04/03/2013 | 2 comments
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Turndowns at dawn.
Thatâs what greeted my eyes when I rolled up to OSP concrete park in Orlando, Florida, at 7:04 AM last week. The sun had just peeked out from the horizon six minutes earlier, and Orlando residents Mark Mulville and Chad Degroot were already taking advantage of the new dayâs sunrays.
Dawn riding sessions? Thatâs practically unheard of for the average rider (unless of course, it happens to be at the end of a long night). Who in their right mind would want to do that?
This wasnât a normal day for Mulville. While he practically lives around the block from OSP (it goes without saying, he destroys the place), OSPâs bike hours normally start at 6PM on select days, and it gets crowded quickly. So the combo of both riding there at sunrise and having free reign to hit up any line possible was a first for Mark: âWhen we got here the first thing I did was a line I normally donât do until after riding for a few hours. I wasnât thinking that it was seven in the morning. I just thought, âOh, parkâs wide open; Iâm going to ride the whole place.â And it felt fine.â Not that Mr. Mulville is a complete stranger to riding before noon. He rides in the morning âonce a week at least. Two reasons. One, less people, and two, itâs cooler out in the summer. I like riding in the morning, though not usually seven in the morning. My favorite time to ride is about 9AM to 1PM.”
Chad actually rides almost exclusively in the AM hours, so to him, âItâs another morning, just a couple hours earlier.â Adult responsibilities like having a family and running a business doesnât exactly give one the option to function on a vampireâs schedule. If youâre gonna ride also, you gotta plan, and sometimes AM hours are the only times that can work.Â Chad knows this all too well. Between running his shop, Mr. Bikes N Boards, and taking care of his two kids, time can evaporate faster than the lingering water on black pavement after a summertime Florida downpour. âWith the family part of it, I get up when the alarm goes off, or earlier. Thatâs usually at seven, and the kids have to be to school at nine. I know I have to be at the shop, so I have that window from 9:30 to before noon to ride. It seemed weird when I first started focusing on it, but now itâs awesome. I realize the skateparks are busy in the afternoon. At the time I ride; thereâs barely anyone there. Nighttime seems like Iâm so faded from the day. Itâs something I almost had to do. Nights are taken up. Iâve turned into a morning rider.â
Years ago, back before family life, owning the shop, and running Deco became a huge part of his life, Chad wasnât always a morning person. It was the opposite. âMy habits were completely different. I would wake up and think, âOh, itâs getting dark, I should start riding.â When I had [Mission and Mesh] skatepark, I rode better at night because it cooled; but it felt better during the day because no one was there.â
And the change seems to be working out all around for him. âI think for the most part my head is more clear in the morning. At night I tend to have what happened that day and what I need to do the next day [on my mind], and my phone is always by me. Having a good session in the morning makes working and dealing with stuff during the day so much easier.â
And even though this morning was a little bit of an anomaly, as riding at dawn was a bit earlier than he was accustomed to, Mark felt âit wasnât too bad. I got up at 5:55. Had some food, and I felt fine. The earliest I ever got up to ride was for FDR [on a trip]. It still wasnât light out when we got there.â I know from my own personal experience, FDR isnât very fun riding before dawn. You canât see anything. Being a Philly local, Iâm on the somewhat regular morning sessions there myself (at least when itâs above 40 degrees out). And Mark can relate to the fact those early riding days can make you feel like youâve actually got something accomplished, yet still have the whole day ahead. âI think itâs awesome. Itâs 9AM right now, Iâm riding and most of my friends that ride are still asleep. By the time Iâm done riding here and ready to go somewhere else, theyâre just getting up. Iâve already had hours in. Itâs a good feeling, using the entire day. I get to be more active.â
Zach Goldsztejn (who organized and set up the morning at OSP, thanks to Mountain Dew Kickstart juice beverage) and freelance writer Paul Eide got their first taste of riding a BMX bike that morning, and all before 9 AM. Even with Chad and Mark giving valuable pointers, learning how to carve bowls and drop in on quarters may not be the best time when your eyelids are still half closed, but Paul and Zach definitely held their own, and even left the park injury-free. It goes to show whether youâve been riding for two minutes or twenty years, those sunrise sessions can have some legit appeal, even if it feels like youâd rather smash that alarm clock first.
- Rob Dolecki