I picked up Erik a few hours before Rob got in and we talked and got to know each other for a bit. I could tell there was a very thin layer of inhibition that was hiding the character I’ve seen and read about. I shot around while Erik read passages from his travel-sized Tao Te Ching booklet.
Rob got in the car and the conversation sparked. Emotions flared like it was Chinese New Year as they recounted their last encounter in Shanghai. We went to the grocery store and bought materials for tacos except for tortillas and cheese because I had those at home. We ate donuts while walking around the store and didn’t pay for them. Rob and I talked about the Charlie Hebdo attacks while Erik checked out. Rob hates cops, to put it lightly. We assembled bikes, crewed up and went riding.
The next day we went to the valley to visit the building from The Office, Rob’s favorite show. The whole way there Rob was debating which quote he’d use for his Instagram post. He landed on “It’s like a whole new food for me” which is something the character Kevin said when eating a piece of broccoli backwards.
I took them to a rail playground of sorts and we all rode the adjacent skatepark for an hour or so. I accidentally deleted a clip of Erik doing a footjam 720 off my phone and I felt really bad but he assured me that he’d be able to do it again and that it was nothing to worry about. I still felt bad and pretty embarrassed that I made such a rookie move on a trick that Rob said had never really been done, however hard to believe because of Harry Mania and all that.
The next day our first stop was the white banks where I realized that every major city has an iconic bank spot and this was LA’s. We rode for hours until we experienced racism from an alcoholic athletic director and then rode a couple more hours. Rob and Erik collectively pioneered fourteen new tricks.
One day we filmed a game of B.I.K.E. and ate candy at the same damn time. In traffic we played a freestyle word association game similar to Wikixploring. Erik picked out a Broken Social Scene CD from my book and we turned Rob on to them. He claims to be indifferent to all music but I feel like he might really like them now. He requested them again at least once during his vacation.
We met up with Tom Villarreal and Addi Sasso and some of their friends and pedaled around Venice but not before Erik almost got bodyslammed by a wave and we sessioned a curb for an hour. Rob invented three tricks and Erik did a hang 7. Then we sessioned a different curb for another hour.
One day which I believe to be the chronologically correct next day, we were crewed up in the van with Julian and Denim from Common and some of the OSS usuals. We started driving east towards some campus but it started to rain and traffic was traffic so we got off the next exit and looked up some schools. We found a four rails going down four stairs and figured we’d ride what we could while we could while the rain wasn’t ruining. Rob was wearing a shirt that he or Adam described as a “dad’s golfing shirt” at which point Rob recalled being told that exact description from his girlfriend after buying it from Kohl’s.
We found a shopping plaza with food places and while mostly everyone went straight to Chipotle, Erik and I scoped out a dollar store and he bought oatmeal cookies, a gallon of ice cream and something else. He was looking for peanut butter but for some reason they didn’t have any. We walked over to Chipotle and Rob was making a paper plane out of the foil from a burrito. So it was a foil plane, not a paper plane but it didn’t even fly so it wasn’t a plane at all. We found a spot on the side of the road at a bank and it was still raining a little bit. Rob and Erik practiced their doubles routine on a curb.
It continued to rain so we went to an indoor skatepark in the valley. Erik killed it. He could ride anything in the place like it’s a patch of asphalt. Rob did pretty well too but Erik, woo! You shoulda seen him. He was thriving. It was right around this time that I realized I was in the presence of a prodigy. Some other day after that we went to Inglewood and rode a parking lot. Not for the whole day but that’s what I remember mostly through these photos. The parking blocks and signs were fully utilized and then we drove around and rode some really small rails.
Two nights we went to Applebee’s for dinner. Both dinners were superb. Applebee’s is the shit and if you think differently then I totally respect that. Everyone has a different palate and tastes in food. We all got dessert both nights and we slept satiated until we awoke the next morning for breakfast tacos. We took a beach day on a day that I suspect to be a Thursday but could just as well have been a Wednesday or even a Tuesday. I could easily figure it out by looking at the EXIF data of this image from the beach but there’s a point I’m trying to make. Get it?
Erik picked out El Matador to go to because of the arches they have there, at which time I pointed out to Erik that he loves circles and circular formations and curved wallrides and he didn’t even realize it. A lot of his Instagram photos are include circular objects and things. We got interrogated by a ranger who accused Erik of smoking weed but he doesn’t smoke and Rob wasn’t either. Erik climbed a rock and read the Tao and Rob sat down against a rock and read a book about the economics of war.
I didn’t read a book but there’s a chance that I was just as enlightened by the sheer experience of being there. I definitely didn’t learn as much as they did from an educational standpoint but I learned a lot about my new camera. I was scared for Erik watching him climb that rock. And then again when he climbed down it. We all made it out alive, or did we?
The following Monday or Saturday Rob said that he didn’t want to ride handrails one day and everyone thought he was kidding, because he kids a lot and he loves handrails. We took him to the Baghdad kinker and he threw a fit. I explained to him that it’s hard to read him sometimes, with his highly sarcastic humor and all that, and because everyone assumed he wants to ride handrails all day every day. He pouted for less than ten minutes, more like five, then asked if the rail to rail (ender clip) was in the area. It was. We went there and he fought a battle with himself for an unusual amount of time but prevailed victorious and had a splendid rest of the day.
Erik’s outfits for the duration of his stay ranged from grungy to scrubby- some scrubs he got in China- and he doesn’t use deodorant. Some may say he smells and they’re right, but the problem comes when people take offense to the scent. I myself didn’t mind it as it’s really part of Erik and who he is. We all smell.
Rob wore anti-motion sickness bracelets the whole time he was here. I thought he’d take them off after the plane ride but apparently his ailment disturbs him also in the car. He couldn’t pick out a CD from the book without subconsciously vomiting.
On the 19th we rode the TIP ramps and everyone had a great time there.
Then we ventured to the place where this crazy rail setup exists and Rob blessed it using only numbers. And his body and bike.
We watched Shmalec try a trick for a while and played around like kids.
We got back downtown and did the TCU TV interview. It went well but you be the judge. We woke up and did morning things which turned into afternoon things.
It was their last day and business was taken care of. We celebrated in the Vons parking lot with various sugars. If there was a central theme to this experience it was wordplay. If there were two central themes, they were wordplay and sugars.
On their last day here, both Rob and Erik put all of their stuff into bags and crowded into metal birds that carried them to their respective homes. They were then so far away that I couldn’t see them anymore and when I talked to them neither of them responded. I yelled super loud but I don’t think they could hear me anymore. I guess it’ll have to wait until I see them again.