The entire following week was plagued by rain. However, through all the weather adversities a certain level of humanism hung in the air. My favorite element about these Vans bowl contests is how it brings all of us together. All of us find ourselves in various areas of the globe bonded by the same craft, entwined as likeminded artists expressing ourselves in the only way we know how. Every time the skies finished dumping, all the boys were on course drying it for everyone else. It didn’t matter if you were a rider, an employee at Vans, or whether it was squeegeeing, sweeping, toweling, or leaf blowing, all hands were selflessly on deck. The fact of it being your personal practice or heat didn’t matter either. The only thing that mattered was ripping with the boys.
During the cracks of the weekdays when practice was behind us and the good vibes were still surging, we continued to find ourselves itching to ride with one another. And on one particular Wednesday, the news of a BBQ at the Five Dock skate park trickled in. So once again, we filled Big Blue with yet another heavy crew consisting of Gary Young, Matt Cordova, Cody Pollard, Corey Walsh, Ryan Nyquist, Dan Foley, Larry Edgar, Jason, and myself then proceeded to stop at the nearest booze shop. After a few moments, Cody came lugging out with a thirty rack hoisted over his shoulder for the boys while Jason leaned out the window smacking the side of his door shouting, “Jump in, maggots!” As always, it was a mission I was more than happy to be a part of.
The memory of arriving at Five Dock and piling out of the bus will always stick with me. I looked in the direction of the skate park and realized they were all there. Not only did I ride in a bus to the session with so many guys I held deep revere for, now I was about to ride a known Australian spot legendary for the heaviest roasting imaginable. Plus, it was going to go down amongst countless locals I had always hoped I would finally see ride in person. Although by this point I had spent a good amount of time around Jason Watts, Cody Pollard, and Dylan Lewis, sharing the same deck as them in their natural domain will always leave my soft Southern California ass slightly intimidated. However on the flip of the coin I was deeply excited to watch it all go down as a fan.
One thing I’ve grown to notice in Australia, and it’s an element that draws me in the most, is how cordial all the locals are. Even as I pumped around lost, landed flat, cased, and checked all the boxes that go along with learning a new spot as quickly as possible, I could still hear the boys going crazy on the deck. It made feeling incredibly sketchy while being submerged in casual 13-foot Australian airs with Black Sabbath rattling out of the speakers feel tranquil and welcoming. After about twenty minutes of riding, I decided to pull a beer from Cody’s thirty rack and relax. I had been longing to watch that particular show for quite some time. So I asked Cody if I could have one, he told me I could have them all if I thought I could handle it.
From then on I remember things feeling surreal. I remember relaxing on deck at the legendary Five Dock skate park with a beer in hand watching legends like Nyquist ride in the flesh then causally looking over to see more legends like Joe Rich lounged out about 100 feet away. Across the bowl Mike Vockenson was barefoot filming Larry dump a near 13-foot three table over the spine. Then I remember finally getting to witness Benn Pigot drop in at Five Dock and I remember getting to witness a level of riding I didn’t know existed. Like the rest of them, the whispers I had heard all those years across the Pacific were all true. It was undeniably incredible. And then he quietly popped out on the deck and modestly took a nip from the bottle. It was like a perfect wave with a smooth glassy face had just roared through, and now it was quietly receding back into the waters after leaving everyone surrounding not quite believing what they had just witnessed. The entire session was one of the purest forms of BMX I had ever been a part of. It was the type of session that can’t be duplicated and comes around three or four times in your lifetime if you’re lucky, and the best part about it was that it wasn’t for anything other than feeding the soul. It wasn’t for likes or shares or dreams of social status. It wasn’t for self-validation in pleasing the plethora of eyeballs on the Internet. It was simply who we all were as bike riders. It was a group of likeminded artists expressing themselves in the only way they knew how. It was absorbed, appreciated, and will still hang around long after social media is gone. And that was all I needed to see. I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was content.