Vert Attack 9!

We have been avid followers of the Vert Attack vert contest in Stockholm, Sweden for the last few years. It routinely brings together the best vert skaters to compete on a small-ish ramp and have a blast. It has a similar feel to the Tampa Pro events back in the 90's. It's a core contest for core skaters. It's reputation among the vert skating community has grown each year until now it is possibly the highest regarded event on the vert calendar. 

We had the opportunity to make a splash at VA9 with team riders. I'd been in discussions with some old friends over there, who decided they would ride for Half Dead in the contest. Patric Backlund, Hans Puttis Jacobson and Tony Jansson were (and are) powerhouses in Swedish skating. Having them representing the half Dead was a major coup. Add in our UK team rider, Neil Danns who was planning on going and we had a great presence at the contest. Things were looking great!

About two weeks before the contest, Neil broke his wrist skating and so couldn't go. Tony also checked out a few days before with injuries, leaving Patric and Puttis carrying the flag. They did brilliantly, riding strong in the masters qualifiers but couldn't quite get to the finals. The field was so strong with names such as Tony Hawk, Neil Hendrix and Mike Frazier riding - it was tough to compete. 

But compete they did! Here's some of the pics from the event.

  

  

We couldn't be prouder of these guys, and look forward to supporting them in more events in the future!


 

Setting up a skate company is tough enough when you're doing it in your own country.

Try doing that in another country too. It's a minefield of hidden charges, quality problems, government approved numbering schemes and eroding margins. In December 2014 we decided to take the plunge and set up operations in the UK in response to increasing demand for our boards there. 

We looked at this as a learning experience first and foremost. An opportunity to get the supply chain dialed. I'd been researching freight possibilities for a couple of months and finally came across one that didn't want ridiculous money to ship boards to London. After doing the calculations and getting the green light from Finance, we put the order in for boards and our journey of discovery commenced. 

Our manufacturer pulled out all the stops and met their deadline wonderfully, making sure the shipment left their dock on the right day and time. We were then put in touch with the shipper, who told us the original sailing date of the container our boards were in was going to be 4 days later than we'd been promised. Now at this point I should mention that I'd already booked flights to the UK to meet this shipment and ferry it through all the necessary steps to get it available for sale to shops. Flights don't like being moved around (without money changing hands anyways) and so the safety margin I'd built in started to dwindle down. 

One discovery was that there are many hands along the chain, all who do different things but all somehow need paying. Customs documentation fees, shipment release fees, customs clearance fees, VAT - the list of extra charges grew longer and longer as the shipment made its way across the Atlantic. I was eventually put in contact with a shipping agent in the UK who bombarded me with incomprehensible questions. Chief among these was my lack of VAT recognition, or UK entity to receive the boards. Apparently I needed something called an EORI number, and fast! Quickly crafted begging emails followed and four days later the EORI number appeared! Way to go UK.gov. This was important because by now the original arrival date for the shipment had long passed, and the revised arrival date (barely within my time in the UK) had also passed. I was back in the USA, trying to coordinate things remotely with a process I didn't know and a lot at stake. 

Enter into this wonderful maelstrom Dave, my friendly shipping agent. Turns out Dave was a skater from way back, and dug what we were trying to do. He pulled strings, eased furrowed brows and generally smoothed the pathway for our boards to make it through customs and to the warehouse for pickup. He went above and beyond and I know we'll be working together in the future. 

Boxes of skateboards (or anything for that matter) residing in a bonded warehouse after clearing customs have a limited time in which to be picked up. Any time after that is charged storage fees, so we had 7 days after clearing to get these boards picked up. My old friend Stewart had agreed to take his van down there and pick them up, although there were a couple of delays which meant he couldn't pick them up until 6 of those 7 days had expired. He pulled through though and then we had boards in a van! Boards in a van!

We'd agreed to split the shipment into two segments, for North and South and this meant the two friends had to meet and transfer boards somewhere in the middle of the country. Luckily Stewart was heading north and s about a week later, the two segments of the shipment were in the places we'd expected them to be. Time to get selling!

From there, the sales process began, contacting shops and placing boards. Most of our dealers have been nothing but supportive while we find out feet in the specific nuances of the UK market in 2015. Thank you for that! We're now in 8 UK shops, with more in the pipeline and are now looking for a distributor to handle the logistics of future shipments. 

It's not for the faint of heart, but it's worth it. Half Dead is all about supporting older skaters, and there are lots of them in the UK and Europe. We're going to continue to develop the market there and grow. 

