Germany Trip Part One: Paderborn Freestyle Contest 2019

Well, another Paderborn BBQ Freestyle Contest is behind us. The 2019 event, held on Sunday, July 7, 2019, featured the biggest field of amateurs in years (possibly ever). The Pro division was strong, with German legend Guenter Mokulys, England’s Tony Gale, and American Mike Osterman, along with many other Brits, Europeans, and a few Americans. The Legends division was smaller, but the competition was tight, with some great skating by all. More on the contest later.

Best of all, my wife was with me this time. For years I’ve wanted her to meet all these beautiful weirdos I call friends, and this was the year. First a quick recap of Week One, since this year I decided to get to Germany early enough to not be jet-lagged on contest weekend.

Monday, July 1: Leave Dallas — direct overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Good flight, if a bit cramped. Took a pill to help me sleep. I don’t remember sleeping, but I must have as I felt pretty good the next day.

Tuesday, July 2: Arrive in Frankfurt about 10am. We rent a car and head toward Heidelberg, where we meet our dearest and oldest friends Beverly and David, who were there on their yearly trip with a group of highschool students. We checked into our hotel, found the parking platz that evening, and had a wonderful time with our old friends. Amazingly, I felt very little jet lag.

Wednesday, July 3: We head toward Dinkelsbühl, a medieval walled city, after a shopping stop in Rothenburg, another walled city. Had a good afternoon in Rothenburg, then drove to our lodging in Dinkelsbühl, the Pension Baumeisterhaus, run by the owner, Petra Steinacker. Spotless and comfortable room. Very very nice. She was waiting for use outside, and directed us to a parking spot right by the house. This is a bit deal, because parking for newcomers is often a concern. You don’t really know where you can park, and it’s a potential pain. We were there for two nights, and each morning we had a delicious traditional German breakfast to fill our fuel tanks. We found some good food that night, and some ice cream, and then ventured outside the walls toward Skatepark Dinkelsbühl — arguably the worst skatepark I’ve ever skated but one of the most appreciated! It was just a few days until contest time and I’d not been on my board for about a week. Not good. The park consisted of a mini halfpipe and a funbox, both on some pretty rough asphalt. The bike path asphalt between them looked really good, but as soon as i took a push the softness of the surface became apparent. Like skating on a sponge. Horrible. Still, I skated for about 20 minutes — just enough to start loosening up. There was a kid sitting on the platform of the miniramp rolling a joint. He was wearing a baseball cap that said “WEED”. The local cops rolled up and he split — and they didn’t even go after him! What a country! hahaha. They just ran him off. I appreciated his applause when I landed a trick, so THANK YOU, WEED BOY.

Thursday, July 4: First full day in Dinkelsbühl. After a good breakfast, we set out to explore the town. We’d been there 13 years before with Bev and Dave, and were looking forward to learning more about the city. We started at a local museum about the city, and thanks to the English recordings made available, were able to learn a bit about Dinkelsbühl’s long history.  We did a little window shopping, had lunch, took an afternoon nap, got some dinner, and went back to the skatepark. My second session there was better. Not great, but I felt like I was getting my legs back under me and getting used to the time change. The surface was still horrible, but beggars can’t be choosers. At least I was rolling. I skated for about an hour, going through my usual footwork sequences and a few tricks. My plan this year was to concentrate on constant movement and flow, punctuated with tricks and not focussing on them. Whether or not this would be a “winning” strategy was debatable, but it’s the way I skate, and you really can’t change you who are in this respect. They would see “me”, not some bullshit version of myself I’d invented. Anyway, I felt better this evening. Better on my board. It isn’t easy to travel internationally and jump off the plane and skate.

