It's hard to believe that we've already been in business for 11 years.
What started out with selling t-shirts out of the trunk of my car has grown into a larger operation year after year. We've hired more employees, expanded our warehouse 5 different times, and had our job descriptions change seemingly every few months. There's no doubt that with growth has come plenty of change. Mostly it's been for the better. Occasionally, despite good intentions, not so much. It is a constant game of trial and error, hard work, and a love for what we do.
There is one thing that despite plenty of changes behind the scenes, has never wavered. Our love of the region that we get to call home grows stronger the more that we get outside and explore. So many different communities of local riders in a wide variety of different action sports have welcomed us in and embraced our brand and employees. Their passion for what they do and where they ride continues to inspire us daily. Our goal is to be a brand that resonates with riders throughout the Northwest as a celebration of the places we're blessed to be able to ride so close to home, and the people and friends that we get to ride with.
Throughout the last 6 months or so, we've had the privilege of working with Sean Kilgus, a longtime friend, a Northwest local, and an extraordinary filmmaker. We also had the chance to spend some time with a handful of our talented group of team riders. Our goal was to create a short film project that we hoped would essentially showcase why it is we do what we do. It was a chance to put everything else aside and travel with friends, make new ones, explore the Northwest, and get outside to play. We titled this project 'Here'. It's not the typical showcase of professional athletes getting paid millions to travel the globe and ride. It's a tribute to the everyday Northwest Riders: working-class athletes that live local and ride local.
I can't explain how much this project put into perspective for us what is worth prioritizing and what counts the most. It's the high fives, laughter, and celebratory beers after you ride. The bonfires on the beach after a long day in the water. The anticipation that gnaws at you when you're back at work and waiting for the weekend so you can get out of town and make it happen all over again. This project made us pause and re-discover that our core principles are truly based around the people we work with and work for, while always enjoying what we do together. Nothing else really matters that much. Small but important changes have been made behind the scenes of our business that will help us get back to basics, and we are more stoked than ever to be able to do what we do.
Oftentimes it's the things you're most excited about that are the most difficult to put into words. Our hope is that this project gives you the same awestruck feeling that we get when we look around at the abundant beauty that we're surrounded by and the people that we get to take it all in with.
Enjoy this quick preview of the short film "HERE." -
...we will be presenting clips, giving out prizes, and dropping the short film in the days ahead. Check back to the website and visit our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to enter to win and to be a part of "HERE."
With Thanksgiving now just a short time away, we are launching our first ever "Get One / Give One" giveaway event. What does that mean? Well, I'm glad you asked.
Over the next 22 days, we will be giving away prizes and products to a lucky winner every three days. The giveaways will get bigger and better each time as we near Thanksgiving on November 27. But wait, there's more! We will also give a matching prize pack to a friend or family member (or foe?) -- of your choosing. That's two giveaways every three days. So how is this going to work, and how do you get in on the action?
We will be posting the prizes you can win on our social media accounts (links below for those). First, you have to sign up below on the email form so we can notify you if you are one of the lucky winners. Then, you can enter three more times per prize by sharing our Facebook post, Re-gramming our Instagram, or Re-tweeting our Twitter post. You can do that for each new prize. Finally, we will select a winner and contact them to get their shipping info and the info for who they would like to match their prize to. For those of you that like bullet points and numbered lists (like myself) ... here is a recap for how to win:
-- You don't have to share/repost from all three if you don't want, but that gives you the most chances to win. --
Here is the schedule for giveaway dates and prizes:
*Note: a "giveaway day" ends at 4:00 pm and the next "giveaway day" starts on the same day immediately after.
...and so we begin, sign up below and join the ride!
