At the age of 16, my adrenal gland was raging at 170% capacity and was regularly known to spew out the back of my neck. I was the designated bike jump tester, my (mom’s) truck had been to the vertical extreme several times before I crashed into two parked police dirt bikes in the middle of the hills, my face was pocked with copper BB rounds from the eye-protection-free BB gun wars we had behind my house, I almost dropped all my money in semi professional paint balling, surfing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, snow fights, judo, and most pertinent to this story… street luging. Here is how I lost all the skin on the left side of my body.
Me and the four foot Independent brand longboard skateboard had conquered almost every incline there was in Simi Valley. I would lay down on this object of speed and grace with my calves squeezing the nose of the board and my hands gripping the side of the board just behind the front wheels. My upper back just touched the back edge of the board and to anyone else other than my friends or I, this board was blatantly too small to do what I was doing on it.
The hill out of Indian Hills was a waste of time and my yawns hurt my jaw as I came down. Oak Knolls Rd was only exciting because I forced a car to hit the electrified fence. Texas track felt like it never started. Santa Susana pass was alright but was marred with too many cars. All that was left was the backside of Black Canyon which mythically alleviated all these problems. We had all known this fact for the last few days but no one dared to mention it for fear of losing Luke forever in a down hill blaze of glory.
I stood at the top of Black Canyon adjusting my gardening gloves and making sure my jeans were tucked into my ankle socks. I stared blankly down the five miles ahead of me and wondered how many grilled cheese sandwiches I could eat in a single sitting. I tucked my salvation army thin shirt in and loosened my reef shoes for comfort. I scratched my helmet-less head as I looked back at the chase car. All the faces inside were smiling and shaking their heads and most likely saying something along the lines of “Aww man Luke is going to eat shit sooo bad.” I gave them the thumbs up and quickly laid down, lifted my feet, and pointed down the hill.
I am sure if I had more than just four large skateboard wheels, I could have easily surpassed my cruising speed of 60 kilometers per hour but I had to use what I was dealt with. The turns were long and cambered and I barely put my feet down to slow down. I was later told that the chase car struggled to stay with me around some of the turns as my paper thin shirt came out of my jeans and evaporated with every skip on the sidewalk.
Two miles in and my shoes were hot on my soles. I had lost the tops of the gardening gloves after several bouncy sections which had flexed the skateboard violently and dragged my knuckles on the road. I had decided at that point I could eat seven buttery grilled cheese sandwiches in one sitting without problems.
It was the third mile, a particularly boring mile, when I learned that even a hardened rubber compound made for zooming down hills, will melt. I approached a steep left hander with a 60 foot cliff on the outside guarded by a metal corrugated barrier and large wooden square posts supporting it. I leaned left and as expected, I turned left. But the board had it’s own plans and kept going straight. I continued to rotate uncontrollably to the left while the board continued straight and when I was perpendicular to the road and board I decided it was time to bring an end to all this malarky so I rolled to my left wishing my board good luck in the afterlife. I hit the tarmac at 45 mph and skidded for 40 feet on the left side of my body. The jeans, gardening gloves, and shirt immediately failed me and provided zero friction to help me slow down. As I approached the cliff edge, I reached with my left leg to wrap myself around the large wooden post and come to an immediate and abrupt halt.
Knowing the chase car was behind me with cackling bastard friends, I got up to show I was not a pussy and this kind of stuff happens. I raised myself carefully and frankenstein walked around assessing the situation and bellowing howls of pain and burning. The left palm was a very clear white dotted with gravels spots. The left shin was bulging larger than my ankle where it impacted the wooden post and almost every inch of the left side of my body was bleeding with black gravel spots lodged deep in the red ooze.
After Zack recovered the board, he assured us that had I gone over, I would have been fatally impaled on at least two different species of large cactus.
I got in the car ignoring John’s pleads to not bleed on the seats. As we drove to my parents house, I stuck my arm out the window thinking it was air that I needed.
First thing was first, we had to clean this up before my mom sees or I would have been in big trouble. We dumped an entire bottle of hydrogen peroxide over my left shoulder hoping it would drip down over the rest of the wounds which it did. That hurt. We washed it off and immediately realized we were in way over our head as the depth of the wounds was now made visible to us. Most annoyingly, the rocks were still deep in my skin but I had the solution for this one. I would take a bath, loosen up the skin, then we could easily pick them all out.
So I snuck to the bathroom while my mom was not looking, undoubtedly dripping something on the carpet. I ran the hottest bath I could and gritted my teeth hard and lowered myself quickly into this sting-y bath. That hurt more. I laid in the blood bath for about 20 minutes trying not to move or touch anything. I let the water completely drain before raising myself. The bath looked to have just hosted a pig slaughter with an outline of a person clearly visible through the blood stains.
Half way on my sneaky walk back to my room, my mom catches me.
“Holy Shit! Luke what happened?” my mom screamed as she spills her diet coke in shock.
“Nothing Mom. It’s OK. Gotta go.” I tried but she grabbed my clean arm and dragged me to the hospital.
I sat on the furthest edge of my waiting room chair. A large pool of red and clear ooze had developed on the ground underneath me and I was the recipient of many a strange look from the other people waiting. I looked back and tried to act like I was enjoying the pain and motioned with my juicy arm as if I was going to splash them.
The solution for road rash is a simple and effective one. They have this super high tech plastic bristle brush and this super high tech strong man nurse and they hold you down and start rubbing your wounds as hard as they possibly can until all the dirt is gone. That really hurt. After all was said and done, I looked like a cartoon fire burn victim with big poofy white bandages on all my appendages and I had to walk with all of them outstretched as to not touch anything.
So why does my Dad hate street luging? Well the following weekend I had a soccer tournament and as a rule, you cannot show any blood. So the solution was to buy $300 of bandages that needed to be replaced every half game to hide the red ooze that did not stop for two weeks.
The forensics concluded that the wheels had melted, the board was too short, I was way to un-prepared, and that I was a flaming idiot. A week later my buddy Len built me a “real” street luging board in metal shop. It waits to be ridden.