Rails Of Death

Geoff Rowley

“I’ve had black nuts and all that, but I’ve never been knocked out, so I count myself as being pretty lucky.”

Do you remember the first rail you ever did?

Yeah, it was like a four-stair into grass. That was the first handrail I ever like ollied onto, just to get the feeling, you know? Plus if I racked my nuts, at least I would have fallen and hit my teeth on grass instead of concrete. But the first real handrail I did was like a six-stair boardslide. That stuff was good because it really built up my confidence, and I was stoked. It was a big deal for me back then.

What’s the worst slam you’ve ever taken on a rail?

Oh, god. I stuck on this one really flat twelve-stair wooden rail, and parallel to the bottom of the rail was this red brick curb. I hit my chin on the ground right next to it, then whacked my arm sideways right on the edge of the brick curb. It didn’t break my arm, but it pretty much like wore it to the bone, and I had stitches all in my chin and everything. I’ve sacked my nuts quite a few times. I’ve had black nuts and all that, but I’ve never been knocked out, so I count myself as being pretty lucky.

Is there anything you do to warm up or get yourself psyched?

Yeah, I don’t think about skating the rail. Say I want to do something, I would probably try and treat it as an everyday skate session. Just go out and skate and try to have fun, just to get me all stoked and everything.

Do you ever plan escape routes or think about what might happen if you mess up?

Well, I’ve managed to learn my Evil Knievel rolls and all that. So I just take it from there.

What’s the craziest rail you’ve ever done?

I just did this one for a Vans ad. It’s a lipslide on a 21-stair, but it’s not a regular handrail. It’s like one and a half times the height of a regular rail, so that’s the sketchiest rail I’ve ever done. Just because it was super high and super long.

Any advice for kids who want to start skating rails?

The best way to skate a rail is to be very careful, but at the same time be very relaxed. And that’s something that’s very hard to do. You’ve got to be just completely focused, but at the same time you gotta be having fun.

Chad Muska

“The worst was that stupid-ass rail at the Slam City Jam! I almost knocked myself out.”

Do you remember the first handrail you ever did?

Yeah, it was in Arizona at Merryville High School. It was like four stairs. I was hella psyched. I just busted a boardslide and then learned how to grind it and noseslide it. I remember after that there were these six-stair rails in Vegas, and we used to skate the f¿k out of those. That’s when I first started doing bigger rails.

Is there anything you do to get hyped to skate a rail?

I don’t really have a technique, but if I’m feeling good at that time then I’ll bust it. But I won’t ever just try and make myself do it, because when I try and make myself do something I usually get hurt. If you skate around the neighborhood or something it’ll kind of get your blood going, you know? That and you gotta rock some beats, dawg. Music¿that’s the main thing. That’ll put me on a handrail.

What’s the craziest rail you’ve ever done?

The crazy kinked rail I grinded at San Dieguito back in the day¿that was the one that stoked me out the most because I didn’t really know if you could grind through a round kink like that.

What’s the worst slam you’ve ever taken on a rail?

I’ve had so many slams in my life, laughs but one of the worst was that stupid-ass rail at the Slam City Jam! I almost knocked myself out. That was a good example of not being warmed up.

Do you have any advice for skating rails?

Get some experience before you step on a fat rail, ’cause you gotta know what you’re doing. Learn on little ones first and get everything down, but if you’ve got the balls to do it, f¿k it, go ahead and do it.

Chad Fernandez

“I knocked the wind out of myself and blacked out for a send. Then I just got up and walked home.”

Do you remember the first handrail you ever did?

Oh yeah, I was eleven and it was this six-stair rail. I just did an ollie to boardslide. I was pysched, so then I started caveman boardsliding bigger rails. Lately I’ve been thinking about cavemans, though. I want to do a fingerflip to boardslide down a handrail one day, that would be funny.

Do you do anything to get warmed up or get pysched to go skate a rail?

