In many ways Mike Ranquet is the kind of guy that every Mother hopes her child will never become. He drives too fast, he smokes too much, and when he gets to drinking, you definitely don’t want to be anywhere within a ten block radius.

But then there is that inevitable other side.

It’s Saturday morning and Mike is more concerned with meeting up with his mother than doing an interview. “I only have one hour,” he says looking at the clock. He’s warming pizza in the microwave for breakfast in his Crayola-yellow kitchen in West Seattle. He talks and eats, and I get caught up in his story telling, which can go on for hours once he gets started.

Getting swept into the Ranquet squall is too tempting. The kids who worship him on the pages of the magazines and at mountains throughout the Northwest know this. That is what has kept him in the limelight as a progressive rider the last ten years in spite of the fact that he only rides for the cameras when he feels like it, and with whom he chooses.

I quickly find out that people around Ranquet know that his mythologised character is about as real as his intentions to act upon the word “redrum” which is painted on the blood red walls in the guest bathroom of his home. While the word is there, you can’t quite believe it because as numerous as the bar brawl stories are, so are the tales of Ranquet helping out people he hardly knows. And then there’s the never ending flow of phone calls and people stopping by his two story suburban palace that seem to discredit his Johnny Rotten persona.

Born August 23, 1970 in Renton, Washington, Ranquet grew up in a stereotypical Northwest tree-lined neighborhood where cul-de-sacs are plentiful and kids can safely roam the streets late into the night. This is where he took me for a drive down memory lane after leaving a little going away party Tim Pogue, the former president of Ride Snowboards.

While cruising around his neighborhood it was easy to guide the conversation toward his family. His father was what Ranquet described as a “do good” lawyer. “I have a lot of respect for him,” he says. “He really tried to always take cases that were for a good cause. It gave me good values, but I don’t really think my parents understand what I do. If you asked my Dad what I do for a living he couldn’t tell you,” he says trying not to sound too bummed at this fact.

Mike drives his conspicuously red Audi into a neighborhood of neatly trimmed lawns and comfortable two story homes. He’s obviously negotiated these roads a thousand times before. “We used to start pushing right here,” he says slowing down near a big bush. The neighborhood is quiet and Mike stops the car for a second in front of two mailboxes. “Then we’d put a ramp right here and I’d jump over both of my parents cars.” We are in front of his parents house. He points to the corner window of the house, “That was my room.”

Everything I ever heard about Ranquet was bad. The most recent incident involved his ejection from a bar in New Zealand a few days after he had broken his foot. The bouncers apparently tossed him out so hard that his cast broke, so Ranquet decided that must have meant he didn’t really need it. The next day he was seen skating full force on a ramp in Queenstown.

Then there was the infamous Jackson Hole Ride Demo last year. The night before the media and Ride’s top retailers arrived in Jackson Hole for a product trial of the ’96-’97 line Ranquet managed to start a bar brawl in one of the two bars on the mountain resulting in Rocket Reaves getting decked pretty good and the resort nearly canceling the gig. Ranquet was politely asked to leave.

There is no shortage of these stories and Ranquet works hard to keep new ones flowing, especially when eyes are on him. We drive too fast up a windy road in Renton. I egg him on to see how fast the Quattro A4 will take us around the corners. As the car slides uncomfortably near the edge of the road, he lets off the gas, and the car neatlytraightens up. “I love driving,” he says, eyes glued to the road anticipating the next curve. “Skating driving, and snowboarding. That’s what I like to do.”

“My friend once clocked me going 35 down this hill laying on my back on this skateboard,” he says as we start to descend down a brief straight stretch. He’s been talking nearly non-stop for the last hour with stories of teenage delinquency. One look at Ranquet with his heavy-lidded eyes and bottle-blond hair it’s easy to believe the stories. The years of thrashing himself show in everything from his riding style where he cocks one arm back as a result of a broken arm he had for a year, to the chipped bottom tooth. He’ll gladly rattle off a list of broken body parts from wrists to ankles, adding in that about the only thing he hasn’t broken is his back.

