Great times at the gathering.
Photo: Miguel Cervantes
Just before thanksgiving, I was viewing some of the longboard meet up sites and came upon a longboard rental request from a German longboarder visiting NYC for the week. I’ve been there before; visiting a foreign place and wishing I had my board, so I couldn’t just scroll by and forget it. Not much later that night I reached out to Armin Beck from Stuttgart Germany who was looking to do what we all love and do: skate. After some exchange I offered him one of my boards, no charge, no problem. Simultaneously, Kenzo Shimzu (Japanese/American), was corresponding with Miguel Cervantes (Mexican/American) on where to tear up some local hills. I reached out to them as well and realized this was quickly becoming something like a United Nations longboard summit but it was missing something or someone. After some thought, I reached out to Gustavo Santiago, a world traveler from Brazil currently visiting NYC.
So here we were, five guys from five countries spanning four continents, messaging one another to unite and spend the day on one hill, was this really happening? Little did i know that this would set into motion one of the most rewarding days of longboarding for all of us. After some more IM we decided on a meeting place and chose the Manhattan side of the George Washington Bridge at 11:00 AM… IT WAS ON!
As I got off the 175th st exit over the GWB and approached Broadway, there they were. After some introductions to new faces and brief exchanges, we were on our way about an hour and a half northwest where New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania converge. There was a certain symmetry to the choice of this location that joined three different states. It just seemed to fit given the variety of our backgrounds. Our journey there was fraught with non-stop laughter, comedy, some seriousness, one pit stop and, of course, more laughter. When we arrived we were all awestruck with the majestic and panoramic view. The mountain was perfect and offered up two switchbacks and a 12 degree variable grade… So nice!
It was truly an international group: an American, a German, a Brazilian, a Mexican/American and a Japanese/American atop a mile and a half, rarely travelled, double lane road with those two amazing switchbacks… The longboard gods are definitely good.
We all took to that hill like ducks to water and took each run with more vigor than the last. Each one of us was heelsiding, toesiding, occasionally bricking but most importantly, living life to the fullest.
The sun would prove to be our nemesis eventually declaring an end to the day. After some final runs we all packed our gear and began our trek home which proved more fun than the ride up.
It wasn’t until later in the night when I got home that the gravity of the events of the day began to settle in. It was really something spectacular… Perhaps the United Nations could take a page from the book of our gathering, “Through our mutual love for longboarding we embraced our diversity”… Five guys from five countries spanning four continents spending the day longboarding on one hill… YEAH, the longboard Gods smiled on all of us that day. I will NEVER forget it. The laughter, the sharing, the progression and the friendships forged. These are the memories that will stay with us forever. It was incredible.