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Brown water surfing
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, December 10, 2006

Heh ... there's a fine line between a fanatic and a fool. And both can be found in abundance among surfers:
And Cleveland surfers are not playing around. Many of the roughly 25 committed surfers here work nights all year to keep their winter days free for surfing. Weeber quit his job as an advertising art director and makes less money as a summer landscaper, and moved his family closer to the beach, to spend more time on the waves.


The strongest winds and waves come in winter, just before Lake Erie freezes. Surfers learn to avoid ice chunks the size of bowling balls. Some wear goggles to surf through freezing rain, which can sting their eyes like needles. That is a bad idea, Labbe said, because the goggles freeze to their faces.

Surfers watch their friends for signs of hypothermia, urging them to leave the water when their eyes glaze over and their words slur.

To reach the lake, surfers drag their boards across snow drifts and beaches littered with used condoms and syringes, Ditzenberger said. The most popular surf spot is Edgewater State Park. It is nicknamed Sewer Pipe because, after heavy rains, a nearby sewage treatment plant regularly discharges untreated waste into Lake Erie.
Ditzenberger? Somehow that name fits the story quite well. And after suffering through all of that:
"Surfing Lake Erie is basically disgusting," said Bill Weeber, known as Mongo, 44. "But then I catch that wave and I forget about it, and I feel high all day."
Someone needs to tell Mongo there are better, warmer and probably safer ways to feel high all day.

You're probably wondering why stay in Cleveland and surf in the winter on the sewage in Lake Erie? Why not move to California or some other place where surfing is actually enjoyable?
Cleveland surfers believe they are the last remnants of the original surf culture in the 1940s and '50s, when surfing was still a renegade sport of social misfits who surfed alone and lived by a code of friendliness to newcomers and respect for the water.

"Everybody surfs in California, which waters down the experience," said Rooney, who grew up surfing in California. "Being here takes me back to that feeling of discovery that the founding fathers of surfing experienced."
Dude, the founding fathers of surfing were in Hawaii and then California. Barring chronic brain freeze, that should tell you something.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

No argument with any of this, however I will point out that lake Erie is far better off the last fifteen years or so, then it’s been a long time. One of my favorite camping spots is along lake Erie.
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Go zebra muscle, which beside clogging up the various shoreline water facilities, eats the gunk in the Great Lakes and drops it to the bottom in their shells.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
God Bless The United States and its wonderful, diverse populus.

Thats what I’m sayin!
Written By: Rick Day
I grew up in Florida and surfed as often as possible, but when I visited Cleveland I brought a skateboard.

These guys seem to have made one radical move too few, they quit their jobs, they got night jobs, and they moved... CLOSER TO LAKE ERIE???

I love to snowboard these days, so I didn’t move to the Northeast (where the boarding is better than surfing in Lake Erie), I moved to Colorado.

I think some folks were just not hugged enough as children.


Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"Cleveland surfers believe they are the last remnants of the original surf culture in the 1940s and ’50s, when surfing was still a renegade sport of social misfits who surfed alone and lived by a code of friendliness to newcomers and respect for the water"

Dude, there is an important difference between being a social misfit because of your passion for surfing, and being a social misfit because you smell like the sewage you surf in.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
When I lived in Hawaii, there was a break just north of the Ala Wai Yacht club known as "Flies", because of its proximity to a garbage dump. Of course, there were no ice chunks involved, but the tropical heat brought its very own... charm, to the deal.

If you’re ever uhm, "surfing" TV channels and come across a documentary film entitled "Riding Giants", give it a try. About one-third of the film is dedicated to the story of a break called "Maverick’s", off California’s Half Moon Bay and the guy (Jeff Clark) who surfed it all by himself for fifteen years because nobody else was crazy enough to go out there with him. ("I’ll let the Coast Guard know where I last saw you." — One of his friends.) It contains just about every possible threat to humans in the ocean, and you’ll see the wipeout that killed Mark Foo, one of the Hawaiian masters who finally turned up to stamp the place with big-time imprimatur.

It’s easily the best surf film I ever saw.
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Don’t eat the yellow snow or the brown ice.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It is good to see people with souls surfing for the love of it instead of the pansy, hipsters out in LA trying to look cool. Hopefully a more soulful perspective on surfing like this will emerge again instead of the fake, trendy movement of today. Keep catching waves Cleveland!
Written By: booboo
URL: http://

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