The stage is set—a place many call the “American Riviera”—a place rich in history; and more importantly for us, skateboarding history. The Santa Barbara area has been a skateboarding mecca for over thirty-five years. Arguably, some of the first longboard skateboards were made right here back in the 1970s by Tom Sims of Sims Skateboards. Not to mention the area being the birthplace of Powell Peralta, Shorty’s, Skate Zone, Church of Skatan—the list goes on. But I’m not here to play some history blowhard, I writing this today in order to tell you about my experience at a rad skateboarding race that went down just a few weeks back—a downhill event titled the 2012 Santa Gnarbara Outlaw.
Santa Barbara California sits on the shores of the Pacific Ocean overlooking the Channel Island and reclines lazily up against the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains. Today, we’re headed up those mountains, rolling deep in an upwardly winding caravan of cars overflowing with skateboarders and their gear; up, up through this east/west facing range on our way to shred some hills. Our ultimate destination is yet undisclosed, unlisted—an unnamed far-off road at the tip-top of the Traverse Range. We’re downhill skateboarders so we’re looking for privacy from cars, cops, and randos. We want to skate some hills in peace, so Chris Cawdrey and the UCSB Lonboard Club have put this event together for us—the undisclosed location and all. Chris’s car leads our caravan.
We arrive at the top of the mountain sometime later, park our cars, open trunks and doors, and let ourselves and wares spill onto the pale and sandy ground. The view from this location is epic to say the least. On one side you look down at all of Santa Barbara, beyond that a sedated and island-dotted Pacific Ocean, all of which sits under the back drop of an expansive California skyline. To the oppisite side of this vantage point you spy an endless range of ungulating mountains; filled as far as the eye can see with seeminly impenetrable chaparral shrubs, golden grasses, and vast oak woodlands.
We soon gear up and begin taking runs. The road itself dips and weaves it’s way through winding corners that sweep in and out of the spotty and squatted oak woods, past dense chaparral shrubs, and aside sandy and rocky embankments. There’s definitely dirt and sand at some spots, but such places prove managble, if not wholly avoidable. The road surface is a bit worn and variously textured, but ultimately quite grippy and fast.
My true nature is a restless one. I cannot sit still for very long periods of time, ever. I always have to be into something new and, to me, interesting. That said, for the duration of the actual race I lurk up and down the mountain, rapping with various friends and shooting pictures I think will be radnasty enough to generate some stoke. I click off some weird shots from a couple hard-to-reach vantage points and even shoot some impromptu dirt riding pics.
Even with my restless spirit in intact, I manage to watch the final heats and snap a few shots of the riders as they race into the last corner of the course. I watch Dillon Stevens slide under a car and emerge without a scratch, I enjoy Dustin Hampton’s tenacity and skill, and of course it is always fun to watch Tim Del Rosario’s natural talent live and in real-time.
The race soon ends and the awards are handed out with many cheers, woot-woots, and hand slaps. We converge on what’s left of the slow cooking burgers, but soon many of us can’t bare the wait. An hour later I’m in my car headed back down the mountain, trying to focus on driving while watching the pack of riders ahead of me take their last runs as the sun sets over the ocean. As I later pull onto the 101 Freeway headed back to Long Beach, I am thankful for the day’s experiences skating and hanging with the homies—doing what we love—riding our skateboards downhills. Until next time. . .
Oh yeah, the race winners are as follows:
Open Class: Tim Del Rosario, Max Myers, and Dustin Hampton.
Grom Class: Sean Chantarachantason, Sammy Parks, and Nate Hadson.
Chris kindly asked me to make sure and give a big shout-out to the event sponsors, so thanks everybody:
Riptide sports, Caliber Trucks, Randal Trucks, Ojoom pucks, Five Mile, Loaded, Orangatang, and a huge shout-out to ARBOR.
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