After the Death Race contest in Fallon NV and copious amounts of pizza and beverages, we headed to the “Old High School”. Talks about a 10 stair had the crew ready for more. The stairs out front, the flat gap, and the stair gap into the street got handled. Some of the crew got dealt as well. The sun started it’s way to the other side of the world and the day ended like it began, just a bunch of skaters hanging out shooting the shit. Good times and great people. These are the days. -ERL
To get away from the smoke and to put the pedal down for the day we headed North. Three towns were the plan, in those three towns of Loyalton, Portola, and Quincy laid 3 skateparks. Clean air, mountains, trees, a boom box, and two car loads of the homies is all it took to put an plan into action. We had the entire skatepark of Loyalton to ourselves. Portola was a tough one and is where the photos are from. We ended up in Quincy where the sign to the entrance of the parks read, “No Bikes.” and “No Scooters” and how sweet that was. Plenty of brews, beautiful scenery, and slight heat stroke. Left early and was home for in time for Breaking Bad. Hit the road. -ERL
Skateboarding was born in the streets. That is where it became popular and that’s where it became a nuisance. The popularity and general laziness of hanging out at a skatepark all day is baffling. Say skatepark and I picture helmets, scooters, skate dads, bikes, and too many rules. You say new street spot and I envision endless possibilities. I’ll take a junk ramp over any prebuilt cement nonsense. Toby Riley, Justin Hackle, Tyler DeWitt, and Dane Haman avoid the road entirely and take the alley. -ERL
Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s Reno was like most cities. The skate scene consisted of street skating or you might have known of someone who had a ramp. Without all of today’s luxuries of communication, new spots were always by word of mouth. We would drive to Gardnerville, Carson City, Fallon, Dayton, and Tahoe to find new spots. The closest indoor park was in Sacramento Ca. The skate scene was so small and tight, most of the time people were cool with you showing up at their house.
I first heard about 293 while I was living in Fallon. All we knew was it was ramps and props under an old building by some rail road tracks by down town Reno. At first there was a roof over the whole space. It was an area where trains were loaded and unloaded. Eventually the roof was tore down leaving only the foundation. People would bring boxes, quarter pipes, bank ramps, and curbs. It was never a bust, and cops were cool with us most of the time. No bikes. No scooters. No rollerbladers. Imagine that. That’s what made it such a special place. It was made by skateboarders, maintained by skateboarders, and regulated by skateboarders. If you were disrespectful or acted like a dick, to put it lightly, you were made to feel unwelcome.
You take a giant slab of cement that had a loading dock style drop, add a rail road track down it, and the rest was a blank canvas of perfection. The cement was smooth and all the obstacles were taken care of by the locals. If you’re a young buck, you’ll here about 293 as long as there’s skating in Reno. For us older cats, it was one of the best scenes at the time. The 90’s and 293 will always be synonymous with progression and good memories. It was Reno’s first real skatepark that never got too stale. It was easy to move a prop to a different spot or build something new. 293 gained notoriety from the Zorlac video Zero Hero with Rob Hostetter and Denny Franchini destroying the place. It also was featured in 411VM on occasions.
Inevitably we would get burnt on being there so much, just like any spot. In retrospect, I’d take 293 over the majority of our local skateparks that have no soul. 293 didn’t cost a penny from the tax payers and it was designed by skaters with modern skateboarding in mind. As far as the D.I.Y. craze that has taken the skate scene in a different direction, 293 was the blueprint. It is sorely missed and will never be replaced. It was a different time and scene in Reno and 293 was an answer to “where can we skate today without being kicked out?”. I often question how much flavor and style was lost with the current skateparks we have at our disposal. The photo below doesn’t show much of 293 at all. There’s a box going down the loading dock with Toby Riley nose blunt sliding it. Greg Janess and Dills are in the background, and Scott Waters is filming Toby. If you skated 293, the photo speaks volumes on a scene long gone. – ERL
Hot weather equals a hot temper on occasion. Hockey tempers flare and next thing you know you’re looking down at the board you just focused. A quick stomp and that’s that, broken board. Probably one of the greatest marketing ploys in skateboarding was showing Pros at the time focusing their boards. One by one, all of us started doing it. I’ve seen friends focus boards because the grip got tore up or landing primo and smashing them into the ground. All in all the very act is senseless but, a great way to release the frustrations that come with skateboarding. I’ve seen less fortunate skaters beg others not to break an otherwise perfect condition board.
When you’re a young buck you focus your board because you trying to learn a new trick and it’s just not happening. When you get older you smash your board because your losing the tricks you used to have on lock. It’s ironic because it’s never the boards fault. It’s us who didn’t flip it right, catch it right, or land it right. Greg Janess, Daryl Dibattista, Scott Waters, Justin Hay-Chapman, Kelly Haugen, Dean Christopher, and Spencer Benavides had some real melt downs back in the day.
My absolute favorite person to watch get mad was Toby Riley. He would never break or throw his board out of anger. He would however punch himself in the face and head repeatedly. After all, it wasn’t his boards fault he was missing the trick. I’ve always related it to the old saying “A good mechanic never blames his tools”. Although I can guarantee there are some mechanics that have thrown a tool out of anger. It is temporary satisfaction and a release that can’t be duplicated. Here’s to all our broken boards from days past and the ones in the near future that met an unexpected early retirement. You deserved better but, we love you all the same. -ERL
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.