This trip began at LAX. Pat Channita, Willy Santos, Chad Bartie, and Bucky Lasek left in a van from Billabong headquarters in Irvine. Since I only live a few minutes from the airport, I had a friend drop me off to meet them.

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately, but this trip marked a few firsts for me. I’d never been to London and had never traveled with the Billabong team. I’d met most of the them at contests and demos, but not much more than a “Hi, how’s it going?”

Getting to see London had me excited and spending a week there with a bunch of people I didn’t know had me a little nervous. I arrived at the terminal with these mixed emotions to find none of the others had made it yet. After twenty minutes, there was still no sign of them, so I began to worry. Was I at the wrong terminal? Was it the wrong day or time? A phone call to Enich, our team manager, answered all of my questions. The whole crew was eating right outside the terminal. I strolled over, had a bite to eat, and boarded the plane.

I usually hate overseas flights-ten hours in an uncomfortable seat with nothing to do and nowhere to go. But this flight proved to be almost pleasant. Bartie and I started with a game of chess, which led into our in-flight movie. Afterward, everyone got up to stretch their legs and hung out in what could most easily be described as the plane lounge.

It was a good chance for me to get acquainted with the team. Well, everyone but Pat, who used his time alone to peruse through his recently purchased adult reading material. I also discovered the filmer traveling with us was Colin Kennedy, who I’ve know for quite some time and enjoy hanging out with.

We landed in London as the last traces of my apprehension were replaced with excitement. A very unique and expensive cab took us to our hotel. I’d never seen rooms this small before. It was an extremely nice hotel, but I guess the English have no use for excess space.

Ali Cairns and Jesse Van Roechoudt met us at the hotel. No time for sleep, though. We headed straight out and jumped on a red double-decker bus for a tour of the city, which proved to be both relaxing and educational-the only fun fact I was able to retain was that one of the biggest and most popular parks in the city was built on land where they used to bury dead lepers back in who-knows-what century. This little informational trip would be the first and last sightseeing to be done.

I didn’t get to see Stonehenge, but other than that, the trip was exactly what I wanted-nothing but skateboarding. Well, other than eating, drinking, and a few Lakers versus Spurs games, this trip had more skating than any other trip I’ve been on.

We’d wake up around eight in the morning, eat, and be skating by ten or eleven. We cruised the city every day until dark-about 10:00 p.m.-sometimes even later. With a busy skate schedule, dinner wasn’t until 10:30 or eleven. Even though London is a bustling city, your options for dinner are pretty slim by that point. Even McDonald’s, which was a staple in quite a few of the group’s diets, was closed by twelve or one in most parts of the city.

Jefe was our food guide. When someone eats as much as he does, you have to listen to what he has to say about the subject. Wagamammas was what he had to say on at least three occasions. This was a Japanese restaurant that had good food and great fresh fruit juice. In fact, that’s the main reason we returned there night after night.

Our table ordered so much juice at one point it sounded like we killed the juice machine. After our table ordered drink number 150, a most disturbing grinding moan echoed out of the kitchen. Regardless of whether we actually killed the machine, it was most definitely ready for retirement.

The desert cry was always McDonald’s, which had a bad habit of being closed by the time we finally got around to eating. One night Bartie, Bucky, Jefeand Channita weren’t going to let this small setback keep them from apple pie and sundaes. Most would get one or the other, not Jefe. He’d go full-blast combining the two-vanilla sundae with caramel, not fudge, to dip his apple pie. On this particular night Jefe was prepared to go as far as Scotland to satisfy this desire.

They never made it to Scotland or Mickey D’s, but they did take a cab to the wrong side of town. After all of that fruitless effort they wound up settling for burritos and a long walk back to the hotel at four in the morning. This wasn’t the only late night to be had-we’d be out skating the next morning sleep or no sleep.

There was too much new terrain and too little time, so we wasted none. I hadn’t planned on talking about the actual skating. I figured that’s what the photos were for. I’m sure there’re a few of you who just have to read something about it, so I’ll go over some highlights. For the ones who would rather leave the description to the photographer, skip down a couple paragraphs-I’ll make it brief. This was the first chance I had to skate with any of these guys and was amazed by their talent. Bartie ripped everything in his path. He skated nonstop at every spot. It would take too long to go over the destruction Chad brought to England, so look at his photos and know there’s a whole hell of a lot more where that came from.

I don’t know what to say about Willy. He blew my mind every few minutes. It’s a joy to watch someone who has that kind of board control. At this cathedral, with steps everywhere, Willy walked up one set and from two-thirds of the way up, he started eyeing this super-narrow pathway at the top of another set. He looked up and proclaimed that he was going to kickflip from the step he was on to the small strip of brick quite a few stairs away. I thought for sure that after rolling along the stair, which was barely wide enough for your board, he’d change his mind. Instead, he landed his trick moments later.

A few days into our trip we did our first and only demo at the PlayStation park, which is a pretty nice park in a really bad part of town. The place was good to skate and the demo went well. Some of the standout moments were Pat three-flipping a huge oil drum, Bartie just killing everything, and Bucky doing gigantic Lien melons with his face pressed against the underside of a bridge that towers over the park.

