Saturday, June 10
After months of planning and preparation, we started out on our long journey called Emerica's Wild Ride. Denver, Colorado is where it all began. Andrew Reynolds, Ed Templeton, Heath Kirchart, Bryan Herman, Leo Romero, Austin Stephens, Braydon Szafranski, Brandon Westgate, Matt Allen, and Emerica flow rider Marquis Preston all met up in Denver and went straight to a signing at BC Surf and Sport in Lonetree. Standing behind a long, glass counter, the Emerica team signed tons of posters, T-shirts and other stuff for the clamoring throngs. Sunday, June 11
Today, everyone headed over to the Denver Skatepark downtown, where hundreds of kids came out to meet the Emerica team. After skating the park, Heath, Herman, Austin and Leo--along with Emerica filmer Jon Miner, Emerica Brand Marketing Manager Justin Regan, Emerica Team Manager Jeff Henderson and a few others--jumped on their Harley-Davidsons and rode a couple of hours to the first campsite in Goodland, Kansas. There’s also an RV on the trip that everyone else is cruising in.
The first night of camping was intense. Everyone set up their tents and hung out having a good time, when we saw a storm brewing out in the distance, with lighting and thunder going off non-stop. As it drew closer and closer, we could sense that it was going to be bad. It instantly started raining super hard and everyone dove into their tents. It was so gnarly! Lighting was going off like sequence flashes and thunder was making the ground shake. We waited it out and it stopped raining by morning.
Monday, June 12
Today, we hit the road for an hour or two to Hays, Kansas, where we stopped by White Chocolate skate shop. The team hung out and signed some autographs, and then we headed over to the little skatepark in Hays. Everyone rolled around and had a good time. The team killed it, as usual, keeping the crowd entertained. We all grubbed on some BBQ burgers and dogs, and then it was time to hit the road again.
We headed South over the Kansas flatlands for about an hour to Greensburg, where we set up camp for the night. The guys had a good time clowning around with BB guns and paintball slingshots. A kid named Hitashi joined us at this stop. Seems he had flown all the way out from Japan just to go on Wild Ride. A couple of funny things: Hitashi could barely speak English, and he somehow ended up sitting at the table at each skate shop, signing autographs with the rest of the Emerica team.
Tuesday, June 13
Today, we woke up to the lovely strains of some random lady walking around screaming for her lost dog. Seems the pup had been hanging with us night before and somehow ended up catchin' an all-night nap with Brandon Westgate in his tent. After hooking the lady back up with her hound, we took a nice 90-minute ride through the back roads of Kansas to Pusher skate shop inside a little mall in Wichita. Around 100 kids showed up, so the team busted out the Sharpies and went at it. Ed even drew his famous characters all over some kids' faces, at their request.
Next, the team riders got a much-needed massage at a little kiosk in the mall, then we hung out and chilled for a few. A bit later, we headed on over to the Wichita skatepark, a pretty cool place under a freeway overpass with a few bowls and a huge street course. Over 300 kids showed up, so the Emerica team stood up tall and brought down the hammers. Drew busted out a sick kickflip backside tailslide on a really tall waist-high ledge.
After the demo, the team did a signing by our RV across the street from the park. The crowd swelled in size and blocked the street so traffic couldn't get by, until a cop rolled through with his lights twirling, which finally cleared it out. We finished the long day up at a one of those Japanese joints where they cook the food right in front of you.
As we arrived at the campground in Williamsburg, Kansas, the RV dudes, who had driven ahead, informed us that we had already been kicked out for absolutely no reason. The owner probably smelled trouble coming. We just checked into a hotel for the night instead, which was a blessing in disguise, as the team really enjoyed some nice, hot showers and real beds, for a change.
Wednesday, June 14
Today, four Harley employees met up with us at the hotel and did the half-hour ride with us to Escapist skate shop in Overland Park, Kansas. When we arrived, there were already 250 kids in line. They were so stoked when the Emerica team roared up on their Harleys. A nicel, long signing session ensued.
Next, we cruised down the road another half hour to the Penn Valley Skatepark in Kansas City. With the crowd swollen to over 400 kids, this was definitely the biggest Wild Ride demo so far. Everyone killed it. Ed busted out his signature bio noseblunt across a picnic table. After the demo, we hit the road again for another hour to Higginsville, Kansas, where we set up our tents and went to get some snacks.
There were some random non-skater kids with a pimped out little car on hydraulics hanging out at the store. They ended up following us back to the campsite and busted out a beer bong to get a party started, but we were all tuckered out and not really feelin' a rager, so we just hit the sack.
Thursday, June 15
We woke up early this morning since the sun was so hot, and rode for about an hour up to Marshall, Missouri. We were greeted by a really awesome old-time town square straight out of a movie. The local skatepark, Indian Foothills, wasn't even finished yet, but it was really fun. In fact, the team said it was the best skatepark they had yet encountered on Wild Ride.
After skating for a spell, we hit the road for another hour to Columbia, Missouri for a demo at Cosmopolitan Skatepark. Over 150 kids showed up, and the team did another signing by their Harleys, where a random gnarly fight between two kids broke out. We pulled them apart, headed on over to dinner at Crackerbarrel, then called it a night at Pin Oak Creek Campground in Villa Park.
