Mark Gralla and the legend of 'Secret Spot 2'
"a true testament to Mark’s super-refined riding ability on unorthodox objects"
19 May 2020
Words and photos by Rob Dolecki | Article originally published in DIG issue 99.99 December 2019
Almost two decades ago, a few of the local Philadelphia area riding crew (particularly Frankie Bones) had some key area terrain on lock, one of them being named “Secret Spot 2”. This brick quarter was quite an anomaly; less that era, it made a few appearances in some legendary video sections, most notably etnies “Forward” (Garrett Byrnes), “Wide Awake Nightmare” (Brian Wizmerski), “Animal 1” (Bob Scerbo) and Van Homan’s Props interview. For a few years, it became quite a popular go-to spot.
Maybe too popular. The property owner had enough of all these two-wheeled visitors riding this architectural wonder, and installed planters in front of the entire length of the quarter. And that was it. Secret Spot 2 shut down for good.
Or was it?
I moved to Philly a few years after the planter addition. I only got to go to SS 2 a handful times before it was altered, and I had no recollection of where exactly it was. One day about seven years ago, I was driving aimlessly around the suburban outlying area and stumbled across it. After scoping it out “for a friend”, it seemed very possible to remove the planter without doing any damage to the property, and quarter itself. And the proverbial light bulb lit up in said friend’s mind.
Fast-forward to 2019, and said friend is reminded by (names changed to protect identities) Fej and also Nad (who grew up riding this spot) about the possibility of resurrecting the spot. One late spring morning, armed with a small sledge, rake, broom, and six hands, “property maintenance” by way of removal of the planter section in front of the taller section was executed. It took about an hour, and the stone and dirt debris from the removal was intricately dispersed to minimize any visual alterations/mess. Great job, Fej and Nad (“friend” doesn’t need to be thanked for obvious reasons).
More often than not, many spots ridden in the distant past can end up seeming smaller or less steep than a twisted memory serves. This time, though, it was the opposite. After 15 years, turns out it wasn’t any easier to air it straight-on for any of the people responsible for unearthing it. It actually felt more steep, and it just didn’t seem to work. That might be primarily due to the fact that it wasn’t possible to carve the length of it into the shorter section as it had been aired pre-planter all those years ago, more than bad recollections, but who knows.
Enter Mark Gralla. A few weeks later Bob Scerbo and Wiz met up there for a reunion sesh of sorts, with El Raton in tow. As a true testament to Mark’s super-refined riding ability on unorthodox objects, an hour later, he was roasting it so proper; it didn’t really make any sense. Relentlessly seeking out obscure transition spots all over the globe can result in that skill, I guess.
“This brick quarter was quite an anomaly; less than four foot tall at the tallest section, and full-on straight to vert.”
A Fan Favourite Reborn