Before my current role as SNOWBOARDER's Online Video Producer, I was the TM/Video Director at Rome Snowboards. Over the years I've logged more time in their team transport vehicle ("The Rome Van") than any other human. I've seen the poor beast thrashed by the road, team riders, random partygoers, reps, multiple cross country road trips, multiple cross Canadian road trips, and basically every other damaging vehicular abuse known to man. Rome prides itself on being a brand of the people, and well, that van has been a vehicle of the people with autographs and stories decorating the interior from nearly every corner of North America. Recently, Rome got the bright idea to give their Am team some money for hotels, food, and gas, the van to get them wherever they wanted to go, and a filmer to document their adventures. Amageddon is the video result of this bad idea and the video will drop tomorrow exclusively on snowboardermag.com. I decided to catch up with two of the biggest characters of the trip, Viktor Simco and Riley Nickerson to get their take on just went down and to listen to some of the road wisdom.
Cavan: Who was the MVP (Most Valuable Pilot) of the van?
Riley: I would say myself because of many reasons. I like busting out some serious miles too.
Viktor: We were all hangin' sturdy, then Riley took the reigns and definitely logged the most hours at the end!
C: What was the longest distance you guys drove?
V: I mean, shit, every time we got on the road due for a new state, it was like a time warp, but the longest was when we drove from New York through the night for basically eighteen straight hours. Three thirty packs later, we ended up in Colorado.
R: The longest non-stop haul was definitely with just Mr. Ethan (Ian) Hart and I. We had just dropped Mark and Viktor off in Minneapolis, MN and we drove from there straight to Burlington VT. Twenty-four hours noon to noon. I drove the whole way and Ethan stayed up for the haul.
C: What's the sketchiest thing to happen on the drive?
R: Late at night someone will be driving and you'll begin snoozing off and all of a sudden there’ll be a violent jerk or rumble strip roar. Sketchy stuff.
V: Too many to name! Getting the van stuck in like a-foot-and-a-half rut in the lawn of some government building near Cleveland was one of them though.
C: If you could describe the smell of the van in one word what would it be?
V: Decomposing Toe Jam.
R: Spliffs, cigs, stale beer, body odor, boots. Way too many smells going on at once.
C: Who had control over the radio/iPod in the van? What was the best song played and what was the worst song played?
V: The person sitting shotgun was the mandatory DJ (and navigator). Worst song was "Paradise" by Coldplay, but it was pure gold just to see Ian Hart go nuts. Then the best song was 3 6 Mafia's "When I Pull Up at the Club." Jody Brody Highroller was obviously on constant loop.
R: Everyone had their time to shine on the music. We had to keep switching up iPods to keep the music fresh. Unfortunately one of the front vents on the dash decided to eat Mark Wilson's iPod on the voyage. Best song was for sure any of Riff Raff's. And the worst was "Paradise" by Coldplay.
C: What was the most people you saw in the van at one time?
V: Fifteen people on the way to the Matty Mo DJ show in Salt Lake City.
R: Probably when we were in Washington. So much gear in the van, shovels, boards, bodies. We had two extras with us. Dan Poole and Rob Balding. That was the most packed on Amageddon. "The Shred Remains" tour was a whole different story. Probably like twenty people party busin' it up!
C: How was the backcountry experience in the Northwest?
V: The best! Hard work without snowmobiles or snowshoes. I definitely have a ton of respect for guys like [Lucas] Debari, Rusty [Ockenden], and [Bjorn] Leines who've been doing it for years. I need to switch it up and dedicate at least half of this upcoming season to paying my dues in the backcountry!
R: It was pretty badass; I was hyped. It was the first time in the backcountry; all of us were novices. We didn't know anything. Makes me want to try to film in the backcountry now for sure, get educated on the snow pack, and all of that stuff.
C: What was your favorite place you traveled to?
V: Cabin Life at Stevens Pass, Washington.
R: Stevens Pass, Washington! We had a good time there. We rented this sick little cabin up in the woods. It had so many bunk beds, a gross hot tub on the deck that didn't get used, a little corrugated tube in the back, and a grill. We stayed there for a week and it was the shit. We woke up early every morning and cruised up the mountain to go board some powder.
C: Give me one good story about the van.
V: It was an insane night at the strip joint until we got tangled up with some Better Business Bureau bullshit. Misplaced VIN numbers, customer gouging, allegations of prostitution, semi-automatic weapons found with trace levels of cocaine dust. Those are minor details that don't need to be discussed further here.
