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etnies Spackles Spain!

May 3 2004 / Monday

Hola, Amigo! Coma esta!

You never realize how incapable you are until you travel to a foreign land and, all of a sudden, you are surrounded by the native tongue. Its quite incapacitating. You feel totally helpless in many ways and not so bright anymore. Thankfully, the trip to Spain following the etnies Backyard Jam in Bournemouth, England was ten times easier, thanks to our own personal translators and tour guides in the form of Sergio Layos, his brother, Angel, and Ruben Alcantara.

The plan was to fly out of London into Madrid the day following the finals at Backyard Jam, but some screw-ups with flights put us back a day or so. We missed the Monday flight, so we didnҒt get there until Tuesday night - things were already starting off shady. Oh, well! What can you do? Meeting us at the airport was Sergio, thank God. Customs was way less of a hassle than we thought it would be, considering current happenings in Madrid, but whatever they think works, I guess!

We already knew that Sergio had to be in Malaga to meet Ruben by Thursday so they could start working with Stew Johnson on a Spain scene report for an upcoming Props video magazine. So, having Rooftop around was just an added bonus (plus, Mike could also get some extra footage for his Samurai video while here). On Wednesday, we went to session a local concrete park. Sergios a local there and proceeded to shred with
no warm-ups, while Rooftop did some cool stuff, including a pretty decent size gap step-up to feeble grind. We waited for Angel to get out of work around 4:00 p.m. so that we could head South to Malaga.

We hit some traffic and rolled into town around 2:00 am in the morning, only to find some wild festival going on҅and no parking. When I say no parking, thatsҒ exactly what I mean. NO PARKING. People just leave their cars and motorcycles anywhereparking forward, backward, on the curb, in the street, double parked, blocking sidewalks--it just doesnŒt matter. It sucked! But it was also kinda cool in the same sense, knowing that cops in Spain just dont give a crap. They have better things to worry about. Imagine the field day a cop from America would have issuing tickets there? Insane!

After what seemed like hours finding a spot to park, Ruben gave us a tour of the beautiful and very historic downtown Malaga, checking out the all night street fairs going on until the early hours
of the morning (with a few stops here and there to get some refreshments, if you know what I mean).

Morning came around (well, not really morning, but close enough to be considered morning by Ruben's standards), and plans were made to hit-up some spots after getting some grub. This brought up a dilemma, going back to how the trip started. Man, do I feel incapable! Just trying to do something simple like order food for yourself here is a daunting task! If you donҒt have guys around you who speak the local language, you will starve (unless youre cool with eating gas station crap or you bring a bunch of Powerbars with you). I would find myself just pointing at stuff that looked somewhat good to eat, but then again, who knows?

One thing that I found myself doing (and that I have criticized others for doing, yet found it amusing) was raising my voice, thinking that if I said things louder that these people who donҒt speak any English would all of a sudden miraculously understand what I was saying. I'm an idiot! One thing I will tell you, though, is that you can eat super-cheap in Spain. After breakfast / lunch, we hit-up some pretty wild, original spots. Some you have probably
seen in the magazines or videos, but just didnt know where they were. Well, IҒm not telling you which ones, but one thing I will say is that there were a lot of these spots and they were awesome. Keep guessing!

I did kinda feel bad at times, thinking that some of those ledges and banks are pretty vintage and here we are riding all over them. We had to skip some rain showers, but good stuff went down regardless, and everyone had fun. Once again, the laws are way lenient here in Spain, and we didnt get hassled once by the police, which blew me away, considering we did see quite a few while riding some of these spots. This night was spent cruising the city, taking pictures, hanging out and just taking in the sights.

We hit the streets again Friday after some late-night rain showers, Mike had hoped to go to that huge over-vert bowl thing thatҒs in Ruben's Ride BMX interview, but Ruben explained that the area surrounding it would be flooded, so we were confined to staying around Malaga again. After some fun street riding, we headed to Malagas first-ever skatepark. It was all spray-painted up and situated in what seemed like a not-so-nice neighborhood.
The park was laid out super-basic with a five and a half feet tall mini-spine that had a two-foot deck on it. It was built kinda crappy, but everyone had fun on it, and Sergio was blasting airs both ways. The coping was so thin that it had been flattened from constant use.

