Nanaimo longboarders heading across Canada

NANAIMO – A local skate shop is hitting the road with members of its racing team for a cross Canada tour at the end of August.

A local skate shop is hitting the road with members of its racing team for a cross Canada tour at the end of August.

The Switchback Longboard bus is making the journey from Nanaimo to Moncton, New Brunswick, and back with 10 skateboard racers from B.C. and Ontario.

The plan is to stop in communities along the way to skate with the locals, as well as attend two high-profile downhill races – the world championships in Calgary and a massive gathering of skateboarders in the Toronto area called the Board Meeting.

“It sucks being an online company, because you never get any face time with people,” said Kelsey Crozier, owner of Switchback Longboards. “I thought it would be a good way to meet all the customers.”

The Kissing Hands and Shaking Babies tour starts Aug. 27 with a skate event in Vancouver.

Other cities the tour will stop in include: Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops, Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Toronto, Picton, Montreal, Quebec City, Fredericton, Halifax and Moncton.

Jeremy Banting, 27, said the trip is the longest the group has ever done – until now the team has mainly attended races around B.C.

“The group of people going are all pretty good friends,” he said. “It will just be like every other crazy trip we go on. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of people and skateboarding a lot of new spots.”

Crozier plans to start a Facebook event page for each city and get the local skaters involved in planning the events.

The International Gravity Sports Association hosts the Downhill Skateboarding World Championship Aug. 31-Sept. 2 on the access road that follows the 1988 Olympic bobsled track.

Banting hopes to do well – he’s raced the course twice before and placed in the top 20 of more than 200 competitors.

“It’s a lot of people going down the hill at the same time, a lot of corners,” he said. “You have to be careful where you pass.”

A week later, hundreds of skaters are expected to take over Yonge Street during the Board Meeting in Toronto Sept. 8. And on Sept. 15 and 16, the Switchback racers will participate in the Prince Edward County Gravity Festival in Picton, Ontario.

The Switchback tour crew, which includes riders from Nanaimo, Vancouver, Courtenay, Parksville and Ontario, plans to take the company’s 10-seater 1989 bus across the country, towing a U-Haul trailer outfitted with bunks.

“It’s always a question – will the bus make it?” said Crozier. “I rebuilt the engine once in a NAPA parking lot.”

The crew will blog and make videos of the experience as they travel. To follow along, please go to www.switchbacklongboards.com/tour.

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