Lombard Street from the bottom. The difficulty level here is no joke folks.
If you’re not familiar with Lombard St it is this crazy windy street in the Russian Hill district of San Francisco completely made of bricks. The street is a major tourist attraction and a major skate destination for hill bombing enthusiasts alike. I have seen this street in skate videos, read about it in skate magazines and it was even used in the X-games a few times. Ever since I was a kid I always thought it would be cool to go and bomb it.
Up until I was about 15 years old I spent the bulk of my time and efforts with skateboarding living about twenty miles in land from the nearest waves. Once I moved to Manasquan, New Jersey I was only about two miles from the beach and redirected my focus onto surfing. Leaving most of my skateboard dreams unsatisfied. I practically gave up the sport till I was 23 and then thanks to a job managing a small surf shop got back into it. I will save the history of Chris Lisanti skateboarding for another blog.
Due to my circumstance (see blogs, Bowing Out and One Last Perfect Day if your not up to speed) I found myself coming to San Francisco with a bit of a death wish. No, I’m not suicidal or anything, although I did think of a great way to turn the trunk of my car into a make shift guillotine. I just kind of showed up with a reckless abandoned not caring if I lived or died. With this mentality surfing in heavily shark infested waters and bombing streets I would have never dreamed of became a very real possibility.
For that reason I found myself standing at the top of Lombard Street with a skateboard in my hand, fifty tourists pointing and taking pictures and my heart in my mouth (or what was left of my heart for that matter). The funny thing is I really did not think I was ever going to go through with it. Especially when I got face to face with the beast. According to the books Lombard is a 17% grade.
When I had a look down at it I was rather intimidated. I mean the street was nuts. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. It was a man eater for sure. Not to mention the fact that there were easily like 50 tourists all over the street taking pictures and a steady flow of cars driving down it. Lombard not only traversed like a slithering snake but on each side there was nothing but a sheer four foot drop off to a steep flight of steps. Basically I was looking at getting hit by a car, taking a terrible spill due to lack of control or falling over the side and then tumbling down thirty flights of stairs. Either way I was going to get very messed up.
John made many rational attempts to keep me from doing it and the bare truth was I really did not believe I had the skill level to complete the task. Then I got a rush of adrenaline and remember that in order to achieve greatness one must take a leap into the unknown regardless of the consequences. With that in mind I decided to give the bomb the green light. I went back to my car and fully padded myself. I’m talking helmet, elbows, and knees. I wanted as much protection as I could get.
Mauriello was going to film it so he went half way down to document my death. I told John he was responsible to tell the world my story if I did not survive. I really did believe that I might die. Now we had observed the street for about twenty minutes or so and realized that when a sight seeing trolley came by it blocked traffic at the top of the street giving a three-minute window or so to bomb it.
I was standing at the top with my board preparing for the bomb and waiting for the next trolley (apparently they ran every ten minutes) when there was a noticeable break in the traffic. John signaled me to go and I was pretty antsy to get it over with. I ran to the middle of the street to the delight of the many tourists, hopped on my board and began to descend into oblivion. I got about ten feet down the first turn and fell flat on my face in an attempt to power slide it. I heard ooos, ahhs and laughter from the crowd as I got up and dusted myself off.
Determined to make it down to the bottom at all costs I jumped back on my board and kept moving down hill. I made it through another three turns or so before falling again, but not as dramatic this time. The entire run is around 10 switch back turns. I ended up falling four times. With a grade that steep you get moving very fast in a very short interval of time. The only way to really do it is to pull super big power slides. Most of the slides I was doing slid for twenty feet.
When I got to the bottom there were around another 30 tourist cheering and taking pictures. I guess I gave all of them a story to tell. I came out of the last turn, did a big power slide in the middle of the cross street and then spiked my skateboard on the ground. I turned and looked back up at what I had just done and reveled in the feat I had performed.
Then John came running down the steps all stoked as well. “I think you should do it again,” he said. I had already decided I was before he even mentioned it. The second time went a lot better. As soon as I got to the top a trolley pulled up chuck full of more tourists, who began point and yell as I bomb dropped onto my board right in front of them. I had my rhythm worlds better this time around and only sort of fell once, although I did not lose my board. My back foot just came off while recovering from a big power slide. I bet if I gave it a third run I may have made it down flawlessly.
I did not want to push my luck though. Also I was not sure my wheels could handle another run. They had already lost two years worth of life from the previous two runs as it was. I guess I will have to save it for next time. I was super pumped just for the fact that I actually did it.
So many people in this life think about doing things like this and then let rationality talk them out of it. I am not a skater by any means and Lombard St. was with out a doubt way out of my ability range. I had an opportunity to realize a dream, do something great. Yeah bombing a crazy hill on a skateboard is not as great as helping starving orphans or something of that aperture, but for me at that moment it was a heck of an accomplishment. It is another check off the list.
What I am trying to say is that when an opportunity comes your way you should seize it no matter how scary or difficult it may seem. I have always believed that anyone can do anything if they wanted it bad enough and I meet and see other people all the time who prove this to be true. Maybe this blog will inspire you to go out and take a chance, do something you always wanted to, but have been hesitant for whatever reason. Life is short and we are only here for a limited amount of time. I think we owe it to ourselves to get the most out of it we possibly can. I have said it once and I will say it again “You miss 100% of the pitches you don’t swing at”.
Stay tuned for a video of my SF skate adventures and more photos from Lombard soon. They are on John’s Camera and he left it in San Francisco. Click here for the video of my Lombard Bomb.
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