Every city, town, or crew has that one guy who makes an impression on a skateboard. There’s the guy who’s conquered the biggest gap, switch back tailed some rail, or has a laundry list of tricks at the gnarliest spots. Then there’s the guy who shows up from time to time that all the young bucks ask, “Who’s that?”. Toby Riley has been steadily killing it in Reno over 25 plus years. He’s always had that Julien Stranger vibe and style without trying to have that style at all. I’ve heard the new generation of guys ask “who’s that?” just seeing him ollie a hip at the park. I always reply, “That’s Toby Riley.” with a smile. Watching Toby skate will do that to you, this is his Wheel Bite interview. -ERL
1. What’s good Toby? I see you stop by Mira Loma from time to time. Where are you skating at these days?
Good – a funny word when you look at it. Good is friends, family, and times, my top three. I have been blessed with all three of them. And that answers the next question as well. I’m skating wherever sounds fun to ride, there being everywhere, and most importantly wherever my dogs are! GRRRRRRR!!!
2. In the beginning what made you decide to start skating? Who was your first crew you learned the basics with?
The open canvas that it was at that time, 1985, street skating was being created every day. So everything, everything was being skated and nothing had a label or proper technique. It was too awesome, wild, colorful, and fuckin’ rockin’ out of control. Such a great break from other sports, with so many rules, it’s hard to have fun. Only rule in skateboarding: FUN.
3. It was a big deal back in the day to have a Pro board. Did you start off with a used good board or a new generic board?
My friend Robbie Jackson gave me an Action Sports that I had pimped the grip job checker board. Rode that a couple of months, then he kicked down his Skull Skates Dave Hackett, Grim Reaper in front of skulls, grey. I threw on the XR-2 trucks and two tone wheels and it was over!
4. Who was the first skater you saw in the mags that you looked up to and why?
There are a couple of firsts, Mark Gonzales and Hosoi. Hosoi was blasting ten foot methods and Gonz was writing the book on creativity. Aggression, speed, and creativity was what it was. Having fun while crushing shit to pieces, peacefully!
5. Damn, those two should be on everyone’s list! What was your first experience like at 293?
Desolate, and quiet. My friend Justin Hay Chapman and I were one of the first. We followed the tracks and skated 292 long before 292. We went to 293 because to the right of the dock was a bank and we did early grabs off of it. Fuckin’ wicked ass judo airs!
6. Back in the 293 days when everyone was vibing everything you seemed to be just the opposite. You were always having fun skating and cool to everyone. How was it in the early days of 293?
By then skating in Reno had grown enough to have different crews, groups of friends, and whatever the fuck little some had, have, or whatnot. Mix that with the first D.I.Y. skatepark in Reno and BAM, here come the ego based drama and yada yada. All I wanted to do was hang out and skate all the ramps etc everyone brought and have fun. You can learn a lot from mixing with different crews, styles, colors, if you put your egos aside. Big responsibility and lesson in anarchy and human behavior. First spot and only spot in Reno at that time to skate without getting fucked withand we fucked ourselves. End of spot.
7. 293 was a blessing. Most of the newer skatepark generation never skated there, how would you describe 293 to these guys?
It would be like having full control over “the ice rink” pad. Bring ramps, wood, etc and build some new obstacles and have nobody really care, once we talked to the only business nearby at Denny’s Dependable Automotive. Keep it looking clean, regulate yourselves, and like Digital Underground said “Do Watcha Like”!!!
8. Bombing the hill from your house to downtown was some memorable skate days. What were your regular spots when people were still street skating?
Originally the First Interstate Bank at the bottom of 7th Street with Fred Schultz, Mike Herman, the Lewis Brothers, Jay Nietto, Chris Ghardella, my 8th grade crew. Then hit the bumps and hotel/motel bumps on 4th street. Then downtown, alleys, Pioneer Theater, Circus blocks, Straw Hat alley, the market under Silver Legacy curbs, Pioneer Inn Casino blocks, Court House green bars, the Gauntlet, Saint Marys’s steps, ALL of UNR, the long red curb, the OG double set, Lawlor walls forever, 7th Street ditch, K-Mart ditch, and the phantom Fountain of Youth. Can’t mention any current spots – top secret meccas.
