Sunday Morning Rain Skating Session:

This article is brought to you by the Freeride Flyer Magazine.

You can order the full-print 80-page "Tepe and Tacos 2022" edition magazine here:

The Free Ride Flyer’s sole mission is to celebrate sanctioned, gravity-fueled events, the individuals who participate, and ALL who make them possible.

I was insanely adrenaline rushed when I received a message from a Mr. Mike Papdog at the Freeride Flyer asking me if I wanted to go to Tepe and Tacos 2022.

That’s because at that moment, I was chilling after hours on Mount Hood doing one of my favorite things: skating ridiculously fast.

I thought to myself, “Hmm.. Yes, Tepe and Tacos… A pilgrimage for the only types of people in this world that could possibly relate to me right now.”

So I agreed, and a few weeks later, I dumped the balls and bats out of my old softball catcher’s bag and stuffed it full of longboards and camping gear.

It was just the right size for a single checked bag.

The San Luis Obispo Airport is the quickest way to fly to Tepe and Tacos. The airport is about an hour away from the venue and has a rental car lot. It is a very convenient little airport, and the airlines that serve SLO are Alaska, American, and United.

The key to booking a cheap flight to SLO Airport is to book a separate ticket to one of the cities that flies directly there: Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Since Day 0 is registration and setup day, I went to go chill with Tepe's beloved registrar, Di Dootson.

Most people know Di for handing them waivers, but what they might not know is that she is a pioneer for hosting some of the first skateboarding competitions in history.

Her words of wisdom for the registration process were, “You can tell the real champions at registration because they get in-and-out and don’t stick around to suck beers.”

The racetrack at Tepe is a steep mountain pass where the Big Pine Fault Line intersects Tepusquet Canyon, so the drive into the venue is spectacular. You wind in around the San Rafael Mountains, over massive bridges that span dry Jurassic-aged riverbeds.

On Race Day, Di and I rolled up to the campsite, which is set up at the bottom of the course, and my first impression was that it is a nice place to camp with ample shade and rolling terrain which protects the campsites.

It got hella cold at night though, and my tent was a very modest setup, so I ended up sleeping in my leathers the whole time.

As far as race infrastructure goes, there were port-o-lets, dumpsters, and RV parking. Cell service was only available at the top of the racetrack.

Road switchbacks with a leading edge were protected by foam blocks and water walls with one racer describing the course as, “It looks like it will cut your legs off, but it won’t. It’s chill.”

At the starting line, Safety Unlimited provided a mobile minivan EMT unit, and I overheard one of them saying, “I was looking forward to this for weeks” and passing out his business card to a racer with a dream of hosting an event in downtown Ventura.

Corner Marshalls were set up all up and down the track. The course crew was composed of world champions and gnarly locals alike.

As a team of athletes, it seemed like Ride-or-Die were the sickest and most visible crew there because you could always point them out in their neon vests while they were raging down the hill.

One Ride-or-Die rider explained the experience to me as, “It’s like a family reunion.”

Besides being a world class racing event for athletes, Tepe and Tacos is an epic event for drone pilots and action photographers.

As I worked my way down the course, one of the photographers described Tepe and Tacos to me as “I like to come here and play like I’m doing a first-person shooter and getting headshots.”

By the time I made it down to Party Corner, I was parched for a can of light beer, and the race was getting well into the open division riders.

One spectator told me about how she was there to support Sean because she was his boss for 4 years, and he was her #1 sales guy, and when she was wrongfully terminated, he walked out with her in solidarity. (We’re all with you too, Sean!)

Another Spectator at Tepe, Ira (who couldn’t be more than 4 years old), was there to support Brandon because “Bubba is the smartest and bestest and most winningest ever!”

The wives and girlfriends of the athletes were a tossup between “T-rev, I think he’s amazing, but I’m more nervous than he is” And “He’s made a lot of progress, and it’s been crazy to watch, but he definitely gets more nervous than I do.”

There was lots of love from the ladies, but nothing compares to homie love.

A good mix of the spectators were there because they were stoked to vibe out and camp with their besties.

Antje, a first-timer to the event, described her experience hanging out as, “Everyone is real nice and mellow. Tacos are bomb, and the scenery is great.”

Another spectator there was Jared, who is a local to San Luis Obispo that skates the Tepe track like every weekend with his hometown buddies. He described his experience as, “I have a concussion right now, so I’m just chillin’.”

I’d finally finished my march from the top of Tepe to the bottom, which I would do another 6 times over the course of photographing the event.

Quarterfinals were about to kick off, so I made the hike from the taco truck to the starting line in about 40 minutes.

They don’t call me long-legged Lari for nothing!

On the way there, I saw a gnarly girl crash between Kat Hill, Teresa Gillcrest, and the Corner 12 water wall.

They were all okay, but man, it was the crash of the weekend.

Out at Corner 10, Ryan Gottlieb offered some insight into why he was there, “At the deepest bottom of Tepe, you find your best friends. It is a microculture where people stick around for each other.”

Perhaps Ryan was onto something?

Maybe Tepe is less about Olympic capabilities and thrill-seeking and more about feeling a sense of belonging.

Rough-tough lifestyles can sometimes feel odd and lonely, after all.

Here at Tepe, the 2 most necessary emotions for human survival - fear and love, intersect at their fringes.

From this intersection, a well of community has sprung up, and for people who feel misunderstood and thirsty, they can come to Tepe and drink in Unity with one another.

I passed by one more guy on the way up, a newbie who gave me his first impression of the event, "The community is incredible, and I'm really coming out of my comfort zone."

At the top one guy with a microphone was calling riders to the line, and another guy without a microphone was starting them.

Semifinals were just getting started, and the athletes were starting to look super Alpha.

In the Women's heat, Ashley Winecoff’s exit speed was queen.

She passed in the straights, she braked as little as possible, she took home a First Place finish, and she earned herself a spot on the United States Skateboarding Team.

When finals came around, the top 4 athletes in the final heat for Men's Standup threw their arms around each other and said, “Sportsmanship” as I took a shot of the four of them.

Everyone had been keeping an eye on Chase Hiller, the guy that won open class.

He had the fastest start, and as one corner marshall explained to me, “His body mechanics are so fluid that he skates on a different azimuth as everyone else.”

Ultimately, he won the most competitive class at Tepe 2022, Men’s Standup.

I helped pack up the top a bit, and we headed down on the truck to watch the award ceremony.

Chase celebrated his victory by drinking beer out of a shoe and using his tattoo gun to give people Tepe tattoos.

Ashley Winecoff celebrated by driving up to the top and calling her mom.

Ryan Farmer, who won Men’s Luge, came back to party with the Freeride Flyer staff.

Sabrina Sparklezzss, who won Women’s Luge, fanned herself with her prize money.

Tepe was a rip and we hope to see you there next year!

Photos by author.

This article is brought to you by the Freeride Flyer Magazine.

You can order the full-print 80-page "Tepe and Tacos 2022" edition magazine here:

The Free Ride Flyer’s sole mission is to celebrate sanctioned, gravity-fueled events, the individuals who participate, and ALL who make them possible.