Concrete Junky

On a recent trip to New Hampshire, I was fortunate enough to be within a few miles of a skatepark I hadn't visited before. The park at Plymouth is set at the far end of town, and has a really sketchy road leading to it. Given that, I wasn't expecting anything spectacular, but how wrong was I? I put together this little video of skating in the perfect 7' kidney pool they have there. It was an absolute blast. I'll be going back. 

 

I just set up a new cruiser. I had a scratched up Chart Attack, some spare Indy's and had just succumbed to weakness and bought a set of the 60mm green kryptonic reissues at 86A. I know how this will ride on the street and I can't wait! You can see the video article here

I'm so psyched to be getting back on a board again. The ankle injury has been responding well to physical therapy, and I've been judiciously snowboarding throughout the winter on progressively more flexible boots. I started out on a race board and hard boots, which was a great experience in itself (try it sometime - its a gas), then through my old Switch N type (internal highback) setup, and finally onto my normal soft boot setup. It's been great to be able to move ride, although the incredible deep freeze Vermont winter has been just nasty at times. 

If you feel so inclined, you can get your own Chart Attack in the shop section. We have a free shipping promotion on for orders over $75, so grab a board and a shirt and you're going to be thumbing the nose at UPS while we take care of the shipping for you. See you out there! 

Just lately it's all been about sales at Half Dead. Sales, sales, sales.

Without them the business doesn't exist, I know that very well, so all focus is on that right now. Well - 98% anyways. I do have other products in development which will be mind blowers and game changers, but are also unlikely to appear before January. 

Retrofish out of waterIn my shop visits and calls, I'm starting to see something very real happening. The Half Dead are awakening and gathering in even greater numbers than I knew about. At the same time - the anti popsicle movement seems to be gathering pace. Put these two together, and in the last couple of weeks our Retrofish has been going off the charts in popularity! Now this is particularly satisfying to me as I designed it and I'm so stoked you all are finding it a functional and groovy board. I hear this return to shaped boards is gathering pace across the world though. Whether it's performance vert, or cruisers, shaped is where it's at. Bring it on, I say! Half Dead is passionate about function but also style and we'll always have shaped boards with powerful messaging and imagery pertaining to the very real issues older skaters face day to day incorporated in the graphics. 

It would seem we've struck a nerve and we couldn't be happier. Awaken the Half Dead! 

Busted foot

7 things to do while you're broken and waiting to skate again

At some point - every skater falls and gets hurt. There - I said it. If you're not expecting to fall at least some of the time, you shouldn't be in this game. It's a fact of skating, and it happens to all of us at some time or other. The question isn't "if" , it's "When". There are old skaters and bold skaters, but no old, bold skaters. Are you starting to get this? WE'RE OLD AND WE BREAK EASIER!

So what happens when you suffer the inevitable consequences of your foolish attempts at rodeo flips in a full pipe? You end up unable to skate - that's what. And to a lifelong skater, that's the same mentally as putting us in a padded room with Kenny G playing constantly and nothing to eat or drink but prune juice. It can drive you nuts if you let it, so here are a few tips for dealing with the downtime forced by your lack of good judgement.

1. Get yourself a computer, iPad or similar and a Netflix account.

You're going to be laid up for quite some time so you'll need some entertainment. Luckily, so long as you have the interweb, you're hooked up with as much skate footage as you could consume in a year. It's been rumored there are flop houses full of broken skaters in front of screens showing Animal Chin, Future Primitive, Bucky's Boo B Q, Scandinavian Malmo skate-porn and every Vans event known to man on 24 hour rotation. You wouldn't want to be there - the hygiene issues alone would make any sane person worry for their health, but the point is you can be entertained. Use it as a great excuse to catch up on all those historical videos you're beginning to remember from the dark, distant past. Trawl Netflix and find the Bones Brigade, and Waiting for Lightning documentaries. Those two alone will make you think "I bet I could roll around a bit if I taped this SOB up enough". Resist this temptation. You're wrong.

