Get To Know Team NoBull: Texas Born, Globally Composed, Completely Stoked
If you happen to be wandering around downtown Houston any late night or early morning before dawn you will hear the echoing sounds of HGR emanating from the garages. Y’all know that familiar sound of urethane reverberations. “HGR” is the nomenclature for Houston Garage Riders a unique style of urban longboarding that is for those skaters that are adept at trespassing, stealth, camera dodging and all the risks that some classic ‘B & E’ entails. HGR is a crew which only comes out at night, has unwritten codes, odd superstitions and traditions they hold sacrosanct. Their Outlaw races have a no holds barred full contact physical style, it is a type of racing unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. When we use the word “unique” to describe this Bayou City Crew this is not an adjective which we apply to garage riding, for that is something that every city has. Unique to “HGR” and its home turf is the physicality of the riders (“no rules & full contact”) when racing, the countless garage choices for challenging any skill level, the tradition of their nightly expeditions and the camaraderie which is fused within this community. Attitude is one of the trademarks of this scene, which many compare to the ultra-protective territorial surfing culture of southern California. The garages all have monikers bestowed upon them by a skater years ago: Jesus Saves, Troll Face, BCBS, The Wave, Old Dusty and Cables are just some of the garage names in Houston. Don’t try Googling them on a map because you won’t find them listed – these code names are designed to protect them from outsiders. The multitude of garages in Houston enables the crew rotate their seshes to avoid a predictable pattern. Patterns increase the possibility of being busted. It is not uncommon for the crew to hit 7 or 8 garages in one night. The scene is very welcoming and inclusive yet ultra-protective of preserving their traditions and their spots. It was from this culture of rawness, stoke and physicality that Team NoBull was born, albeit with slightly softened edges.
Team NoBull was founded originally without any purpose, no goals and certainly zero expectations – this quite possibly could be one of the reasons why it has become what it is today. There is something special about an idea born without a plan that goes with the flow. As the name implies “NoBull” was meant as NoBullshit – No ulterior motives, no drama, no corporate affiliation, don’t make shit, don’t sell shit – just skate. At its origin we are a group of friends that skated together and had a common bond – our passion for the sport and racing. We hung together almost every night and traveled together throughout the state to races, so why not have a team? The “Team” was founded by myself, Richard Supernaw and its original members, comprised of HGR riders, to include my son Dawson Noble, Scotty Sheridan owner of Carve Skateshop, Clayton Nalley, Brian “Chubbs” Cortright, Zac Sharp, Rachel Rayne, Darby Deming, Joseph Delgado, Austin Blaha, Neal Roberts, Sean Cook & Jay Cronin. The irony of having an “organized” team of Houston Garage Riders did not escape us.
Every Team needs a logo and a shirt right? Our first Team shirt & logo was definitely a subtle middle finger to the whole idea of corporate sponsorship & drama – it was a knock-off of an energy drink companies can right down to the ingredients and nutritional information. The early days of Team NoBull were spent on the couch of Carve Skateshop talking about which race to drive to the coming weekend, where our next outlaw should be, discussing the sesh the previous night and arguing which garage to start at the night ahead. Team NoBull started with roughly a dozen members – Why? Because that was the minimum shirt order size that the T-Shirt guy would agree to make. So at its roots the Team was never meant to be anything more than a spontaneous free flowing community – organization, structure and compliance are not words we recognized or applied to the “Team”. Little did we realize in 2012 what we were starting, where it would lead, what we would accomplish together and how much it would grow. And when we handed out those shirts that first time, we certainly didn’t think a big corporate beverage maker would care about a knockoff t-shirt worn by some skaters in Houston – more about that later.
Much of the inspiration for the team was frankly the fact that none of the Texas riders or any of its races were getting much attention outside of our big state. Not only did we decide to form our own team that sponsored riders, but many within the Texas community and on our team started their own board and wheel companies as well. Kind of a novel idea if yall won’t sponsor us we will start our own team and sponsor ourselves. Sponsorship in the early days of Team NoBull was full of “bene’s” – it was lucrative for sure – you got one Team NoBull Hanes Beefy T.
Our first race with our new shirts was in Dallas and of course it was a garage race. In those early days the race rivalry between Houston and Dallas was fierce. Darby Deming won our first race and this began a streak of win many more podiums as a team. When founded Team NoBull was comprised of HGR only and never considered it would be anything but a Houston crew. But that has evolved as the team embraced its inclusive vibe and added members from throughout the United States and with that our family grew. As we have grown our focus has widened from how we can impact the Houston scene to how we can impact the sport. One of the really key moments for us was when we added Kyle Ramsey with NoCoast to the team. Kyle not only brought with him in-depth experience in throwing outlaw downhill events but also media and the legendary NoCoast meetups, which involves skate trips to secret spots in Oklahoma & Arkansas.
The first race we traveled to as a team outside of Texas was to Carnage On The Coast in Pensacola Florida… and we won both days virtually sweeping the podiums. As we started to win races as a team and throw outlaw races the momentum grew: the outlaw garage races got bigger, the followers on social media began to multiply and articles started appearing about us. We traveled a ton in those early days to include a few cross-country roadtrips in the Carve van. When we would hit an event or bomb some gems with the locals our team always left an impression of fun and stoke.
