The Thrasher King Of The Road Tour was a contest in which four teams--Deluxe, éS, Tum Yeto and Volcom--each started at a different location on the East Coast and drove across the U.S., making four stops along the way. At each stop, there was an envelope containing a "compulsory trick book", which listed about 250 tricks, as well as miscellaneous stunts like making out with a forty year-old woman and skating naked (you know, the kind of stuff the éS guys are really into). The team that made it to all of their destinations and completed the trick book (with proof on video, of course) would win the contest.
Friday, August 15
Paul Rodriguez, éS filmer Scuba Steve and myself arrived in Philadelphia at about 7:30 p.m. éS team assistant Jeff Henderson and his brother had driven the éS van all the way across the U.S. for us and pulled-up to the terminal at the exact same time we walking off our plane--amazing timing. We all went back to the hotel, where we met-up with Thrasher photographer Luke Ogden, and checked in.
P.J. Ladd arrived, dropped all of his stuff off and went street skating until 3:00 a.m. He tried to take a train from Boston to Philadelphia, but couldn't because of a blackout (he ended-up flying instead). Alexis Sablone arrived earlier that day and she was out street skating somewhere. Paul skated some flatground out in front of the hotel for a little bit. I met-up with our local éS Sales Rep, Jeremy Hurwitz, and went to hang out with some of the guys at a skate shop called Elite. That was about it. We got some dinner and went to bed.
Saturday, August 16
We had big plans for this day, but when we woke up, it was raining and would continue to do so all day. We couldn't skate, we couldn't do anything--we pretty much just walked around the streets or stayed in our hotel rooms. At midnight, we opened our Philadelphia envelope to see what missions we had to perform in this fair city. The three requirements were to grind the over-vert at FDR, eat lunch at Love Park and to track down Matt Reason. Later that night, Paul, P.J. and Alexis eliminated the entire flatground page of our K.OT.R. book--an easy 240 points gained within three hours.
Sunday, August 17
We skated the infamous Philadelphia City Hall--which is directly across the street from Love Park--pretty much all day. I went to Whole Foods to get some lunch for the team so we could bang out the "Eat lunch at Love Park" item (#2 of our Philly requirements). We were now one item ahead in Philly. After eating more than we should have (Luke Ogden documented the lunch session), we moved on to skate the infamous Burnt Cat Benches. P.J. attempted a few lines, most which began and ended switch. Alexis killed the benches, as well, with tricks like kickflip nose slides and backside tail slides across the whole six-foot expanse.
Monday, August 18
After having no success in finding Matt Reason, we decided to move onto Pittsburgh so we could pick-up Eric Koston and Rick McCrank the next day. After I grinded the over-vert wall at FDR, we drove six hours to Pittsburgh, found a hotel and passed out--but not before Paul skated a really amazing seven-stair rail, pulling a frontside crooks easily.
Tuesday, August 19
Straight from the X Games in Los Angeles, Eric Koston and Rick McCrank flew into Pittsburgh International at 3:00 p.m., but they couldn't get their luggage until about 4:00, so we ended-up driving in circles around the airport for about forty-five minutes, because there was no place to stop. Our van has an eighteen-inch tall rack on top, so we couldn't park in any normal or covered parking lots, and, of course, you can't stop anywhere around an airport, so we just did this loop for about forty-five minutes--it was great.
We tried making a pit stop at a nearby gas station, which is connected to the airport. The gas station attendants called the police, because apparently we were loitering--even though we were parked in the isolated rear of the gas station. P.J. and Alexis were skating flatground (of course). The gas station manager came around back and barked, "You guys have to leave!" Paul and Scuba were inside shopping, so I replied, "We're just waiting for our friends to finish shopping and then we're going to leave." The manager replied, "No, you leave now!" She went back inside and called the police. Pittsburgh International sucks ass.
After looping around the same circle for close to an hour, we ended-up driving straight to Best Buy to relieve some stress and start putting that per-diem to good use. After Eric and Rick bought new digital cameras, and Scuba bought DVDs and an advanced Gameboy and more accessories than you could imagine, we were off to The Head Boardshop to meet up with our escorts, Brandon and Joe. They ended up taking us to this long three-stair, which came complete with ledges, a bank and all of that fun stuff.
We ended-up skating that spot for about an hour. It had a pretty gnarly brick drop-in that was about two-stories tall and really wavy and uncontrollable. Rick dropped-in from a guardrail (that was meant to keep pedestrians from falling down into the transition) into the roll-in and then rode down it, which was pretty insane. Eric, Rick, Paul, P.J. and Alexis pretty much killed that spot. Then we went and got dinner at the Zen Garden. It was football week in town, so all of the hotels were pretty packed. We ended-up finding a hotel downtown and, with our escorts, went back to a school called Martin Luther King, featuring banks and two ten-stair rails that we had discovered the previous night while driving around.
