A while back I got a text message from a guy named Johnny Strange. He got my number through our mutual friend Christian who told him I skate downhill. His text message said something like, “Hey Pete, this is Johnny. Christian told me you skate and I was going to hit Kanan Rd. tonight at midnight—want to come?” I woke up and read the text that night, but didn’t respond until morning because I was sleeping. One thing leads to the next and we have plans to meet at Kanan road on Wednesday at 1pm. We figure there will be less traffic while everyone is at work. Turns out we were kinda right, traffic was light so we headed for the top. This was the first time I met Johnny but I was optimistic about having more people to skate with in the area even though I didn’t know anything about the dude. So we skated Kanan a few times and got our daily dose of speed. Afterward, Johnny told me that this was his third time skating downhill and the other two times before had been on the infamous Las Flores and Tuna Canyon roads, on which he had taken some considerable wipe-outs, and even rode off a cliff at one point! I was very surprised to hear this because, although his tuck needed a lot of work, he was handling himself down Kanan fairly well. Regardless, I had to know what possessed this guy to call me up in the middle of the night and want to bomb crazy hills without any experience on even mellow hills. After getting to know him I found out that he is an “extreme sports” athlete who is the youngest to climb the seven summits including mount Everest and youngest to the south pole. Mr. Strange is a skydiver, base jumper, car surfer, and big wave surfer—the list goes on. I guess he figured that in the rest of his free time he could get a thrill out of bombing hills.
I have met and I’m sure we all know all sorts of people, but I think there are two distinct categories that can set most people apart: the “thrill seekers”, and the “homebodies”. Some people are more than happy to just veg-out in the den, munching Scooby snacks and watchin’ “the big game”, while others have to be active and adrenalized. This second type of person has to have the constant action-fix at least on a weekly basis, or they simply cannot function properly. I read sometime ago about this “x-gene” and how some people may have this extreme-gene that drives them to do crazy, dangerous things. They said that this might have come about because of the lack of danger and action in the sedentary human life today. We sit at our computers and melt into our sofas while our brains become numb to the screens we place in front of them. Nowadays, you can see a stark contrast from the lifestyle of our ancestors who fought for every meal, had to avoid predators; and battled on a regular basis for women, treasure, land, and power. The closest battle we get into in our daily routine is the battle to wake up to the first alarm clock. They say that this leaves a huge deficit in our human experience, and doesn’t take onto account our genetic inclinations to live on the edge, face danger in its face, and triumph with skill and grace.
Writing about “extreme” dudes makes me think of stories I have heard, more like legends of epic downhill skaters. For instance, Patrick Rizzo—quite possibly one of the most mysterious dudes to skate downhill—a skater who has been said to have bombed the fastest hill in Colorado switch on a double kick! All I know is that he is gnarly and demands respect. Go get your fill of adrenaline and satisfy your gnarly needs of extreme actualization.