This weekend in North Carolina I had the opportunity to join up with two guys skateboarding across the America from NYC to San Diego, California. Their objective: Reach Southern California by October 20th, 2012 to participate in the Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon Race in San Diego, CA.
The team of two met in New York City and shared the dream of skateboarding across America. Imagine the challenge of crossing the USA on a skateboard….Pretty intense. To accomplish this type of challenge, one may assume these skathletes are made of steel and operate on diesel fuel, but that’s not the case. Bustin Team Rider Andrei Hippix, 22 and The Mad Russian Sasha Popper, 21 are human like you and I and share the dream to skateboard across America.
The Challenge of longboarding across America is no joke. The journey is a life or death situation for months on end and one must be focused the entire time or risk losing the life of you or a teammate.
Last year, Sasha attempted to skate the distance by himself, making it to Texas where he was injured and had to turn back to NYC on public transportation. This year Sasha has a fire in his soul that will drive him to skate 3,000+ miles. Sasha more or less adopted Andrei to join him on this mission and cares for him like a brother. Sasha is a natural leader with endless energy and encourages the team to keep pace through thick and thin.
Andrei is a calm and collected lone ranger who follows the fearless leader and is capable of skating many miles at a time. The team had been on the road for 10 days when I met up with them…this is our story.
I was finishing up my day at the Bustin wood shop in coastal Wilmington, NC when I noticed a Facebook update from the A-Cross America Skate USA team which I had been following since their departure at the Bustin Headquarters in Brooklyn, NY last week. They posted a photo of North Carolina and I Google mapped it. The guys were 3 hours north west from me and their route was within 3 hours of Wilmington all the way through NC til they reached SC. I ran to the back of the shop and asked my buddies if anyone had an interest in taking a weekend trip to central North Carolina. One of my pals said he had family/friends in High Point which was near Route 49, right where I needed to be.
We left work at 6pm, we packed and left Wilmington by 9pm and drove to Liberty, NC to find Hippix sleeping beneath the canopy of a closed gas station like a bum. Hippix was stoked to see us! He almost couldn’t believe we were there!
We loaded him up and took a ride across town in the pouring rain to the Golden Waffle, where Sasha had been lurking all day waiting on Hippix. The two separated for a few days near D.C. where Sasha’s board had been broken by a truck. Hippix continued on to meet their deadline and Sasha walked countless miles to find a skate shop, only to find nothing in 3 towns! Some friends of his in a band called Shinobi Ninja were driving from NYC to D.C. and brought him a deck. From there he caught a bus to Charlotte then SKATED 80 miles back to meet up with Hippix. Crazy, I know. So with the crew reunited I learned of their adventures so far over chicken and waffles at 4am in Liberty, NC. My friend Jordan who drove me out was super fascinated the entire time until he had to take a snooze in the back of the car in the parking lot. After catching up with the crew and letting them know I would skate the next 90 miles with them, we decided to take cover from the rain in the car. 4 dudes snoozed a few hours in the car before sun up, then we were off.
I followed the team out on to Route 49 and watched My friend Jordan drive off. That was it, I was into the gauntlet, no turning back, 90 miles to skate in two days. Route 49 runs through the Uwharrie National Forest of NC and can be a 2-lane or 4-lane highway through rural countryside and small towns.
We had a small shoulder on the side of the highway to skate on and at times had no shoulder at all. The road is a truck route and you definitely have some sketchy encounters with psycho drivers. Skating with a team of 3 was easy but I can imagine how difficult it would be to add more riders to the adventure.
The most sketchy experience I had was when a logging truck passed us on a single lane area on a hill. The logs had settled during transit and some were bowed and sticking out over the side of the truck and over the white line. I heard a whoosh! and watched the protruding log almost decapitate the riders in front of me. The trucker was carrying a poor load, how was he supposed to know he almost could have killed us! That was pretty sketchy. My other most memorable experience is being smoked out by diesel pickup trucks. The drivers see you ahead then put their engines in neutral, rev the engine and re-engage when they pass you, spitting out a HUGE cloud of black smoke in yoface. I thought it was actually pretty rad, except when I couldn’t breathe.
We skated 45 miles on the first day and stopped in a small, single stop light town called Richfield, NC. Bustin was kind enough to hook us up with a cheap room and we got some rest. Hippix was experiencing his first case of nut chaffe and we had to get the kid some rest. If you have ever had the plague, imagine it as bad as it can get, with little white heads, and that’s what happens when you push all day without taking a shower. It gets BAD! We hooked the dude up with some Gold Bond Medicated and taught him a thing or two about manhood. Good times.
We woke the next morning feeling great and set off around noon for Charlotte, NC – another 45 miles ahead. Traffic was heavier than usual and Route 49 bottle necked into single lane traffic with a construction detour. We had to walk about 3 miles through a construction zone because skating was not safe. The zone had been fresh packed by big machines and we enjoyed an epic dirt skate next to the highway with construction dudes cheering us on. We got super muddy but it was rad.
Half way into day 2 we had skated about 70 total miles and I realized you don’t need to train for years to skate across America. You just need to have confidence on your board and take it at a pace you can handle and in a time frame can afford to be away. I have not trained for a distance push since 2010 and I had no problems keeping up with the pace. Distance skateboarding is like riding a bike, something you will never forget and you build muscle that doesn’t go away.
I had my first terrible experience around 4pm on day 2. I had to do a #2 in the woods and chose a terrible spot for my business, right in a fire ant hill. I had removed my shorts and laid them on the ground with my wet wipes on top of that. As I was concentrating I felt a burn on my left ankle and saw a swarm of fire ants moving up my leg. Oh the pain and terrible timing! I jumped around naked, shaking out my shorts and the wet wipes while trying to clean myself, getting eaten alive. I must be allergic to the buggers because my legs are swollen like tree trunks with little white heads all over and they itch like mad! All in the name of distance skateboarding! So worth it!
We had a lot of good Samaritans help us along the way. Random cars would stop in front of us and we would approach them never knowing what to expect. Everyone was super friendly offering us water, food and cash. Incredible show of patriotism through North Carolina. We also had assholes yell vulgarities quite frequently and even some who would swerve at us and honk. Jerks. You see it all when you skate across the USA.
We arrived in Charlotte late Saturday night after skating 2 full days and Bustin hooked up the guys with an affordable place to crash.
I learned a lot about self-sustained distance skateboarding this weekend from Sasha and Hippix. You have to put teamwork first if you skate with a team. That is the one lesson I hope the boys learned from me. It is a long road to California and the road does not get easier – the challenges grow as the team pushes on.
The guys have what it takes and can use as mush encouragement as they can from their friends back home. Your feedback on the social networks is what fuels their fire and keeps their mind on the road. If you would like to support the team, contact firstname.lastname@example.org SUBJECT: SkateUSA
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