Friday, July 5: We had breakfast, said our goodbyes to Petra and the Pension Baumeisterhaus (fully intending to return in the future – it was a wonderful and relaxing place to be – just what the doctor ordered), and headed back north for another short stop in Rothenburg before heading further north to Paderborn. The drive to Paderborn, from Dinkelsbühl, is in theory just a few hours. Like driving from Dallas to Austin. But summer in Germany means road construction, and you can always add at least an hour to any trip. Don’t plan to cut things close, or you will likely be screwed.Anyway, we made it to the IBB Blue Hotel, on the outskirts of Paderborn. A nice hotel. We paid for the larger size room, which was a smart move. Very comfortable. Not really in the “cool” area of town, but not far either (it’s a small city). Easy drive to Skatepark Goldgrund, where the contest is held. When I got back in the car to move it to proper parking, it wouldn’t start. Seems it was out of this stuff called “AdBlue”, which is a liquid that interacts with and somewhat counteracts diesel exhaust. Thing is we had no idea what it was, or that we needed it, or that Hertz had sent us out in a car that was NEARLY EMPTY of the shit. If a car has NONE, it will NOT START. Luckily there was a filling station down the road. I procured 5 liters of AdBlue, filled it up (there’s a port right next to the diesel fuel port), and the car was running again. Low marks to HERTZ for not having the car prepared. Any rental car should go out fully prepared. Would you send out a car without any oil? Probably, if you are Hertz. Hertz, you suck. I will never rent another car from you. Best part – upon returning the car two weeks later, no apology. The refunded the 10 Euros for the AdBlue, but no apology at the counter for sucking. Yeah, I’m a bit pissed about it. I will have my apology and more, mark my words. Anyway, we went and had a freaking fantastic pizza nearby at Pizza Toni, at Heiersstraße 37, 33098 Paderborn, Germany. A small place, but the pizza was from heaven. So, so good. And we needed it! DELISH! Then we headed to the skatepark. I knew the Swedes were already in town, and that the great Marius Constantin and his Romanian Freestyle Crew were there. I was so happy to see Marius, and even more for my wife to meet him. We hung at the skatepark and I got in a little rolling. I was relieved to be skating on a good surface and to feel assured that my ability to skate hadn’t suddenly disappeared after the weird surface in Dinkelsbühl. I knew I’d be OK. I was feeling good, the park is known territory for me, and I could tell that while I might not win, I could do what I set out to do. We headed back to the hotel and hit the sack.

Saturday, July 6: Street contest day for the BBQ Contest. We got up, enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the bakery next to our hotel, and got to the skatepark about 10am. You have to get there early to get a little freestyle practice, because  the street skaters are flying everywhere. We met up with Michael Erskine, his wife Dawn and daughter Ruby, and Toni sat with them while Michael and I get some practice. I was feeling pretty good, but very much conserving my energy. It isn’t hot there by Texas standards, but it would be a long day in the sun watching the street contest and enjoying the whole thing. My goal for the morning was to pick out a few vectors through the park and decide where I wanted to do certain things, as the park isn’t perfectly flat and there are a few street skating obstacles to avoid. About noon the Brits showed up. I love all those guys, but the guys from that first Paderborn Road Trip in 2015 hold a special place for me. Seeing my podcasting partner and friend Tony Gale, Alex Foster, Simon Mrozinski, and Denham Hill — so so good. And so good for my Toni to finally meet them in person. Means the world to me. That first trip was probably the highlight of my skateboarding life, and I wanted her to understand the magic of this place and this community. The street contest was fun to watch. About 5pm we split back to our hotel to freshen up and then we picked up Michael Erskine and his family, went into the central area of Paderborn, and walked through a lovely rainy evening to a great Indian restaurant to enjoy a fantastic meal and even better company. Michael was part of that first road trip, is close to as old as me, and his family is delightful. Such a great day and evening.

Sunday, July 7: Freestyle Day. The main event. The greatest grassroots freestyle event in the world. The mystical energy of the natural amphitheatre in which the park sits. Everyone shows up to practice. The contest will start about 2pm. Yoyo Schulz arrives – my old friend, one of the best dudes ever. The man who kept freestyle alive in Germany, and got this contest started. Yoyo, we all owe you so much. Words cannot do you justice.

