It rained the morning our tour began; everyone was still sleeping and trying to avoid the inevitable jet lag. That they were coming to the end of the skate industry’s busiest travel month didn’t seem to have much effect on our crew. Max Schaaf and Keith Hufnagel had gone back to the States for ten days after the Dortmund, Germany contest, and now here they were, back across the Atlantic again. John Cardiel rested a while longer at home after Marseille, and photographer Gabe Morford and Tony Trujillo came in box fresh.
Later in the afternoon the rain took a short break, so a demo commenced at the Harrow park. Most of the session went down in the halfpipe, which was built in a time when vert was preferred to flatbottom¿that was but a pipe dream away¿which effectively means that any kind of trick done in the halfpipe is an achievement in itself. All the boys laid some stuff down on this rough little monster. Some time was spent in the kinked pool, where Cardiel took some slams that only Cardiel is capable of getting up from. Rain stopped play, and we returned to our rooms.
That night, some of us watched Fast Times At Ridgemont High on Huf’s Powerbook, which has to be one of the greatest inventions of this century. Imagine all the boredom that will be fought off with the help of this device¿no more sitting in the back of the bus, listening to the Walkman for days on end; now you will be able to watch movies until the cows come home.
Saturday And Sunday
This is where I made a little detour from the tour. Instead of staying with the boys for the next couple of days, I headed off to Liverpool to shoot some portraits of Geoff Rowley. But don’t worry, I hooked up with the crew on Monday in sunny Liverpool.
Liverpool is one of the most rundown places I’ve ever been. It’s got a hard edge that can be a little intimidating if you’re not from there. Most skaters get a lot of hassle from local scallies, but they give as good as they get, never to be outdone on the streets. Consequently, the Liverpool skate scene has consistently produced its fair share of top-draw skaters.
Rampworks Skatepark has a lot of BMX-type terrain, some of which is workable and some not. The day’s demo turned into a session with the locals. Howard Cooke and his brother Adam made an appearance, and Cardiel and Tony joined in, taking part in the mini-ramp session. American Pie was the viewing selection en route back to the hotel. That night we drank at a local bar that had turned orange from nicotine. It was Gary’s birthday¿he’d just turned 26¿so to celebrate, we took to town and hit up some of the less-appealing-looking clubs, and a few members of the group ended up in the lap of luxury. So to speak.
On tour, you sometimes find yourself in some obscure places¿Red Ditch turned out to be such a place. I couldn’t tell you were it was on a map, which is just as well, because you wouldn’t want to go there, unless of course you wanted to get lost trying to find a tarmac field with jump ramps located next to the middle of nowhere. Near Birmingham, I think.
The day started like every day should begin, with a game of golf. Our four consisted of myself, Cardiel, Huf, and Percy (the editor of the British skateboard mag Document). We played in the middle of nowhere (could have been close to the park, but I can’t be sure), and once again we got well and truly lost on our way there, but some innocent-looking local who hadn’t seen another human being in the past year was more than happy to give us directions. Two days later we were at the course. Nine holes is all we played, and Cardiel took the lot of us to town by taking the game as well as the quid bet on the last hole. John plays golf a bit like he skates, meaning conservative course management is out of the question¿the Tiger Woods style of attack is what he prefers.
A couple of hours later, after Dumb And Dumbber ran its course, we were in Bristol skating the Bedminster Skatepark, a revamped circa-1970s park. For me Bedminster ended this short but enjoyable tour. I snapped a couple of shots of Max, then headed on home.