WORDS & PHOTOS Jake Grove
The downhill scene in Southern California, and specifically San Diego, has always been a very diverse and tight community, with an abundance of roots skaters and spots at the heart of it all. This past weekend, the Backside Brawl event hosted by a crew of local shredders was a direct example of the community coming together to create something rad and unique.
Outlaw races are a common occurrence throughout the So Cal DH scene, and with a changing industry, have become an increasingly larger part of racing overall. However, this was the first outlaw to be held on the well know “Backside” run, just east of San Diego. With 19 racers, a twenty dollar buy in, and three-man heats down the curvy countryside road, the racing was quick and super competitive. The volunteer crew spent the day prior sweeping, picking up trash, and setting up spotters for corners and road closings, so the the everything was ready on the hill for a 6am event.
From my end as a photographer, this was an event where capturing photos of skaters was a difficult task, and the hustle to grab shots during the three qualifying runs, and one finals heat was a race against the clock. Nonetheless, there was plenty of chilling, exploring, and amazing scenery to capture throughout the morning, so I shot accordingly and captured the happenings around me. Backside, and the surrounding area, hosts an abundance of ma-and-pa cafes and stores, small farmland, open fields, and a variety of wildlife throughout. If there was a country song about downhill skating, you can bet it would take place out here. Ha ha! Anyways, the skating went fast and smooth, and it was cool as always to exchange fist bumps, high fives, and how do ya do’s to other riders both new and old.
Between opening the road for traffic, shuttling riders up in the Uhaul, and sending riders down on their heats, the race was won and done by 10am. A mini chill sesh went down at the base of the hill as the volunteers wrapped up and cleaned the hill, and the podium came together. Max Ballesteros swept first, Mark Meidinger took second, and Nick Broms grabbed third. The racers gradually dispersed, and grabbed lunch while talking of where to session for the remainder of the afternoon.
After the race was all cleaned up and done, we packed in the jeep and a few other homie’s cars and headed through Julian to find some after-race-skate action. With the Muir van full of shredders, and our cars trailing behind, our group met up at a winding road that swoops down through an oak forest. Many pack runs ensued and after the get it had been gotten the skating eventually turned into lurking and the sun began to dwindle. With a few final hit-it-and-quit-it highway runs along the way home, the day was done, and another successful outlaw event was in the books.
Overall, it was rad to see such a community-minded race come together and run so smoothly on a San Diego classic—and always good times sessioning afterwards too! There’s talk of a sanctioned race in the future, as no surrounding residents had issues with the closed-road outlaw, and it would be rad to see another skater-ran event go down at Backside, perhaps even larger and with a greater swath of riders and spectators.
Huge thanks goes out to Joe Gutkowski and “Sketchy” Lui Reyes for hosting the event and to all the other volunteers that put in work and prepared the course, as well as keeping it safe on race day. Thanks to Muir Skate for bringing out the van and supporting the scene, and also props to Scott for hiking up and picking up all trash afterwards to keep the spot clean. It’s greatly appreciated! Thank you to all the nearby residents for being cool with us, and to all the spotters that kept the course closed and safe. It was a rad outlaw, and an awesome roots skater-run event. Thanks dudes!
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