Text & photos: Jeff Zielinski
Back when a hashtag was called a number sign, and out the window was what people looked at while on a long drive, it was pretty common for the name of a roadtrip to be coined after a random thing happened or an inside joke occurred. It was just one of those things that worked out organically. But nowadays, with the constant need to show the world that we're all doing things at all times, every trip needs a hashtag… ya know, so all the followers, can well, follow you even more. And yeah, it does conveniently put all the content generated from the trip in one place—which is nice for recap purposes. So there we were, sitting in Charlie Crumlish's house, trying to put the cart before the horse and come up with a snappy name for our trip on the first day of the S&M trip. "Sharks & monsters, shrooms & moreshrooms, skeletons & muscles… yeah, that sounds good, because BMX riders are like skinny, but kinda muscular. We got it!"
This being an S&M trip, we kept it pretty loose and there wasn't a team manager, but who needs a TM when you're working with world-class athletes including Charlie Crumlish, Craig Passero, Hucker, Mike Hoder, Hobie Doan, and Clint Reynolds. Seriously though, we held it down collectively as a team, Charlie graciously shared his house and spots, I drove the van, Hoder loaded bikes, Ride's Justin Benthien filmed, Craig kept ’em rolled, Hobie crushed every spot with the quickness, and so on… Our itinerary was pretty simple, within our allotted six days, we were planning to ride Buffalo for the weekend, then make the six hour drive to Clint Reynolds' house to session his bowl for a day, then hit POSH, and wrap it up with a day at Catty. We had a heavy street crew mixed with tech and burly, and two trail riders with names on NORA Cups—so we were ready to ride a little bit of everything!
Although I was really excited about everything we had lined up, I think I was looking forward to the Buffalo leg of our trip the most. Back when I was still living in New Jersey and cutting my teeth as a photographer, I made a few Greyhound bus trips up to Buffalo to shoot with Jim Cielencki. It was during that era that I first met Charlie. He was an awkwardly tall teenager wearing a helmet and his progressive technical combos were awesome—sans the helmet not much has changed. I also remember Buffalo boasting an abundance of awesome spots with a sizeable downtown area mixed with plenty of industrial zones from the city's Rust Belt past. And thanks to the vast library of BMX FU videos, I've been kept up the speed with all the street gems in Buffalo and the surrounding area ever since.
Riding street in Buffalo was easy. We kicked it off cruising around the neighborhood where Charlie grew up—we were literally sessioning the very spots he learned how to ride on. Beyond the abundance and variety of things to ride, I think the best part about our time in Buffalo was how we managed to ride everything basically hassle free. We were at Niagara Falls—a friggin' natural wonder of the world—and Hobie cleaned a huge kinker—with people everywhere—and nobody said a word. Luck was on Hobie's side again when he rode down a triple kink rail—in three tries—and then two of the employees at the adjacent upscale restaurant gave him a bottle of wine. Welcome to Pro, Hobie. We had more of the same luck at the local college campus and again later that night in front of a jail that was catty corner from a police station in the middle of downtown where Craig put a hurtin' on two of their rail/ledges.
Honestly, if we had a few more days in Buffalo and things continued at the same pace we could've filmed an entire video in that city alone. And it almost worked out that way with all the rain we were having. It was dumping all over the east coast during our entire trip, but fortunately for us it predominantly rained at night in Buffalo. Nobody was bummed about getting to sleep in a bit to the soothing sound of the rain tapering off. However, things were much different six hours further east where POSH, Catty, and Clint's house were all getting steady rain. The streets can dry in a few hours, but trails take their time. So we kept at it in the streets of Buffalo for two days longer than we originally planned. Hucker was kinda going stir crazy during all of this because he was nursing a back injury he's had since X Games—which he further aggravated at the Battle Of Hastings a week before the trip. While he was all about riding street, the rigors of constant bunnyhoping didn't do any favors for his back and he ended up going for three massages and he even tried acupuncture, as well. Hucker was holding out for the tranny and trail sessions. We actually had one opportunity to ride trails while in Buffalo at Will Lueth's house just outside of town. Will extended the invite early on, but the wealth of street spots kept us pretty busy. On our last day in town we planned to hit Will's house after Hoder's banger wallride on the fire escape railing. But it literally started to rain right when we rolled up to Hoder's spot and there was no way it was happening in the rain with the metal storm door take off. We waited out the rain at a covered spot nearby for an hour or two and then went back once it cleared up. If it weren't for the muddy landing, Hoder would've pulled the wallride first go, but the shitty landing put up a fight and forced him to send it a few times. All said and done, by the time we got to Will's house it was pretty much dark. The spot was in the woods behind Will's parent's house and it looked pretty dialed. Despite it being borderline nocturnal, Hucker was so hyped he rushed his bike out of the van and managed to get in like two laps before the only available light was from the bonfire. Will and his crew—and his parents—were super hospitable for the short time we were there. Thanks again for letting us roll through, Will.
