Vert Skateboarding does Detroit
October 2013. Myself, Rex Singleton, Michael Thompson, Tommy Vendemmia and Steve Hauck Armed with our skateboards,skate bags and camera gear departed from BWI in Baltimore and touchdowned in Flint Michigan.
We drove 45 min. to Rich Ponds Ramp. Rich lives just outside Port Huron, MI. In the country to say the least.It was sometime after midnight when we pulled up. With a small welcoming committee we all just unwound on the flat bottom of the vert ramp before we proceeded to turn in for the night. As a visitor, the amenities and lodging were top notch. Rich converted a large shed into a cottage with bunk beds, card table and heat/AC. Showers were accessed through his basement where an indoor mini ramp was located only steps from.That first night was one of the best nights sleep I had in ages. It felt like we were under the stars. The bunks all were fitted with queen size mattresses, pillows and blankets. The next morning we got our game plan together, some were staying at Rich’s for Vert only sessions, while the rest of us were going to check out the skateparks. Two fans of the Vert page, Carlos and Merrit drove in from Buffalo. They decided to head out with us on our skatepark expeditions. 1ST Stop Riley Skatepark in Farmington Hills. http://goo.gl/maps/XnslV An hour and a half and numerous 8 mile road conversations later we arrived at concrete Mecca number One. Riley is a decent sized park. With a large bowl that features a capsule and numerous hips into various sized depths. Off beyond the bowl sat a flow area that I personally really enjoyed. With banks, hips, vert walls and spines it had something for everyone.
Mark Davenport and Tyler Russell met up with us and began putting on a clinic. Tommy proceeded to get some licks in as well.
We could of easily spent our whole day here but we knew Ride It Sculpture Park was calling our names We loaded up our gear and trekked east to the City of Detroit. To someone who has not been here before, Detroit’s appearance might resemble a graffiti’d Afghanistan. Tons of burned out houses, litter, shitty roads all add to Detroit’s unique character. I lived here for many years and things looked relatively unchanged. From the 1-800-Whosyourdaddy billboards to Coney Islands to Liquor stores, all littered the landscape. One change however took place off the Davison Freeway and I-75. The Ride It Sculpture Park had been born. A D.I.Y. Park in what was once considered a high drug area. The skateboarders had taken over. At the time of our visit, The Tony Hawk Foundation had recently been through for a visit and granted this space additional finances for extra concrete. Since our visit, the concrete has indeed been added and I look forward to skating the extra portion next time.
We pulled up to find a crew of around 8 people already there. A few of the locals had some great lines dialed up. Mark D. And Tyler R. Skated this place like they rode here everyday. Rex broke out the camera and the intensity of the session notched up. Ride It Sculpture Park is an amazing skate spot with flavor only Detroit could add. The neighborhoods surrounding the park are even getting kids into skateboarding. Kids that normally would have no exposure to such a positive influence. Having skated in Detroit during the mid 90’s I couldn’t help but to take it all in and smile. I was extremely happy to see this result of others efforts before my eyes. Back in the mid 90’s Detroit had a mutual friend in skateboarding named Quincy. We called him Q. Q was skating home from a party in the D one night when a drunk driver veered off the road, onto a curb and killed Quincy. I always will miss Q and I think of him regularly. I know he was looking down on us at Ride It. Sometimes you can just feel those things.
As we all departed, immediately before hopping on our I-75 exit we looked to the left and were treated to an amazing view of Detroit’s skyline with a setting sun in its early stages. Pulling up to Modern we noticed George the owners van in the parking lot. George gave us the green light to skate the bowl free of charge. I used to ride for George’s shop for many years. He’s a great guy and has always treated his team like family. At one time George had owned 4 different parks in the state of Michigan. Due to economic woes in Detroit and surrounding areas, this park was his only remaining. Comprised of a large street area, a 64 ft. wide Miniramp and a bowl, our main focus was the bowl and it did not disappoint. Superfast and a total blast. We spent an hour here and then decided our legs had had enough. http://goo.gl/maps/uZvHQ Time to eat, drink and be merry in preparation for Sundays vert session.
We woke up Sunday morning and hit the A.U.C.E. buffet in Port Huron. This was a bad idea. We should of hit a Coney Island or diner of some sort. Eating out is always like rolling dice in a crap shoot. We hit the Meijer afterwards for some healthier options to take back to camp. Vert Session on. Peter Furnee was in attendance from Indiana. Jon Burgess made the trek from Ohio. We must have had 15-20 people on the decks. It was a great day and a great session. I had to wrap up early as Steve booked a flight on Sunday and we had to get him back to the airport. When we arrived back at camp we ended the day with a huge bonfire and a corn eating contest. Mark Davenport is your 2013 Michigan State Corn Shucker Champion. On Monday we all awoke and headed out for breakfast. We made a wiser choice this time. Skarfed our food and headed back to Rich’s to pack up and get a few final runs on the ramp. Rich’s ramp is 13 feet tall with 2 feet of vert and I personally think it is absolutely perfect. Well constructed and flawless, I can’t wait to return in 2014. Special thanks to the Pond Family, Peter Furnee, Jon Burgess, Michael Thompson, Tommy Vendemmia, Rex Singleton, Steve Hauck, Tyler Russell, Mark Davenport, Merritt Jackson, Suzie Quincy, Carlos Nafziger-Brown, Seth Ryan Levy and anyone else I forgot.