 

Foot Anatomy

2. Get Social

Believe it or not, about 10% of the skating population is now over 30. That's a boatload of skaters around the world, and most of them seem to be connected to the internet via face tube, discussion boards or twatter, so now's the time to get connected to them. One realization that happens to older skaters is we don't exist in a vacuum and it is not only great fun, but also a great support system to have mates who skate who can sympathize with your predicament. If you happen to be someone who's gotten to this age still thinking that you don't need anyone and will be just fine dealing with it on your own, more power to you. The rest of us - hit the web and find folks of a similar minded nature you can commiserate with. You'll make new skate buddies and have a hoot which will make you forget the excruciating pain you're in. One thing we've found works very well is setting up a heckling group to watch a webcast in real time. It's the virtual equivalent of inviting a few hundred skaters into your living room, bringing beer and nachos and participating in good natured banter every time PLG mispronounces "Burnquist" (which is a wonderful drinking game by the way). This brings me nicely to…

3. Read up on the injury site, what it is and how it hurts like hell so much.

This is what your lower extremities look like with their skin on. It's useful to know this because the more you understand about what is busted, the more you can appreciate that the treatment regime suggested by the doc is actually right. More to the point, it will give you the knowledge you need to counteract that "Oh it'll be fine so long as I don't push too hard" thought that's bouncing around your head about now. It won't, you're old. You don't heal as fast. Deal with it and make the right decisions. 

4. Go to the skatepark and coach / mentor / clean up / give out gear

Over 95% of the people responding to my survey said they give back to the community in some form or other. This is a great time to do that, assuming you can drive and at least get around reasonably well. There are gazillions of little hellions at the park who haven't a clue about skatepark etiquette, boneless ones, inverts, who Steve Caballero is or why you're still skating and look like their Dad. You have a role in the skate world, and that role is "Elder". Get this right in your head and you can make this a very productive and rewarding time instead of an excuse to crash on the sofa and hit the vodka. You can make a difference in each one of their lives. Just make sure you don't get mistaken for a pedophile grooming fresh meat. That could ruin your whole day. Take a board and many components along, dress skaterly and you should be fine. Seriously though - parents naturally distrust 40 year old men who turn up at the park and start talking to their sons and daughters. Hell - I would too if they were mine. Talk to these parents, explain your background and why you're injured and what you're doing. Their guard will come down and everyone will avoid strip searches and 12 hour questioning sessions down the station. 

 

The Boot of Shame

5. Get involved in your local "Give us cash / space / buildings for a skatepark mister" campaigns

One advantage of being older is that other people who are older naturally assign a little more weight to your involvement in campaigns than they did when you were a pimply youth. It's a fact of life, so instead of getting bitter over it, use it to your advantage. Almost every town by now has some kind of campaign going on to "get the kids somewhere to skate". Find it, join it, start representing it in the communications with city authorities. You'll find your involvement can loosen purse strings and smooth ruffled feathers of nearby property owners who fear for their house values plummeting as if someone put a slaughterhouse next door. You can make a difference in these campaigns. Now's the time to get out there and do it while you're gimpy. 

6. Organize a contest / expression session / themed party event

Get a hold of your local skatepark authorities and pitch them on a themed event (Like the Boo B Q I mentioned earlier). You can do a ton of organizing and administration even though you can't heel flip. It'll be great experience, and you'll be fostering the community to retain interest in this amazing lifestyle you're a part of. It's easy to sit and say "That's too much bother - I'm going to watch Breaking Bad and down a six pack", but the fact is in 2013 there are so many options to grab skaters attention that it is having an effect on the number of skaters worldwide. Why do you think the Scooter craze is happening right now? Mainly because it's easy and you don't need to spend a gazillion hours in pain learning how to get good at it. True - you look like a dork but that's a small price to pay for being 1/100th as competent as a real skater.  Most of us at this age know what it's like to go through the full on meltdown in the skate world. Let's not have that happen again. Generate interest and show them a good time that'll stick in their brains and get them coming back for more. We need more skaters coming through the ranks to make sure this doesn't happen. This brings us to the related…

7. Offer to drive a crew on a skate safari and document it. 

Remember when you were kids and you'd set off in a rust bucket POS car to some skate spot just for the fun of it? Well older skaters can do that too - except they generally don't need to worry about the wheels or exhaust system falling off, or the probability of having to fumigate the vehicle afterwards. Most of us have decent reliable transportation now, and can happily drive long distances to skate spots. Now's the time to gather a crew and head off to fresh pastures. You'll have a blast, and build up karma points for when someone else is in the injury sin bin.

I hope this has given you at least some ideas on how to survive a long term injury rehabilitation. I know for myself, I'm facing six weeks in the boot of shame, so expect to see several of these things happening in the guise of Half Dead promotions. What do you think? Did we miss anything? Got a great injury activity we haven't covered? Head on over to the Discussion forum at http://bit.ly/1ai5YmA in the "Injuries and Illnesses" section and let us know. See you over there!

 

 

 

Richie Bowen on the floorThe Big OMontreal is only two hours away, but for some reason I hadn't been up there in four or five years! 