We asked our hosts where we could find some good tranny, so they took us to the local red light district. This was not the type of tranny we were talking about, so at about 2:00 a.m., we drove to a spot called the Pollock Bowl in the middle of a park called Pollock Hill. I thought they meant Pollock as in someone's last name, but it's actually a nickname for the local Polish community. We arrived, lit this bowl up and skated it until 3:00 a.m., when the police arrived.
There's something about the cops out on the East Coast that I respect more than those out West. They have a whole different view of skateboarding. They don't look at it as a crime, just as a sport that creates loud noises late in the night that tend to wake-up neighbors. The policeman walked up, all smiles, and said, "Wow, this place looks cool with all of those lights on it. But, unfortunately, it's 3:00 a.m. and we got a complaint from the neighbors, so I have to ask you to leave." He went on to say, "You know, I have a nephew who skateboards. We bring him up here all the time. He likes to slide on the flat bar." Then another policeman came up behind him, and the first one said, "Don't worry, I've got it all under control. They're packing up their stuff." It was a relief to see them not angry or upset over the situation. Instead, they were cool about it all.
At every spot we'd visited so far--whether a bowl, handrails or ledges--I spray-painted the éS Contract faces of whichever éS team riders were skating. If Eric skated a rail, his face went up, if P.J. skated a bench, his face went up, etc. I'm going to start an éS online contest in which kids will try to track down these faces at every spot we've skated. As all eyes were focused on one of the riders, I would be off somewhere spraying the stencils. I jumped on a roof and spray-painted one Contract face on the side of a wall. I painted another right on the side of a loading dock--they're pretty random. Luckily, the police that night did not see me spraying the Contract faces in and around the Pollock skatepark. That would have been a tough one to talk our way out of.
Wednesday, August 20
When we woke up, we gathered everyone to decide if we should stay one more evening or head out to our second destination on this tour: Skatopia. We decided to get the whole Skatopia thing done and crossed it off our list. The drive itself was another five hours from Pittsburgh, so we packed-up our bags Wednesday afternoon and drove to Skatopia, which ended up being in the middle of nowhere, just outside a little town called Rutland in the Southeast area of Ohio. After many missed turns, gas station stops and piss breaks, we finally arrived at Skatopia around 11:30 p.m. You hear so many rumors about this place: that people are constantly drunk, firing AK-47s and blowing lots of shit up. It was nothing of the sort, until we read what our goals would be at Skatopia. They went something like this: Blow something up. Skate a doubles run with Bruce Martin. Everyone frontside grind the deep end of the thirteen-foot bowl. Wow.
Well, Eric, Rick and Alexis could grind it. I could do it, as well. But, to our dismay, Scuba Steve and Luke Ogden wouldn't try it, so we lost out on those 50 points. Bruce was nowhere to be found, so we lost out on those points, as well. Due to the fact that we had no ammunition or explosives, we decided that we could accomplish our last 50 points if we made Molotov cocktails. We poured gasoline into iced tea bottles (which there were plenty of), took some éS socks and soaked them in gas for wicks, then lit them up and threw them at some brick pile in the middle of their property. BOOM! Them thangs blew up real good! We decided to toss in a can of spray paint, and watched as the thing exploded into bright blue flames all over the bricks.
We made about five Molotov cocktails that night, and Eric, Rick, Alexis and Luke all participated in the madness. As we were making our sixth Molotov, we noticed a big RV pulling up the road toward us. It was the Volcom Team--Dustin Dollin, Rune Glifberg, Caswell Berry, Remy Stratton, Javier Sarmiento and a few others. We lit the Molotov and threw it at the approaching monstrosity. BOOM! The thing exploded right in front of the RV, barely missing the front grill. The van quickly backed up, then stopped. Out popped Dustin Dollin, and we started screaming obscenities at him in really bad Southern accents. Dustin was fearless. For all he knew, we could have been any one of those crazy Skatopia fuckers coming at him with a Molotov, yet it didn't stop him from walking and screaming, "Fuck you!" at us.
We ended-up skating with all of the Volcom guys until about 2:00 a.m., until we were nice and sore and ready to leave. We drove back through Rutland into Marietta, found a hotel room, and then went right to bed.
