The last time I considered myself a skater was in 4th grade. I was living in Newport, Rhode Island and had the sickest neon green Tony Hawk skateboard in the neighborhood. It was custom built with two red wheels and two green. The trucks were tight, the grip tape was grippy, I was a mini Tony Hawk flying around Fort Adams that year. Thanks in part to my Airwalk shoes, I almost forgot. The ride was short-lived, though, because the very next summer we moved to Stafford, Virginia. Skateboarding wasn’t a thing there, so I traded my Tony Hawk board for a Starter jacket, and yes, my name was sewn in. It was righteous. Don’t believe me? Just ask JR Sheets, Joey Willis, or Philip Males, only the 3 other coolest guys at Stafford Middle School.
But it wasn’t the riding that scared me. You see, I thought it wise to find a safe and large area to get comfortable on the board again so I went to the empty parking lot of Brentwood Baptist Church in Tennessee. With a long board, the trucks are much looser than a standard skateboard because they’re made for speed, turning ability, and distance riding. I gotta tell you, riding again was so fun… and a heck of a workout! But this empty parking lot was becoming dull. I needed more challenges. I mean, hey, this is the heroic reincarnation of the Rhode Island Rider. People need to see this. I packed up and went home, only to prepare for my skateboard ride to Sam’s Club. Hey, I might be the Rhode Island Rider, but a man’s gotta get some skim milk, know what I’m sayin’?
Literally, I needed skim milk.
Sam’s Club is a bit over 2 miles away and there’s a few ways to get there. I knew the highway was not an option, so I picked the second best choice, which would have less car traffic. The first half mile was pretty much all down hill and I thought to myself, “People must be tweeting about this epic ride as they see me wistfully pass by.” I coasted on the down hills, pushed on the flats, and walked the up hills. It wasn’t till arriving at Sam’s I encountered my first problem. Stopping. I was inches away from cars passing me, down hill mind you, and I needed to make a sharp right turn. Stopping. How to do that? Stopping! No brakes. I envisioned myself attempting this right turn and busting it amongst onlookers laughing at this 34-year-old man in a mid-life crisis. Stopping. I decided to continue past the turn and let the upcoming hill slow me down. Stopping got a whole lot easier when the hill did it for me. Then I had to back track about 100 yards to Sam’s. Slightly embarrassing for the Rhode Island Rider.
With the milk in my backpack, I ventured out to return home. I went a different way back and it was actually a pretty good ride. I didn’t like the constant bumps of the sidewalk, though. I learned that pretty quick. I stayed on the edge of the outside lane for some of the time and apart from a few squirrelly encounters with manhole covers that were entirely frightening, I did pretty well.
Did I do something that scared me today? Yes. Do I consider myself a skater? Of course. Will the Rhode Island Rider ride again? Check your rearview mirror and you tell me.
Skate or die! Rider out.
-Out of the Wilderness