 

The infamous Big O is worth the trip alone. It's 4' radius makes it pretty hard to skate, but that makes any trick blissful. 


One nice thing about the O is how easy it is to find.  Here are some directions: Drive to Montreal.  Look for Olympic Stadiums giant tower east of the city.  Drive to it. Park on the east side of the compound near the soccer stadium and listen for wheels screeching on concrete.  The locals are always welcoming, I've never arrived to and empty O.


This was my first time skating it since they built the new soccer stadium and moved it from its original location.  I was surprised to find that they did not level it out, it has the same pitch down the pipe toward the mini that it always had!

If you don't have a passport, get one.  If you have one, what are you waiting for? The O is just one of the amazing spots around Montreal. If fun is what you're after, head up there!

Richie Bowen

Richie grinding the O

 

Half Dead at Flipside Contest September 21st 2013.

Last weekend saw the annual Flipside skatepark ramp masters competition in Rutland VT. Flipside is located in an ice hockey rink for the summer months making excellent use of a facility that would otherwise be relatively dormant. It is ENORMOUS (well - compared to anything else in VT). As you can probably tell it was my first visit here, so I was a bit overwhelmed, but that soon passed once I had a chance to get into this wonderful spine midi ramp in the picture. I LOVED it! Lots of space to get creative, smooth trannies and surface and just a blisteringly good time. The contest was going on at the same time so things were a bit noisy with announcements and music, and you did run the risk of some flying youth careering into you but despite that I managed to get in lots of runs.

I want more :-) The contest itself was excellent, with great skating in all divisions. I know Joel Gomez won the top division with a performance that was clearly a cut above everyone else in the field. He continues to get better and better and was simply ripping. It was a pleasure to see him on a big park.

Rt7 Pool House

On the way down route 7, my internal pool alarm had triggered as I drove past this >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

So I made a mental note to check it out on the way back up. Luckily my failing memory actually worked and as I drove north I spotted the building and fence once more, pulled over and hiked over the field to check this out. This had all the hallmarks of a good find. Abandoned, in the middle of a field, no buildings or people anywhere emote lay close, if this was rideable we could have a great find on our hands!

Unfortunately as I got near I realized it was actually this

rt7 knackered old pool

Now followers of my Facebook page will know this isn't the first time recently I've had my pool glands tickled by the prospect of cement loveliness only to find this monstrosity instead. The thing I want to know is - who is building these cheap ass pools? The construction is terrible. A vertical liner with no cement behind it, leading down to a poured cement thing. To my mind if you're going to go to the trouble of digging a bloody great hole big enough to put a pool in you should at least build it right. Whoever it is building these things around here - just quit it please! I can't take any more pool related disappointments.

HDS AdvertIn Fast, Ride Hard, Sweat heavy, Leave Happy. Repeat. 

Today was one of those days where you've been putting in 18 hour days for a couple of weeks straight, and someone messages you and asks "Want to come out to Waterbury with me for a road trip?" Well that someone was Aaron Desrochers, our brand ambassador and rep, and of course it took me about 0.35 Pico seconds to say Yes. On the way we revised plans to include visits to the Darkside skate and snow shop in Stowe, and the Waterbury skatepark which neither of us had ever been to before. Now about 3 minutes into the trip it became very clear that Aaron and I have little common ground on the subject of car comfort. I drive in an ice box, occasionally windows open but never, never uncomfortably hot. Aaron likes to get groovy and intimate and share the air in the car for the entire journey without replenishing it in any way from the outside world. Just past Bolton I was feeling light headed, and by Exit 10 I was sweating and almost unconscious. Well - that may be over dramatizing it a bit, but it was bloody warm. 

First stop was the Alchemist brewery at Waterbury Center where cases of this mythical brew known as Heady Topper were procured. Apparently this is such a great local secret that the tiny brewery has had to implement a "One case per person" rule, and as Aaron wanted two cases, I was the warm and present body needed to allocate the second case to. A small sample confirmed the mythical nature of this brew, and cases safely ensconced in the boot, we set off for Stowe.

 

Darkside skate and snow shop is somewhat of a Stowe institution. There have been many core shops in Stowe at one time or another, but Darkside seems to have hit on a winning formula. Not a small part of this is the fact they have an indoor half bowl in their store. Of course this needed sessioning so about twenty minutes later, throughly out of breath, sweaty and happy we actually got down to some business and relayed the Half Dead story to the managers. I always find it interesting to see how people react to this story. I've almost always received nothing but huge encouragement and acceptance of our philosophy and beliefs. Well Mike and Eric certainly seemed to be on board and with contacts in hand we departed off for Waterbury Skatepark.

