When I first heard about the ditches of Albuquerque, New Mexico and about the Ditch Slap event I knew that someday I would go shred there myself one day. I’m not sure how I knew? I just knew it. I remember in 2008 or ’09 somebody showing me some pictures and a low-quality video from that year’s Ditch Slap. I couldn’t believe the diversity, size, and length of the ditches that I was bearing witness to—it seemed too perfect to be a reality. I also remember noticing how much fun everybody seemed to be having, and the strangely beautiful and surreal backdrop of the surrounding high-desert landscape. I was truly frothing to shred it oh so hugely. Well, after 4 years of dreaming and talking about skating Ditch Slap I can now say that I’ve finally done it, and what an experience it was.
The first thing to note about Ditch Slap is the community—without it, the experience would not be the same. I personally met so many radical shredders from all over the globe that have been going to the Slap event year after year. There were also many new faces, including myself of course. Ultimately the vibe was all-good and the veterans and the greenhorns shredded in a harmonious rhythm of radical. The event organizer, Joe Lehm of Timeship Racing, and his crew, really deserves mad props for all their hard work. Joe and his crew do a great job of getting the right people and resources together to pull it all off. This year’s Slap was non-stop skateboarding. We’d leave the hotel at 9am and take continuous shuttle-bus runs till evening—both days, all day. There is no way in hell anybody left feeling like they did not get enough skate-time in—if by the end of day-two you were not thrashed in some way and begging for sleep, then you were not at the Ditch Slap we were at.
One of my favorite things about Ditch Slap is the surrounding beauty and vastness of the high-desert terrain of Albuquerque. The city lies smack-dab in the middle of New Mexico, and sits at between 5,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level. The whole area is flat as far as you can see until you face east. To the East you watch the land slowly sloping upwards towards the huge Sandia Mountains. The high elevation of the area makes the air thin and dry—it can have you winded and chapped pretty quickly if you’re not used to it. No big deal really, we paced ourselves and drank a lot of water. We survived just fine. The overall look of the place is really hard to describe actually—you just have to go there and experience the place for yourself.
Any article covering Ditch Slap that does not talk about the actual ditches themselves is incomplete, and probably pretty shitty. That being said, I’d like to take this time to discuss, if only briefly, the gnar-gnarnia of the ditches we skated while at the Slap. Most of the Ditched we rode were at least a few miles long, if not longer and sloped downward away from those Sandia Mountains I mentioned earlier. Each ditch posed its own threats and embodied its own personality. One of the ones we rode had six or so bridges that you had to duck under, but the trick was that you could only cross under them via the side-walls. If you tried to take the flats, the huge cracks and gaps spanning the entire flat section would toss you. It was actually pretty fun negotiating them because you had to prepare for it and then surf the side-wall just right. You also have to add the fact that there was glass, rocks, shopping carts, logs, dead cats, sand, tumbleweeds, dirty G-strings, and whatever else you can think of that might wanna get caught in your trucks or under your wheels. I remember hitting the same baseball-size rock down one of the ditches five times and for like 200 yards, but that was actually pretty fun. Ha ha! You also had to make quick moves and instantaneous judgments on where to go and what to dodge next—always trying to think two walls ahead of yourself—So much fun! And then throw in some intermittent rain, your homie falling in front of you a 30mph, and two-block tunnels with zero light and invisible debris everywhere. Winning! The funny thing is, I’m not even exaggerating. Not all of the ditches posed such obstacles though. Many of them were debris-free for the most part and had some badass hips, spines, and gaps that a lot of us stopped and sessioned. One of the favorite features for many was the trees that hung over sections of one of the ditches and created these barrel-like tunnels mimetic of curling ocean waves. As you’ll see in the accompanying images—we got “So Pitted!” I think we spent a few hours just trying to draw that perfect line so as to hit three barrels in a row. Once again, “So Pitted!” Ha ha!
There are a whole lot of races and jams and whatever else going on these day, and there’s more on the horizon for sure. Some of these events will fade-out and some will stay around a while. Ditch Slap is one of those events that I hope sticks around forever because it’s an event that mirrors what skateboarding is really all about: It’s about getting together with other skaters and having fun riding on skateboards, It’s about reappropriating and reinterpreting space, and it is about flow and fluidity. If you’ve been to The Slap you already know this is what it’s all about. If not, you really need to go next year and experience it for yourself. Get Slapped!