‘I mean actually using a tree as a thing to ride’
A.Davey: Loggers, 2018 (CC)
Faced with a lack of real oppression in our own Mayberry, we excelled at creative recreation in our teenage years. Occasionally that meant flouting authority by leaping off bridges, jumping out of speeding boats, maybe knocking down mailboxes, if the statute of limitations on that has passed—you know, gingerly riding the line between mischief and delinquency but mostly staying out of trouble. We were feral nineties kids, the last generation to roam neighborhood streets and wooded lots until the streetlights came on, and we have the scars to prove it.
Only a place steeped in adolescent boredom could produce a sport so maddeningly stupid as tree riding. And when I say tree riding, I’m not talking about riding a bicycle through some woods. I mean actually using a tree as a thing to ride. In this case, the place you rode to was the ground, and the trick was to not smash your face into that ground, or the tree’s trunk, when you arrived.
A typical session went something like this: Four or five of my friends and I, sometimes more, would stumble into the woods and find a suitable specimen, a climbable tree maybe 20 feet tall, 30 tops—usually a coastal pine or a small oak. One of the guys would shimmy up the tree while another went to work with a saw. As the tree slowly went down, the rider would balance his legs on the trunk until he could let go and stand up for the couple of seconds it took to reach the ground and jump off. Then we’d laugh and open another beer.