I usually warm up on something smaller, or I’ll just ollie the stairs a bunch of times or do a basic trick on a ledge. Sometimes I’ll listen to some crazy music or something to get me in the mood, get pumped up or something.

What’s the craziest rail trick you’ve ever done?

Probably that nosegrind down the sixteen-stair rail at Hollywood High.

What’s the worst slam you’ve ever taken on a rail?

Years ago I tried a 50-50 down a rail and just didn’t get both my trucks on and I fell from the top. I knocked the wind out of myself and blacked out for a second. Then I just got up and walked home.

Do you have any advice about skating rails?

I’ve found that if you see something you want to do and wait too long, you won’t do it. You have to step to it as soon as possible, at least with a basic trick. That and you have to really know what you’re doing and work your way up.

Daniel Haney

“Everyone said I blacked out, but I don’t remember.”

Do you remember the first rail you ever did?

It was this little three-stair handrail behind this movie theater in Georgia. I had just started skating and did a bomb drop boardslide, and I was just super pysched. It was just this little loading-dock rail, but I was hyped¿I had to tell all my friends about it.

What’s the worst slam you’ve ever taken?

That’s hard to say. I guess it just depends on what type of slam. I’ve nutted twice so bad that my sack bled, and I’ve hit my head pretty hard a couple times. But recently I was shooting photos and I was just warming up and went to get on a backside grind. The rail was kind of low, and it’s really easy to flip out on something lower. There was a wall right behind it, like a walkway. So I flipped out and smacked my head on the wall. Everyone said I blacked out, but I don’t remember. I just remember losing control and trying to grab the rail to keep from hitting my head and seeing white. Then just laying there a couple seconds later in a daze. What’s the craziest rail you’ve ever done?

There was this long eighteen-stair curved boardslide, but I slid it from the opposite way of the curve, like dip in and slide around. It was just out of control to boardslide it the opposite way. By the time I got to the end, I was just hanging on for dear life, going like a hundred miles an hour, praying to roll away from it.

Do you do anything to get all hyped to skate rails?

Most of the time I’ll just see a rail and it’ll get me stoked. If I’m driving by and I see it, that’s enough. Just to picture yourself doing a trick on it gets you pumpin’. You just get the crazy feeling, like this drive¿you can feel it. You realize you can do it, like a vision or desire to do it. Some rails I’ll see and I just get pysched, it’s like an adrenaline rush. Sometimes it even helps to slam too, because it’ll wake you up.

Ryan Johnson

“I caught the oncoming vertical rail and it put a spin on my body that threw my shoes off.”

Do you remember the first rail you ever did?

Yeah, it was in Fresno, and it was probably like two stairs long and I did a caveman to it. It was just this little mellow baby handrail. I don’t remember the first handrail I ollied to, but I remember the first rail I hit my balls on¿you remember that experience. I was just a little tike in the third grade, and it was a kinked handrail. I caught my balls right on the kink¿man it was the worst. I was sore for a week.

What’s the craziest rail you’ve done?

By far it would have to be the city hall rail (Cover of TransWorld 18 Number 3). I actually ended up doing it like four times so I could get it on film, ’cause the first time I did it with my brother it was just a little 8 mm camera, not Hi-8, so we had to get it on better video. We had to just keep trying every Sunday because you’d only get a couple minutes and then get kicked out. But I hit my balls on that rail, too¿kept sliding until my right leg swung under the rail. Then I caught the oncoming vertical rail and it put a spin on my body that threw my shoes off.

Do you do anything to get warmed up?

I just look at what I’m going to be doing, where I’m going to get on, and where I’m going to roll away. I like to think about it in my head first because it’s all on you. If you can focus on it, you can do it.

Any advice?

Skate the little ones first to get used to it.

Alex Gall a.k.a. Trainwreck

“I just jumped onto my nuts. I went home after that¿I remember almost throwing up.”

Do you remember the first handrail you ever did?

