Back in 1960 the much-acclaimed writer John Steinbeck (and his faithful poodle) hit the open road in a customised GMC truck to see for himself the true state of the United States, before jotting down his thoughts to create the classic travelogue, Travels with Charley.
60 years later, road-warrior, dog-owner and esteemed-icepick-grinder Bob Scerbo swapped the GMC truck for a 2002 Toyota (and replaced the poodle with a rat terrier) to create an equally raw document of life in America, Vacilando (Travels with Harley), capturing the people, places and angle-ironed loading-docks that make up the land of the free.
Seeing as the video has finally landed on British shores, here’s an interview with Bob about Vacilando, America and anything else we could think of. Questions by Sam and Clarky, photos by Wozzy, Bob and Clarky.
By now it’s pretty obvious that these articles aren’t exactly ‘monthly’, but luckily everything here stands up to the test of time fairly well. Here’s a few decent bits which have cropped up over the last three months…
Cast Iron Shore is the new video from mild-mannered peg maniac Addy Snowdon. Think plans are afoot for some sort of premiere (hopefully within the next ten years), but until then, here’s a short trailer featuring a particularly potent icepick from Roper and a rare sighting of Daddy Cool himself, Matt Glover.
On the subject of phone videos… this ‘Calles Pesadas’ video from reptile-expert Zac Costa is a real treat, and features everything from dodgy looking snakes to high-speed bike collisions. Those concrete parks in South America look unreal.
Must have missed the first one, but Words of Encouragement Vol. 2 is 15 minutes of Midlands street riding from people like Sam Marsden, Gaz Docker and Mitch Atkin.
If anyone wants a raw slice of 1990s Manchester on four wheels, this Promotional 97 is most definitely worth a watch. Plenty of long town hall lines in the golden age of trousers. If you enjoy this and partake in the Instagram world, you might want to follow Manchestalgia for more old gems.
Sad way to end this, but thoughts go out to friends and family of French street pioneer Thomas Caillard. This video from 1999 is one of the all-time greats. There’s a pretty good interview with Thomas in this issue of The Albion too. RIP.
Although the freecoaster has firmly fakied it’s way into the mainstream (or the closest thing to a ‘mainstream’ that exists in a niche activity like riding), few modern riders make the act of rolling backwards with an expensive hub look quite as smooth as Durham’s Dan Cox did back in the late 2000s.
Combining liquid fakie prowess with the occasional curve-ball move (like the seldom-seen 360 bomb-drop), it might be said that Dan created some of the most memorable video parts of the so-called ‘New Era era’.
But what video parts inspired him? Wonder no more…
“Lockdown has definitely brought up some nostalgic video viewing. We actually had a recent online viewing/shit talking session based around RF4 a couple of weeks ago, so this is by no means a top five, more of a wander down memory lane. Anyway, hopefully a couple of under-appreciated gems in here, and some that were always amazing and everyone knew it.”
Maybe a bit of a random one to start with, but this feels like an archetypal Props BMX section here and I love it. Props rock soundtrack, laughing at Koji Kraft doing a tailwhip to fully extended bowl-legged x-up, a genuine crowd of rider reactions to people hucking tricks, Dave Friemuth signature roll outs, it’s got it all.
I think this also represents a time where we would fully over-analyse videos, and have lengthy discussion about tiny details. Why did Jay Miron land that 360 superman seat grab underhanded? Why did Joe Tiseo think he couldn’t do a feeble hardway? Just re-watching it again there I think the icing on the cake has got to be the perfectly time-matched description George D gives as Brian Vowell busts out the ‘tailwhip air, to tailtap, to nosepick, to toothpick, to fakie’—he’s genuinely so happy that Brian Vowell did it!
John Mini – Imprudence(18:08 minutes in)
Imprudence was a Paris based all street video from 2001, I have no idea how it came into the house but it was on very heavy rotation for a long time. The whole video is amazing but I’ve chosen John Mini’s section for special praise here.
The riding is amazing: simple, fast, solid, and again we would fetishise every tiny detail of bike set up (look how far forward he runs his seat on the rails etc.) but picking it for this it’s the insane editing that sticks out. I’m not quite enough of an aficionado to know whether this type of text overlays and split screen stuff has a president in skate videos or whatever, but watching it now it really makes this an almost singular video part. “He must do it.”
Ian Schwartz – Gone Fishing
I’ve always loved Ian Schwartz’s riding, he came fully formed, to my eyes at least, straight out of his Props bio, but I’ve chosen his Sunday bikes Gone Fishing web edit from 2009. I just think he’d eased even more into his signature simple style in this—monster trucking over park benches, crank arm to over, only throwing the bars in the choicest of locations.
He was one of the originators to me of that basically skateboarding on a bike style, and I definitely bit his riding hard for years and years. I maybe could do without a couple of the deep, deep v-neck t-shirt era clips, but nobodies perfect.
Ratboy – Shine 3
50 tricks, 24 hours, 6 spots. It’s, it’s, inhuman. To define him kids make up words like ‘illsick’.
Ratkid – Animal House
Could have chosen literally any section he’s put out, as he’s not changing his style or his tricks or even his bike set-up, just insanely perfect spot usage 100% of the time. Seeing him drop off a curb so solidly can be enough to make me want to go out riding. Hearing some shady stories from people with first hand experience of him as well always helps, but I genuinely think he’s my favourite rider of the past 10 years.