Thursday, August 21
We decided to drive straight to Indianapolis, which was about eight hours away. We stopped by Rise Skate Shop there--a great shop run by the infamous Buddy Best. Buddy showed us around some of the local skate spots Thursday night in a small college town called Bloomington, about forty-five minutes South of Indianapolis. We skated Bloomington City Hall for about an hour without interruption. City Hall came equipped with a really high nine-stair hubba that had a long, flat kink at the bottom. Crankers, Paul and Alexis sessioned that hubba the entire hour we were there, then Buddy decided that it was time to check out some other spots that Bloomington had to offer. One spot in particular was in the middle of the University of Indiana, so we decided to load-up and scope out this ten-stair rail in the middle of the campus.
We pulled up to U of I and parked in one of the many parking lots. Unfortunately, one of the school janitors witnessed us pulling in and, of course, decided to call the police. Luckily, we didn't bring our boards with us, as Buddy knew it might be a bust, "Don't bring your boards or anything in case the college police show-up. That way when they arrive, they'll just tell us to leave. We're not skating, so we won't have to worry about tickets." We thought that was a great idea, so we parked our cars and went and looked at this rail. We weren't there ten minutes when another janitor walked out of a different building and said, "You guys gotta leave!" So, we turned back around, got in the van and drove out.
We thought, "Okay, cool, we got out of there." As we drove out of the main entrance to the college, I noticed a police car following close behind. A second car arrived and then a third car behind the second. Great. We made a right outside of the college and hit the main street. I don't think Buddy knew that we were being followed, because he couldn't see behind us. I looked back and thought, "Aw, great!" Eric turned around and said, "Tone, there are three cops behind us." I was like, "Yeah, I know. I see them." I grabbed my phone and tried to dial the driver, Scott's, cell number to let him know who was behind us. We were in the left hand turn lane and, of course, Scott didn't go left. He made a full right hand turn from the left hand turn lane. That was it--all three cops' lights lit up. A cop car pulled up to my left side and blocked us in, with another one right behind me and the third right behind that. Then a fourth one pulled up in front of Scott and Buddy's car with sirens blaring.
I had bought a BB handgun earlier on the trip that we'd been shooting randomly while driving on the road. The BB gun was on the side door storage compartment, which I completely forgot about. Paul and I had also bought buck knives, which were attached to our hips. So, I had a knife on my right side and a BB gun that looks identical to a real 9 mm handgun on my left. I quickly loosened the knife from my hip and tossed it under the seat. But there was nothing I could do about the BB gun to my left. Not yet, anyway…
The cops walked up to our van with their hands on their guns. "Step out of the vehicle!" So, I stepped out. "Turn around! Keep your hands up!" I was like, "Okay! No problem!" I made sure we cooperated in full. "Walk toward me! Walk toward me!" the officer yelled. They were trying to direct me, but I couldn't see their hand signals because of their blinding lights. The longer I stalled, the angrier they got. Finally, he was screaming "Walk toward me now! Walk toward me now!" I said, "Okay, understand I can't see anything." I guess that's the point of the bright, blaring lights--you are completely blinded and easier to subdue. Good technique.
I handed the cop my ID. He looked it over, handed the ID to his partner and asked, "What are you guys doing here?" I replied, "We just came out of the college campus. We were just looking at a skate spot there." He was like, "Well, we got a call saying that you guys were skateboarding." I replied, "No, we didn't even take our boards out. We just wanted to look at that spot, which we've seen in many skate videos." He was like, "One janitor said you were skateboarding." I replied, "None of us brought our boards out." Then a second policeman walked up and said, "No, the janitor didn't say they were skateboarding, he thought they were going to skateboard." So, the first cop was like, "Okay, get back into the vehicle."
So, I went back to the van. I had left the door open and Eric was like, "Tony, look down to your left." There was the handgun. I was like, "Oh, shit!" Eric was like, "Shut the door!" So, I shut the door and looked around--there were police pretty much surrounding the entire van, so I had to be sly about removing the BB gun and tossing it back to Eric. Right then, one of the policemen approached the van and said, "I'm going to need to see everyone's IDs, please." His tension had lowered a bit--that was a good sign.
The cop looked very closely at Rick's and Eric's IDs. He asked me, "Would I know any of you guys? Have you ever been in any of those skate videos my son watches?" I looked over at Eric with an expression like, "What the...?" I answered, "Well, as a matter of fact, yes, these guys have been in some videos...and the X-Games, as well." The cop said, "Koston. Heard of him, for sure. You know, my son skateboards, he tells me who is cool or not." I was like, "Really? Then he's heard of Koston--we just picked him up from the X Games." The policeman is like, "Aw, that's great!".