Not really. Laughs I remember the first handrail I sacked on, though. It was like a little three-stair handrail in front of this train station, and I was just trying to jump onto it, and my board didn’t make it. I just jumped onto my nuts. I went home after that¿I remember almost throwing up. Sarcastically I think I even cried laughs, yeah, right!

What’s the craziest rail you’ve done?

One of the sketchiest rails I did was that fourteen-stair big bricks one because of the run-up. I had to get speed and ollie up the curb, plus there were all these cracks everywhere.

What’s the worst slam you’ve taken on a rail?

Actually, just the other day I was trying to grind this thirteen-stair handrail, and it didn’t grind at all. It completely stuck, and I jumped all the way to the bottom kicking in the air, hit my knee on the handrail, then landed flat on the ground on my stomach. It was sketchy.

Do you do anything to get warmed up?

I just ollie over it first or ollie down the stairs, then start doing some 50-50s or whatever.

Any advice?

Don’t eat shit, and try not to sack yourself.

Jamie Thomas

“It took my shin like a month and a half to stop bleeding, it just oozed for like two months.”

Do you remember the first handrail you ever did?

I do, it was this little three-stair in Alabama. I did a frontside and a backside boardslide because there were two rails there, but the rail was so small I was just doing the vertical bonk slide. I think that was in like ’88. I was so stoked, though. I remember thinking it was the greatest thing ever, because I had seen photos of Julian Stranger doing a frontside boardslide, and Gonz and Ed Templeton had photos grinding them.

Is there anything you do to get warmed up or hyped to skate a rail?

The most important thing is just that your body is warmed up. I mean, you can warm up by doing flat tricks or skating a small rail or skating stairs. I usually get warmed up, but there’s nothing you can really do to warm up specifically for a rail, unless you carried around a flatbar in a truck or something. It’s basically about being warmed up and confident¿that’s what’s important.

Do you think rails are different in a way because you have be committed 100 percent?

Yeah, depending on the size of the rail. If the rail is small, you don’t have to commit like 100 percent¿because you’re still going to clear it because it’s so short. Anything like eight stairs and below you might be able to get out of the situation. Then there gets to be like ten stairs and above where you really couldn’t get out of a slam even if you wanted to.

What do you think is the craziest rail you’ve ever done?

I don’t know. There’s been a couple of rails that were severely scary for me. If someone was going to ask me the craziest one, I would probably pick the ones that were very hard for me to make myself do. There’s the Earl Warren School, the twenty-stair that Josh Casper oCover of TransWorld 18 Number 3). I actually ended up doing it like four times so I could get it on film, ’cause the first time I did it with my brother it was just a little 8 mm camera, not Hi-8, so we had to get it on better video. We had to just keep trying every Sunday because you’d only get a couple minutes and then get kicked out. But I hit my balls on that rail, too¿kept sliding until my right leg swung under the rail. Then I caught the oncoming vertical rail and it put a spin on my body that threw my shoes off.

Do you do anything to get warmed up?

I just look at what I’m going to be doing, where I’m going to get on, and where I’m going to roll away. I like to think about it in my head first because it’s all on you. If you can focus on it, you can do it.

Any advice?

Skate the little ones first to get used to it.

Alex Gall a.k.a. Trainwreck

“I just jumped onto my nuts. I went home after that¿I remember almost throwing up.”

Do you remember the first handrail you ever did?

Not really. Laughs I remember the first handrail I sacked on, though. It was like a little three-stair handrail in front of this train station, and I was just trying to jump onto it, and my board didn’t make it. I just jumped onto my nuts. I went home after that¿I remember almost throwing up. Sarcastically I think I even cried laughs, yeah, right!

What’s the craziest rail you’ve done?

One of the sketchiest rails I did was that fourteen-stair big bricks one because of the run-up. I had to get speed and ollie up the curb, plus there were all these cracks everywhere.

What’s the worst slam you’ve taken on a rail?

Actually, just the other day I was trying to grind this thirteen-stair handrail, and it didn’t grind at all. It completely stuck, and I jumped all the way to the bottom kicking in the air, hit my knee on the handrail, then landed flat on the ground on my stomach. It was sketchy.

