2014 Windy City Riot: Rainy Days and Hawaiian Shirts
I woke up on saturday, July 12th to the sound of rain on my windows and my homies laughing it up in the living room. I guess everyone was waiting on me. It was about 10:30 and I was feeling quite haggard from Dave Depew's karaoke themed Windy City Riot pre-party the night before, but I overcame that quite easily with excitement for the day to come. I would say I felt like a kid on Christmas morning, but I don't think kids that still believe in Santa are normally hungover on Christmas. As I already mentioned, it had been raining. It was raining on and off starting the day before during the Windy City Riot Friday Night Skate meet-up. However, I was quite optimistic the rain would let up and allow us to comfortably compete and spectate the day's activities. I got up with the homies in the living room we caught some breakfast and coffee and were on our way.
The meet-up spot was Logan Square Skatepark, which thankfully is relatively close to my crib, but it didn't matter anyway as we skipped the meet-up to head to the first spot. The plan was to grab some clips before it was overrun with actual competitors. Everyone laced a few tricks just in time before the rest of the bladers started arriving. At that point I took off my rollerblades off for the rest of the day. Nothing too crazy happened at the first spot because it was basically a second meet up spot after Logan.
After everyone got tired of basically skating laps around a big circle non-stop while simultaneously grinding a curved ledge around the edge of part of the circle, we moved on. The next spot was at the Humboldt Park Field House. The main object here was to grind up the handicap and gap over a gnarly bed of rocks at the end. Although Malcolm Heard and PJ Piencak looked at it differently and decided it was a good idea to gap over the guardrail at the end of the handicap ramp and also over the rocks. Some individuals really started to stand out here versus the last spot. I think my favorite trick here was Michael Froemling's back unity budget true mistrial.
After we were done with this spot, we headed to the Humboldt Park Boat House. This rail was basically perfect, minus the lake-sized puddle at the landing. We got handy with a squeegee mop and some boards and everyone was set to blade. Cedric Tippett laced a perfect fakie 900 straight to knee bash, in my opinion he should have won best fall of the day. Froemling got super tech again by hitting a super sick backslide tap on the under ledge to 360 topsoul down the rail. Sounds confusing, you'll see it in the edit don't worry. Sean Darst hit a perfect top soul to top soul on a tiny ledge poking out at the end of the rail, once again, you'll see it in the edit. Adam Bazydlo snapped per usual, hitting all types of really difficult tricks with ease. This was the spot where things were definitely starting to heat up.
At this point it was time for the half-time break. Me and some homies decided to peep Papa's Cache Sabroso in Humboldt Park, Chicago's predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood, for some traditional Puerto Rican food. Shout out to Joe Esquivel for the recommendation. I got a jibarito, which is a sandwich that uses fried plantain strips as the bread. It was flame, if you can't pronounce it though you can just call it a plantainwich. The restaurant was conveniently located a block away from the next spot, Roberto Clemente Community Academy, so we headed there promptly. This spot is very well known throughout Chicago and I knew things were going to pop off considering half of the dudes competing have skated there plenty of times. Sean Kelso was trying a front torque switch up and smacked his face pretty bad. Apparently he ended up having to get stitches on his chin, and was out for the rest of the day. Bummer. Everyone else was snapping and there was too many tricks landed for me to even try to name the ones that stuck out.
Now was the time for the traditional mini contests within the contest, namely the high jump and flatground contest. As usual, Dwight Harding easily won the high jump contest, but Malcolm Heard put up a serious fight. I also think it's worth noting that Malcom is like half a foot shorter than Dwight, and the bar he was jumping was damn near up to his chin. Afterwards it was time for my least favorite part of last year's competition, the flatground contest. This years was different though. I realized how goofy it was and I couldn't stop laughing at how awesome it was for multiple grown ass men to be competing in what I ended up calling "Urban Roller Ballet". I coined the term, you heard it here first. At the end there was an urban roller ballet dance-off between Dave Depew and Rory Melehan. Rory won the crowd over with his immaculate performance to the soundtrack of Thriller by Michael Jackson. Shout out to Bob Zegler for playing the dopest tracks for the flatground contest, and the rest of the day as well.
Afterwards the rest of the bladers and spectators headed to Saint Mary of the Angels Roman Catholic Church. I had to head back to the crib to get the cardboard sign to hold up at the award ceremony. I missed most of this spot, but I heard Adam tore it up. Fortunately I got back to see one of the Priests walk through and part the crowd like Moses and the red sea, he then proceeded to bless Dave Depew, because apparently he really needed it. Not surprised about that honestly.
John Adams mistakenly told everyone to go to some of the most buck kink rails in Chicago, when the back-up spot was actually somewhere else. We were all ready to leave until Brian Arnold and Paul John Piencak started eyeing up the rails. Both of them took a few hesitant tries and both ended up top souling and souling the rail respectively. I was super hyped to see them both land their tricks. Once again I was getting ready to leave and I see Adam Bazydlo eyeing up the triple kink rail. He put his blades on and top souled the first two kinks and gapped the last set of stairs first try. It was insane.
The plan was to meet back at Logan Skatepark and then head to a church across the street. Everyone was supposed to do a trick or two and bail because it was supposed to be a bust. Turns out it wasn't really a bust and everyone got a chance to hit a few maneuvers. Adam started things off with a huge 540 over this massive gap on the side of the stair set. Steve Lerner also did the same gap, but did a super sick fishbrain tap on a ledge before it. Froemling was doing some sick shit on one of the rails then gapping the second stair set there, while PJ was just transferring between the two rails. It sounds really jumbled, but it was the last spot and there was somewhat of a sensory overload. The last trick of the day was Sean Darst alley-oop fishbraining the ledge down the stairs. Then we trekked back to the skatepark to make some decisions and announce the winner. It was extremely difficult to decide who was going to take home the $2,000 we raised throughout the the summer by putting on mini contests and other various activities, but this is how it went down:
9. Chemi Simiyu
8. Logan Clark
7. Brian Arnold
6. Egon Naab
5. PJ Piencak
4. Steve Lerner
3. Michael Froemling
2. Adam Bazydlo
1. Sean Darst
After the awards the majority of us went to go party at one of my favorite bars, East Room. I really don't remember much from there, but I know me and some of the homies were definitely cutting up a rug on the dance floor. Everything about the day was great, I think it's safe to say it was one of the most fun days of blading I've ever had. I had a blast at the pre-party, at the competition, and at the afterparty. I wanna say thank you to everyone who put it together, basically everyone I've mentioned here, and obviously the man behind everything, Seán Ó Dálaigh. Every year the Windy City Riot has a different unique vibe and this year it turned out perfect, I can't even imagine how dope next summer's Riot is going to be.