty-five
mph. Something was wrong with this attempt-he was going too high. Mike tweaked
this gruesome method at least twenty-five feet in the air and landed two-thirds
of the way down the ramp and rode it out like he had just ollied down a
curb! While everyone screamed, he tore his pads and helmet off, ran up the
ramp and, without a pause, jumped in with The Rats and belted out the song
they were playing all night: "Never Give Up"!