Then the cop looked over and noticed out tour guide, Buddy Best, standing in front of Scott Towne's 4X4. He said, "Oh, I recognize that character. His names Buddy, right? I always take my son to his Indianapolis store." I was like, "Yeah, that's our tour guide". To make a longer story short, the policeman ended-up getting Eric's and Rick's autographs, we gave him some éS shirts and three packs of éS stickers. After this ordeal, we all looked at each other like, "What the hell just happened?" We ended-up not only befriending the cop, but gave him shirts and stickers for his son. The policeman was stoked and responded, "My son is going to be excited to see this stuff. I can't wait to show him tomorrow."
We finally drove off to some high school that was highly regarded by the officer as being a spot that his son skates without hassle. We lit it up and Eric, Rick, Paul and P.J. skated this eight-stair hubba ledge for about an hour. That was it, the energy was drained. By this time it was 3:00 a.m. and we needed to get moving. Our next destination was Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We had heard it took about five hours to get there from Indianapolis, so we decided to drive directly to Milwaukee immediately. We parted ways with Buddy and drove off into the night.
Friday, August 22
We arrived in Milwaukee seven hours later, at about 10:30 a.m. We checked into our hotel and slept the rest of the afternoon away. Around 6:00 p.m., we opened our envelope. I think our mission was to take a tour of a beer factory or something silly like that, then make a skateboard out of scraps of whatever. We also had to play a game of S.K.A.T.E. on the old Turf Skatepark parking lot. Eric, Rick and P.J. all played against each other. P.J. defeated everyone twice. Nice one, P.J. We decided that we would pass up the other bonus points and skate Milwaukee throughout the night.
Saturday, August 23
We skated Milwaukee's finest skatepark, The Four Seasons, then ate, slept and skated more street.
Sunday, August 24
We decided to drive straight to Denver, Colorado--a good twenty-hour drive. Gnarly.
Every team had to meet-up there on August 25 to pick-up a mystery guest at the airport. Wow.
Monday, August 25
We picked-up our mystery guest, who turned out to be the infamous Harold Hunter. He is amazing! Harold had to open our envelope for Denver, from which we found out that we had to find and skate the infamous S rail. Cool. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon skating the Denver park instead. After the gnar session there, we drove about twenty minutes North to Boulder, where we had to find the S rail. We found it, Eric grinded it first try, and we were out of there. Well, let me take back that last sentence. Eric didn't actually ollie into the grind, he used Tony E's shoulder to hold him in position, then he pushed off and grinded that thirty-foot rail. Seems the top section had come loose from too many fruitbooters and BMXers jumping onto it. Still, it was an amazing feat. Next, we were off to a perfect ten-stair. Eric, Rick, Paul, P.J. and Alexis all skated it, and let me tell you, those stairs got broke off. You'll see it in the Thrasher King Of The Road video.
Tuesday, August 26
We decided to leave that evening and head out to Salt Lake City--our last destination of this hell-bound trip. We powered through the ten-hour drive and arrived there around 8:00 a.m., checked into our hotel and went to sleep.
Wednesday, August 27
Harold opened the envelope and read out loud our final duties, which were to: 1. Get every kid in a local skatepark to do a train following Eric and Rick. 2. Find someone to show us his or her sacred undergarments. 3. Piss on the Mormon Tabernacle or something stupid like that. We decided we would do two of the three. We paid a visit to a few skate shops, signed some autographs and headed off to the Salt Lake skatepark. There were about 200 kids skating there. I went up to every kid in the park, told them what our goal was and how we needed them to participate, and they agreed. About 175 of the kids followed Eric and Rick for three laps around the shallow end of this massive skatepark. It looked amazing!
Thursday, August 28
That afternoon, we awoke, checked out of the hotel and began the sixteen-hour drive to San Francisco. Lots of fun…
Friday, August 29
We arrived in San Francisco, signed-off on the footage and dropped Luke Ogden off at his house. We were finally done with this nightmare trip.
Saturday, August 30
At Thrasher's Skater of the Year video party, The Deluxe team ended-up claiming top honors in the Thrasher King Of The Road Tour (with Gabe Morford pushing them so hard, how could they lose? Gabe is the man!), followed by Volcom in second place, Tum Yeto in third, and yours truly, the éS team, in dead last. Although we lost, we did bag some amazing footage, which marks the beginning of filming for the upcoming éS video for everyone except P.J., who has been filming for quite a while. We also had a great time on this trip, and perhaps we were the real kings of the road, since we didn't always do what the rules said--we made-up our own, skated what we wanted to more than the other teams, and didn't care that we ended-up last. We would like to thank Jake Phelps, Lindsey Byrnes and the whole crew at Thrasher for the invite. Catch you another time.