One of the main things I noticed when I first started leafing through riding magazines back in the glory days of WHSmiths was that a disproportionately high percentage of the people involved had exotic names. Taj Mihelich? Leif Valin? Eben Krackau? Growing up in the North West of England, at a time when everyone was either called Sean, Dave or Keith, this lot sounded more like characters from a Channel 5 sci-fi film than anyone you’d find riding a three-set round the back of a Farmfoods.
Even the photographers had cool names, and along with Rob Dolecki and Jeff Zielinski, Jared Souney was definitely up there in the rare moniker stakes. Perhaps more importantly, he also took some mighty-fine photographs. Shooting first for his own magazine, Nine-Ninety, and then for ‘the big three’ back in the heyday of the printed page, he captured a wide spectrum of riding in a highly-skilled manner—without sacrificing that all-important raw edge.
Now based in Portland, he still takes photos today, as well as riding, doing design work, making jackets and seemingly everything else. Here are a few chunks of visual gold from his archive…
This interview was first published in the last issue of Red Steps, but seeing as people have seemingly got a bit of extra time on their hands at the minute, here it is in digital form…
English riders trekking over the pond in search of cheap pizza slices and decent spots is nothing new, but not many of our American compadres are scouring Sky Scanner in search of cheap flights to our damp island. Even less make the trip away from London’s glossy grasp to sample the sights and scents of northern England.
That said, for some bizarre reason Boston grind-tactician and all-round pleasant chap Jake Frost recently decided to make the voyage up to the city of Manchester.
He rode a bit, he visited Salford Lad’s Club and he dined out at that notorious Manchester eatery… Tim Horton’s.
Here’s an interview with him about his trip, his thoughts on riding and his work as a bike courier.
Here’s another quick dredge through the muck and mire of the world-wide information super-highway. Spike Jonze Parisian tranny-tuck hoiked from Chris Hamer’s Instagram.
First things first, most podcasts are pretty painful to listen to… but that said, this one that Bob Scerbo did with Vinnie Sammon a few years ago is pure gold and mentions some very important subjects. For a quick summary, Vinnie describes Texas as “the most swagless State,” crates of Red Bull are an effective form of currency and the Sunday griddle-frame was designed for a problem which never existed.
Talking of Texas, Bob also just finished this new video for Empire. Luckily Hamilton ups the swag levels courtesy of some textbook Columbus cruising in a striped polo shirt.
Meanwhile, in Yorkshire… RUDESTAR 2.25 is another potent blend of riding, skating and pretty much everything else from Jambul, whilst Merge is a quick promo for a new one Fathead is putting together.
From a similar era, Smart People in a Car Crash is a pretty intense slice of audio/visual headachery that’s recently been uploaded to the net. Made by David Slade (who later went on to direct episodes of Breaking Bad… and a Twilight film), it’s sort of like the two-wheeled, UK version of Alien Workshop’s Memory Screen. Actually, that might be a bit of a bold statement as Memory Screen is perhaps one of the greatest videos ever made, and this is pretty much unwatchable. Still, it’s got some similar analogue editing flourishes, and there’s some good footage of old spots in there if you can hack the migraine-inducing effects.
Pretty Shady was a trails blog back in the mid 2000s that put out a few DIY DVDs (often with hand-made covers) which you could buy via a handy Paypal link. If you want to overthink stuff, you could say the way they were distributed was fairly similar to how most crews put out their videos today.
Anyway, I think the man behind it moved to some picturesque rural area of France and got into collecting old racer bikes (which sounds like a very nice way to spend your time), but he’s recently found time to upload the first video (albeit in a slightly confusing manner). If you enjoy jumping large wedges of dirt in a woodland environment, then you might enjoy this.
Here’s a very in-depth interview with Bicycle Union/Volt main-man John Dye about pretty much everything we could think of. Read on for substantial chat about such subjects as London in the 80s, California trails struggles, Nails in the Coffin, Jake the Snake, swanky bowls and the true definition of ‘hardcore riders’.
Modern peabrain reading conventions would suggest this 6,400 word epic should maybe have been cut down a little bit, but it’s much better having too much to read than too little—especially in today’s lockdown era. Pour yourself a few gallons of tea and get stuck in…
Interview by Sam and Clarky. Photos by Steve Crandall, Ian Morris and a few others.
Here’s another belated run-down of odds and ends from around the internet that some people might find relatively interesting. Jambul NCP cruise photo by Sam.
Rude ‘En Side B is now up for all to see on Youtube. There’s far too much wild stuff in here to waste time listing everything off, but for those in a rush, Jambul’s section starts at approximately 59:00. If anyone from outside of Britain ever wondered what life was like on the damp streets of Yorkshire, this video is a pretty good representation.
There’s a fair bit of London and Bristol action in this new video from Dan Moon. That ledge that Loz tooth-picks looks like an absolute dream. Just be ready to mute Audio Bullys…
Crumbling spots… 90s hip hop… a healthy obsession with the glory days of Animal Bikes… I know that in the year 2020 stereotypes aren’t really seen as a good thing, but sometimes they’re bang-on—this video from Russia is exactly how I’d imagined street riding over there to be.