When I was maybe eight or nine years old, I started getting seriously into bicycle riding. It started out innocently with a BMX bike that my parents gave me and, over the years, moved into more and more higher-end bikes and got to the point where I spent almost every waking hour when I wasn't in school or working riding with friends. To pay for my addiction, I started peddling (ha - punny!) newspapers when I was ten and later other jobs included selling, doing repairs, and so on in bike and skateboard shops.
My biking "career" spanned the last couple of years of grade school, through high school, and even some time at university. A lot of it was racing BMX but, by the time I was in 10th grade, our group of friends started "doing freestyle", which was stunt riding on BMX bikes. It was right around then that we also got into skateboarding. Some of the same spots that were good for freestyle lent (and still do lend) themselves nicely to skateboarding. Plus, when it rained or snowed, the bikes stayed home; we were limited to skateboarding in Center City Philadelphia parking structures.
About half way through university, a friend from high school moved to San Diego to work in the skateboard industry. I went to visit him for a week or so one summer and, within a couple of hours of landing in Los Angeles, I was hooked. Right after university, I was off to California where I spent the next 19 years. The whole time I was surrounded by friends who worked in the skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing industries. I was even lucky to work in the bicycle and snowboard industries for a while.
One those friends, John John, who managed what so many dream of doing - turn a love (of action sports) into an amazing job and lifestyle, recently messaged asking if I'd be around as he could get me tickets to the Nike Street League Skateboarding Pro Open contest.
I told John John that, of course, we'd love to go! When the day arrived, Diana and I took the train to the Skate Agora skatepark in Badalona, which is the next town north of Barcelona. We grabbed our V.I.P. bracelets and set in to enjoy watching pro skaters from around the world compete on the newish, well-designed, beach-side park.
Since moving away from California, I've only been marginally aware of the industry and sports that occupied such a majority of my time on this planet. Barcelona has its own (fairly big) skateboarding scene, the mountains are close, and you'll even see the occasional surfer at the beach but it's just not the same intensity as it was in Oceanside. It was nice to be back in the mix, even if just as an observer.
Thanks for the tickets John John! We had a great time (vicariously) reliving my youth. Maybe when you and the family come for a visit, we can roll around the park for a bit!