One of the only places to eat near the park was called the Falafel King-more like the Falafel Nazi. What the guy behind the counter lacked in patience he made up for with anger-and he had more than enough to go around. A woman who entered in front of me was one of the many on the receiving end of it. She quietly asked a question, got yelled at, then turned and walked away. Colin on the other hand stayed for the Falafel Nazi’s wrath. He first yelled at him for dropping his skateboard, then for ordering twice, and again for asking for a receipt. I’d seen enough. As I walked out the door in search of another eatery, I could hear him yelling at the next patron. Needless to say he wouldn’t get any repeat business from us.

A few spots that did were South Bank and Shell Plaza. There was too much skating done at South Bank to be catalogued. When I think back on Shell Plaza a few things come to mind. Jesse nollie tailslid a ledge off of a seven-stair, Bartie noseginded it to 180, and Pat backside nollie 180 heelflipped the stairs. Pat also laid down a crazy line first try only to break his board on the last trick, a frontside flip down the seven.

With all of this good fortune there had to be tragedy lurking off in the distance. This time it came in the form of a broken video camera. Willy delivered the death blow with a front blunt to lens. It was the only camera except for my little PC5-not a VX1000, but still a workhorse it its own right. Enough so that it carried the weight for the final day or so of the trip. I brought it instead off my bigger three-chip camera. That way I’d have something light and small to film the city with, but it was a little odd filming skating with it because of the size. In the end, however, it did just fine. In fact it worked so hard I let it rest in the hotel on our last night. This turned out to be a mistake.

Bucky, Jesse, Pat, Jefe, Colin, Willy, Bartie, and I all headed out to round up some dinner after a long day of skating. It was about ten and since we were leaving in the morning, everyone decided to cut loose a bit. This included Willy, who had partied little to none thus far. Jefe and Bucky were trying really hard to help him make up for lost time. A super-fancy Italian joint was the location we finally settled on.

At this point Willy knew he was well over his limit. Bucky and Jefe did not agree and continued buying him drinks, and the noise from our table exceeded the acceptable level. As our volume grew louder, the restaurant staff became less patient.

Meanwhile, Willy tried to make the best of a bad situation. He poured his oat soda on the floor to keep from having to drink it and was barely able to keep his head up. Willy quietly got up and went to the bathroom. Some much time passed that we decided to investigate. To our surprise Willy had managed to crawl into a cab and was headed for the hotel. Being the good friends that we are, we pulled him from his chariot of salvation and drug him back upstairs to the table.

The rest of us had taken pity on him and were trying to get him to eat. As he sat there swaying like tall grass in the wind, the inevitable came: right there at the table in the middle of this super-nice restaurant with people eating dinner all around us. He didn’t even attempt to run for the bathroom. He just turned and let it all go right there on the floor. Well, on the floor and Pat’s newly purchased Clarks. He managed to puke for quite a while, too-long enough for Bucky to grab his camera and fire off half a roll.

A few people ran for the door in disgust and the rest of us just sat there laughing. The check was there within seconds-a clear sign that we’d worn out our welcome. There were a few of us who stayed to finish our meals. Ten minutes later we finally stumbled out the door, doubled over with laughter. Willy was put in a taxi headed to the hotel, he apologized the whole time. We assured him there was no need, he’d provided the most entertaining moment of the trip.

rought it instead off my bigger three-chip camera. That way I’d have something light and small to film the city with, but it was a little odd filming skating with it because of the size. In the end, however, it did just fine. In fact it worked so hard I let it rest in the hotel on our last night. This turned out to be a mistake.

Bucky, Jesse, Pat, Jefe, Colin, Willy, Bartie, and I all headed out to round up some dinner after a long day of skating. It was about ten and since we were leaving in the morning, everyone decided to cut loose a bit. This included Willy, who had partied little to none thus far. Jefe and Bucky were trying really hard to help him make up for lost time. A super-fancy Italian joint was the location we finally settled on.

At this point Willy knew he was well over his limit. Bucky and Jefe did not agree and continued buying him drinks, and the noise from our table exceeded the acceptable level. As our volume grew louder, the restaurant staff became less patient.

Meanwhile, Willy tried to make the best of a bad situation. He poured his oat soda on the floor to keep from having to drink it and was barely able to keep his head up. Willy quietly got up and went to the bathroom. Some much time passed that we decided to investigate. To our surprise Willy had managed to crawl into a cab and was headed for the hotel. Being the good friends that we are, we pulled him from his chariot of salvation and drug him back upstairs to the table.

The rest of us had taken pity on him and were trying to get him to eat. As he sat there swaying like tall grass in the wind, the inevitable came: right there at the table in the middle of this super-nice restaurant with people eating dinner all around us. He didn’t even attempt to run for the bathroom. He just turned and let it all go right there on the floor. Well, on the floor and Pat’s newly purchased Clarks. He managed to puke for quite a while, too-long enough for Bucky to grab his camera and fire off half a roll.

A few people ran for the door in disgust and the rest of us just sat there laughing. The check was there within seconds-a clear sign that we’d worn out our welcome. There were a few of us who stayed to finish our meals. Ten minutes later we finally stumbled out the door, doubled over with laughter. Willy was put in a taxi headed to the hotel, he apologized the whole time. We assured him there was no need, he’d provided the most entertaining moment of the trip.