This year's Props Mega Tour was planned for the East Coast area of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Considering there are plenty of good spots to hit-up there, the etnies crew rolled into town a day early so we could hit Woodward camp on June 4. Taj had already been out in the Midwest and East Coast for the past couple of weeks, attending the etnies La Rev and Jamie Bestwick's Goodtimes Contest at the Flow Skatepark in Columbus, Ohio.
The plan was to meet the Props crew, as well as all the other teams--which included Metal Bikes, S&M Bikes, Mosh Bikes, Federal Bikes and etnies--in Harrisburg Pennsylvania on June 5.
Our crew of riders included Taj Mihelich, John Heaton, Jason Enns, Brian Terada and the secret weapon from Australia, Ryan Guettler, who tried to destroy his face during an aborted backflip at the Flow skatepark comp less than a week ago and was attending this trip minus four teeth and a badly broken jaw. Quite a motley crew, indeed. Also with us filming was Stew Johnson from Props, Paul Roberts taking pics for etnies, and myself, John Povah, trying to keep the whole team out of trouble and under control. Oh yeah, the etnies team mascot, Roscoe, tagged along, as well.
We met up with the Props guys and everyone else in Harrisburg. We did the usual meet-and-greet with everyone we hadnt seen for a while and made sure that we got all of the head shots and video for the intro. After that, we were out of there to do our own thing.
The premise for the trip was for each team to roll with their own filmer and photographer to get original and different footage of cool spots and places and then meet-up every other day to film demos at designated skateparks. Also, kids could come check it out and we could hold product tosses to get them all stoked. We planned things loosely to make it as fun as possible for everyone.
The first day of the actual tour was scheduled for the Harrisburg area. Our crew had no other plans than to go to the first park that the Props crew had on the list for everyone to be at. Voodoo was the name and it was definitely a weird park, to say the least. Right when you walk in, the first thing you see is a huge inverted climbing wall for climbing enthusiasts to do their thing and separated by some netting, was the first of three street courses. All of them were pretty small, but fun nonetheless. One really small course had a roof over it with a mini-ramp on the level above. The main course was quite tight, but all the guys made easy work of this decently laid-out place.
Jason Enns basically owned a six-foot vert quarterpipe in this one corner (under the mini ramp) with all kinds of toothpick variations. Taj Mihelich hauled ass around the main course, blasting huge wall rides and carving the whole place like it was some kind of wave. John Heaton owned the spine ramp set-up with huge 360s. Basically, just going big was his deal. On numerous occasions, he tried this one massive fufanu on what was meant to be the quarterpipe wall-ride set-up, but he walked away defeated without any success --yet still in one piece, at least. Brian Terada kept a low profile--just keeping to himself riding the mini-ramp upstairs with some locals and some guys from other teams.
AustraliaҒs wonder child Ryan Guettler (the face smasher) was putting on demos all day long with 360 whips over the spine, truck drivers over the spine and box jumps, tailwhipping the box-jump rhythm section and doing tailwhips to tire taps at will.
There was also a huge vert ramp in a separate room that not too many guys rode because they either didnt know it was there or realized it was super bumpy. In fact, both sides seemed like two separate ramps. We spent the evening at Fit Bikes rider Van HomanҒs house, checking out the brand-new mini-ramp he just got done building that day. We also watched Jason Enns and John Heaton flop around Van's indoor garage skatepark / bowl thing that is next to impossible to ride for anyone other than Van himself.
Etnies had quite a few riders from other teams on the tour, which was quite a bonus, so you can definitely count on seeing plenty of our guys represented when the video comes out--not to mention all the magazine coverage. S&M Bikes had Josh Stricker, Adam Baker and Marvin Lotterle. Federal rocked it with Sandy Carson on their team. Primo was basically all etnies including Edwin Delarosa, Nate Hanson and England's Scott Malyon (who just happens to be this months Ride UK cover boy).
We woke up to the sound of rain on day two, which dashed our plans of going to Van Homan's house to session his new mini-ramp and hang-out at the party for the all of the Props Mega tour attendees. We just went to Van's house anyway and hung out for a while until the impatient half of the crew--namely Heaton, Enns and Terada--figured they would just enjoy the festivities while the rest of us tried to get some kind of plan together.
Derek Adams' Little Devil warehouse ramp set-up is not too far away, but he was MIA. We figured he would let us ride the warehouse ramps since two of our crew, Enns and Heaton, ride for Little Devil. After trying to track him down time and time again, Van finally found him for us and we all agreed to meet at the warehouse at around 8:00 p.m.