With the days flying by and the trip nearing a close, we were determined to meet up with Clint. He was jokingly saying that he wasn't technically on the "trip", as we kept delaying the drive down to his house. With two days left, we finally hit the road for the Reynold's compound outside New Paltz, New York. We drove through what I could best describe as a wall of rain—with the windshield wipers on full swing we still couldn't see anything for what felt like a half hour of treacherous driving. When we finally drove out of the storm we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted with bright blue skies. I don't know if the positive turn in the weather distracted us or if the Map app was faulty, but soon after we went off course. Thankfully Craig, being from Eastern New York as well, realized we were going the wrong way and got us sorted. All told, between the slow drive through the monsoon and our slight detour, our six-hour drive turned into more like eight.
Eventually we turned off the main road onto a nondescript gravel driveway that went up into the woods. At the crest of the driveway a gorgeous house was revealed with a huge cliff jutting up behind it. To say that Clint's spot is rich in scenic beauty would be putting it lightly. The bowl is tucked down in the woods adjacent to his house so it doesn't get much sunlight. And we arrived just in time to help dry it out. In typical Reynolds fashion, he had a solid grip on the situation with two fire barrels blazing in the flat bottom generating plenty of heat, while he torched the decks with, well… a blowtorch, of course. Charlie, Hucker, and I got to work helping Clint, while Hobie and Hucker found a different distraction… Clint has two dirt bikes that he offered up for the guys to rip around on the 40 acres of property. Those two were gone in a blink of an eye, only to show up again 20 minutes later, smiling and laughing, with Hoder covered in mud—all over his clothes, face, and bike—they were loving it. It also became quickly apparent that Hobie is comfortable with anything on two wheels. Clint's driveway splits through the woods, forming a perfect tabletop—which Hobie casually blasted over. By the time the bowl was dry we got about an hour to ride. Not enough time for the squad to get used to it and figure out lines, but Clint and local Credence newbie Ever Peacock put on a show well into the "it's getting too dark to see" time. Then it abruptly started to rain and we had to make a mad dash for cover with our bikes and gear. Luckily I was able to seek dry refuge and pack up in the infamous Credence turtle van—turned storage shed—that was parked nearby.
We woke up the next morning to a majestic view with the early morning light reflecting off the cliffs behind the house. It's one of those things that no matter how many times you see it, it's so beautiful that it feels like the first time. With some quick jolts of coffee we hit the road early for Catty woods. It was our last day of the trip, and our first full day with Clint, so we were trying to make the most of it. This was my third time visiting Catty and it's still just as overwhelming and impressive as the first time. Another cool thing about both Catty and POSH is that you never know who you may see there. Trail riders come from the world over to experience those fabled Eastern PA spots in the woods. This time around we ran into a crew of riders from Japan, including Satoski Enda, who I met only a week earlier at NORA Cup in England, where he received the NORA Trail Rider of The Year award. Along with Satoski, we had three NORA Cup Dirt winners at the session!
Although most of the lines weren't running, given the circumstances, we were lucky anything was rideable at all. After an hour or so of untarping jumps and dialing things in, knobbies were gripping and dudes were ripping. The squad popped their cherry following Clint through a chiller line, called Fonzy I believe, and they were so hyped. I don't know anything about Hobie's trail background, but I know Craig has ridden Catty before and he's no stranger to the Long Island trail spots. And Hoder has been hitting the Green Lake trails in Seattle for years, so he was primed as well—despite taking his brakes off only two days earlier because he was having issues. So yeah, Hoder showed up to Catty brakeless and made it through all the lines that were running that day, including Boomers. Hucker had been to Catty twice before this, and well, it's Hucker, so he was going ape as always. Clint mentioned how he hadn't been riding trails that much lately because he doesn't have a local spot near him and he's got the bowl outside his house. Regardless, I don't think it’s possible for Clint to ever look anything other than awesome on a bike. I spent the majority of my time at the bottom of the trails trying to avoid the rampant poison ivy while waiting for people to hit the jump I had my flashes set up on, so I could only see what was happening on the last few jumps, but I got to witness Hoder, Clint, Satoski, Mike Stauffer, and a few locals shredding the last few hits. All in all it was a solid last day, everyone had fun, nobody got hurt, we didn't get rained out, and we got clips, too. Clint and Hucker pushed the session right up to when it was getting too dark to see, and then like clockwork, just like the day before, it started to rain—only thankfully this time it was just sprinkling, because it would've been a long and miserable run to the van!
With a successful Catty session wrapped up, we parted ways with Clint and headed to NYC. Upon arrival, Craig caught a ride back to Long Island, and Charlie, Hoder, and I would laid our heads for the night at the Meseroll bike shop in Brooklyn—thanks Andrew York for letting us crash. Even in the greatest city on Earth, we still couldn’t escape the damn rain, and we got drenched pedaling to and from Darryl Nau's nearby bar, Mad Tropical. Darryl wasn't around that night because he had just completed a 38 mile run around the perimeter of the island of Manhattan a day or two earlier, so he was understandably unavailable, however, we did run into Ron Wilkerson! Just like those trails in the Eastern PA woods, you never know who you may run into in a Brooklyn bar.In case you missed it the first time around, or you just want to watch it again, here’s the Skeletons and Muscles video…