Thursday, September 24, 2009

041: of skate spots and cross practices

Back when I was a kid skateboarding there was a lot of secrecy around skate spots. Unlike now where there are skate parks and parents can safely drop off little Billy to ride the park for a day. For the record, I hate you little Billy.
When I was skateboarding, it was a hit and run proposition. You’d skate from spot to spot, hitting the fun curbs for 20 minutes, maybe the library stairs for 10, and then get going and keep moving. Reason being, no one wanted skateboarders sessioning around their store or place. You learned pretty quickly, if you didn’t keep moving you’d end up arguing with some rental cop with an attitude or worse off get a meeting with the real deal 5-0.
Perhaps more importantly, we all recognized that new spots didn’t come along often, and that they needed to be protected. A new set of banks or a smooth ditch would be a golden find, but we all knew as soon as it was general information, tons of kids would be skating there, and before you knew it the spot would be lost…. Loose lips sink ships…

Over the years, DCCoD has experienced the same thing. We find a great place to practice, a small group of folks start riding there. The group is selective . It’s not meant to be elitist, or snobby, but this core group recognizes that if we draw attention to ourselves we stand to lose everything. And for those of us that this is our entire season, it’s a huge risk.
One of the things I always have loved about cross practice is that is sort of the counter culture. We’d go to a park hit the efforts fast and furious and then get out. We don’t draw attention to what we are doing. One moment a bike race, the next we are gone. Like a fucking phantom in the night. It always felt a lot like skating to me. I love that…
For the last few years, school x has been a cross heaven on for the DCCOD. I am always stingy when new people asked about the practice. I find myself suspiciously asking three questions before inviting anyone to join us:

1. Does (or will ) the person help out with our races?
2. What are they looking to get out of this?
3. Will they be around in December?

If I couldn’t answer all three of those question in a positive way, I didn’t invite. I’d do the old dip, duck and dodge. If they ended up showing up, I’d pretty much be a dick, or just ignore them. There are no free rides, DCCoD membership is earned, not assumed. If the person panned out, great. If not, too bad, so sad.
Look, I get my role to support and grow cross, I work hard at it. But selfishly, I cherish cross practice as much as any other part of this game, and frankly I CAN choose who I want to ride with, and at this point in the game, I don’t want to be surrounded by folks that don’t get it. I just don’t have that luxury, and for a pirate practice to work, everyone has to know what time it is.

I CHERISH the opportunity to have cross practice and the fun that it brings, I never have taken it for granted.

Sadly last night, we lost School X.
Frankly, I felt like to kind of cement our invitation to hit the bricks we pushed limits of what we could do. There was a huge group of folks that out. Most of which I knew. Of course a number of people who I didn’t know showed up too. I was pretty uncomfortable with that. Frankly if I crash into one of the folks I know, I don’t have to worry about a lawyer calling me. If some stranger gets tangled up with me, or one of my friends, I can’t say I know how that story ends up. I am not prepared to assume that liability…

Last night’s eviction and gigantic group reinforced for me that we were getting sloppy. We lost our focus on hit and run. We got comfortable. We forgot of how this is supposed to go down. Now we have lost School X.

This isn’t the first time that we have lost a practice venue: WI-hi, Heritage Park… It’s all about being stealth, and keeping the group tight and together… We have to all be on the same page….

The first two rules of DCCoD practice are :

#1 you don’t talk about DCCoD cross practice
#2 you don’t talk about DCCoD cross practice

We forgot this, and just as I have mourned the loss of many hot skate spots as a kid, I mourn the loss of school X. For now DCCoD practice is sadly dead….
I am bummed, but I know somewhere a single blade of grass is sprouting through a slab of concrete.

photos by

“I hope you know this will go down on your permanent record.”


rsdmag said...

Dude. As an 80's freestylin' bmx'er I hear the song you're singing and know your pain. Cross practice is dead- long live cross practice! Give a shout- FSX has gone legit and Ill send you the details if you're into it.

dennisbike said...

If nothing interesting pops up for Wed's...Out and back from my place to w/up. Then hills and skills under lights in the park across the street from mi casa.

Judi said...

damn mark, that bites. sorry to hear about that.

Becky said...

That's a bummer, Marc. Mowed fields with little off camber pieces are such a luxury...

van den kombs said...

sorry to hear about loss of school X. Time to cut losses and forge ahead. Good luck in search of another place.

al d said...

Nice picture of Natas at the top. A ditch is way better than a park, and being on the run is what made it fun.

Matt said...

Dude, that sucks. Hope to crack a beer with ya on Saturday!



Soupie! said...

Drive around for hours to skate what were essentially curbs. Now in every direction out of the city you can find a skate park. Tony Hawk Euthanized the sport. Bummer about School X. I can see where, like a bunch of angry cigarette smoking teenagers, i bunch of skinny dorks running around in lycra on expensive race bikes can be a threat.

Lets keep cross a threat this year

Anonymous said...

The best skate spot I ever had was the Toll Bowl, off the Dulles access road. A real pain in the ass to get to- like a half mile hike and two fence crossings- and it always had to be swept, or you'd have to move the parking blocks back to the top, or something. Only my friends and I, and some kids from Reston (Team Dork!) ever bothered, and it was great. Cross practice should be like that- a hard to get to, earned.

Anonymous said...

as a skater that pretty much only skates pools these days I feel your pain all too well.

David said...

Oh yeah? Well, don't get so distressed
Did I happen to mention that I'm impressed?

Adam Myerson said...

"If we can get a sump or some buckets, I think we can drain that pool and maybe have 'cross practice there!"

Or something like that.

In HS we used to skate the pool at an abandoned synagogue/rec center. We called it the Jew Bowl. And I'm half Jewish. I cringe when I think about it.