We rolled up with the crew a little later than scheduled due to inadequate signage on the highways--not mention my really crappy driving. We actually had the Primo team with us, as well, and the session went off considering how late it was. Nate Hanson spent the evening doing what he does best--sleeping in a chair up on one of the decks. Scott Malyon rocked it constantly. Taj shredded the whole place with big wall-taps, big transfers in all kinds of crazy directions and this one line where he transferred sideways out of the spine up onto the deck of the box jump, then straight up this one wild tranny wedge quarterpipe built on top of the box jump side. He tried repeatedly to do a foot jam on top of it, but it really kicked his ass and he never quite got it. Taj had a good sesh, though.
John Heaton killed the spine once again, plus huge airs over the hip and big old wall-taps. Jaosn Enns shot plenty of pictures with Grotbags (Paul Roberts). Jason always delivers. Brian Terada ice-picked the sky, I mean the top of the wall ride. He also blasted the spine with huge un-lookbacks and turndowns. Ryan Guettler put on another contest runheגs so consistent, its not even funny. He has a style reminiscent of Colin MacKay, which could have something to do with the fact that he grew up riding with Colin in Australia. The kid can do so much hard stuff, itҒs ridiculous--three-whips, trucks, opposite threes, even flip-whips. After everyone was finished riding, we went to eat, then it was off to check into the hotel located not to far from Van Homan's house, so at least a few of the guys could, if they wanted, go back to hang-out at the party that was still rocking into the early hours.
We figured we would go ride street in downtown Philly today. Taj came with us, but took off to the hotel to get some work done since hes not too down with city life. The only problem was every other team on the tour had the same idea to go into the city. It kinda sucked, but we did break off and do our own thing, which was a problem since we really didnҒt know the area very well. But we did find some cool stuff with the help of a semi-injured Cory Martinez, who was pedaling around with us. We also got kicked out of a few spots, but did find some fresh Jersey barriers. An almost friendly chick cop let Enns hit them a few times before she had enough then told us to move on or else she was going to charge Enns for the cost of a new barrier.
All the guys had a good time hitting this one wall-ride, and, to end our time in the city, Cory took everyone to some Jersey barriers that Enns and Heaton ruled. Enns was airing about two feet out of them and also manualed and ground the crap out of them. Heaton road them well, also. Guettler was kinda out of his element here, but still got into the swing of things by the time we left.
We rode back to our vans in downtown, then it was off to today's designated park. Unfortunately, the choice for this evening was a Vans park that was located in Moorestown, New Jersey. I think mostly every bike rider hates Vans parks due to their strict rules and limited bike hours.
We rolled up around 10:00 p.m. (good directions this time) and Taj met us there. The park actually turned out to be quite fun for everyone. It had a Jersey barrier built into the top of a bank that was being destroyed by Van Homan when we rolled into the park. He was airing about six feet out of this thing. Jason and Heaton made a b-line for this once they got their pads on. They did all kinds of lip tricks and peg tricks on the barrier. Heaton even rode some vert just for the hell of it. Taj gapped everything in sight, as he usually does. He seemed to be having a good time.
Guettler spent the evening building a rear wheel (which he sucks at, I might add). Terada taught the mini-ramp a lesson airing both ways with lookbacks and all kinds of tech lip tricks. Brian ended the night with this one rail grind from the top of the vert ramp down to the deck of the mini, where he manualed in from the grind for the Prop-arazziӔ.
One weird thing was that the Vans folks kicked all of the spectator kids out right when the demos started at the beginning of the evening, so we couldnt hook them up with product and goodies, which is always fun. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid these Vans places are. The night was done--back to catch some shut-eye.
This was a day off from the park demos, so we rolled out of the hotel pretty late. We had no solid plans, as usual, so after a bunch of, "Yeah, let's go here." "No, let's go there!" kind of conversations, we took off in the direction of Rochester, New York. On the way, we stopped in Scranton, Pennsylvania to get our street on, but that turned out to be a big mistake, as we got hassled by over-zealous security in the parking structure and quickly got kicked out of the college campus. Needless to say, we didnҒt stay in Scranton too long.
We took off once again toward Rochester to go to this one park Primos Greg Walsh told us about. On the way there, Enns, Terada, Heaton and I decided that it would be a fun idea to crank the heater up as hot as it would go and deal with it until we got to Rochester (about two hours away). For some reason, it seemed funny to everyone, and we devised plenty of heat-related games, heating up anything in sight (like bottles) to see how long we could hold on to them. Jason lasted ten seconds.
There was also plenty of farting in the van. Keep in mind that it was probably about 120 degrees in there--not really fun, but it still was funny. We only lasted an hour and twenty minutes in the furnace-like heat. We stopped at a truck stop and all of the other guys in the other vans thought we were retarded for doing it, but you have to entertain yourself somehow, right?