Remember our original shirt design? One of the unforeseen results of our newfound exposure was a nice little “tap” on the shoulder from “a suit” politely telling us to change our logo (that resembled a certain energy drink company). Not having a legal war chest, nor any lawyers on retainer we changed the logo to what you see today. The day you get a letter from a corporation telling you to change your logo is the day you know you have gotten to a place you didn’t expect. Who would’ve thought that a bunch of guys that got together in the local skate shop would end up getting so much attention. What began as a tongue-in-cheek t-shirt design for some ragtag skaters in a vertically challenged bayou city suddenly was growing into a stoke filled momentum machine comprised of some of the best skaters in the state of Texas.
As we have progressed thru the years we have used our collective experience to organize skate trips, events, races, Maryhill trips and get behind causes. These trips form bonds and none is more apparent than our love for and connection to the Maryhill Ratz. Deano, Ali and the Ratz crew have become our family. The selfless devotion they have for Longboarding’s Mecca and the sacrifices they make to keep the flame burning bright is a model for all of us. We are constantly discussing the next event, the next adventure and more importantly (still to this day) the next garage sesh. We recently added our first member from Mexico, Eduardo Cordero, we have Canadian riders, west coast and Portland/Seattle Team Members. The criteria for becoming a part of the Team is fairly simple, be a skating ambassador, skate hard, race often, skate everyday and truly have a passion for the sport. On the team we have riders with a multitude of talents that have helped us get where we are (everyone adds more than just their skating ability) – graphic designers (Jay Cronin), t-shirt makers (Kristin Maxwell) , photographers (Erick Barrandey, Kaitlyn Beachy, Kameron Denman, Jerry He & Chance Wiggins), race organizers (Ryan Richbourg & Kyle Ramsey), website designers (Brian Cortright) and of course those that win the party. Where we are today is a testament to what a group of like-minded skaters can accomplish when fueled by a passion and love for the sport.
Having a legal garage race in Houston was something considered sacrilegious by many – HGR is proud of its outlaw roots – but something had to be done for 2 reasons. First the races were getting too big – sneaking 125 racers into a garage for a race at 11:00 PM can be tricky especially when it is a county courthouse garage located next to the police station (true story). Second we wanted to have the world race us on our home turf! It’s pretty difficult to convince someone to travel 1200 miles for a race which had a high likelihood of being busted. From this trespassing “illegal” dilemma was born the legal solution – The NoBull Bayou Battle. The notoriety the team received gave us leverage to be taken seriously (“Google Us”) . That day in 2014 when we knocked on the office door of Houston’s best garage for racing, The Hobby Center, we knew we were taking a risk. We basically were asking for permission to do something that we had been doing illegally. That was most definitely a surreal experience, “Nice to meet you. We have been trespassing and having outlaw races at your garage for years.” Amazingly the unthinkable occurred – we got the “ok” to race in a garage. This enabled us to invite the scene to our city and introduce them to some good old HGR style racing. In 2015 with the help of Carve Skateshop Team NoBull held the first legal garage race in Texas’ history and the biggest in U.S. history, “The NoBull Bayou Battle”. Carve Skateshop has not only been critical to the success of the Bayou Battle but also a huge supporter of the racing scene in Texas. Every scene has their local skateshop and we in Houston are so lucky to have one that not only is owned and operated by skaters but also gives back to the scene. Team NoBull could not be where it is today without Carve, its crew and Scotty Sheridan.
This years Bayou Battle (our 2nd legal garage race) was epic. What is particularly special about the Bayou Battle is it spans an entire weekend and encompasses both skateboarding and longboarding – hey it is all skateboarding. The three days of fun includes two skateparks, a ditch jam, an LDP race and a full day and night of garage racing. Our event is for everyone and we use it as a platform to bring all skill levels together. Unlike a traditional downhill where one has to be somewhat advanced to compete, in a garage race anyone can participate. We had heats this year that included some of the top racers in the world, with a Dad and his Son and a young girl in her first race. The inclusivity of garage racing is unlike any other form of racing. This year’s event was unique in that it had a focus on attracting more women to come to Houston and race. Far too many races have too few female racers. The best way to insure female attendance is to have someone that is passionate for the sport to rally everyone. For the Bayou Battle that someone was Rachael Jordahl. Rachael is not only a skater but also has the organizational genius, focus and stoke to pull of the largest female contingents of any race previously held in Texas. BoardLife out of Denver & Austin supported the women’s contingent by providing them with a Loft for lodging. Landyachtz was a title sponsor of this year’s Bayou Battle and not only provided swag and the trophies but also sent their riders to Houston. Finally and as always Carve Skateshop came in with their mega prize purse and an epic terrifying after party, thanks to Clayton Nalley. Which defied description.
We are in the early stages of planning a garage racing series that would encompass 6 cities throughout the U.S. We are always looking for opportunities to not only bring attention to the sport but also to work with companies that support the scene. Our collaboration with Jonathan Strauss and the IDSA has given us the ability to expand other ways to promote the sport. With the IDSA’s support has come insurance, involvement in the growing pumptrack phenomenon and an entre into city and government officials for gaining approval for events. We recently were involved with the IDSA’s garage race in Miami, The Magic City Mayhem, and we can’t wait for the next one on January 15th, 2017.
We have been able to stay true to our original vibe of being self-funded, pushing the scene, having fun and giving back to the sport which has given us so much. For 2017 we are focused on the Bayou Battle, sponsoring more races, throwing more races and adding more women and groms to the team. Using our platform, our connections and our experience to do impactful things for the sport is our new mantra. Where we are today as a team was never where we anticipated we’d be and where we will be 4 years from now is anyone’s guess – but we are certain that it will be somewhere we never expected.
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