Binghamton, New York

It’s common knowledge among street riders that there are always good spots in the ghetto; whether or not it’s worth dealing with the locals to ride them is another thing. Anyway, the FBM Ghetto street comp wasn’t actually in a traditional ghetto, in this case it was the obstacles—and man, were they ghetto! It’s ironic that the comp is held right outside a perfectly good skatepark (many would say one of the best). But hey, that’s the novelty of it, isn’t it? Believe it or not, there are some riders who don’t like the feel of a perfect, skatelited ramp, while others really wouldn’t want to ride anything less than Woodward’s Cloud Nine. A complete 180 from Cloud Nine, Ghetto street was riddled with potholes, the ramps had holes and lots of splinters, the windowsill sub still had some glass in it (better watch your arm), and the asphalt ground was like rough sandpaper.

Josh Stricker had all the lines, like this fakie peg stall.  credit: Jeff Zielinski

Coincidentally, I arrived in the middle of the long jump comp where a number of riders were unfortunate enough to realize that the sandpaper asphalt didn’t exactly smooth out their faces when they went OTB. Metal Bike’s young afro rocker, Ryan Metro, didn’t suffer the same fate and won that comp. After the long jump was the amateur finals and I got to witness first-hand some guy they call Motorhead backflip over a fence to flat—pretty much onto a set of railroad tracks! After beholding the fence flip I ventured out into some of the actual nearby ghetto areas in a bogus attempt to shoot some real “ghetto street” photos.

The following day I tried to get to the comp early in hopes of shooting some Pro practice photos before it got too crowded. I got there around noon, which I think by most “fire, beer, and mayhem” types would be considered early. Judging from practice, it seemed like the back of the course was where all the action was going to happen because that’s where the big hip, curved wallride, and tranny walls were located. Sure enough, once Pro qualifying started I was proven right.

Van Homan barspins out of an icepick on the windowsill.  credit: Jeff Zielinski

Since the riding in the finals was so much better than in qualifying, I think I’ll just get right to it. The tranny walls formed a nice pocket-air line that everyone really seemed to enjoy. But what was even more enjoyable was seeing Corey Martinez go way higher across it than anybody else all day—during the finals he went high enough to icepick bonk the gutter on the adjacent wall! Matt Sparks also had some moves on the tranny wall like a tailwhip over the pocket and a flair on the straight tranny. Personally, and I think George Dossantos would agree with me, Josh Stricker was my favorite to watch. He icepicked-to-fakie the windowsill, did a peg fakie on the corner of the tranny wall, and he totally sessioned the big hip with a no-handed fakie, turndowns, and of course some of his signature snapped-into-place tables and one-handed tables. After the one-handed table George pretty much went nuts and started screaming Stricker’s name. Besides his usual runs with tricks on everything, Van Homan icepicked-to-barspin the windowsill and after countless tries, he feebled up the grind box to tailwhip. I need to take this opportunity to voice my admiration of Van because this wasn’t the first time I’ve seen him take it a bunch of times at a comp and continue trying something even when he was far beyond tired—just to puull it.

A few attempts before he finally pulled it, Steve Crandall called Van tough, but I think that’s an understatement. And then there’s Steven Hamilton, who had the line and trick of the contest with something that’s pretty hard to describe with words, but I’ll try. To help you picture it a little better, think of when people ride a pool and they carve all three walls consecutively, now picture the same scenario, but without the third wall being there. Steven carved the first wall then transferred off the second into an adjacent wedge that was a good six to eight feet away. After a lot of tries, he pulled the straight jump in qualifying, but in the finals he did an alley-oop 360 over it! It was seriously the wildest thing I’ve ever seen and I don’t know if anybody even saw it coming because he was having so much trouble just jumping it straight before. That kid’s definitely shining some new light on street riding.

The FBM guys succeeded at putting on one hell of a ghetto contest. Even though the obstacles may have been horrendous, you never would’ve known it judging from the level of riding and the smiles on everyone’s faces.

There were a few Australians in attendance, like the “World Champion” as Crandall referred to him, Luke Fink—barspin-to-fakie.  credit: Jeff Zielinski


Amateur Finals

1. Jeremy Behler
2. Jacob Pudliner (clipper)
3. Matt Levine
4. Ryan Hillgras
5. Jon Sestito
6. Dave Wagner
7. Karl Poynter
8. Chris Moterhead
9. Chris Schmid
10. John Corts

Pro Finals

1. Stevie Hamilton
2. Van Homan
3. Corey Martinez
4. Brian Foster
5. Josh Stricker
6. Shawn Arata
7. Luke Fink
8. Jeff Harrington
9. Matt Sparks
10. Evan Venditti

Highest Bunnyhop

Jon Saunders

Long Jump

Ryan Metro

Handrail Challenge

Francis Macchio

Matt Sparks, flair pocket air.  credit: Jeff Zielinski

Click here to watch Matt’s flair pocket air.