Who’s Tony Hawk?, asked the little voice casually. The question came from La Niña and she wanted to know why her Saturday was being usurped by a stranger.

He’s a guy… who skateboards… seeing him is a once in a lifetime event. When you’re 12 and haunting skateparks, you’ll thank me.

Why?

Because he’s a cultural icon. It’s difficult to explain but he has a wax figure at Madame Tussauds and a series of video games.

Can we ride our bikes to see him?

< pause >

Ok. Simple but loaded question. Vancouver is the city La Niña learned to ride her bike in. She learned to fall down and get back up, to start and stop on her own, to avoid cyclists / pedestrians / dogs / raccoons / skunks, to ride on bike roads and read bike lights/signals, to ride across the Burrard Bridge, and to float her foot along the ground just before she screeches to a side-sliding-rubber-burning stop.

No problem, right?

Rewind to the beginning of the summer. This request came before all of the above. This would be her second bike ride. Ever. 8km worth of bike ride… both ways.

I had a moment of hesitation as I wondered if we’d even be able to get to Tony Hawk.

But, who am I to hold her back… the girl who hopped on a two-wheeler and just started riding?

< unpause >

Sure. Let’s do it.

4-hours later we’re heading up a massive hill and are almost at Hastings Skatepark. We’d left stop #2 (Science World) in a pedal-fast-frenzy. Stop #1 was Caffe Musette to get the best route from the biking experts.

How do I get to the top of the hill? She asks.

Girl power. It’s the only way. Don’t forget to breathe. I say.

By the time we reach the top she’s addicted to biking and there’s no stopping her. This was the beginning of everything in the list above.

As we get closer to the skatepark we see large clusters of skateboarders heading to the same place. I thought no one was going to attend the event. Now we’d be looking for a place to watch.

Why the interest?

In the 70s, 80s and 90s Tony Hawk was a record breaking prodigy. He brought a face to skateboarding when no one else cared and continues to drive the sport through determination, exhibitions, and philanthropic activities. He still holds the record for the most rotations while in mid air.

Way way back in 1986, when I was a young girl visiting Vancouver’s Expo ’86, Tony Hawk competed in the Transworld Skateboard Championships and took the pro half-pipe and bowl competition. It was momentous and inspiring. And, apparently Vancouver still remembers because people were there in droves. Somehow we managed to find a spot close to the bowl.

Tony Hawk wasn’t alone. In the bowl were other members of Birdhouse Skateboarding. They gave us tricks, flips and plenty of air. Locals also strutted their stuff and at some point I heard Suicidal Tendencies, which transported me straight back to 1990.

About an hour later, we’re on our bikes heading back into the core when I hear a very quiet: You’re right! That was cool.