16 Aug Embassy Decade in Review: NE in Barcelona
Personally, in my mind the high point of Northern Embassy was the Barcelona trip. I fully see the irony of a Canadian based BMX website highlighting a trip to Europe but keep in mind this trip happened in December which any Canadian BMXer will tell you is the time of year they want to escape to warmer weather/ ride outside daily. Let alone get 11 Canadians to the street mecca that is Barcelona.
The earliest beginnings of this trip started thanks to The Hunt video contest. Early summer 2011, my wife Kristina was heading back to Montreal from Vancouver for the summer, once her spring semester had ended which meant I had room for visitors. The Hunt contest was launched, NE got an invitation and the timing was perfect. Dillon was super into filming for it, so came out and spent the summer. Dill would often come chill at Ten Pack for the day while I worked, browsing Chase, Ride and Dig mags from the crazy Ten Pack magazine library then after work/ on weekends it was on.
NE was launched in November 2010, we hustled hard the first year to have a solid flow of content and really get on everyone’s radar. Although filming this Hunt part with Dillon wasn’t directly for NE, I feel that the Embajada En Barcelona DVD is one of, if not our most proud NE project. We obviously filmed a bunch of other NE stuff outside of the Hunt part that summer, not to mention Dillon’s park warm up clips before getting actual clips.
Dillon’s The Hunt video part ended up getting second place (Chad Kerley/ Christian Rigal got first) and the prize for second place was a trip to Barcelona for the rider and filmer. And so there were two. Obviously Dillon and I were hyped, but we knew it would be even better if we could rally up a few troops to make the trip with us.
A fun fact in all of this is that the Hunt prize was actually based on the typical BMX media/brand mindset that every BMXer in the world lives in California. The sponsor of this prize only covered the ticket price of a flight from California to Barcelona, Dillon and I were left paying a few hundred each for the difference. The fine folks at Ten Pack (Jamie and Darcy) stepped in and covered Dillon’s flight difference (they actually covered his flights to Vancouver and back for the Hunt contest too actually). Dillon and I first threw out invites to the Presence squad (which Albert, Prashant and Sean were a go, Dewey was a maybe and Greg wanted to come but didn’t have the funds for the flight).
I remember so much about this trip and the planning but the one thing I don’t remember much about is when/where/how the idea of doing a dvd for NE came out of it. Maybe when the number of people coming got as crazy as it did? Obviously we would film while there and like any other BMX trip we’ve ever been on, there would be an open invitation to a bunch of our buds to come. This one required a bit more back end planning being overseas but at some point this trip became a DVD project for NE. At this planning stage, yet again the fine folks at Ten Pack stepped in and covered Greg’s and Taylor’s flight for MACNEIL, CULT covered Luke’s and suddenly we were 8 confirmed. After bugging Jeff Evans enough, he also joined and later Ryan Hiebert and Cory Beal would also follow suit.
Finding a place big enough for 11 dudes gave us pretty limited options but we in the end we found an amazing place and it couldn’t have been more perfect. A little more expensive than most would have liked but with a balcony view, bidet’s, huge rooms, living room, back balcony, and more, it was well worth it. I remember one of the first nights the Barcelona soccer team was playing and the entire city would cheer every goal, all of us of course getting in on the yelling from the balconies.
Our flight left Vancouver in the evening and landed in Barca late the following evening, some of the squad were so hyped on being in Barca that they spent that first night cruising and watching the sunrise on the beach (Sean and Luke actually time lapsed it and the shot is in the vid). On the flight we had a transfer in London and Dillon nearly boarded a transfer to Africa, the airline was paging David Lloyd. The transfer flight from London to Barcelona was a lot of excitement to land in Barca and jokes of 17 year old Dillon by himself in Africa haha.
The first couple days everyone got out together, from there, days started with the early crew and late crew. Depending on your night before you’d get out with one of two squads. Typically taking the subway as far in one direction as possible knowing you’d slowly make your way back towards the home base throughout the day. We’d stumble onto legendary Barcelona spots along the way and find incredible new ones as well. Whatsap didn’t exist back then but damn would it have been handy to meet up.
The “Hola” game started on day one, we’d all try and get an hola (HI) back from ladies across the city. If they Hola’d back you got a point and everyone tallied their points throughout the day (not really). I’m pretty sure Jeff Evans won the game with a negative score, getting flipped off and sworn at for trying too hard. Typical Gringo.
Riding wise I would argue that Dillon, Greg, Taylor and Jeff were killing it as hard or harder than any Canadians at that point in time and it was a treat to see these guys do ridiculous stuff everywhere and feed off each other. I remember the out rail spot with a second rail at the bottom, a real man setup, each of these guys did something crazy on it and left their mark. Dillon being 17 just had the energy to ride everything all day everyday and was just shredding everything in sight.
At the apartment, Jeff would keep us entertained with slideshows of his cats and a million cat stories, being the proud dad he is. Cheap cartons of Sangria were always flowing as were BMX videos on the dvd player. Greg was tight for cash midway through the trip, nightly Greg challenges started and everyone would throw some cash into a pot for him, should he succeed. Greg would get free beer while doing the challenges so even if he couldn’t pull it off, he was stoked to at least be drinking free. The first challenge night he managed to eat an entire head of lettuce in 30 minutes (while drinking a bunch of beers of course). He was literally puking water everywhere the rest of that night. Another night he was challenged to eat 12 plantains and he kept telling everyone he had a strategy to pull it off… low and behold his plan was only to drink as many free beers as he could during the challenge because he knew it was impossible haha. I love you Greg.
We had 3 DVX’s on this trip which were key with split groups and just always having someone down to film. With the quantity of spots everywhere, there was always someone doing something film worthy. This DVD would not have happened without Sean and Luke filming, thanks fellas.
To me this video to me represents a lot of hard work to make NE a reality and how far it had come, in pretty much a year. From an idea/ launch in November 2010, to being in Barcelona riding bikes in December 2011, it showed that the site had made it’s mark and this was somewhat of a reward/ vacation for Prashant and I for the hard work. Furthermore the DVD got a lot of attention and pushed the site’s legitimacy even further. I remember Sam telling me the DVD was on the NORA ballot for dvd of the year. He was probably BSing me and if it was we probably didn’t get a single vote but the possibility of just being on that legendary list in itself was pretty humbling.
BMX is awesome, go on a trip somewhere you’ve never been before with your buds once/ if all of this is ever over with.
Photos by Prashant Gopal