Waterbury is a weird town. It's so drawn out you'd be forgiven in thinking it was some rural strip mall. It has Waterbury itself, which you find by taking a right off of the exit 10 ramp, and Waterbury Center, which lies to the left and stretches on for about 5 miles with no obvious signs of a town center anywhere. My trusty iPhone maps soon located the skatepark, and in the blink of a steamed eye, we were staring at a wonderfully compact but well designed and built little park. The central feature is the spine ramp, which has micro rollovers at both sides and fin little elevator sections on the decks with the obligatory 4' wide death - to - vert section for the recipients of all that Heady Topper. 

After getting the feel of it, this little ramp became enormous fun! I hadn't ridden a spine in quite some time, so getting the feel of transfers again was a little wacky, but I'd forgotten how flow-y it was. By the end of about twenty minutes, sweat was flowing and we were done. The weather was looking very sketchy all the time, and as we pulled out onto the 100 once more to head home, the heavens opened and we had one of these increasingly common Vermont afternoon thunderstorms to drive through. At least Aaron put on the air then! 

I'll definitely be heading back out there. That ramp was excellent. You can find it behind the fire station of off Maple Street - take a right into town just past the Reservoir. It's a small place. You'll find it. 

 

 

Half Dead Chart Attack BoardThe Chart Attack board was born out of the many years of frustrations behind a desk staring at computers dealing with spreadsheets, pie charts and all the other tools of business today. I had many many days when the only thing keeping me going was the prospect of getting out of it all and going to skate. This is the message behind the Chart Attack. You may be swamped in paper working for the man, but inside you're busting out needing to get some motion under your feet. The Chart Attack, a 32 1/2' by 8 7/8" beautiful all purpose board designed and manufactured in the USA from the best rock hard maple. Destined to be a classic. 

Drainage Sluice by the Winnoski RiverThis is a well known spot by the Winooski

river just north of Burlington VT.

It carried water from the river through a system of mill wheels to power the giant machinery that spun and dyed wool back when this was a thriving textile factory. Now it's an office block, and this is nothing more than a rusting artifact of times gone by. In late summer, when the rains subside and the river level falls this drains out and for a few weeks each year it becomes skateable. Our new Rep, Aaron Desrochers and I  took advantage of it on this glorious summer day to make a few turns and have a good laugh. It's so strange riding round bottomed pipes again. Many many years of riding flat bottom pipes and bowls makes you soft. The other wall comes up so fast you don't have time to react, and you end up flailing and humbled. You forget the rhythm, the continual pump and the speed you need to do the turns. Never mind the 1/2" rivets holding the steel plates together in vertical lines about 4' apart and jagged, splintered, rusted edges of the steel with the river roaring right next to it if you so much as make one mistake being constantly on your mind! It's a gnarly spot to be sure. Even getting down to it is an adventure, clambering over rocks and huge trees deposited there from the raging waters of spring snow melt and global warming induced continual rains earlier this year. Once you're in though - making even a few turns gives an enormous sense of satisfaction, having just ridden that which was not meant to be ridden once more. As we say - we may be Half Dead, but it ain't over yet! Skate 'til you die!

The full pipe at the end

 

Yesterday Sunday August 11th saw one of those rare bluebird afternoons in Vermont with temperatures in the mid 70's and no wind. A crew of like minded half dead souls managed to coordinate meeting at the Burton Bowl in South Burlington VT, where a much needed session happened with much hootin' and hollerin'. 

The Rutland contingent was well represented with Charles Austin and JT Look powering the moves, and many many stylish lines were drawn. Take a look at the edit here to check out the highlights!

Putting together a skateboard company on a shoestring is possible, but like any entrepreneurial venture, it is fraught with difficulties that take real ingenuity to solve. One such aspect is this website. I didn't have the $5000+ to create a decent looking website, so I managed to convince an old friend and colleague of mine who was on somewhat of a professional lull to create this with me. In the process we learned Joomla - the open source Content Management System that powers the majority of websites out there, and Hikashop, which powers a lot of online shops. It's been a labor of love but we're pleased with the result and now can maintain it ourselves also. Moral of this story? Whatever the difficulty, don't wait for professional help. Have a go! You never know what you can achieve until you try.

A photograph of Lee Bryan holding the first Half Dead Skateboard over his shoulder.

Hi. I'm Lee Bryan and this is a great shot of the first Half Dead Skateboard!