The inaugural Crescent City Freeride was held this past weekend (March 21-23 2014) in quiet little beach town Crescent City at the northern tip of California. This event was put together by local riders Kendri and Roy Rook along with Chris Farrell and frequent Crescent City pro rider, Pete McAfee.
This year was a bit of a test to see if the locals and the surfers could handle a group of jet skis taking a small piece of the South Beach for a weekend. The hope is that the event was well received and that it can possibly become an annual freeride location.
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the first ever spring break freeride. I was joined by my good friends and riding buddies Chris Farrell, Dave Pennt and Peter Morrill. We all showed up at Chris’ house on Thursday night to load the skis in the trailer and get a couple hours of sleep before hitting the road at 2:30 am. Our plan was to try and make the 9 hour drive to the ride spot by noon.
Chris drove all night like a boss and even let the rest of us sleep (try to anyway). We made minimal stops and arrived on the beach right on schedule to find fellow rider from Idaho, Chris Batton shredding by himself. We quickly unloaded the trailer, stoked to try out the new riding spot that we had heard so many great things about.
It was a great spot with parking right at the edge of the beach, making it an easy cart-in location. The surf was looking really good. Waves were about 5-6 feet with perfect faces and plenty of separation, and we even had a little off shore breeze. We rode all day while more people trickled in to join us.
By about 5:30, we all decided to load back up and check into our hotel that was only about 100 yards from our riding spot right on the beach. That night, local riders Roy and Kendri Rook invited everyone out to their home to join them for dinner and hang out for the evening.
They fed the whole Friday night crew (25-plus people) potatoes and tri-tip and we all got a chance to catch up with each other and make introductions to new riders and some locals. Everyone was pumped to get back on the water the next day.
Saturday was to be the main day. The local paper did a little advertising and more riders were on the way.
The morning started out a bit slow. This being a spring break freeride, many skis had just been taken out of storage or tinkered with and a lot of guys were working out bugs and making adjustments. By midday, most of us were out shredding, and again the surf was killer!
Local rider Robbie Miller brought out his old school 550 and smashed that thing against the face of the waves. I was impressed at what he could pull off on that 550. Peter Morill was getting used to his new Rickter EVO1 and dialing it in.
I surfed a ton of waves with a little air here and there and even went out and burned a tank of gas in the WDK ROK R surf ski, which was the most different surf ski I have ever ridden (but very fun to ride). Future star Stuart Allison was showcasing some impressive surf skills. Chris Batton was throwing big nose stabs and making good use of his DASA powered Rickter FR2.
Blowsion and WDK sponsored rider, Pete McAfee (Peg-Leg Pete) was throwing down the biggest airs, flips, rolls and re-entries of the day, putting on a great show for all the spectators and surfers that were hanging out in the water to watch us.
Another honorable mention goes to local rider Chris Jones (Jonesey), who broke his handle pole off that day. Towards the end of the day everyone was out of the water with the exception of Peg-Leg Pete and Stuart.
They went out for one last session and with Pete’s encouragement, Stuart was able to pull off his first back flip with his father and girlfriend watching from shore. He was stoked to say the least. Big congrats to Stuart for his first flip and winning the cherry popper award for the weekend.
That night we all went back to the Rook’s house again for the evening to eat and tear into broken jet skis. It was a great night full of good conversations and good people that the sport of freeride is. It’s so crazy how everyone you meet in this particular sport have kindred spirits and everyone that rides is just a friend naturally from day one. Lots of laughs and a few shenanigans of course.
Sunday it was back to the beach for the last day of riding. We were all pretty beat from riding for two days but we still had fuel so back to the water we went. It’s very hard to stay out of the water when the surf looks so good. Sometimes your body says, “Hey buddy, I’m done” but your mind says “Let’s do this, I can go for one more session!” I know that’s where I was.
We all went out to get some GoPro footage and in the first 15 minutes I hit a good set and launched a pretty big nose stab. My right foot came out of the foot hold at about the apex and when I nosed it in I smacked my shin on my nozzle (I think) pretty hard. It hurt but I shook it off thinking I might end up with a lump on that shin.
We got some good riding in and came back to say our goodbyes and start cleaning up skis. I flushed mine and decided to get out of my wet suit and to my surprise I had a pretty big gash in my leg.
At that point I found Peg-Leg Pete, who works at a hospital and happened to have a sucher kit with him. Long story short, Pete sewed me back together with 13 stitches. If you ever have to get stitches, have a buddy that knows what he is doing do it while you’re watching the sun set over the beach chatting with your riding buddies. I’ll not forget that anytime soon. Doc says he did a great job and he wouldn’t have done it any different.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend with a great turnout. I can’t wait to meet up with my old and new friends again at the next event. I hope we can do Crescent City again next year!