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'Shred America' crew logs 500 miles so far
By Jamie Sotonoff | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/25/2008 12:07 AM

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The Shred America skateboarders are now about two-thirds of the way to their destination, New York City.

On Tuesday, the suburban four-man crew was 25 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and heading toward Harrisburg, through the Appalachian Mountains.

"We've gone more than 500 miles, and we have about 320 miles to go. We're almost there," said Mike Kosciesza, 20, of Niles, one of the skateboarders.

Kosciesza and his fellow Maine East alumni left Chicago June 2 to skateboard to New York City and film their trip for a documentary titled, "Shred America."

Now that people see they're serious, they've gained fans -- and media attention.

Their tale was in the New York Post last Friday, and they've been interviewed by media outlets all over the country in recent days.

When they arrive in New York City, they've already been booked on "Good Morning America" and CNN.

"The media is loving us. That's really weird. We even got a call from Denver, Colorado … and that's nowhere near the route," Kosciesza said.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Kosciesza walked along the shoulder of a busy Pennsylvania road as cars whizzed by, holding his cell phone in one hand and his skateboard in the other. He said they couldn't skateboard on this particular road because the shoulders were all gravel.

Kosciesza and his childhood friend, Arthur Swidzinski, of Niles, are traveling on skateboards while their cameramen, James Lagen of Des Plaines and Tony Michael of Park Ridge, are riding bicycles.

Last week, Michael didn't see a bump in the road -- one of those ridged bumps that makes noise when your car drives over it -- and flew off his bike and dislocated his shoulder.

"He's better now. He just popped it back in," Kosciesza said.

In the past week, they've also endured bad colds, sudden downpours, and bike problems, which prompted them to hitchhike to a nearby Wal-Mart and buy a new tire.

"People do pick us up, surprisingly," Kosciesza said. "We called the cops to see if they could pick us up but they said no."

The terrain has been challenging, as they climb up and up and up big hills, only to fly down them in a matter of seconds.

"Then you get down there and there's a surprise," Kosciesza said. "You see a huge hill in front of you, going straight up."