9. You eventually started getting hooked up in Reno. Who was your first sponsor?
Shop sponsor, World of Toys through Ben Dixon, great person. He had connections though being a skater for years and working at the shop. He got me shop deals with Santa Cruz.
10. How did the Consolidated thing come about?
Consolidated formed from OG memebers of Santa Cruz, Keenan, Jason Jessee, Birdo, Moish, etc. A foot in the door from Ben and from Jason Jessee got me on Consolidated. The original line up was the Paez brothers, Doug Saenz, Allen Peterson, Karma, and Andy Roy. One of those dream scenarios. There were differences with Keenan, everyone else was gold. Next was a friend Ozzy Alvarez, he started Human Skateboards. I hung out in San Diego, thanks Ozzy, Peter at Pacific Drive, Greg Janess, my box roomates, Dennis Vierra, Tommy Budjanek, “Rickaholik”, Eric L, Ben Dixon, and Caine Gayle for the San Diego hospitality. It was a great experience. My last was Enemy Skateboards and the 50-50 Board Shop and Out of Bounds.
11. I miss SD everyday! In all of your travels, what are some of your favorite cities to skate?
Any city or town you roll into for the first time. Anywhere, anytime. Also San Francisco during the EMB period, we’d drive down and sleep in the car for the weekend. 90-94. It was the epicenter at that time, and got to witness some serious business first hand. Also I like the roughness of good ole Reno, not the best but, it’s what ya make of ‘er.
12. What is it about Reno that has always spawned such a solid skate scene?
Reno, the roughness and smallness of it all. Shit will come back around, very small. Makes you kind of man-up for your actions and whatnot. Leaves you with consequences for your actions, you really see who people are after the fact. That and the fact that it started out everyone hating skateboarders, so you didn’t really have a choice but to unite a little more. Now days every little shit head wants to be a “skater dude”.
13. Yeah, skating is so accepted now. Too accepted! From when you first started rolling to now, who are the guys that you looked up to?
Peter Chiu, Phil, Boozer Daily, Rob Hostetter, Pat Weiss, Eric Svare, Danny G, Denny Franchini, Rob Roy, Kevin Cox, Spencer B, Tony Hospital, Fred Shulty, Gershon Mosely, John Ludwick, Dean Christopher, Brandon G, Darnelle, Jevelle, D Starkey, Coia, Beau Shaver, John Cardiel, Wade Speyer, Jimmy, Beau Halverson, Shawn Dickerman, Beau Bevier, Lee Pottle, Tyree, Scott Waters, Scott B, Mike H, Mike Langley, Lee, Joey P, Richie, Flip Nasty, Mike Hubert, Ben Bledsoe, Kevin and Nick, Mark Melin, Ouchoe, Oink, Jamie Hustle, Rob, Jake Mutha Fuckin’ Griffin, Joe Rock, Neil B, Worms, Dills, Boyd and Josh Turner, Josh and Claude, Greg Janess, Kearney, Max Alonzo, Mike Edwards, Christian Erickson, Rhodes, Lonny Impossible, Randy Barr, Ralph Parks, Brian S, Damon and Levi Watson, Eric Lantto, John Gertz, Dave Maine, Austin and McKenna, Doug H. Nut, Kelsey Page, Sara & Shelby & Ciera Herman, and all the hungry lil’ tigers I see with a good attitude.
14. Hell yes, Reno crew! How long have you been skating Indys Toby?
Since about 1990. About 21 years or so….had to try out the rest before I found the best. Everything from Rannali, Gull Wing Super Pro III, Thunder Salamanders, Venture, until one day….
15. I know you are a real busy guy. What’s a typical week like for you and how do you balance skating into the madness?
I do a lot of running around for the restaurant, Pneumatic Diner. I usually bring the ole board with me and take advantage of a half hour here on the way to get produce or hour there a few times a week. I love it like the first day, it has saved my life, endangered my life, and I will always be riding so long as I can stand up. It keeps me grounded in a crazy world that would have otherwise made me crazy.
16. Thanks for taking time out for this Toby. Break down any thanks, shout outs, and all that.
Thanks to those who let it happen, Moms and Pops!! Letting me use power tools from 10+ and teaching me how to use them to build ramps all over the yard and house and letting me skate all day and night. Couldn’t have happened without Charles or Sherry!
Welcome to the Jungle video.
Thanks to Jake Griffin and Kyle Volland for the great photos.