Do you do anything to get warmed up?

I just ollie over it first or ollie down the stairs, then start doing some 50-50s or whatever.

Any advice?

Don’t eat shit, and try not to sack yourself.

Jamie Thomas

“It took my shin like a month and a half to stop bleeding, it just oozed for like two months.”

Do you remember the first handrail you ever did?

I do, it was this little three-stair in Alabama. I did a frontside and a backside boardslide because there were two rails there, but the rail was so small I was just doing the vertical bonk slide. I think that was in like ’88. I was so stoked, though. I remember thinking it was the greatest thing ever, because I had seen photos of Julian Stranger doing a frontside boardslide, and Gonz and Ed Templeton had photos grinding them.

Is there anything you do to get warmed up or hyped to skate a rail?

The most important thing is just that your body is warmed up. I mean, you can warm up by doing flat tricks or skating a small rail or skating stairs. I usually get warmed up, but there’s nothing you can really do to warm up specifically for a rail, unless you carried around a flatbar in a truck or something. It’s basically about being warmed up and confident¿that’s what’s important.

Do you think rails are different in a way because you have be committed 100 percent?

Yeah, depending on the size of the rail. If the rail is small, you don’t have to commit like 100 percent¿because you’re still going to clear it because it’s so short. Anything like eight stairs and below you might be able to get out of the situation. Then there gets to be like ten stairs and above where you really couldn’t get out of a slam even if you wanted to.

What do you think is the craziest rail you’ve ever done?

I don’t know. There’s been a couple of rails that were severely scary for me. If someone was going to ask me the craziest one, I would probably pick the ones that were very hard for me to make myself do. There’s the Earl Warren School, the twenty-stair that Josh Casper ollied, the death-wish set. In a five-year period I went to that rail probably once a year to do it, and I just couldn’t. The drop-off point from the sidewalk to the parking lot is so high, you can just see out into the whole area. I guess all the rails that’ve been gnarly for me have been in the same situation where the illusion is that the rail just drops off the face of the planet¿it’s like you’re on top of a building or something. So I’d have to say that Earl Warren one and this 21-stair rail backside grind that was on the cover of Big Brother a couple years ago. Both those were just big steep rails that you can’t bail out of.

What’s the worst slam you’ve ever taken on a rail?

I slammed on that one trailer obstacle that was a bump to flatbar and slid on face. But recently I just sacked on a rail and carved out a segment of my shin on the kink. I hit my board on the rail on the way up and missed, then before getting sacked I grinded my shin all the way down the rail. That was pretty brutal, it took my shin like a month and a half to stop bleeding¿it just oozed for like two months.

Do you have any advice or secret techniques for skating rails?

The technique is to just get confidence on a flatbar and skate small rails. Park rails are actually the best technique. Just skate a small simulated handrail about the same steepness as the one you want to try. Then you’ll just have the confidence to do it and won’t hesitate, you’ll just go.

Arto Saari

“I just stuck, flew forward, and I woke up in the hospital shaking.” Do you remember the first handrail you ever did?

Yeah, if you can call it a handrail. I had this jump ramp and this two-by-four, and there was this construction yard right next to my house. I saw these plastic pipe things, so I took one and a normal handsaw to saw it into two pieces. Then I just nailed the pieces to the two-by-four. So it was this two-by-four going off the jump ramp with that plastic, and I was like, “Oh, this probably isn’t going to slide” I waxed it a little bit. It ended up being dead slick, way too slippery, and I was scared to do it. But then I remembered I had a hockey helmet somewhere, so I put it on. The first time I got on I just slipped so bad, I fell right on my back and didn’t know what happened.

Is there anything you do to warm up or get hyped to skate a rail?

Usually I’ll just warm up skating whatever curbs are around. Then Rowley will just start calling me a pussy or “fairy boots” and tell me to put my gnarly boots on, “Come on pussy!” That’s how it usually works.

