365 Miles to Upland

Michael recounts one of his epic skate trips from way deep in the SkateRock.com Archives. I wish the photos were larger and clearer but hey, this was 2002, the birth of digital phtography….


by Michael Cornelius

O

ver the long weekend I went out to California to skate. The plan was to drive straight to Fontana to meet Brian and then after a warm-up session hit Upland. The skys were clear and blue all the way to Palm Springs. Beyond Palm Springs I could see that the clouds were being held out of the desert by the San Gorgino and the San Juacinto mountains that flank the pass where the windmills are. As soon as I got beyond the pass there was a steady drizzle.

I went to plan B and drove straight to Brian’s house in HB. We then proceeded to Van’s to skate the Combi Pool. Van’s removed 3 concrete bowls to add more street space. I guess they had to cater to the kids that are paying the fees to skate.

Sunday we were on our way to the Anahiem Skatepark when Brian noticed we would be driving right by Kelly Bellmar’s house. We stopped by and not only was he home he was hosting his first session in months. Duane Peters and John Lucero we ripping it up while Ray Allen shot video.

Kelly’s pool is pretty gnarly at 10’6″ and 2 feet of vert. The roll in goes straight to the bottom so just dropping in is a rush. With such a good session in progress we never made it to Anahiem.

Monday I headed to Upland solo on my way home. Seeing it in person you realize just how gnarly it is. The bowl is 11 feet deep with at least 2 feet of vert. The pipe and lead-in half pipe slant downhill to the bowl at a significant angle. That means that over vert pipe rides are more a matter of hanging on that pumping. The concrete finish is flawless. This place will restore Upland to the list of gnarliest spots on earth.

As I rode the pipe I was pretty stoked on the speed but was not watching my lines. I got ejected into space off the left side hip at the end of the pipe. Flying through the air at speed, 12 feet above the drain. I landed om my feet but my knee couldn’t take the strain. Something popped and I was down and in teeth-grinding pain. When I got up (after a few minutes) I couldn’t stand on it at all. I had to use the skate as a crutch and make the long walk out of the pipe and back to the car; session over.

I proceeded to hobble though Rite-Aid for a brace and some Ibuprofen then got in the car and drove back to Phoenix.

I got x-rays the next day and am glad to tell you that no broken bones were found. I’m out of action for at least 6 weeks while I heal up though.

800 miles, 3 skatespots, 5 runs in the pipe, one jacked up knee. Was it worth it….

Hell yeah.

EPILOGUE

It’s now 15 months later and I still can’t skate vert. I had an operation to fix my ACL 7 months after the accident and have been healing slowly. I won’t ever be able to skate again without an ACL brace. Sometimes I’m bummed and sometimes I’m cool. One thing is for sure; no matter how much or how little I actually get to ride I’m 100% skateboarder!

 

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