Paul Kent Interview from the road June 30th 2023
Back in 2009, Adam Colton and I were sitting in the dark one night on our Longtreks skate through Peru. We were doing the campfire talk, but without the campfire. We talked about our influences and kept coming back to Jack Smith. Meeting him years later at the Adrenalina race was amazing. But I never thought he’d ask me to join him on an adventure. I feel really blessed to be part of this group. Heck yeah!
How does this compare to your years of experience doing distance skate trips:
Every trip has its own specific set of circumstances. This trip: It’s taken me a bit to learn how to resist the temptation to go hard before I’m ready. Maybe I’m getting older, but my achilles has been acting up and I was super busy personally before the trip and I’m trying to keep that injury in balance. That said, It’s really nice having the breaks in the van, even if they are kind of short. But I actually prefer longer stretches as I can warm up and ease into it. I start off slow, comfortable. And then I build speed as things get lubricated. I build my pace throughout the day and throughout each individual leg. Having the “cold” down times is very different from my previous trips. Also, hanging out with great people and having fun. That’s different and that’s really nice. It’s also great to have support and to know that I will sleep somewhere comfortable at the end of the day and not have to fend for myself in the wild.
Miles: Right out of the gate, Miles and I connected. We’re both trying to document and Miles is way more prolific than I am and it pushed me to be better. We’ve been bunking together and supporting each other.
Rick: I think he’s got a Keanu Reeve’s style vibe to him. He’s a great sport and really funny. Doesn’t say a lot but when he does it’s generally hilarious. And he knows a ton about music.
Andy pops his head in every once in a while and reminds us that this is a positive vibes situation. He makes sure we take our vitamins and keeps us on track. Andy had a pretty good fart today. And he laughs like the joker when it happens. It takes you a while to register why he’s laughing and then we all have to deal with it.
Jack is our leader and helps keep things in check. Every once in a while he'll throw on some 70s music. Because he believes (and perhaps rightly so) that that’s the only good music. More importantly, Jack’s recollections from his previous trips are amazing and blow my mind.
Dylan has been super helpful for all of us to talk to. He’s a grounded normal guy who takes care of us and is the navigator. Pivots, reroutes, shares the changes and keeps us on track. It’s also really cool to see the dynamic between him and his dad (Jack).
The group dynamic: We’re all showing up to work. In the mornings I’m usually the last one. I’ve got my aero tights and they are modular. So I take my time. Andy’s more of an early riser, but he’s also from the east coast so he’s up early. But Jack’s also an early guy. And everyone else is in between so it works. We drop off the first guy and then the second, etc. In between, we spend the day showing appreciation for each other and keep each other in good spirits.
The way I see it, the goal of this trip is not an FKT (Fastest Known Time) event but rather how fast can we do this using the standards that Jack has established in his previous trips. We skate roughly 12 hours a day. Jack doesn’t want us over reaching. We’re moving with a sense of urgency, but the adventure is what’s most important. Sharing things as a team. Staying healthy and sane. Eating well.
The daily schedule: One to two people on the road at any given time and four to five people in the van. I’m spending pretty much half my time in the van and half on the road.
During the van time you're trying to get some rest. I didn’t sleep much in the beginning but now I’m on track–although of course then the winds and rain hit.
When you get in the van you first cool down with the AC. Then you organize your stuff. Get your hydration drink mix done. Get your phone ready and upload some stuff. Maybe nod off for a bit. Rack up a todo list for your next break. And then you’re off again.
Social Media Sharing and my push/pump style: I’m actually doing a ton of the phone social media stuff while I’m pushing on the road. Push 4 or 5 times, keep an eye out for gravel and road kill, and then send out some content. The other guys are pumping more. I like to pump, but I’m finding that when I’m getting up to about 12-14 mph I push like 4 or 5 times and then tuck. Pumping gets me up there but I’m finding that for me the wind resistance is more of an issue and at that speed it’s more efficient to tuck.
Spidey Sense and Military training: My spidey senses are still working from my years of doing this kind of stuff. I can hear the trucks coming from way off. I feel it more than hear it. In the army I did reconnaissance and they taught me a trick to increase hearing resolution: You cup your ears and open your mouth and it increases your perception. First it’s a feeling and then it’s a faint sound. And I can hone in on it and focus on it as the sound grows.
Downhill: Back in Shenandoah I did like 60 kilometers in one day of just downhill. The Mordor run for those in the know. We skated up Less-dor and then down Mordor. Mordor was about five miles of crazy stuff and then a long mellow run. They were paving the road while we were on it so it was super smooth. That whole day I would push, push and fly down a hill, get in the van and sleep, wake up and do it again. Jack kept me on track so I wasn’t being dumb and dangerous.
Wyoming: We just crossed in today. it’s always been a special and wild place for me. It’s past half way. It’s higher elevation. Kind of like Alberta. Lots of cowboy kitsch. It’s kind of like home to me. It’s an important milestone in the trip and I’m glad to be here.
The Flow State: It’s kind of like factory work. It’s repetitive, but it’s a meditation. It’s about the next thing you need to do. There’s a crack coming. I need to be aware of it. Now I need to deal with it. I can’t be thinking too far ahead. I can’t be thinking too far behind. I need to be present. My existence needs to be in the now. The next push. The next rotation. The next door opening and getting out and going. And if you’re doing that right you’re in the flow. Before you know it the day is done. And it’s very similar to when I’m on the road by myself in that way. If I’m in Fairbanks, but my head is at home I’m gonna have a bad time. You need to rid yourself of those notions. You've got to be comfortable that your life is the trip while you’re on it. It reminds me of how Buddhist monks strive to be fully present. That’s my advice to people if you’re doing a trip like this: Don’t worry about the mileage. Punch your card, do the time, and it will happen.
To follow the team visit:
Instagram – @thepushskaterelay
YouTube - @ThePush-SkateAcrossAmerica
Facebook - The Push A Skate Relay Across America
And here's a bio on Paul Kent:
Paul is a pioneer of skate-packing, combining his love for multi-day backpacking and skateboarding. His cross country pursuits, experience in downhill skateboarding and his keen interest in sport science made him a prime candidate for competing in long distance skateboard races. He is most known for his contribution to the Long Treks on Skate Decks YouTube series. Paul Lives in Calgary Canada, and is semi-retired from racing. These days he has returned to his roots and spends most of his skate time riding long remote roads with his backpack, or introducing children to the sport and its safe practices.
For more information visit https://skaterpaul.com