What’s the Gnar-V? Back in 2018 Alec Majerus was on the CROSSPOLLUTION 2 Tour with riders from the Volcom skate and snow team when he found his dream sprinter van at the tour’s finish line in Utah. After being in the market for a while, Alec was finally ready to pull the trigger and purchased the van with intent to drive it around the country ripping with all his friends and camping along the way.
Where are we going? Every year in the beginning of March, the Skatepark of Tampa’s infamous Tampa Pro contest happens and skaters from all over the world travel to Florida for the weekend to compete. Alec had taken the van on local camping trips and even all the way back home to Minnesota with no problems, so the idea to drive it cross country to the contest and skate spots all along the way seemed like an awesome adventure! Along with a couple filmers, Alec asked longtime friend and ripper Jared Cleland to come along to shred the spots with him. There was a loose timeline of two weeks to make it to Tampa and back with five people living out of one van. The Gnar-V embarked on its cross-country trip in late February with the only real requirement of making it to the contest in Tampa, taking place on the first weekend in March.
Lake Havasu, AZ
Grand Canyon, AZ
El Paso, TX
Key Largo, FL
Oklahoma City, OK
In El Paso, Texas there’s a drainage ditch that was made skate-able, and legal, by the city. Even under the hot sun we spent almost a full day shredding it before checking out some street spots. Texas is a massive state, making the drive to Houston feel like a day in itself. While sleeping in a van outside of a gas station may not seem that fun, it’s actually very resourceful when you need to shower or a cup of coffee in the morning, if you find the right spot it can also be a very quiet place to sleep too. After getting a couple tricks in Houston we decided to hit the road and make it to Tallahassee where we knew more spots and better weather. After a couple amazing days of skating in Tallahassee and a relaxing camp spot to kick it at night, it was time to make the trek to Tampa.
In reality, the Tampa Pro contest was only the halfway point, we still had to make it back. After driving cross-country it was fun to see friends at the contest and fill them in on everything we had done in the past week, far more interesting than just hopping on a plane! While Alec skated pretty well in the qualifiers, it wasn’t enough to make it to the semi-finals, skating against 100+ of the best skateboarders in the world after driving cross-country is no easy task!
Since Alec didn’t make it past the qualifiers at Tampa Pro, it was put to a group vote whether to stay in Tampa to watch the contest and party with friends or use those extra days to hit the southernmost part of the continental United States and visit the Florida Keys. The group decided unanimously that we were this far south, might as well as go all the way and keep the productive energy going. The contest could be live-streamed and skate contest parties were all too common in the pre-COVID world. After a quick skatepark hit in Miami, the Gnar-V headed south to the keys for a dip and dinner before starting the cross-country trip back home to Southern California.
Before we left we made the decision to take a different route home, rather than going back on the same road we came to Tampa on. This meant driving from Key Largo to Oklahoma City, 1,500 miles and roughly 24 hours of driving! The Gnar-V only stopped for gas as everyone took shifts driving through the night with smoothies and mac & cheese being made at 80 mph during the day. After scoring an epic camp spot at Thunderbird Lake in Oklahoma City and a much needed rest, Alec and Jared hit a bunch of spots getting clip after clip, even lighting up spots at night with the van!
At this point it had been just about 14 full days on the road and we could start to feel the miles. Albuquerque, New Mexico was the last city we wanted to skate as there were so many spots to skate including the legendary Indian School Ditch. Just under two miles of downhill drainage ditch on a skateboard is one way to warm up the legs! We camped out on the outskirts Albuquerque for a few nights and it started to sink in under the stars and next to the campfire that we wouldn’t be on the road anymore in a few days. When what you did last week feels like a month ago, the trip you’re on can feel even more permanent. Driving home we thought of all the spots we wanted to go next, thinking if we could pull this trip off without a hitch, we could do anything!
COVID Coda On the road it’s easy to get caught up in your own world; where are we eating, what spots are we skating, where are we camping tonight are the daily questions you’re thinking of, so what’s going on in the world gets put on the back burner. Upon our return to Southern California there had only been a handful of COVID cases, primarily isolated in the northeast and while we may have travelled over 6,500 miles through 12 states, our interactions with anyone outside of the people we were travelling were very sparse. About a week after we arrived home, the shutdowns began and we went from going 80mph for 2 weeks to not being able to leave our homes. Maybe we were right and just should have stayed in the van! Like most, we can’t wait to get back on the road, question is, where should we go next?!