Monday, May 3, 2021

the deep end

It is the first Sunday in May and instead of romping through the mountains I am at the skate park, dropping into the pool. Yesterday, a dozen or so mountain bikers undertook the pisgah99 and I was content to just take the dog for a ten mile run and then go home to mow the grass and today here I am, working on my ollies on the bank and my line in the pool. Twelve years ago, when we first did the pisgah99, there was no way I would spend a perfect spring Sunday in a concrete jungle. 

I thought hard about doing the 99 this year and had every intention of doing it but in the end did not have the motivation to buy some lights and actually ride my bike more than a few times a month. Every intention was little more than a daydream that had to compete with daydreams of tre flips, smith grinds and manual pop shove-its. So, j ust like that instead of getting up at 4am to ride my bike for 24 hours I slept until 10 and today here I am at the skate park instead of the forest.

Growing up, I was a surfer, I had a skateboard. I listened to Punk Rock in the city and reggae at the beach. Then came college and the skateboard got left at home and the Grateful Dead and Phish took the place of The Dead Kennedy's and Black Flag. I left the beach to go back to the big city where supposedly more opportunity awaits but grew stagnant and complacent. I spent years wandering around parking lots following a rock and roll band from city to city. The skateboard remained largely forgotten. It was mainly used to push a cooler around, selling beer and water to get money for concert tickets and gas money. Sometimes I would do an ollie or kick flip just to prove I still could but eventually even those got forsaken. The band broke up and with nothing left to chase I found myself going nowhere fast. 

I got a mountain bike as a means of transportation but quickly discovered trails and then after my first trip to Pisgah I was hooked. I quickly found myself making the two and a half hour drive to Pisgah every time I had a day or two off. On the drive home one day from yet another epic day I asked myself "Why don't you move there?" and couldn't think of a viable answer. I had a good paying job that I hated, a girlfriend I didn't like and not much else. So, the next day I went into work, gave my notice and a short while later moved to Hendersonville. For a long time I was riding six days a week, signing up for all the endurance races and was as big of a Pisgah junkie as there is. I used to take my dog to walk in this same park after my epic rides and would watch the skateboarders. When I was growing up skateboarding was very much a crime and we had nothing like these skate parks. I would have killed to have a perfect right hand kidney bean pool like this to skate. But still, I only watched as I walked the dog.

Eventually mountain biking lost some of it's allure and I discovered mountain running and it became my preferred mode to explore the forest. I found I could get in a good workout in less time and had a lot more hiking only trails available to explore. I'm still a Pisgah junkie but I won a new skateboard last year and after a lot of psyching myself up - and a set of pads - finally started skating again after a 27 year hiatus and am once again hooked. Things change and the mountains aren't going anywhere so I might as well live while I am young.

The skate park is an interesting environment and the Sunday afternoon crowd doesn't disappoint. I spend most of my time in the pool, working on my line. I keep getting higher and higher on the big wall and then get speed wobbles coming down and instead of slamming or knee sliding, I run out of it and my right foot takes the brunt of the impact. Pain shoots through my body and I think "This could be bad." Instead of having to hobble miles down a mountain trail it is just a short walk back to the truck and by the time I get home the pain has died down and I know everything might be okay, I will live to play another day.


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