The life of a snowboarder can get lonely, and as pathetically tiresome the poor-little-rich-boy syndrome may sound, Ranquet is undeniably a direct result of this life. He lives in the suburbs surrounded by nuclear family homes. He’s the anomaly on the block. While his place looks shiny and welcoming on the outside, the inside is surprisingly devoid of any life: like a hotel. One of the few pictures in his room is a snapshot of his teammate and old friend Circe Wallace.

Downstairs some of the walls have been recently painted with vibrant rainbow colors. The living room is an almost cartoonish blue, the TV room green, the kitchen yellow, the bathroom sharp red. “I want to make it so that no two walls are the same color no matter where you are sitting,” he explains while we are sitting in the living room.

The rooms are all very open and from where we are sitting we can see almost every wall in the downstairs other than the bathroom. “I am still working on this and haven’t quite gotten to the upstairs. After the living room the walls are white again and two of the three bedrooms upstairs are empty. He’s looking for roommates because he hates to be alone, but at the same time he doesn’t really like having anyone around too much because he wants his space.

A few minutes later I’m in his kitchen pushing on him to tell me more about the reported sightings of him and various musicians from the Seattle-area. This more or less pisses him off and he halt quickly on the information flow, getting a lot quiter than usual. “You’ve been seen hanging out with a lot of people, you don’t want to talk about it?” I say to him.

“No,” he says uncomfortably.

“Why not. You’re a rock star.”

“No. I’m not.”

“Yeah you are”

“No, I’m not,” he says with finality.

“But don’t you think that there are rocks stars in snowboarding,” I ask him realizing it’s a word he is uncomfortable with.

“I think it’s the magazines that are blowing all that stuff out,” he says making me see his logic. Touche Ranquet.

“You can make a rock star out of anyone and I’m not one. I don’t take snowboarding too seriously. I know I’m a legit snowboarder and my friends are. But I see a lot of people who aren’t that have way more status than me or are cooler than me, and I just think, fuck that’s how it is.

“How people look at me, I could care less about all of that shit. I just love snowboarding and that’s it. I like to do it. When I am snowboarding, I just feel like that’s what I should be doing. I’ll shoot photos and whatever, but the whole rock star thing that’s just stupid sounding to me. A rock star is music, we are not playing music. We’re snowboarding. People try to tie snowboarding and music together so hard but it’s annoying. It’s like Bio-hazard snowboards and that’s cool but who gives a fuck. The kid down the street snowboards too and that’s cool.”

A few days later I am talking to Circe Wallace, and she reiterates what he was saying. “Mike is one person that I can truly say loves the sport of snowboarding. He’s not someone who needs a camera on him to do it. He’s just as amped about it as he was five years ago–he does what he does. He upholds the sport by not cheezing out–he’s not gung ho to promote. He chooses to progress beyond the show of it all.”

On Saturday morning Ranquet is in his kitchen reminiscing about back in the day, nearly thirteen years ago when he first discovered Mt. Baker with friends like Craig Kelly, Jeff Fulton, and Dan Donnelly–names that now are linked with the stuff of legends.

“I used to go there with Craig on weekends,” he says. “He would go to school during the week and then we’d drive up to his Dad’s house at Mt. Vernon on the weekend. We would get up super early. It used to trip out at how early we’d get up, but after riding powder for like an hour it was great. We would make the rounds when it was still dark out and go pick up Fulton and take bong hits at like 6 am. Go pick up Dano and he was like 17 at the time and I was like 14. It was ridiculous. And we would just drive up. Craig was the most crazy driver. He was really good at it. I just don’t understand how he hasn’t wrecked more cars. This little 79 Subaru 4×4 and it just evolved into what it is now. It’s pretty weird now and it kind of sucks.”

“Why,” I ask him.

