RoundingTheBend Feature

Hit It and Quit It – Malibu Downhill Invitational

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little bit nervous about the whole thing. I mean, Malibu is just one of those places where you have to know what you’re doing. And with the amount of people in attendance that day, everyone there was just waiting for something to happen. We all knew that there were going to be some unlucky ones in the herd. The canyons were hungry, and you gotta pay to play in Malibu. It’s just the way it goes. So it was just a matter of time before wheels touched, or someone missed the apex on a turn, you get the idea. You earn your right to skate those hills, and you have to earn it in blood. All of us locals have our scars, our proof of purchase. We wear’em with pride. Some people boast about their complicated tattoo designs, we got our scars, and that’s downhill. But that’s not to suggest that the canyons of Malibu aren’t just a complete dream to skate, because really, they are… When you finally rise above those proverbial dark looming clouds of apprehension, they’re perfect. It’s like the best dream you’ve ever had, except it’s real, and all your friends are there too. The corners, the straights, everything about those roads exemplifies exactly what this sport is all about. So despite the hesitation, the warning bells, you just simply had to remind yourself that flesh and blood were a small price to pay for a day spent in downhill utopia.

The jam had its quiet beginnings about a month or two back on Facebook. All you received was an invite to an event and a small paragraph description that dictated secrecy, BYOB, and a one road, one run format, to keep the kook factor to a minimum and the fuzz guessing our location. After amassing a small but formidable squadron of some of SoCal’s finest downhillers, teams of 4 to 6 skaters piled into a caravan of cars. All of them anxious, eager to get the convoy rolling into the hills of mighty Malibu – here is what transpired:

A steady flow of thirty or so downhillers stick the left on their way to the bottom.

Slippery Pete Eubank throws the T-Hawk while trying to lose the tail.

A steady line of skaters trickles down one of my personal Malibu favorites.

Ryan Galgas not only manned the camera, but shuttled people as well - badass.

Skaters gather at the next location to rest legs and talk tactics.

Yours truly and Taidaichi Nakayama posing it out.

The group unanimously decided that the serious look was the way to go.

Dusty keeps within arms distance manning the GoPro as I stick the inside line.

Tai can shred Malibu with his eyes closed... no big deal.

Ian Mcsherry just recently made it on flow team for Orangatang, here's why.

Leathered out and lookin' lean and clean.

Incredibly, this was the only serious group wreck of the day. Everyone was okay, kinda.

Jesse dodges crash wreckage as he surfs this famed Malibu double-apex left.

Survivors celebrate a successful afternoon spent in Malibu.

Dustin Hampton networks while also mastering the art of the grill.

Daisy is all giggles after an all-day romp through the canyons on her skateboard.

A wonderful conclusion, to an absolutely epic event. Thank you Dusty for making it all happen.

And after it was all said and done, all I could do was sit there on the sand with a stupid grin stretched across my face. It was then in that moment that the blur of the day caught up with me. It was then that I realized how unique and special the nature of what I had experienced that day actually was. One of those “ah ha” moments when you become instantly conscious of the fact that this was going to be one of those things you tell your kids about later in life. A whole future scene of me as a weathered old man telling stories to grand-children at a family gathering flashed before my eyes. All the wonderful idiosyncrasies of the sport, the bonds shared with people, forged out of a lifestyle of high speed and high risk. The dedication to a piece of wood and 50 some-odd collective miles of coastal asphalt spagetti. Living the California dream, and loving every second of it.

A very special thank you to Ryan Galgas for manning the camera for a good portion of the day, and for shuttling.

To see additional photography from the event, please visit The Gel Lab‘s Flickr page –

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/thegellab/sets/72157629723124928/

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