Things didn't really get rolling until Sunday evening. The crew, consisting of Etnies riders Nate Hanson, Mike Tagliavento, flow rider Cody (unpronounceable last name) and myself, John Povah (plus Ride BMX magazine photographer Jeff Zelinski, who tagged along to document the trip), met-up at Ventura's Skate Street. We had a small, private session put on by the manager, Bob, who is super-cool and very bike-friendly--allowing us to ride 'til our hearts content. Some of the highlights were Etnies Brian Terada, as usual, ruling the place with fast lines and big tricks, even though he claimed he had a hurt hip from a curved wall ride gone awry. You couldn't tell by watching him--many people were overheard commenting as their jaws hit the ground that Terada was riding smooth as hell.
Mike Tag took it pretty easy, carving around the bowl and laying down some grinds while making it look way too easy the whole time. Nate Hanson is the bowl shredder, he turned up a little late all exhausted from a desert excursion in his Blazer.
He drove back from the dunes, dropped his truck off at home, then headed straight out to Ventura. He made quick work of the almost perfect wooden bowl--as well as some super fast pumping lines around the whole park. The night was spent in Ventura in preparation for the drive up to Sacramento the next day.
Monday morning is normally taken up by myself writing reports of what the Etnies BMX team riders have been up to for the past week, but on this Monday we were hitting the road to do some riding and nothing else. First on our agenda was a park in Visalia, which we were surprised to find was more bike-friendly than most other parks in So Cal. There was a cop in the parking lot, and he didn't really even give a shit who was in the park--and let me tell you there were some real characters.
Most notable was this ten or eleven year-old kid squirreling around on a skateboard. If someone cut him off or got in his way, he would spurt off at the mouth with some of the foulest language you have ever heard. Me, being the twisted person I am, found this quite amusing. So, I would deliberately get in his way just to get him bent so he would start swearing.
It was awesome--he would just spew the craziest stuff and then end it all up with, "I m going to kill you if you get in my way again you #^%&*!". It was so funny, and to top it all off (even though our crew said it wasn't real, but I swear it was), this kid had a huge tribal tattoo on his neck running from the middle of his back all the way up under his throat. Judging by the way this little runt acted, the tat had to be real. His parents must be some real winners!
There were also about nine or ten awesome little gangster kids who wanted to do nothing but start fights with all the other little shredders in the park who were better at riding. In between all of the freak shows going on, some really good riding of our own went down. Nate was just flowing super fast, smooth lines around the whole park while trying to avoid collisions and grinding and sliding everything in sight. He made-up some original lines in a park he has only been to one time previously. Cody had been here only one time before also, so he made quick work of the elbows in the park. He is pretty quiet, but totally shreds when he is on his bike. Huge lookbacks over the hips, big opposite tables and he also fired out a few whips here or there.
Once again, Tag was pretty stealth--just hanging-out in the corner doing his own thing, grinding some ledges, doing 180 to backward grinds to 180 out, firing off some downside whips, dodging the kids and having a lot of fun for a first-time visitor. Jeff took some shots and rode around a bit, but he's more of a wedge rider, so he stuck to that side of the park. But, you could still see he was having fun riding. I took some digi pictures and played with Nate in the bowl / snake run dealy. We hung at Visalia until dusk and then went to eat.
Back on the road. We heard that Fresno has a brand new concrete park, so we took a slight detour to go check it out. It was pretty late when we got there. We finally found the park after a few wrong turns, but we were not disappointed. It's awesome: about 45 or 50,000 square feet, featuring plenty of runs ranging from small to big, including bowls, ledges and all of the usual stuff--but there was just a lot of it. It's a shame we may never get to ride it due to the strict California "no bike" law--not to mention the ten-foot tall fence around the whole thing. We did jump the fence to get a closer look, but a cop rolled up, so we made a hasty retreat. Onward to Sacramento.
We rolled up at the Solid Bikes warehouse / manufacturing facility around 2:00 in the morning, exhausted and burned from driving. We said our hellos to the guys, Aaron and Ryan, and then bailed to get some shut eye. A good night's sleep is always happening when you know you don't have to get up for anything specific other than to ride. We met the Solid guys again over at their warehouse, where we figured out some kind of game plan. We checked out a local wall ride that was really fun, but you can only ride up a wall so many ways before you're over it.
Then it was on to some ditches--a few of which were unridable due to rain water. We did find a good one, though, that we sessioned for a few. We rode an old Air Force base with a huge bank-to-wall for about an hour before we got the boot.
Then it was off to go check out a Jersey barrier that was on top of this five-foot tall bank that turned out to be unreal. The guys had a lot fun on that for a good few hours. One of the barriers had a concrete quarter built into it to make it smooth (I think there is an Eric Koston ad in a skate mag on it, but it didn't have the addition of the concrete quarter then). The guys were airing the shit out of that thing. Mike Tag did some good stuff, like fufanus to ice picks. As we departed, it was getting dark, so the Solid guys took us to a huge concrete quarter they had built behind this Mexican restaurant in plain view of the street. They didn't care--it was all in the name of fun, and they figured that even if it gets torn down in a couple of days, they would still at least have a great time for a short period. Then it was off to the city of Sacramento to ride street.
The Solid guys have plenty of secret spots hidden throughout the city--some of which even boast the trademark concrete handiwork of the Solid crew--and a good time was had by all. The night was pretty much over after shooting the shit and watching some goofy old school BMX videos back at the Solid warehouse. Morning comes around too soon, so we got up early to go ride some skatepark up in the mountains just outside of Sacramento called Grass Valley. It appeared pretty new, looked perfect and felt just about the same.
There were no skaters there when we turned up, but a few did come a little later who were really cool. This park ruled--Nate shredded the concrete as usual, Tag had a fun time, Cody was smooth and ambidextrous and Jeff Z. was shooting off plenty of film. A cop eventually rolled up, but he was super cool. Then we took off to go to another park that was back by the highway where we got off to go up the mountain.
The skaters there were not so cool, and you could feel the vibe. The park was a lot of fun--even though the transitions were a little bumpy--but everyone made quick work of that place. Tag peg stalled a seven-foot wall out of a four-foot quarter. As the session wound down, we all said our goodbyes after grabbing a quick bite to eat at Chili's and then made the long trek home back to So Cal. Six and a half hours later, we were home. All in all, it was a good trip. We got plenty of riding got done, lots of photos were shot and everyone had a good time. When all is said and done, that's really what it's all about.