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The Joy of Skating Tunnels

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READER & ADVISOR

The Joy of Skating Tunnels

Spencer Gillespie

We sat down with Dan Rusin and Shane Brown to find out a little more about the the drain skating montage from their new video The Joy of Skating.

 

The tunnels' dank interiors didn't seem to bother Cam Herman. Judging by the way he carved them up you'd think he likes it down there. The Joy of Skating, 2014.

The tunnels' dank interiors didn't seem to bother Cam Herman. Judging by the way he carved them up you'd think he likes it down there. The Joy of Skating, 2014.

Village Psychic: How did you hear about these tunnels? Who's idea was it to actually go down into them and skate them?

Dan Rusin: I first saw the tunnels on Facebook. Somebody was posting some stuff on an urban exploration page, where people post what they find when they go snooping around forbidden places. I saw some photos of storm drains and and started searching for spots in Minnesota. Also, the Happy Medium crew in AZ had been skating spots in tunnels so I knew it could be done. It was my idea to go down and skate the tunnels. I think the other guys were skeptical at first but we all overcame our fears and made it happen.

Shane Brown: I first heard about the drains from Dan. He showed me a couple of pictures off this artist's Instagram of people doing graffiti down there. He also linked me to a couple of websites which furthered the evidence that they may be skateable. Basically Dan was the brains behind this.

VP: I heard you guys were going down there in the winter. Was that just when they are skateable or was it because you couldn't skate anywhere else?

DR: Winter is the time to go! The tunnels are storm drains, so whenever it rains they get flooded out and have a history of killing people who are down there at the time. In the winter it's just snow, which freezes. So in the winter you'll probably never get flooded out. You'll always have to deal with water down there, but it's much safer in the winter.

SB: It was also nice being able to skate in 40-50 degree temperature when it is below freezing outside.

 

Jack Lunt performs a stunt known as a blunt. Sorry, I had to. The Joy of Skating, 2014.

Jack Lunt performs a stunt known as a blunt. Sorry, I had to. The Joy of Skating, 2014.

VP: Did you guys have any concerns about safety or legality while doing this?

DR: I tried not to think about the legality of it. You could be charged with so many things. I was mainly concerned with coming across a deranged person and having to defend myself. Luckily Cam brought a sword for the first few missions. I was also sort of claustrophobic, but realized it wasn't a big deal since most of it is pretty open. I got over it pretty quick.

SB: I was not to worried about the legality, or at least I tried not to be. The sketchiest part was walking across some roads in the middle of winter with rubber boots, headlamps and skateboards. Once we got down it wasn't bad. 

When you are in the tunnels and you get accustomed to it, you actually feel somewhat safe. I was concerned with how we would get someone out if they got hurt. Which I tried not to think about, but there were plenty of ways to get out if you really had to. It is also really hard to get phone service down there, but if you climbed up a manhole you could get a signal. 

VP: Tell us about actually getting into the tunnels.

DR: Depending on where you enter the tunnels, it could be up to a mile of walking underground. We eventually figured out shortcuts and alternate entrances but those weren't as fun as walking the distance. I don't want to give away too many details, but the "main entrance" is basically full of water since it's near the drain's outfall near the river. You have to wade through this deep water for a while until you pass an underground waterfall, then it dries up a bit. You need to wear waterproof rubber boots, the kind you would use when fly fishing. Most of us had to buy those. Eventually we were able to locate a couple manhole covers that we could pop open and drop down almost directly into the skateable portions.

SB: Getting into the drains was quite a process at first. We didn't know what we were getting into, we didn't have any equipment besides flashlights. We also picked an entrance where the water was probably waist deep. I eventually dipped out because I had work the next day and deemed it impossible without supplies. But Cam Herman was determined. He even tried constructing a bridge of sorts with wood and other things but it was too deep, so they ended up going to buy knee high boots and head lamps. They came back and found an entrance point and walked for an hour down a section that never got dry. They tried another entrance and finally came to a dry section.

