Some students enjoy road trips or relaxing family vacations over their summer break. But Cal Poly student Matt Ishler has a different idea of summer traveling.
Ishler, a kinesiology junior, skateboarded from San Luis Obispo to his hometown of Santa Monica in three days, a 230-mile-long journey.
“It was a random impulse at the beginning of the summer, and then it just sat at the back of my mind and the impulse grew,” Ishler said.
This is the story of his solo journey across the Central Coast and into Southern California atop a skateboard.
Saturday, August 19
The 230-mile quest began at 7 a.m. when Ishler skated to Broad Street in San Luis Obispo and started his ride into Arroyo Grande where he continued on U.S. Highway 1.
The highway would take him the rest of the way to his final destination, the Santa Monica pier.
“It’s going to take awhile, and I think it might be illegal,” Ishler said. “But I’ve got a month before school starts and it’s going to kick ass.”
Ishler had originally planned to float down the Mississippi River with a friend for his summer stimulation, but when plans fell through, he switched gears.
“I’ve got to have some kind of adventure, so I decided to skateboard to L.A.,” Ishler said.
In the beginning, there were going to be four friends accompanying Ishler on the ride. Some of them planned to skateboard, while others were going to scooter or bike.
But they ultimately all bailed and the ride became a solo mission, Ishler said.
“I think it’s really cool that he ended up going by himself because it’s such an independent achievement,” said Nicole Balvanz, a biology sophomore and Ishler’s friend.
Ishler purchased a new carbon fiber skateboard, a Rolls Rolls, that was made in Germany for his trip and averaged 10 to 15 mph on flat surfaces.
“It’s super low to the ground and way quick,” Ishler said. “I can get up to 30 mph on the downhills.”
In addition to the skateboard, Ishler traveled with a 30-pound camping backpack that included a gallon of water, Clif bars, a sleeping bag, headlamp, clothes, trash bags, glass necklace pendants with thank you notes and a pirate flag.
“I made glass necklaces to barter,” Ishler said. “I traded some people for rides and left them with the people I camped with.”
A ride was necessary just outside of Lompoc because of rough roads. Ishler hitchhiked about 17 miles after walking for six miles.
“The first car that passed picked me up so I was totally stoked,” Ishler said.
After skateboarding 80 miles in nine hours, Ishler stopped to camp at Gaviota State Beach.
He met up with some people who got kicked out of the park for being too rowdy and moved 10 miles south with them to a beach just north of Isla Vista in Santa Barbara where they slept for the night.
“I didn’t really party too hard because I was exhausted,” Ishler said.
Sunday, August 20
“I got up (that) morning and started skating again,” Ishler said.
He stopped in Santa Barbara for four hours after skating since 7 a.m.
“I needed to pick up a new pair of shoes because mine were sucking,” Ishler said. “I threw my old pair over a telephone line.”
Ishler then visited a sandwich shop for lunch and headed to a skateboard park where he sat and watched the locals before heading to the beach where he talked to the local glass artist about his work.
At 2 p.m, Ishler hiked a hill 800 feet above sea level and proceeded to coast two to three miles downhill on U.S. Highway 1 into Camarillo.
He didn’t stop until he reached Ventura at 8 p.m. after eight hours of skating.
For part of the trip, Ishler skated on U.S. Highway 101 to break up the monotony of U.S. Highway 1. When he arrived in Ventura, he skated through a local orchard and ate peaches and tomatoes for dinner.
“I was super depleted of minerals and dehydrated,” Ishler said. “I drank four gallons of water.”
After 67 miles of skating, Ishler stopped for the night under a bridge in Ventura.
“I was pretty scared,” a 6-foot-4-inch, 225-pound Ishler said.
Monday, August 21
The morning sun woke Ishler at 7 a.m. and he set out once again on his journey soon after.
He had reached Neptune’s Net, a popular restaurant north of Malibu by 10:15 a.m. and figured why not go the rest of the 60 miles.
Ishler arrived at 3 p.m. in Santa Monica after three days of skating.
“I arrived whole in one piece,” Ishler said. He never fell once during the trip.
His one regret: “I didn’t wear any sunblock,” Ishler said. “I have the biggest redneck suntan.”
After arriving at the Santa Monica pier, Ishler skated around the beach for a while. The six and a half hours he had already skated was not enough to satisfy him.
The first thing he did when he arrived home was to take a shower and go to sleep.
“I had sweat caked onto my body,” Ishler said. “I got home and felt so gross.”
He had reached a top speed of 37 mph, hitchhiked past rough roads, slept under a bridge and conquered an 800-foot hill.
“It was quite the feat of human skateboarding,” said Jonathan Obayashi, a graphic design senior and Ishler’s friend. “Not only the self-determination and preservation but his equipment was insane.”
Plans for the next skateboard challenge have already begun to form in Ishler’s mind.
“Next summer I plan to skate across California from Squaw Valley to San Luis Obispo,” Ishler said.