What do think about when you’re rolling up to a rail?

Actually, when you’re rolling toward it, you try not to think of anything. You’re just doing it, you’re not thinking about it. You’ve just got to go for it.

What’s the worst slam you’ve ever taken on a rail? I got knocked out right before Vancouver, so that’s twice now. But I was trying a feeble grind at the San Dieguito thirteen-stair rail. I was just kind of warming up, and I wanted to do something else on it, but broke my board. So I set up another one and started skating again. But I tried a feeble, and my board got caught where the knobs were cut off. I just stuck, flew forward, and I woke up in the hospital shaking. I saw the footage later because Geoff was filming it. I was just rolling around and vomiting all over the place. It was weird. I wasn’t like passed out, but I didn’t know what was going on.

Do you have any advice for people who skate rails?

Just put some kind of a nad helmet on¿a hockey helmet for your jewels.

er ollied, the death-wish set. In a five-year period I went to that rail probably once a year to do it, and I just couldn’t. The drop-off point from the sidewalk to the parking lot is so high, you can just see out into the whole area. I guess all the rails that’ve been gnarly for me have been in the same situation where the illusion is that the rail just drops off the face of the planet¿it’s like you’re on top of a building or something. So I’d have to say that Earl Warren one and this 21-stair rail backside grind that was on the cover of Big Brother a couple years ago. Both those were just big steep rails that you can’t bail out of.

What’s the worst slam you’ve ever taken on a rail?

I slammed on that one trailer obstacle that was a bump to flatbar and slid on face. But recently I just sacked on a rail and carved out a segment of my shin on the kink. I hit my board on the rail on the way up and missed, then before getting sacked I grinded my shin all the way down the rail. That was pretty brutal, it took my shin like a month and a half to stop bleeding¿it just oozed for like two months.

Do you have any advice or secret techniques for skating rails?

The technique is to just get confidence on a flatbar and skate small rails. Park rails are actually the best technique. Just skate a small simulated handrail about the same steepness as the one you want to try. Then you’ll just have the confidence to do it and won’t hesitate, you’ll just go.

Arto Saari

“I just stuck, flew forward, and I woke up in the hospital shaking.” Do you remember the first handrail you ever did?

Yeah, if you can call it a handrail. I had this jump ramp and this two-by-four, and there was this construction yard right next to my house. I saw these plastic pipe things, so I took one and a normal handsaw to saw it into two pieces. Then I just nailed the pieces to the two-by-four. So it was this two-by-four going off the jump ramp with that plastic, and I was like, “Oh, this probably isn’t going to slide” I waxed it a little bit. It ended up being dead slick, way too slippery, and I was scared to do it. But then I remembered I had a hockey helmet somewhere, so I put it on. The first time I got on I just slipped so bad, I fell right on my back and didn’t know what happened.

Is there anything you do to warm up or get hyped to skate a rail?

Usually I’ll just warm up skating whatever curbs are around. Then Rowley will just start calling me a pussy or “fairy boots” and tell me to put my gnarly boots on, “Come on pussy!” That’s how it usually works.

What do think about when you’re rolling up to a rail?

Actually, when you’re rolling toward it, you try not to think of anything. You’re just doing it, you’re not thinking about it. You’ve just got to go for it.

What’s the worst slam you’ve ever taken on a rail? I got knocked out right before Vancouver, so that’s twice now. But I was trying a feeble grind at the San Dieguito thirteen-stair rail. I was just kind of warming up, and I wanted to do something else on it, but broke my board. So I set up another one and started skating again. But I tried a feeble, and my board got caught where the knobs were cut off. I just stuck, flew forward, and I woke up in the hospital shaking. I saw the footage later because Geoff was filming it. I was just rolling around and vomiting all over the place. It was weird. I wasn’t like passed out, but I didn’t know what was going on.

Do you have any advice for people who skate rails?

Just put some kind of a nad helmet on¿a hockey helmet for your jewels.