“Just cause lines I’ve been doing for 12 seasons, the ones you could ride for five days are done by noon now. They’re still totally the shit. It just gets frustrating. I get angry sometimes. I will say shit, and Craig will, and Dan will about some kid who is saying like ‘hey man, we should be able to go anywhere.’ But then they side-slip a whole chute and it’s just wrecked and we’re more like pencil marks through it. You get one idiot in there and the whole face is done. It’s not like some big localism issue, it’s just bullshit. I wasn’t in there riding that kind of stuff until I figured that shit out.”

In spite of his annoyance with what Baker has turned into he can still be found there periodically throughout the season riding with the same guys he rode with ten years ago. Why does he always come back to Baker regardless of how blown out his secret spots get? It’s the Northwest.

“I like the shitty weather,” he says. “I like the clouds. I like the rain. I don’t know why I like it here so much. It’s just where I grew up. When it’s nice here it’s beautiful–it’s crazy nice. I’ve been a lot of places and I always come back here.”

Ranquet looks around his kitchen with an amused gleam in his eyes. “You know it’s crazy where this has all taken me. Sometimes I look around my house and just trip on where me and all my friends are because of snowboarding.”

My hour is about up and Ranquet is now tooling around with his new computer. He’s showing one of his buddies the Charles Manson pages he found on the Internet. He looks surprisingly like a high school kid in his parents house for a minute, and I realize that in spite of the stories, when it comes to Mike Ranquet you can take the boy out of the suburbs, but you can’t take the suburbs out of the boy. And regardless of the hype, Ranquet is just a content rocker boy from Renton, Washington riding with style and living the dream. the sport by not cheezing out–he’s not gung ho to promote. He chooses to progress beyond the show of it all.”

On Saturday morning Ranquet is in his kitchen reminiscing about back in the day, nearly thirteen years ago when he first discovered Mt. Baker with friends like Craig Kelly, Jeff Fulton, and Dan Donnelly–names that now are linked with the stuff of legends.

“I used to go there with Craig on weekends,” he says. “He would go to school during the week and then we’d drive up to his Dad’s house at Mt. Vernon on the weekend. We would get up super early. It used to trip out at how early we’d get up, but after riding powder for like an hour it was great. We would make the rounds when it was still dark out and go pick up Fulton and take bong hits at like 6 am. Go pick up Dano and he was like 17 at the time and I was like 14. It was ridiculous. And we would just drive up. Craig was the most crazy driver. He was really good at it. I just don’t understand how he hasn’t wrecked more cars. This little 79 Subaru 4×4 and it just evolved into what it is now. It’s pretty weird now and it kind of sucks.”

“Why,” I ask him.

“Just cause lines I’ve been doing for 12 seasons, the ones you could ride for five days are done by noon now. They’re still totally the shit. It just gets frustrating. I get angry sometimes. I will say shit, and Craig will, and Dan will about some kid who is saying like ‘hey man, we should be able to go anywhere.’ But then they side-slip a whole chute and it’s just wrecked and we’re more like pencil marks through it. You get one idiot in there and the whole face is done. It’s not like some big localism issue, it’s just bullshit. I wasn’t in there riding that kind of stuff until I figured that shit out.”

In spite of his annoyance with what Baker has turned into he can still be found there periodically throughout the season riding with the same guys he rode with ten years ago. Why does he always come back to Baker regardless of how blown out his secret spots get? It’s the Northwest.

“I like the shitty weather,” he says. “I like the clouds. I like the rain. I don’t know why I like it here so much. It’s just where I grew up. When it’s nice here it’s beautiful–it’s crazy nice. I’ve been a lot of places and I always come back here.”

Ranquet looks around his kitchen with an amused gleam in his eyes. “You know it’s crazy where this has all taken me. Sometimes I look around my house and just trip on where me and all my friends are because of snowboarding.”

My hour is about up and Ranquet is now tooling around with his new computer. He’s showing one of his buddies the Charles Manson pages he found on the Internet. He looks surprisingly like a high school kid in his parents house for a minute, and I realize that in spite of the stories, when it comes to Mike Ranquet you can take the boy out of the suburbs, but you can’t take the suburbs out of the boy. And regardless of the hype, Ranquet is just a content rocker boy from Renton, Washington riding with style and living the dream.