More Episodes: Foreword / Ep. 1
Part 2: Up North
After a 24 hour straight shot from Seattle to the Mexican border, followed by standing in line to get our travel visas, Mexican car insurance, and to swap out currency, all any of us wanted to do was get some tacos, a Corona or two, and start surfing as soon as humanly possible
No matter how prepared I think I am for a trip like this, I always get a little bit on edge once I cross the border and start driving thru the northern-most 100 miles or so of the Baja peninsula. That stretch of road is where the vast majority of Baja’s population lives and includes the perma-sketchy city of Tijuana and it’s far more pleasant, but crowded neighbor to the south, Ensenada. It’s probably just the realization that you are now officially on someone else’s turf, and the instant bombardment of a different language and culture, as well as sounds, smells, and most noticeably, road conditions and driving laws.
Our first stop should have been about 3 hours south, but because of road construction that rerouted Baja’s equivalent of Interstate 5 onto some exceptionally bumpy dirt roads, turning 18 wheelers and tiny commuter cars alike into future contenders for the Baja 1000, it ended up taking us about 5 hours. Due partly to my paranoia, which was based on the fact that I had been robbed on a prior trip (which, to be fair, I was almost asking for by spreading all of gear around our campsite like a yard sale once we reached the ‘isolation’ of a campsite only a few miles from a town of migrant farmers living in homes built with pallets), we set up camp in a gringo settlement that put a dilapidated fence and a mountain range between us and the population of the border towns to the north.
Despite the day and a half it took us to reach our first spot, our timing could not have been better. We woke up on our first morning to the news that all four lanes of the highway north of Ensenada had slid 300 feet down the hillside and into the ocean (thankfully nobody was hurt) a scarce 12 hours after we had driven the same stretch of asphalt. This essentially thwarted all but the most dedicated surfer’s plans to make a trip south, giving us an almost entirely empty break all to ourselves for the 3 days we stayed there.
We needed every advantage that the empty lineup gave us, as everyone in our crew needed a couple days to get into paddling shape, and the ability to paddle into every wave we wanted helped get us there quickly. This spot turned out to be the first of many right-handed pointbreaks that we surfed on the trip, but unique to this break was the rusted out skeleton of an old ship that had run aground decades before. It marked the spot where the outer point connected with an inner point, and during a few of our sets the swell was just perfect enough to catch a wave on the outer point and, just as it was starting to fizzle out, it would jack up right next to the stern of the shipwreck and shoot us into the inner point. All in all, we were lucky enough to get the occasional minute-and-a-half long rides that we’d end up riding into shore and making the 10 minute walk back to the camp to give our shoulders a chance to rest.
The waves were mushy, but constantly about shoulder high and at least 100 yards long (200-300 yards on the bigger sets), and we probably all spend 5 or 6 hours in the water each day high-fiving and hollering at each other as we caught wave after wave after wave.
That spot was a good transition into the trip for many different reasons. Not only were the waves really low-key and playful, but the shoreline was all cobblestone and reminded us a lot of home. The daytime high was probably only about 70 degrees, and the nighttime low surprised us all by hitting what we guessed was about 30 degrees while we slept. Even the daytime sky was overcast, but had a permanently pink hue on the horizon, reminding us that sunnier skies and warmer climates still beckoned to us from the south.
Surfing, campfires, and sleep were the only three things on the menu for several days as we slowly adjusted to the pace and rhythm of the land that we’d traveled so far and dreamt of for so long.
VIEW FULL PHOTO GALLERY - | click image below |
It’s been nearly 4 months since returning home. How can it have possibly been that long? I’m not known as a particularly deep thinker, not as someone who sits around and ponders the meaning of things. I just try to enjoy the moment, plan for the next one, and shut my mind off as best I can to relax and enjoy some occasional peace and quiet. But Baja deserves better than that. I’ve sat down to put my thoughts on paper at least a half dozen times since our trip, and just like my previous trips to the long and isolated peninsula south of the California border, there are so many subtle but profound moments along the way that it’s nearly impossible to document or catalog them in a way that does any justice whatsoever; to the crew that made the journey, the rhythm and routine that developed as we made our way further south, the quiet thoughts that disappear with the ever-present campfire smoke and float upwards to the neon Milky Way glowing overhead, or the feeling of freedom that comes with pointing to a spot on a map and driving through hundreds of miles of dust, cactus, boulders, and desolate hillsides to get there.
