Oliver, who heads up the Skateboarding Club at UCF, was my host for the next two nights. He goes by “Ollie,” not to be confused with Ollie from the homefront sunset hilltop spot, and he’s one of the best dudes out. We spent a bt of time hanging out that night, to get to know each other a bit (we’d only been acquainted online previous to that), and then proceeded to catch some sleep. The following morning, we woke up to catch up on some everyday work, make a great breakfast (eggs, apple, veggies, hummus, and black coffee), and get out of the apartment to promote the upcoming event.
It was only three days until Collegiate Skate Tour’s “Miniramp Mania” college contest in Gainesville. Ollie went to undergrad at UF in Gainesville, knew the guys there, was going to be there that weekend, and was a huge help in bringing flyers to all the local shops in Orlando. It’s always rewarding to visit shops in new places. It’s cool to hear people’s stories and learn (or learn more) about the local skate scene. And naturally, they ask about you, when you show them a flyer & explain what “I do with Collegiate Skate Tour.” Later that day, as the evening came, we met up with a very passionate and opinionated Miami local, Manny, who joined us for burritos, pre-session at Riverside Skatepark in Oviedo, just north of Orlando. Work was done for the day, and it was time to skate!
We dropped off a couple friends and headed back to Ollie’s place. Him and I were both stoked on the UCF Skateboarding movement, the event upcoming, and my visit, so we got a case on the way home and toasted to the whole damn thing. The next day, I was scheduled to leave for Gainesville, so we made a night of it. Drank a few adult sodas, talked about skateboarding, college skateboarding, professional skateboarding, skateboarding videos…. I feel like Forrest Gump saying it like that, but hey, we’re both fucking stoked on that skate life. The next morning, we had breakfast and a bit of time on the laptops. Afterward, I got on the road, headed through the dreaded toll roads of the greater Orlando area and further north to Gator Country.
The drive was mellow; full-tank-of-gas, A/C, “This American Life,” etc. You feel me? Two hours on the road was easy, but enough. Eager to get out of the car, I pull into a skateshop parking lot, at FreeRide Surf & Skate, where the event was to be held. It was really cool to see, because I’d obviously researched this location but was checking it out for the first time, two days before the event. There’s a huge mural on the side of the building, entailing a bright green grass field with a grey halfpipe in it, with the beautiful shore on the other half and ocean waves, very artistically done. The shop was very much a surf/skate cross-over shop. The kind of shop that sells skateboards but also sells bikinis. But that’s cool. The only other skateshop in town did not have a parking lot, and Collegiate Skate Tour was bringing in a portable miniramp for the college contest. So… It got me wanting to skate and move my legs a bit. I hit up the local contact.
I was greeted by the next homie host and skate club leader, Clay. Not only is Clay a good student and pillar for the skateboarding community at the University of Florida (Gator Skateboarding Club); he’s also a silent ripper. A special breed: miniramp champ, better flip tricks than you, and able to shred a vert ramp. Clay was a great host, and he started that duty by taking me skating to a couple of street spots in Gainesville. Following the skating and exploring the Gainesville city scape (in which I was a skate virgin), we headed to a local pizza spot that we’d spoken with about potential sponsorship. And it was actually dope! Dough Religion is the name of the spot. We didn’t go through with that sponsorship, but there’s some free marketing for them. Boom, how ‘bout that?
The next morning, a beautiful Florida Friday, I sleep in a bit after a late night of working and beers. Clay has early afternoon class (before his Spring Break begins!), and I have a short list of last-day prep for the contest. I get my OCD time to myself while he’s out at class before we link up and knock out those last tasks. Honestly, I felt like it was my spring break, waking up to a new place (vacation-esque) with nice warm weather (Spring in Florida is perfect), and plans to skate some new concrete! Yeewww!! Which brings me to the next part of the story...
Post-errands, Clay and I make our way through Friday traffic to Possum Creek Skatepark. I’d been seeing footage of the Gator Skateboarding Club at that park for three or four years, and I’d heard great things about it from people all over Florida. So yes, I was Stoked. The park had a bit of a circular flow throughout, with stairset/hubbas/rail in the center and large euro gaps on each side. There’s also a really awesome, but mellow, bowl off to the side behind a banked hip with A-Frame hubba. Translation for non-skaters (it was a really well-constructed skatepark with much variety and professional finish). Bow! Had so much fun there.
I had not eaten all day long, so I grabbed a burrito at this place, Flaco’s, before joining a small group of the dudes at the bar. Matt and Clay are two of the first guys from UF that ever came out to a Collegiate Skate Tour contest in Florida. Great dudes to have a cold beer with, and that night was a mellow good time with them and the rest of the homies. We kept it chill, since the next morning was big. Lots of stuff to do in the morning and throughout the day. It felt good to be settled into Gainesville for the weekend yet amped for the fun event the next day.
The story continues, starting the next morning….
- 7Ply Epic