Slideshow: Rolling with Gary Smith of Vu Skateshop
Getting swept up in the moment of watching Gary Smith and the Vu Skateboard Shop
team shred the Centennial Park skatepark in Howard County recently, I hopped on my skateboard, headed down an embankment toward an eight-foot high quarterpipe and -- BAM! -- bit the dust.
I spent most of the next couple of hours piddling around on the smaller obstacles, still pretty fluid on a board, for a 34-year-old man. Later, when the small volume of blood that had soaked through my pants had dried and the action on the ramps dwindled, I decided to have another go against the ramp that had eaten me alive within my first five minutes at the park.
I tried several more times to arrive at the top of the ramp and rock-and-roll: a fairly basic trick accomplished by riding the front wheels over the top of the ramp, leaning forward to rock the back wheels off the ramp surface, then pivoting 180 degrees to head back down.
I was ready to concede that the eight-footer was a bit too large for me when Smith reminded me that I did not want to leave that park without conquering that ramp.
"Come on, man. You got that," he assured me. Several tries later I did it. A rush came over me as I smoothly rolled down the ramp and continued across the concrete that had shredded my knee hours earlier. I had heard -- and experienced -- Smith's gospel of skateboarding.
Gary Smith has spent twenty years on a skateboard and the last four at the helm of Vu (pronounced "view") Skate Shop on Harford Road in Parkville. He has made it his mission to spread the "good word" of skateboarding through his shop, youth camps and local events. While many skate shops are owned by big corporations, this one is run by a local skater.
I hopped off my skateboard for a while recently to spend some time photographing Smith at a skateboarding camp in Reisterstown and at his store. Here's my look at how the Vu team does their part to keep Baltimore rolling.