A Seattle Expirience




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The downhiller’s journey is never complete. There is no such thing as the perfect hill, there is no such thing as the perfect run. We can come close, really close, but we can never perfectly attain. The solution to this conundrum, of course, is to try it again with different variables. The search is for the hill; the perfect hill, the completely subjectively mythically perfect hill must be out there somewhere. Or this is what I tell myself.

I hail from the Midwest and let me be the first to say as a downhill skater in a land of comparably level elevations, it’s pretty difficult. The situation up here is pretty common to lots of places in the continental U.S., and a lot of the world, too: We’ve got a handful or two of fast hills spread out throughout an area which we don’t go crazy driving to. Some places more, some places less, but nearly everyone’s got a hill or two they can skate and have a pretty good time on until they’ve skated it so many times over the years that they’re just plain tired of the spot. It’s not that it’s a bad hill necessarily; one that many a shredder round could ride down and have a pretty alright time, it’s the fact that it’s become familiar. Once the special become routine, it’s not really special anymore.

At this point the downhill skater is confronted with the Search. The Search for bigger and better and faster. It hit me about 2 years ago, but injury and spending money and a few other bad excuses got in the way of pursing. When I reached a point in my life when I could uproot for even a few days to pursue the Search, it bit me right in the nose. I realized I finally had some money to burn and I planned to take off and land somewhere that I knew had a well-established skate community and a vertical advantage over where I was currently skating. I bought a ticket during the dead of a bone chilling Minnesotan winter for Seattle, Washington at the beginning of the summer.

I really had no idea what to expect when heading out to Seattle. I hit up a few local longboarding groups on social media, but didn’t have any sort of concept as to what would go down. I’ve been to my fair share of outlaws and skate events within driving distance over the years, but this was a brand new endeavor. I knew no one, I didn’t know where to skate, I was a stranger in a land of big hills.

Which turned out to be one of the best undertakings of my life time. I talked to the folks over at Motion Boardship, located right in Seattle. I got in touch with Jason Clack, the owner of MoBo, and several other projects which he’s developing in the area. I’ve truly never met such an enterprising individual, and I mean that in the best way possible. I don’t know how the guy sleeps at night, I feel like I’d stay up all night working if I had half as many good ideas as he does.

Jason walked me through the whole MoBo experience and their history. He took me through the Omen Longboards workshop, a tightly functioning operation putting out some of the best engineered decks on the market. He even took me down to the coffee shop/restaurant that his wife runs a couple storefronts away called the Board Room. If anyone knew about Seattle skating, I figured I was talking to the right guy.

One of the ideas MoBo has created is their setup rental program. They’ve got a whole rack of completes set up in the middle of the store that are listed as rental decks with a number on them. MoBo lets one rent a deck for a small fee per day, and if one keeps their receipts, they can use the fees they’ve paid towards buying a brand new version of the deck they were previously renting. It’s one of those ideas so brilliant that it made so much sense in my head I felt like I was the one who thought of it. It’s the perfect answer to the ongoing question that every brand new skater asks: “what setup should I get?” Well instead of just telling them about it, now new skaters can try them out first hand.

The ongoing theme which I’ve picked up, and I’m borrowing these words from Jason Clack, “skaters first”. Everything which I experienced was a great reflection of this idea. The decks being pressed at Omen were ideas from the skaters themselves. The boards being stocked on the shelves are a direct reflection of the preferences of the skaters of Seattle. This kind of thing can’t go on just any location in the world and it is rare and special and a simply beautiful thing to experience.

The skaters themselves couldn’t be any more welcoming. When I told the local shredders what I was doing out there, they reacted as if it were almost implied by them that I was going skating with them. The expectation of themselves seemed to be that they were there to show me a hill and a good time.  I can’t express how grateful I am to you folks. The hills were surreal and the scene was even better.

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They liked my setup. I have had an Earthwing Mystery Model for the last 4 or 5 years that I’ve chopped and torn up, and finally turned into something I love. I told them some funny stories about it, and they told me some funny stories about how their decks came to be. It was skate talk; and implied understanding about our tools to have fun.

This, of course, is simply my experience as a single skater heading to a new time zone and having a good time. But don’t let me distract from the fact, the intent of this whole organization of words is to motivate. Your local hills are fun, I’m aware, but the Search for more should always be present. Maybe it’s greedy, maybe it’s compensating for something, but the Search to find new terrain to skate is one of the most perfect and necessary acts which a skater of any kind can perform.

The skateboarder is the ultimate repurposer. Everything coming into our vision is constructed different conceptually than the average person. One brain sees a stairwell, a skateboarder sees a kickflip opportunity. One brain sees a mountain pass to the other side, a skateboarder sees a space to fly and control at the same time. The skateboarder is the definer of their own environment and space. Others have created it for us, but it’s our obligation to put it to its proper use.

Now that I’ve had this experience to go further and into the blind, I’m only craving more. I feel the desire to go further and wider and steeper and faster. I want to sleep in the back of my car, or in a tent, or under the stars. I want to eat bad food for days on end. I want to find what I haven’t yet found. To explore the beyond the limits of what I know and do a big Coleman down it.

It’s inconvenient and I it’s outside your comfort zone, but those are necessary to overcome in order to explore the unknown. So I put forth the challenge to all of you reading this: take a weekend this summer and go explore. Go farther than you’ve gone before. Drive past the hills you’ve skated in search of more. Travel to a tiny little outlaw race that sounds like a hassle to get to. Maybe it’ll get busted, maybe it won’t. But what could you possibly be doing that’s better than time spent rolling down hills on your board?

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