We hit Rochester around 11:00 p.m. and went straight to the park. Holy shit, this place is amazing--definitely the high point on the whole trip. It's called X-Dreams and is not even open for business yet, so itҒs still in pristine condition. The whole place is one big ramp. Every side of every ramp (and even the floor) is all masonited from top to bottom, so it is silky smooth.
We rode until about 2:30 a.m. The guys who run the place couldnt have been nicer if they tried (thanks, Justin).
Heaton fufanued this tall back rail out on the edge of the bowl area. He also did some good size gap to manuals out of the bowl. Enns was pretty tired from the drive, so he didnҒt ride too much that evening. Terada was pretty tired also, but he wasnt about to pass-up such an awesome park, because who knows when we would come back? He found fast lines around the whole park. Once again, Guettler was the trick ferret, firing off all kinds of contest-winning runs.
Taj did super-fast lines around the whole park. There was this one grind ledge that was about five feet tall. One end of the ledge was capped-off with this seemingly impossible to ride quarterpipe. It was also about five feet tall with three-and-a-half feet of vert. Taj wanted to disaster it, and he got into the position once, but it was too gnarly to pull back in. But, he did tire tap it numerous times, as well as fufanu it over and over for the cameras. Taj also cranked across the park to hit this one five foot tall quarter to transfer up into the upper super-tight tranny vert wall. To say the least, everyone was tired by the end of the night.
After waking from some well-deserved sleep and deciding to blow off the Hackettstown demo this evening, we headed out to the Niagara / Buffalo area to check out the 3-B park (which stands for Bikes, Boards & Blades). They had Mat Hoffman's CFB contest there a couple of years ago. We rolled up thinking the ramps looked kinda of beat, but they were actually quite smooth.
The session commenced and everyone rode pretty awesomely. Taj was doing tire taps on this one fence then dropping over to the quarterpipe that was right below it on the other side, which was pretty confusing. He was also doing footplant tailwhips up and over this one fence / hip set-up.
Enns learned a new trick today. First, he did an opposite alley-oop whip (opposite air alley-oop with a regular whip). This has been done before, but then to link a line together, he shot to the other side of the park and, for the first time, got a wall-ride to whip. Stew Johnson got it all on tape and Jason was stoked! Heaton was doing huge gap to manuals on this one huge sub box--he was shredding all day long. Terada was shining today, doing downside ice-pick stalls on the inverted sub box, big fufanus, and he was airing the crap out of the super-wide mini / spine ramp set-up. Guettler rode the mini all day and wasnҒt really feeling too well.
We eventually left 3-B and headed back to Rochester to get another session in at the X-Dreams park, which the owners were cool enough to let us do. Similar stuff went down from the previous session, but we had it a little more dialed this time, and Taj had figured out a few more new lines that he wanted to try for Stew to film. Once again, we rode into the wee hours--all of us well-spent!
We got our shit together and headed down South to Binghampton. It rained the whole way there. The La Rev contest had been in Binghampton's East Coast Terminal only three weekends earlier, so some of the guys were looking forward to riding a familiar park.
We rolled into Binghampton hoping to get in an evening session, but everyone had left for the day, so we just chilled. Scott Malyon, Terada, Enns and Heaton rode around the city in between rain showers checking out possible street spots.
This was the last scheduled day of demos and Binghamptons East Coast Terminal was the location. The whole crew rolled into the park at various times since the hotel was pretty close and the demos werenҒt scheduled until the evening. Enns learned another new trick, an alley-oop ice-pick grind to fakie on a six-foot tall quarterpipe. He actually pulled it first time almost by accident and decided that maybe he should work on trying to pull it on purpose. Thirty minutes later, it was a done deal.
Taj was cranking across the whole park to do sky-high wall-taps on the graffiti-covered walls and to get speed for his usual smooth, fast lines everywhere. Heaton was shredding everything in sight with the usual smooth Heaton style.
Ryan Guettler rode the box jump rhythm section for a while, firing trick after trick out for the cameras. On one pass of the jumps, he did a tailwhip on one box, a 360 the next, then hit the tall quarterpipe, followed by a truck driver on the box, returning down the other side with an opposite lookback 360 on the last box. Good stuff! After the demos, Taj and Roscoe immediately took off back to Austin. The rest of us hung out for the evening and when Heaton's back was turned, we snuck into his room and put 150 zip-ties on his bike as a payback for all the jokes he played on me.
The Props Mega Tour was super-fun. Everyone was so cool to us at every park or place we visited. We met a lot of cool kids who were really good and we gave away a crap load of products. I cant wait to check out the Props Mega Tour 2 video and see all of the coverage the tour gets in the magazines, as well. Peace Out!