A couple of kids were waiting for us at the campsite, so we hung out with them for a while, talking and playing guitars around the campfire. Seems Fender gave us a guitar especially for the trip, and Andrew had brought his. Later at bedtime, Drew, Herman, and Braydon rented a cabin to catch a little creature comfort for the night.
Friday, June 16
We woke up and ate breakfast at a truck stop on Route 66, where an super old school waitress named Bootsy served us. Our next stop was at Soka skate shop in Manchester, Missouri, where 200 kids were patiently waiting. We signed all their stuff for a while, then Soka's super cool owner, Frank, hooked us up with some pizza and drinks.
Next, we drove about 25 minutes to Fountain Lakes Skatepark, where there were another 250 kids eagerly awaiting the demo. The Emerica team tore the place apart. The highlight was Andrew's huge kickflip backside grab over a quarterpipe hip, which put a definite end to the proceedings. As it was a sweltering 95 degrees outside, we tried to cool down in the RV. Drew was even spotted sticking his whole head inside an ice chest.
In the evening, we roared off to Hannibal, Missouri via an amazingly scenic ride along a curvy river. The Mark Twain Cave Campground was a huge mosquito fest. Everyone got eaten alive. To make matters worse, as soon as we checked in, a stale lady who worked there named Glenda started nitpicking at us for every little thing, like driving too fast or in the wrong direction, even though we weren't really even acting up. What would you expect from a witch named Glenda? That place was lame.
Around 15 kids hung out with us for two hours anyway, playing guitars with Andrew. Andy from Harley and Dan Rogers from Subsect skate shop also joined us. At bedtime, Drew, Heath, Herman, Matt Allen and Blair Alley from TransWorld got a room at Holiday Inn.
Saturday, June 17
Today, we headed up to Springfield, Illinois, where we were met on the side of the road by Corey from 217 Skateshop. He popped out of a parking lot on his Triumph when were driving around kinda lost, and led the way to the skatepark, which was a bit hidden. It consisted mostly of bowls with a little street course, but everyone found something to skate and had a lot of fun. Braydon was super stoked on the bowls and spent most of his time carving around and doing backside tailslides and backside Smiths.
When the guys were done skating, they hung out at the park for a bit, signing autographs and talking to kids. A gnarly rainstorm came out of nowhere, and everyone ran for cover. The rain was falling sideways! We had to wait out the showers for a while, which made it impossible to make it to Canton, Illinois for the second skatepark stop of the day. We were on a pretty tight schedule, and the rain totally threw a stick in the spokes of our trip.
Once the rain let up, we started to head toward the Hickory Hills Campground for the night in El Paso, Illinois but on the way, the guys in the RV looked up the weather on the internet and saw that it was going to be raining there, too, so we decided to go to a hotel in Bloomington instead. Sorry to everyone who waited for us in Canton and El Paso, Illinois. The weather totally ruined our plans. We ended up going bowling next door to the hotel in Bloomington.
Sunday, June 18
The plan for today was to wake up and ride about two hours to Rockford, Illinois and hit up the Magic Waters Waterpark there. When we woke up, we found out it was raining in Rockford, so we killed sometime in Bloomington. There was no shop appearance or skatepark today, so we took a little breather from the tour. A bit later, we decided to start heading toward Rockford and check out the weather.
When we got there, the rain had cleared, so we suited up in our trunks and sessioned Magic Waters for a couple of hours. We got hassled by the waterpark police from the moment we rolled up on our Harleys. While we were in the park, Matt Allen and Brandon Westgate got pulled off a ride for going backwards. They brought in reinforcement cops to keep an eye on us. It was pretty funny.
After a while, we had all of the waterpark we could take, so we saddled up on the bikes and rode another two hours to the last campsite on the Wild Ride, Cliffside County Park in Racine, Wisconsin. We got there after dark, so setting up was a little difficult, but we had the tents up and a campfire raging in no time.
Leo had purchased a Red Rider BB gun earlier in the day, so everyone was shooting at cans and whatnot. Ed ended up getting shot by Leo, so he retaliated by nailing Leo with a slingshot paintball. Needless to say, the BB gun antics lasted well into the wee hours of the night.
Monday, June 19
Today was the last day of scheduled events for Emerica's Wild Ride. It was a long and grueling trip for the team, but everyone had a lot of fun, too. We camped out about a half hour from Milwaukee, so we had an easy ride in the morning. We headed to Phase II for a shop appearance, but when we arrived (early, for once), there were about six kids there. We thought that was pretty weird. We later found out that the shop didn’t advertise the signing. Since nobody was there, we decided to check into the hotel before going to Cream City Skatepark in Milwaukee.
Cream City is an amazing skatepark. Everyone on the team really liked it and was ripping it up. The park has obstacles that mimic real street spots--even with concrete edges on their ledges. The guys skated for a while and enjoyed the BBQ that the owners whipped up for them. Ed Templeton even painted a little piece in the back room of the skatepark where the mini-ramp is. That was a fun demo.
Later in the evening, everyone went out to nice dinner and a karaoke bar in Milwaukee to celebrate the end of the Wild Ride. We would like to say thanks to our sponsors, Boost Mobile and TransWorld Skateboarding, as well as all of the shops and parks who had us. It was a good time. Also thanks to everyone who joined us on the trip and hung out at the campsites, shops and demos. It was nice to meet all of you kids! Now we are off to Chicago to gear up for Emerica’s Wild in the Streets on June 21, Go Skateboarding Day. We hope to see you all there. Stay Gold!