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Chasing The Sunrise With Mark Mulville And Chad Degroot

12:35 25th February 2013 by David Leep @davidleep


Turndowns at dawn.

That’s what greeted my eyes when I rolled up to OSP concrete park in Orlando, Florida, at 7:04 AM last week. The sun had just peeked out from the horizon six minutes earlier, and Orlando residents Mark Mulville and Chad Degroot were already taking advantage of the new day’s sunrays.

Dawn riding sessions? That’s practically unheard of for the average rider (unless of course, it happens to be at the end of a long night). Who in their right mind would want to do that?

This wasn’t a normal day for Mulville. While he practically lives around the block from OSP (it goes without saying, he destroys the place), OSP’s bike hours normally start at 6PM on select days, and it gets crowded quickly. So the combo of both riding there at sunrise and having free reign to hit up any line possible was a first for Mark: “When we got here the first thing I did was a line I normally don’t do until after riding for a few hours. I wasn’t thinking that it was seven in the morning. I just thought, ‘Oh, park’s wide open; I’m going to ride the whole place.’ And it felt fine.” Not that Mr. Mulville is a complete stranger to riding before noon. He rides in the morning “once a week at least. Two reasons. One, less people, and two, it’s cooler out in the summer. I like riding in the morning, though not usually seven in the morning. My favorite time to ride is about 9AM to 1PM.”

Chad actually rides almost exclusively in the AM hours, so to him, “It’s another morning, just a couple hours earlier.” Adult responsibilities like having a family and running a business doesn’t exactly give one the option to function on a vampire’s schedule. If you’re gonna ride also, you gotta plan, and sometimes AM hours are the only times that can work.  Chad knows this all too well. Between running his shop, Mr. Bikes N Boards, and taking care of his two kids, time can evaporate faster than the lingering water on black pavement after a summertime Florida downpour. “With the family part of it, I get up when the alarm goes off, or earlier. That’s usually at seven, and the kids have to be to school at nine. I know I have to be at the shop, so I have that window from 9:30 to before noon to ride. It seemed weird when I first started focusing on it, but now it’s awesome. I realize the skateparks are busy in the afternoon. At the time I ride; there’s barely anyone there. Nighttime seems like I’m so faded from the day. It’s something I almost had to do. Nights are taken up. I’ve turned into a morning rider.”

Years ago, back before family life, owning the shop, and running Deco became a huge part of his life, Chad wasn’t always a morning person. It was the opposite. “My habits were completely different. I would wake up and think, ‘Oh, it’s getting dark, I should start riding.’ When I had [Mission and Mesh] skatepark, I rode better at night because it cooled; but it felt better during the day because no one was there.”

And the change seems to be working out all around for him. “I think for the most part my head is more clear in the morning. At night I tend to have what happened that day and what I need to do the next day [on my mind], and my phone is always by me. Having a good session in the morning makes working and dealing with stuff during the day so much easier.”

And even though this morning was a little bit of an anomaly, as riding at dawn was a bit earlier than he was accustomed to, Mark felt “it wasn’t too bad. I got up at 5:55. Had some food, and I felt fine. The earliest I ever got up to ride was for FDR [on a trip]. It still wasn’t light out when we got there.” I know from my own personal experience, FDR isn’t very fun riding before dawn. You can’t see anything. Being a Philly local, I’m on the somewhat regular morning sessions there myself (at least when it’s above 40 degrees out). And Mark can relate to the fact those early riding days can make you feel like you’ve actually got something accomplished, yet still have the whole day ahead. “I think it’s awesome. It’s 9AM right now, I’m riding and most of my friends that ride are still asleep. By the time I’m done riding here and ready to go somewhere else, they’re just getting up. I’ve already had hours in. It’s a good feeling, using the entire day. I get to be more active.”

Zach Goldsztejn (who organized and set up the morning at OSP, thanks to Mountain Dew Kickstart juice beverage) and freelance writer Paul Eide got their first taste of riding a BMX bike that morning, and all before 9 AM. Even with Chad and Mark giving valuable pointers, learning how to carve bowls and drop in on quarters may not be the best time when your eyelids are still half closed, but Paul and Zach definitely held their own, and even left the park injury-free. It goes to show whether you’ve been riding for two minutes or twenty years, those sunrise sessions can have some legit appeal, even if it feels like you’d rather smash that alarm clock first.

- Rob Dolecki

  1. vadum

    nichogo ne pechy!!!!