Oregon has an abundance of different terrain to shred such as steep freeride spots, great skate parks, and open mountain roads. One of these special roads happens to be a place called HAMM. This is no ordinary road! Hamm is the gem that opened my eyes to the beauty and joy of going fast down hill. That road leaves me coming back for more..
Talk of a race there was whispered throughout the lands for many moons and got the people excited. We skaters aren’t made of money and can’t usually afford the right papers and such to make a race legit and legal. My good friend Alec Whitman felt like he was the man with the plan and was willing to put on an outlaw race.
I grew up in Southern Oregon and at the time was visiting with family and friends. A couple of skate buddies wanted to carpool to this magical road and get buck! We set out early on our two and a half hour journey and were one of the first groups to arrive. Greeted by smiles and waves from our PDX/Vancouver friends we all gathered at the top and lurked while the rest of the crowd slowly showed up.
Cats from all over Oregon came to share many laughs, some crashes and most of all to see whose cojones carried them down the hill the fastest.
This was my first race and I was buzzing with excitement!
As soon as Alec showed up with the U-haul everyone started cheering with stoke in their voices and adrenaline pumping in their veins. This was a fast and curvacious road with smooth pavement that sends you flying down the hill with no worries.
Everyone loaded up in the back, and chatting of this and that ensued. Talk of decks, concave, wheelbases, this duro versus that one, all while passing a Gopro around cracking jokes. The ride up in the U-haul is always its own rad moment. Checking your wheels and putting your gloves on while scoping out the hill and seeing what lines you could take through corners. It’s the time to gather your thoughts and prepare yourself for the next run down.
After a few practice runs, the 3 man heats were organized and announced. I was in the first heat with my friend Jed Johnson and a Salem local named Colton. We stood at the line waiting to go and as soon as Alec started to say “Ready, set..” and all of a sudden someone yelled, “Car!”. We of course smiled and waived as they passed looking at us like we were crazy for thinking we would ride down that hill and survive.
Lining up again Alec gave the word. We threw down our boards and pushed off as fast as we could. I think having short legs gives me a slightly unfair disadvantage when pushing or even walking for that matter, but that’s only if you’re asking me. So as you can imagine, Jed and Colton pushed out ahead of me.
Picking up more and more speed before the first left hand corner I was able to pass and get myself into second place behind Jed. Unfortunately he has the advantage of having pounds of square footage on me and he’s a few light years faster. He smoked me down that hill! The cool thing was that the top two in each heat would advance so I was stoked to be racing in another heat!
Just as soon as all the other heats were finished a sheriff pulled up in his green and white vehicle to come have a little chat with us. To my surprise he was very friendly and thought it looked like a grand time but of course it wasn’t legal and blah blah blah. You know how those cop talks go. He told us how illegal carrying us up the road in the back of a U-haul was and suggested we shut it all down. Being a cooperating group of folks we happily packed up our stuff, left the road and just like any good skater would do, we headed to another more remote hill!
This next beauty we were skating was a good half hour drive away from Hamm. This road was nothing less than epic! So many corners packed into a couple mile run with the pavement changing every two seconds with gnarly rough patches forcing you to hold on for dear life.
My next heat was with some Salem cats who pushed out way ahead of me and kept it that way. I blame it on not having any practice runs! Either way I enjoyed cruising down and admiring the gorgeous Oregon landscape and mountains surrounding me.
I waited at the bottom of the hill for the rest of the heats to finish. By the time the finals came rolling in I had found myself a nice spot to lurk at surrounded by a thick patch of blackberries that were just begging to picked and eaten. WHOOSH! The guys came hauling down the hill and I’m pretty sure I felt a gust of wind hit my face as they did! Portlander Noah Throckmorton came in first followed by Kelly Johnson and Daniel Thatcher in third.
After many congrats and high fives from everyone we all got out gear and headed our separate ways.
We all know the best part about any event is the interactions and connections you make and have with those around you. Seeing long time friends and meeting new ones is something special. You always walk (or limp) away with a new piece of mind knowing you had fun and looking forward to the next event.
Races are so much fun and I cant wait to partake in more of them in the future! Remember to always have fun!
Enjoy this video of Hamm from Bangtown Media!