VP: Did anything sketchy happen while you guys were down there?

DR: There's nothing too sketchy down there. The sketchiest part is just getting in without getting caught. Once you're down there it's pretty chill. At the main entrance there's some ice which can be pretty slick, there were some close calls with that.

The grossest part is the "poop hole." It's not full of poop, but it was full of all this black sooty stuff. We skated in there for a while, and the next day I blew my nose and it was all black. And the shit took a couple days to fully wash out of my hair. I still have no idea what it was, and I don't really want to find out.

 

Shane Brown executes a proper front rock, right in the naughty word hole. The Joy of Skating, 2014.

Shane Brown executes a proper front rock, right in the naughty word hole. The Joy of Skating, 2014.

SB: With all the graffiti down there I was surprised we didn't run into anyone. The scariest moments were hearing this loud booming sound and never finding out where it was coming from, and also seeing a light that someone had left down there. That spooked us a bit.

VP:  Who ripped the tunnels the hardest?

DR: Cam Herman is the undisputed tunnel master. He seemed so at home down there. He's a tranny rat, so skating there was totally natural to him since it's mostly fullpipes. It was insane to witness.

SB: Cam for sure ripped the tunnels the hardest. He was the most motivated to get in and would just feed off the energy. He loved it, you could see him just feeling the vibe. Cam can skate the shittiest of terrain and he loves tranny so it was perfect. He seemed at home within the tunnels. No one was really even close to his level.

 

Cam Herman, tunnel MVP and owner of a mean layback. The Joy of Skating, 2014.

Cam Herman, tunnel MVP and owner of a mean layback. The Joy of Skating, 2014.

VP:  Everyone is rocking head lamps in the footage, were you lighting it with just on cam lights and head lights? I assume it is fully pitch black down there.

DR: For the first couple sessions we brought several flashlights to help illuminate the area. You can see them in the background of some clips. At that point in time we didn't even have headlamps, which seems so damn sketchy to me now. 

Eventually we got more comfortable down there and it was just the on-camera light and the headlamps. It's totally pitch black without lights. On each mission we'd do this thing where we'd turn off all our lights and be quiet for a minute or two to just appreciate where we were and the total darkness that surrounded us. You couldn't see anything even if it was right in your face. It was pretty awesome.

VP: Have any good stories that haven't been told yet?

SB: We thought it would be a genius idea to carry five 75lb sandbags and 4 big bags of kitty litter down in attempts to dry up a wet section. Dan calculated which manhole cover would be right over the spot we wanted to dry up. We thought we would just be able to drop the supplies down and crawl in another manhole cover maybe half a mile away. It worked in theory, but that man hole cover was welded or maybe frozen shut, so we ended up lugging all of the shit down to the other one half a mile away which was no easy task in snow and winter apparel. It probably took an hour and once we dropped it all down we had to carry it all back to where we started, but undreground. It was a huge pain. It was also a bummer the night we picked to try to dot his there was hella condensation going, everything was still slippery. 

 

Dan Rusin gets in front of the lens for once to bring us a pivot fakie just outside an impromptu men's room. The Joy of Skating, 2014. 

Dan Rusin gets in front of the lens for once to bring us a pivot fakie just outside an impromptu men's room. The Joy of Skating, 2014. 

DR: I totally forgot the sandbag story! To add to it, I had to take a shower with my board afterwards to get all the kitty litter off. People would ask me what was on my griptape and what we were doing with kitty litter, and it was so hard to just say "We were trying to dry up a spot to make it skateable." We tried to keep the whole thing a secret and only told a couple people so that it would be a surprise at the premier. I also remember the night of the sandbags it smelled really bad, because some people had thrown a party down there a couple days before and had used a nearby side tunnel (the one we skated as a quarterpipe) as an bathroom.

VP: Thanks a lot dudes, the video turned out awesome.