My friend Hampden shot this photo recently at Mike Tag’s parent’s house In Ithaca New York.
It was the first ramp we ever rode, a quarter pipe, built out of 3/4 inch plywood slabs making a quasi transition, of kinked Father-son built awesomeness.
None of us had ever seen a ramp in real life, let alone ridden one, just pictures of people like Ron Wilkerson in magazines, blasting in all their California glory.
I remember painting it, and using Testor’s model paint, flinging the tiny bottles of paint to give it a splattered look like we’d seen in the magical images on the magazines in the late 80’s.
Reminiscing pedaling through the yard, and carving off the side of that ramp, with my best friend, trying to learn how to go up, and turn around coming back the same direction, I can remember riding right off the side, landing on my head. I can still feel every lump in the yard, and kink in the ramp, and quite honestly the lump on my head. I can also See Mike quickly figuring it out, and witnessing our first ramp airs over 20 years ago…
Seeing this photo literally had me on memory lane this week, visiting Ithaca New York, where I spent a good portion of my life, maybe some of the best parts of it…
I was visiting Mike, who continues to struggle with a very tough fight with cancer.
I walked around my home town, looking at street corners, buildings, old dwellings and old faces like a television show I hadn’t watched in years. I visited places like that spot we used to ride as teenagers, and many others, walking around Ithaca, where it seemed like every landmark had a story to go with it, a laugh, a secret, an inside joke and smile hidden its shadows.
Each structure had a piece of our lives in it’s foundation, or a tire mark on it’s wall, a scrape from a peg, or an echo of the passing laughter of kids quickly pedaling past it, knocking over a trash can, or antagonizing the nearest civilian. Guys like Bones, Gilly, Toast, the Baker Brothers, Fisher and more were a part of all these images pouring out of memory, rolling through the nooks and crannies of life in a small town spent with my friend Mike Tag.
Watching my oldest, and one of my best friends struggle had me in some kind of emotional turmoil, but like the quarter pipe we use to play on 20 some odd years ago, with a faded paint job, and primitive but rugged construction….my friends and I are still standing… sometimes a little tattered, splintered, and weathered, but upright nonetheless…
Today I went to the airport, and Mike went to the hospital. I’ve never met a tougher dude, with more resolve. I am not sharing these thoughts and words for sympathy or pity, I want to share how valuable these friendships are to me, and say how awesome it is how many people have gotten behind Mike’s cause to help him and his family. He truly is a great man.
FBM PMA 2012! Thank you everyone for being awesome, and Mike, Keep kicking ass! We all love you!