Feature: Little World – Cyber spot hunting with Serious Adult03.07.2023
You just have to enter a meditative state
In an effort to keep my spirits up through the cold and soggy winter just gone, I spent hours each evening on Google Maps, originally searching for one specific bank-to-curb in an industrial estate. I didn’t find it, but I found other spots. I found a lot. Some amazing, some paltry – but with every spot, I was incentivised to continue clicking the mouse. In each town I started with the industrial estates then continued into surrounding streets until it felt like I had scoured tens of miles at a time. I wondered how many other skaters had taken the time to plot these commuter belt towns and eventually decided some areas might be completely untouched. I threw some photos in the group chat and my friends agreed to start planning day trips.
Everything unravelled as soon as we started visiting spots and I quickly realised I was not the super-sleuth I had started to believe myself to be. If you’d like to learn from my mistakes, here are a few things you should consider when trying to make a video of NBS (never been skated) spots procured via Google Maps Street View:
Early on in this project I became pretty obsessed with a few specific spots that I was sure hadn’t been skated before. We visited one early on, on a piercingly cold January day – a tight access ramp to mesh cage (housing a canister of some kind of volatile chemical). A perfect wallride. I can’t describe the mission into the depths of a business park on the edge of town in any great detail, as sadly I wasn’t there to witness it first-hand. I was on parent duty, sat at home, blasting the central heating, watching Disney movies and eating chocolate biscuits.
I prodded the group chat, eager for updates. Tom kept it short with: “It’s fucking bleak,” before confirming that the spot wasn’t skateable. I felt a rising guilt that I’d coerced my friends into an expedition to the coldest corners of the Thames Valley while I was leisurely sprawled on the sofa. Thankfully my house was too warm and cosy to break into a cold sweat so I ate another Hobnob and kept checking my phone.
As the group headed back to the station they walked past what was once the town’s most famous spot, levelled and covered in hoarding for the past few years. Recently built in its place and too new for Street View was a newly accessible banked hip. Wheel marks from a previous session were dutifully noted, but that didn’t stop the group from skating a spot they hadn’t anticipated finding and everyone came away with a clip. This second spot of the day wasn’t the NBS triumph I had envisioned, but the day ended on a productive high and a guilt-free ABS spot was added to the timeline.
Endlessly clicking through streets on Street View with the intention of finding a specific set-up is pointless. If you stay searching for long enough, chances are you’ll find something, but you have no control over what it is you will find. You just have to enter a meditative state and visually take in as much as you can, while continually clicking until something arresting presents itself. Some of the finds may seem so overwhelming that you immediately start planning your award acceptance speech. You envision your custom-fitted Tightbooth tuxedo shimmering under the lights as you notice Josh Stewart in the crowd, tipping his Theories cap to you in sombre respect.
Early on into the project I was sure I had found this spot. I wasn’t searching for it, but I found it
nevertheless. On top of a bank, wedged between an electrical box and metal fence, was a flat rail that led into a tall, steep bank. As soon as we arrived we realised a trick on the rail was clearly outside the realms of possibility, but as I was preparing to head off Jeremy started working his way up the bank to hit the electrical box at the top. Considering the run-up to the bank was probably only a few feet longer than the bank was tall, I didn’t hold out much hope for Jeremy getting to the top, let alone on to the electrical box. But within a few minutes a wallride nollie was in the bag, just as the manager of the adjacent KFC drive-through came out and ended the session. In this case we had found a great spot, I just hadn’t understood how it was supposed to be skated.
Some days we turned up and the spots were just as they looked on my laptop, but the most productive and enjoyable days were when everything went wrong and our plans were thrown out the window. Unless Google Maps is displaying a very recently dated photo on the Street View function, there’s a genuine possibility that the amazing spot you’ve just found has been redeveloped and no longer exists. Every physical pilgrimage is a gamble and the real pleasure is in the journey and the day out itself, not the spot, much less what is landed or documented when you get there.
So we didn’t make a video comprised solely of never-before-seen spots and this article will probably include a few locations that you, the reader, recognise and may even have skated yourself. Thankfully the world won’t implode if people notice a familiar bank or an old faithful sneaking its way in. I had a great time planning and exploring and spent days travelling to towns with my friends that we probably wouldn’t have had the impetus to visit if it wasn’t for the golden carrot of the undiscovered spot.