R: We were driving up the highway that goes to Breckenridge. The elevation is insane out there and the hills were definitely making it harder on the van. We could only go about forty five miles per hour up this hill and we were like a mile-and-a-half from the closest exit and Ethan suddenly tells us he's about the shit his pants. So we're driving up this hill pretty slow, for sure a minute or two until the exit. Ethan made it to the exit, got out of the van, and booked it up over this mound and way down the backside to the river in a second. Everything was all good.
C: Explain what the situation as with money on the trip. What was the dumbest thing you spent money on?
R: I would always spend my money on small stupid things, like a Hawaiian shirt, the occasional nice 22oz of good beer, CDs, thrift store goodies, so much stuff. All that adds up quick in a month on the road. I was out of money a week-and-a-half before everyone else! I couldn't believe it.
V: We had a $200/day budget for five people to split for food and hotels, so we would stay at friends houses and eat as cheap as possible. Then with whatever money we had left, we spent it on beer…obviously. We had like $200 saved up at one point so we all decided to get wasted and blow it at a few strip joints in Portland (Sassy's, and this sketchy Asian one), which was kind of stupid, since we were all hungover and had to snowboard the next morning. But we made it happen at this spot where we would've gotten kicked out if it hadn't been Easter.
C:What is the hardest thing about going on a road trip in a van
V: Piss breaks and not ever getting comfortable enough to sleep. Or in Ian's case, nearly shitting his pants after eating some bad chinese food!
R: Getting ready to drive a lot of miles everyday and constantly being in the van. After the first few days you get used to it. It's fucking great.
C: Who was the weirdest guest on the van
V and R: Rome's newest am, Juanita, the hitchhiker in Colorado. She was forty-five years old and said she was in this rickety old small town for "Spring Break." She flipped her car when she was hammered the night before, then ended up in jail and needed a ride to the Denver Greyhound station. She actually ended up being a pretty nice person.
C: How many times did Ron (Rome Marketing Manager) call you guys stressing out about shots?
R: One or two times a week I think. It wasn't too bad. I think we did better on our own than they expected us too. We did have occasional stress calls.
V: He was actually not bad at all! He knew we were on our own schedule, so all Ron, Justin Cafiero, and Grady Skelton needed were a shot/video clip from each of us per day for the website. "A photo a day keeps the blog fiends at bay!"
C: Riley how many miles have you put on that van personally?
V: Don't let him be humble or modest for this one. At least 10,000 to 15,000 miles of him alone workin' that woodwheel!
R: This is a hard one. I'd say honestly anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 miles. I've spent over three months in it overall. Two am trips and "The Shred Remains" Tour. Which were all month trips, basically. I drove from Vancouver to Vermont solo once. I think I've been cross country in it four or five times. I love that van, many good times have gone down in it.
C: Does the van pretty much attract parties everywhere you go?
V: It was pretty damn official when it had the huge die-cut for "The Shred Remains" tour, but yeah even with that smaller one, it turns heads when we pull up at the club lookin' so clean, se-se-seventy seven Cut Dog painted lime green. We need more girls to dump the jugs (or clam) on the highway though. I know you're out there! We will find you.
R: Yeah for sure, people either know immediately, "Oh that's Rome Snowboards," or they're like "What band are you guys in?" Haha, but yeah, and if not, we'll show em what's up.
C: How was it hanging with Bjorn for his birthday?
V: Fucking awesome! Bjorn is the man. He's got everything so figured out and dialed in it's insane. His house in Brighton, Utah is amazing. It's cool to see how hard he's worked in snowboarding to get where he's at and definitely earn what he has now. He's the kind of guy that will give you the best advice of your life on the chairlift, then you get to the top and strap in next to him and realize he's just a kid at heart who loves to snowboard just as much as his first day boardin'!
R: It was awesome going to his house and hanging with him; he’s the man. And his awesome family and friends, too. Drank some good beers and ate some good cake.
C: Do you think you guys should challenge other brands to King of the Road-style van competitions?
R: Hahaha, maybe. Maybe Snowboarder Mag should host some kind of King of the Road contest. That would be rad.
V: YES! A KING OF THE ROAD FOR SNOWBOARDING WOULD BE GENIUS! Who cares if it's biting Thrasher's shit. We'd put our own spin on it.
C: Will the van be on the road again this winter?
V: It better! I need to feed my inner van addiction. I'm already having withdrawals and it's only September, damnit.
R: Maybe, I'm not sure, though. After the haul Ethan and I did, it broke down in my driveway in Vermont and stayed there for a week-and-a-half until it was towed away. I havent heard anything yet. A Rome RV would be insane!
Tune in tomorrow to www.snowboardermag.com for the entire Amageddon edit!