On my prior two trips to Baja, I’ve always tried to take notes along the way to document where we stayed, what spots worked well on which swell directions, and any thoughts I could take the time to put on paper. But just like this trip, every time I’d try to sit down and put everything together into a travel journal, it was too insurmountable a task to make any readers feel even a fraction of what the trip meant to myself or any of the friends that had made the journey with me. However, this time we had our friend Rhys Logan along documenting as much as possible with both a still and video camera. My hope is that with a few words and lots of photos and video footage, I’ll finally be able to make the trip come to life…or at least give it a faint pulse.
We will be sharing some of the best photos of the trip as well as a 7 episode video series documenting some of the highlights from our adventure. The video was made mostly for those of us that went on the trip so we can relive the memories years from now and laugh at the inside jokes, the mishaps, and the close calls we experienced. If the video gets a little long for your liking, feel free to fast-forward or go to Baja yourself and make your own damn video.
Part 1: Prep, Planning, and Packing
This journey really started a little more than a year ago, on New Years Eve 2012. After surfing and camping in snow, wind, and sleet on the Olympic Peninsula, it was decided that the following January we’d be bringing in the New Year over a campfire somewhere in the heart of the Baja peninsula.
The original crew started at 3, dropped down to 2, doubled to 4, and a few days before departure settled on 5 guys. Chris Hudspeth and Chad Douglas were in on the trip from the early stages. Since none of us wanted to sacrifice our own truck for the trip, we decided we’d go in on a van together. Two years ago I’d made this same trip with another group of my friends in an old van I’d picked up for $900. While that van did somehow miraculously make it home, we thought we’d set the bar a little higher, so we settled on a 2000 Ford e350 15 passenger van. Not only was it a turbo-diesel, it had a 4-inch lift, 33-inch tires, and a highly coveted 4x4 conversion on it. It was any road trip aficionado’s dream come true; big enough to haul our 5-man crew, TONS of surf and camping gear, and enough food, water, and firewood to last us a month without needing to stop anywhere to resupply.
For weeks leading up to the trip, we’d get together at Chad’s place after work or on the weekends to start building out the van to get it road ready. We started by adding a ladder and a hitch-mounted rack for firewood. Then we got a little carried away and built a deck on the roof rack, which got us a little more carried away to the point we made the hideous, yet functional, luggage box w/ pop-up navigator’s chair on top. Add to that a 50-gallon water barrel to use for gravity fed showers and washing dishes, and we were pretty much set to go. Or at least we thought we were, until we realized at 1:00 AM on Christmas night, several hours before our scheduled departure, that all of the weight on the roof had caused the gutter-mounted rack mounts to sag and keep the front doors from opening and closing. Once we decided not to fill the water barrel with 800lbs of additional weight, we were on our way after a few dozen ear-splitting whacks of a sledgehammer to the roof later.
The rest of the crew was rounded out by our friend and photographer Rhys Logan, and Chad’s older brother Rory, the indisputable champion of mean-mugging. I am 99% sure that a finer crew of gentlemen has never graced this planet.
Once we became accustomed to minute-long speed wobbles every time we changed lanes or pushed the needle past 60mph, another unfortunate result of our weight-laden roof, we drove 24 long hours straight to the border and were all pretty amped for what laid ahead.
VIEW FULL PHOTO GALLERY - | click image below |
If you are a frequent customer you may have noticed some significant changes to the look, layout, and feel of northwestriders.com. We just got done with a facelift along with a new shopping cart that adds customer safety, ease of use, and a much better overall performance.
Have a look around and let us know what you think. Suggestions are always welcome (and helpful!) so feel free to drop us a note.
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