This year was perhaps the biggest turnout in the amateur class ever, with 20 entries. Beside all-around great skating by everyone, this year featured the return of Finland’s Jari Paakari to the contest scene, and the first contest of 13-year old Daniel Popescu from Romania. Jari got 2nd, and Dani Boy got 5th (a great showing for a first contest!) Big congrats to Robert Wagner, who gets better every year and got 1st! Very stoked to see Americans Nick Beaulieu and Bryce Noe! Both rippers!Every year I meet new people, and this year I was really happy to meet Nenad Kocic, of Switzerland. Been friends with and following him on the internet for a while now. So cool!The Pro division had some heavy talent. Everyone ripped. Top three were Guenter Mokulys of Germany in 1st, the USA’s Mike Osterman in 2nd, and England’s leading proponent of not doing footplants or street tricks in a freestyle run, Tony Gale. All three were incredible. I don’t know how the judging really works in Paderborn, but history tells us that consistency counts for a lot. If you come off once or twice, and Guenter stays on, then Guenter is going to win. He’s a freestyle machine that rarely makes a mistake. That’s not an insult — more like praise. Entering his late 50s, Guenter is still hanging with guys 30 years younger. He’s a true competitor. Osterman brought his smooth style, great tricks, and connection with the crowd. Mike is fun to see skate. He always appears to love what’s he’s doing — because he is. It’s a beautiful thing to see. Third place winner Tony Gale as usual left very little in the bag, pulling out certainly the highest difficulty stuff of the contest (though not HIS hardest stuff, which is saying a lot). Tony mixed in smooth footwork with his trademark bangers. Again – if he or Mike had stayed on, they may very well have won. It is that tight.

Here’s a self-indulgent picture of me, because it’s my blog, and I like the shot. You can click it for the full sized, which is pretty cool. Photo by Dennis Wasmuth.

Legends division included me (Bob Loftin – U.S. and A), Michael Erskine (England), Yoyo Schulz (Germany), Eli Meyers (Germany) Eric Schäder (Sweden), Krister Philgren (Sweden). Yoyo is hard to beat. He easily earned more points than the rest of the field, but the points were tight between places 2-4. Krister ended up in 2nd, I got 3rd, Eric in 4th, Michael in 5th, and Eli in 6th. Results don’t necessarily reveal how fun it is to see someone skate. I think the entire group of six was pretty amazing. Eli was certainly one of the most fun to watch of the entire contest. Michael’s first run was fantastic, and it’s been noted he actually seems to enjoy skating! Eric brought some technical tricks you don’t often see in the Legends or Masters division. Krister (barely old enough at only 42!) did some nice footwork and handplant stuff. I lumbered around like a dancing elephant, and Yoyo blasted around the way he does. Honestly, after my 1st run I figured I was in last place. It was horrible, but I guess my 2nd was OK.

And here’s Tony Gale, doing a backwards hang ten wheelie. So rad.

I haven’t seen it yet. It is nice to be appreciated, and the congratulations after my 2nd run from Tony Gale and later from Alex Foster and Paul Brunninkhuis meant the world to me. Alex is simply one of the best and smartest people in the FS world, and I love the way Paul skates. For him to tell me he liked my skating is a trophy in itself. He’s a good, good dude.

While the results were tabulated, a best trick contest was held, and won by Daniel Popescu! He was beyond stoked! I sessioned a bank in the skatepark with Alex Foster and Gretch. It’s a bank in the lower part of the park. I wish I’d had my bank/ditch board!

As the gathering broke up many hugs were exchanged and goodbyes said. It is always emotional. It’s such a great weekend you don’t want it to end, but if it were an every week kind of thing it wouldn’t be special. So best it is once a year. We beat it back to our hotel, cleaned up, and once again met Michael and his family for dinner, this time at the Road House Diner (things close up early in Paderborn!) Next morning we got up and hit the road for the wine country.


Some words on Fickle Skateboards and the “Maker” skateboard community

A couple of years ago Lew Ross and his company Fickle Skateboards came across my radar. I think it was David Thornton’s old LuchaSkate podcast interview with Lew that got my attention. About that time there was a new group of skateboarding bloggers coming to prominence. Kyle Duvall of the Parking Block Diaries, David, and a few others were really making their mark. David would later transfer LuchaSkate to the control of Brian Czarski, who would change it to NeverWas Skateboarding. But David’s energy from both the LuchaSkate blog/podcast and the associated Facebook page helped bring some good people to my attention.

In mid-2017 I got wind that Lew was going to be in Austin, visiting and skating with Indiana refugee Jason Renn, Bryce Miller, and some other local Austin skaters. I contacted Jason and made arrangements to go down and skate and meet these guys. When I got to Renn’s place, Lew had a number of boards available for purchase. I bought his “Classic” shape, the review of which can be found here.

Since that time I had another chance to skate with Lew, Jason, and the crew at StupidFest 1, in October 2018. At the time I was riding his Knucklehead shape. As one of the admins of Neverwas Skateboarding, Lew brought me an 8.25″ version of his Bullnose shape, which I just set up and have not had a chance to skate yet as it has been winter.

