When Austin Isn't Enough - The Road To Wichita Falls

Just a good old fashioned BMX road trip

22 Sep 2014

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The crew minus me. Greene, O’Brien, Aquizap, Barone, Czikevich, Szyslak. Swagger.

Words and photos by Brian Barnhart

We were all already on vacation, enjoying life in Austin, and I specifically remember being at the trails with ten or so friends, looking around and thinking, no one here has a job, this is awesome. Few riders in Austin live a “normal life”, no job, living in tents, on couches, in trailers or vans, spending all week riding and digging. Despite this easygoing lifestyle, we still desire something new and different. One weekend this spring, we packed up my sprinter van and headed for Wichita Falls cement park in Northern Texas.

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Matty Aquizap making it look mean, Wichita Falls bowl.

Our crew consisted of Matty Aquizap, Ryan Greene, Pauly the Pirate, Moe Szyslak (Paul’s dog), Marcus O’Brien, Russ Barone and myself. Seven of us in close quarters, getting to know one another in new ways, collectively experiencing what the road had to offer. To keep things interesting, we chose a back route over the interstate. Seeing the land and its people opens your eyes to something that you might not experience again. A stop to fill up on fuel or use the toilet can turn into a memorable moment. Conditions can vary, and can make or break a trip. For me, even the less than ideal situations make the trip worthwhile. Nothing too out of the ordinary happened on our six hour drive north, other than Pauly scoring a bucket hat for a buck at roadside yard sale. We also spotted a backyard pool from an elevated highway, but decided to pass it up. Mostly we just chatted about trails and parks we had ridden and listened to some heavy tunes.

The park sits upon a hill, directly overlooking a Volkswagen junk yard, filled with old bugs and busses, vehicles we all would love to own if they were still running. It is a gem as far as bowls go, with large flowing transitions that are fun enough just carving. You may even remember it from the Joe Rich interview in our DIG Legends issue. We were all digging the lawless vibe that the park and town seemed to have. It was the anniversary of the stabbing of a local rider, and the locals came together to ride in his memory. They shared their park with us, with most of the young kids sticking to the street course. There were a few mid school riders ripping the bowl with us, hyped that they had some new people to ride with.

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Russ Barone and a blown out VW bus

We asked around about a place to renegade camp for the night but as no one had much to offer we had to take things into our own hands. After a decent meal at a Mexican joint called Fuzzy’s Tacos, we found a desolate park and roamed around its blackened terrain. We were pretty set on spending the night there, but Marcus didn’t have a sleeping bag and offered to pay for a hotel. We found the sketchiest dive in town, the Wayfarer, and got ourselves a $40 room. Some of the guys stayed up and partied, some passed out on the floor although at some point we realized that the door did not lock from the inside, adding to sketch factor. I spent the night in my van, where at least I could lock myself in.

The following morning we realized that the Wayfarer had two filled-in swimming pools. I like to think that someone got to ride them before the transitions were buried. Soon we started back south but the Texas country side is not the easiest place to find breakfast for three vegans. For some reason, we did not really pack any food, but made do with some chips, avocado and trail mix. After a few hours of driving scenic Texas roads we were back in urban landscapes and randomly found a Dickies factory. Score.

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Bob Scerbo spot search result! Russ Barone maxing out.

Our next destination was a spot that Bob Scerbo had given us very vague directions to. It was a huge curved transition wall with a hundred different bumps in it. We knew it was in a certain area of town, and were left to find it on our own. We shared the excitement of searching for a spot that we knew would be one of a kind and when we found it, we could barely stop riding long enough to catch our breath. We each had our own favorite line and imperfection on the wall, and followed each others lead up and down its transition.

After some grub we headed for a brand new cement park in Arlington, TX. The park had potential, but there were literally over 100 kids riding it, and the wind was unrelenting. We took some laps but shortly lost interest. We got back in the van and had a couple more hours until we made Austin. We talked over the noise of the highway about travels, life and the spots we had just ridden. After a brief adventure riding some unreal places, we returned to familiar turf, closer friends, and with a new outlook and stoke on the spots that we had at home. - BB

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Pauly the Pirate, Moe Szyslak, and a new bucket hat. Smoking kills.

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Ryan Greene casts a long shadow.

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Living the dream. The Wayfarer hotel’s filled-in pool and marquee.

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