In what you would consider the street course, there is a box jump that is about three and a
half feet tall with 90 degree trannies coming off of either side. The lip of the box is insanely steep and the landing is horrendously long and flat. Ruben proceeded to tell us how he had learned backflips and 720s on this thing years ago on a bent and broken piece of junk bike. For the life of us, we couldnҒt understand how. But then again, its Ruben, so we just took his word for it. Mike had some fun riding the mini, as well as a handrail that was outside the park with coping welded to the top of it. He filmed a few lines on the rail and pulled a double peg to barspin off the end.

There were some young kids hanging around, about thirteen years old. They knew some of us couldnҒt speak Spanish, so they were making fun of us. Sergio later told us that one of them was saying straight to our faces, When your back is turned, I will steal your bike and bags!Ӕ but because we couldnt understand Spanish, he was just laughing at us and we were oblivious to what was going on. Those little bastards!

We rode back downtown to a street spot, where we met up with Canadian flatland transplant Nathan Penonzek. ItҒs always good to see him and he speaks fluent Spanish, as well as pretty good French, German and Japanese. Sergio was explaining that even his Spanish accent is
amazing. We made some plans during dinner for the evening, but the rain came once again. So we whiled away the hours watching cheesy movies and hanging at Ruben's penthouse apartment overlooking the city.

Rain played a major factor in this whole trip, and Saturday was no different. We spent the day dodging showers and ended-up about an hour away from Malaga at a semi-new concrete skatepark in a town I cant begin to try to pronounce. It didnҒt take long for Sergio to carve his way around the whole place, shredding everything in sight
with moto-x-style whips everywhere and bad-ass 270 turndowns from box jump trannie to hip wedge. Ruben was boosting the hell out of this one hip with huge tucks to invert and big  old moto-x whips. When you're going that high, the fall isnt so enjoyable, which is what happened on a couple of occasions. Ruben was all good, though. He didnҒt care, he was just having a good time with his friends.

Mike and Ruben were doing trains around the park and trying to keep up with each other. The fun in this is that if someone does something that you wouldnt normally do, you are somewhat forced to do the same thing even if you donҒt want to. Its cool, kinda like riding trails and following someone through the sets. Both Mike and Ruben trained this one gap that they both 180d up following each other. It looked good, but I think Ruben was a little nervous having Mike following him through it. Good times, for sure

This was the part of the trip where Mike, Angel and myself had to part ways from Ruben, Stew Johnson, Sergio and a couple of other guys. We headed back up to Madrid, six hours away, where Mike and I were to fly out of on Sunday. We got in one more partial day of riding back up in Madrid with Angel and his friend while dodging more rain showers. Madrid has some amazing concrete parks--maybe not the best quality, but definitely fun, nonetheless.

We rode the one red park that was in the Schwinn American Muscle video. We had to make it quick because of rain, but Mike did manage to pull probably the longest icepick grind I have ever  seen on a quarterpipe, maybe about thirty two feet long and smooth as hell. He was also airing the crap out of some very hard-to-ride bowls. We were bummed to hear that the one totally graffitied concrete park that has been in all of the mags had been plowed a month prior to us coming (much to SergioҒs dismay). We wound things down with a quiet meal with Angel, his girl and his amazingly generous, non English-speaking and open-hearted mom. Thanks for the memories

Its funny how different cultures are, the way kids are brought up in different parts of the world. In Spain, it seems that children are brought up to have much respect and love for their parents, and vice-versa. Families are very close, and itҒs a very admirable and good thing to see. The parents take care of the kids and when the parents get old, the kids look after their parents. This is how it should be--very different from here in the U.S. We have much to learn.

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