But I want to show a few pictures of these setups, and say a few more words about Lew’s workmanship.

The Knucklehead (the board on the right)I have is now well-ridden. I find it to be a bit wider than the specs on the Fickle website. The board seems to be about 9″ over the trucks. I think Lew makes adjustments to this boards as time goes by?

At any rate, it’s a bit wider than I expected. I set mine up with Indy 169s, which fit it perfectly. I’ve been using 54mm Spitfires on it, and 1/4″ risers. It’s a big setup. When I rode it in some ditches in Austin I put some 56mm 87a OJ Keyframes on it and it performed really well. I normally like a slightly smaller street board that I can use 149s on, but this board is really nice feels great. It has the same great and comfortable concave as the Classic, the same nice easy curves in the nose and tail kick angles. In other words – great mold. I love it. I think Lew makes the most comfortable concaves I’ve felt in a long time.

You can see I’ve worn the tail down on one side from doing 360s and scraping the tail. So it goes. Story of my life. That’s why I’ve got a tail skid on the Mode Pool board I’ve been skating ditches on the last couple of months.

The other board is the Fickle Bullnose. It’s a pops shape with very full nose and tail. You can see the specs here. I’ve got it set up with Ace 44s and those same OJ Keyframes I mentioned earlier. Wheels may change, depending on how I decide to use it. As you can see from some of the other pics, it has the same very nice concave and mold angles as all Lew’s boards. Look at the curves of the tail – nice and ….errrr…curvy…rather than an abrupt angle. I’m looking forward to trying the Bullnose out.

Lew has his own philosophy about finishing. Actually, Lew has his own philosophy about everything, but that’s another story (a positive one). He doesn’t over-sand his boards. From what I gather, he thinks it weakens them. They aren’t rough, just not “slick”. Likewise, he doesn’t put a lot of paint or sealer on them. The graphics are distinctive, and the boards seem to have a light coat of spray sealer. I wouldn’t call them “rustic”. The finish is fine. It’s just different from what most of us are used to.

I’ll be honest. When I got the Knucklehead I thought it was too big for me. I’m a fairly large person, but it is just a lot more beefy than I normally ride. But it looked really cool, and really, it feels great. The dimensions work really well with the concave and a proper setup. It feels good, and really performed very well in Austin’s ditches, as well as in my normal skate spots. A lot of the clips in my part in NeverWas II were shot while I was riding the Knucklehead in a ditch and on flat. The others were on my Mode 8.25″ pops or my Mode freestyle board.






So there you have it, my review of Fickle.



I saw Aquaman on Christmas night. I like Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and I like that they are trying to do with the character. But man, that was a hard movie to get through. I have a high tolerance for long movies, but that seemed like it was four hours long. And this is supposed to be the “good” DC movie? Gott dang.

Aside from the plot, which seems to have been written by a 10-year old who just kept thinking things like “and THEN they’ll go to the Sahara Dessert, and then…”, there is one massive plot hole that I simply can’t ignore.

That hole is Superman.

Let’s see. The forces of Atlantis are about to destroy the surface world, in the same universe where Superman exists and is full-on Superman-God-Like,  and it’s up to Aquaman to straighten things out? Did the writers even see Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, or Justice League, or Wonder Woman? Sorry, but that that kind of firepower in your imaginary world, you need to explain where the those characters are.


Well, today is election day for the mid-terms. Beto O’Rourke has been running a punk rock style campaign – grass roots stuff. Ted Cruz has been, well, Ted Cruz, which is to say an arrogant asshole, but is that a surprise? Not really. Apparently a lot of people are cool with that.

Firmly into middle-age, I can’t say I have any real insight into the psyche of the electorate. Are we simply seeing the result of the culture wars that in my mind started in the 1980s (but probably started a lot earlier)? Is the internet to blame for giving voice to all the dark and angry bile just barely under the surface?

I don’t know. I just want everyone to have a roof over their heads, food to eat, healthcare when they need it, and the ability to live openly as who they are and participate equally and without fear in this society. That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. Those all seem like the basic shit to me.



I’m not saying I have any special knowledge or whatever. This is just an observation. I’m as guilty as anyone.

Most people really have no idea what strength is. It’s easy to rename stubbornness, pettyness, and smallness as “strength” and continue on the path of weakness, lazyness, and self-deception. You see it all the time. People who pick the easy route and claim they are being strong. It’s easier to close your doors to people, but it’s the coward’s way forward.

Goodbye Podcast

I deleted the Concrete Lunch Podcast account on LibSyn. I am still doing the Freestyle Podcast, but I haven’t done a Concrete Lunch podcast in a long time, and I feel like I don’t have a lot of time for it. I have some new podcasting ideas that I might try out, but decided to let this one die off. It was fun. But it’s more fun to do a podcast along with a friend or two. Whatever I do will have something to do with skateboarding. Or hell, maybe tabletop roleplaying games. I don’t know.

A few thoughts since last Friday

  • Dementia sucks
  • Friends are awesome
  • Skateboarding is great
  • Having great professionals to help you face life’s challenges is the best
  • The human organism is amazingly resilient, but ultimately it will fail
  • Friends are awesome again, because you can’t say that enough
  • The world is beautiful and sad and amazing and happy and brutal and kind

Google+ is on its way out

Well, after really digging G+ for a while, Google revealed today that it is discontinuing the service. It seems they had a data breach with G+, and based on the fact that it didn’t really catch on like they wanted they’re going to kill it off.

I like G+ because I didn’t see very cockeyed bullshit idea that everyone posted like on Facebook. I could join, for instance, a Traveller RPG community and only see that stuff. It was nice to, for the most part, interact with people without finding out they are nuts.

Anyway, a lot of the RPG gaming communities from G+ are moving to  MeWe is a social network that seems to value privacy a bit more than others. Their business model is different. It’s so different that I wonder if it is really viable. I hope it is. I think I may spend some money with them just to help them out. One cool thing — you can’t see much about a person there without actually being one of their connections. I like that. Anyway, I signed up a while back, and now I’m going to give it a real shot and see how it goes.

Back Again

I’m sitting in the same hospital room we had in November 2016. My mom fractured her hip in a fall yesterday. Looks like surgery this afternoon. She had a good night. It sure is hard to see her like this, but that’s the road we’re on. It’s going to be a rough week for her, and a rough few weeks after that, but we have all the resources we need to get the hip repaired and rehabbed as well as possible. Life sure is weird, but it’s still good. It’s good just to be in the room with her. We need to get this hip fixed, and get her back on her feet before she loses too much muscle.

At the Airport

I’m at Boston Logan airport, about to fly home from the pleasant summer temperatures up here to the scalding horrible 105 F at 7pm temps of home, in Dallas. I’m not really looking forward to it. I want to see my mom, and our cats, but the notion of dealing with the next month or more of bullshit high temperatures does’t thrill me.  I realize that winters up here are miserable too. I get that. But it’s not winter. When it’s 105 in the shade at 7pm I don’t want to go out and skate. I don’t want to go to aikido (the dojo will be hot as hell). So I guess I’ll just lay around reading this week.

There’s a lot of summer left at the library. I have a lot to do, and I feel somewhat refreshed after a week of vacation. Spent the week on Cape Cod. Went to the beach once. That’s as much as I like. Not a big fan of the beach. I love being by the ocean. I just never feel very comfortable at the beach. I burn easily, so I’m also covered with sun screen. My lower back doesn’t enjoy sitting in a low beach chair that is half sunk in the sand. So an afternoon at the beach is OK. I don’t mind taking one for the team.

We took a ferry ride over to Martha’s Vineyard. There were lots of white people there. Lots of little shops to go in. Places to drink. Not really my thing. It was hot that day. Not Texas hot, but if it’s 80 degrees, humid, and the sun is out, it feels really hot. So honestly, we weren’t that stoked about Martha’s Vineyard. The next day when the family went to Nantucket (to the beach again), we stayed on Cape Cod and took a drive around. Went to an old Meeting Hall in Barnstable. It was actually kind of cool. I like stuff like that. It was nice to drive around with my wife, talk, laugh, and chill.  Then we went home to the big house the family was renting, grilled some food, ate by the pool (in the wonderful cool shade — it was beautifu) and relaxed. The house we were renting was great. Hanging there by the pool in the late afternoon was really nice. I got some reading done.

Friday we went for a bike ride, on a great bike path on Cape Cod that was built under the Rails to Trail initiative. Great trail. Really a fun thing to do.

Well, the airport is fairly chill right now. I got a shitty C boarding pass, so I’m sure I’ll be stuck in a middle seat for the 4 hour flight. Oh well. First world problems. I’ll be home soon enough.