An Oral History Of Bringing All the Bags Inside In One Trip By Carrying Like Six Bags On Each Arm Instead Of Making A Second Trip Out
On the origin of the sport
Les Honnock: And I was just like: No, guys, I got this. You go ahead. I’ll be there in a minute. And the guys were sort of laughing, I guess, like, Sure, and have fun making a bunch of trips, you know, but I just started wrapping bag loops around my left arm until they reached my elbow. And then I just pushed the top two above my elbow. And suddenly that meant there was room for two more. Bam, bam, bam, loop, loop, loop. And that was half the bags. And I still had my left hand free to put the rest of the bags on my right arm: Bam, bam, bam, loop, loop, loop. And all of a sudden it was just me and the bags.
Sacks Cadwell: I remember looking back, and seeing Les with like five bags on each arm, standing next to the car, and thinking, Holy shit. He’s doing it.
Les Honnock: It didn’t really land for me until I had all the bags out of the trunk. Which, [laughs], now I’ve got all the bags, but that’s only half the story. How am I gonna close the rear hatch? It’s all well and good to get all the bags on your arms, but if you can’t close the hatch door with the bags, it’s like, well I can either put them all down on the ground, close it, and then try to pick them all up again. Which I don’t wanna do. Or I can bring the bags inside and then come back to close the door. Which – that’s two trips.
Stiz Chavez: I looked back when I heard Sacks say something like, Check out One-Trip Honnock back there, I think he’s gonna go for it, and I see that back hatch still open, and I’m just laughing, like, “Good try man, let’s get serious,” and all of a sudden I see him lean back, like he’s about to take off or something, and I think I got it maybe a split second before he did it, and I’m just like, Oh my God. Because he was about to change the whole game.
Les Honnock: And then I thought to myself, well hang on, my feet aren’t holding anything.
So I start to size up how high the hatch door is, and how high I can normally kick, and how much I’ll need to rebalance the bags and lean back so I don’t tip over. And I just sort of pushed the hatch door down with this little kick move and then gave it this other little kick to lock it into place. That second kick was more like a shove with my foot than like a kick, if that makes sense. I don’t know. We didn’t have any of the terminology in place yet. I was just using what was available to me.
Sacks Cadwell: At this point everybody’s watching Les. Nobody’s moving, nobody’s talking, nobody’s going anywhere. Nobody’s on their phones. You couldn’t take your eyes off him. I mean, he was weighed down, you know?
Henry Mullens: I know for a fact at least two of those bags had gallon jugs of milk in them. Whole milk, too, which is like, the heaviest kind of gallon.
Les Honnock: Those milk bags, man, those were on another level. You know when a bag is so heavy the little plastic loops almost get like, hot? They get incredibly thin and taut right up against your skin, and you’d swear to God they’d break, but it’s almost like they get incredibly strong first, like nothing could ever break them, like they’re stronger than you almost, if that makes sense.
Dank Wilson: You could see that Les was hurting right away. I mean, he just had these red-and-white outlines against his skin every couple of inches up and down his arms, and he’s swaying like crazy on every step. But he just kept going.
Les Honnock: I figure with gravity and everything, the bags already want to be on the ground, so if I can just stay low to the ground myself, I’ll be okay. So I’m just keeping it low and moving forward as fast as I can.
Match Beauregard: I was so sure those bags were gonna give. I thought for sure there was gonna be a second trip involved, if only to clean up the mess. And I say that with all respect for what Les was doing. He’d gotten so much further than any of us had ever even dreamed of going. But I didn’t think it could be done.
Les Honnock: If I’d thought about how much further I still had to go, if I thought about trying to make it up the steps even, I probably would have given up. So I just didn’t. I kept thinking about the next step and saying to myself, You can stop and rest when you reach that tree. You can stop and rest when you reach the mailbox. You can stop and rest at the bottom of the driveway. And I just kept making those deals with myself.
Sacks Cadwell: The closer Les got to the door, the more everybody wanted to like, run up and help him. Because he’d already blown past every expectation. A lot of the guys thought it was over. But Stiz, he was picking up on Les’ wavelength, because Les didn’t even have to say anything – I’m honestly not sure he could have said anything at the time – and Stiz was just like, “Back off, guys. Nobody help him. Let him finish. He’s got this.” And so we all just waited.
Henry Mullens: It was beautiful. We’d been talking for years about how bullshit it was, making two trips, or sometimes making three trips, back to the car just to bring all the bags in. But it was like complaining about the weather or something. Nobody thought anyone was ever going to do anything about it.
Stiz Chavez: You could see it in Les’ eyes. I don’t know, man. I’m not the kind of guy who usually talks about energy or whatever – I’m not a spiritual guy – but I looked into Les’ eyes as he was coming up those steps, and he’d have to kind of hoist his shoulders up before each one, so the bags didn’t graze the higher ground before he could reestablish his footing – I’m telling you, I looked into his eyes, man, and I could see there was only one trip in there. And I didn’t want anybody to take that away from him.
Dank Wilson: On the one hand, I’m thinking, that’s my friend out there. And he’s hurting. And on the other hand, I’m thinking, Holy shit, you’re telling me nobody has to go back out to the car for a second trip? Because what’s a little pain compared to that kind of freedom?
Sacks Cadwell: Then he gets to the door.
Les Honnock: [Laughs] Yeah, that was my first time coming up against the door dilemma.
Match Beauregard: That was a fucking lamp-lighter. I thought for sure it was over.
Sacks Cadwell: He fishes his keys out of his left pocket with his right hand. Just slides the bag back over his wrist til his fingers are free, then slides it right back, like he’s been doing it every day of his life. Puts the key in the lock – most of the guys are losing their minds at this point –
Henry Mullens: I’m screaming, I’m calling my mom, I’m doing laps around the kitchen. I’m feeling as good as if it’s me out there. Because it is me out there, you know? Like he did it all by himself – obviously – but he’s doing it for all of us, too.
Les Honnock: I think I started to hip-check it, you know, to start the turn, and that doesn’t quite work, so I think, okay, what’s left? And I don’t think I can get my foot up there in the lock, not with the size of the little cement entrance at the top of the stairs, so that leaves –
Dank Wilson: Next thing you know, Les is leaning down. And I’m thinking, okay, what the hell is he doing now? And he sort of mouths at it, like pushes against the top of the key with his jaw –
Match Beauregard: And that’s it. He uses his mouth to get the lock open, and then he kicks the door open with his foot, and he’s over the line, and he’s in the kitchen, he’s on the floor, and he’s got every single bag on the floor with him.
Sacks Cadwell: Even the milk!
Henry Mullens: I checked out those bags later and those loops were demolished, man. You know how normally you put the plastic bags inside the biggest plastic bag and stash it under the kitchen sink, for no reason? No way could you have done that with these. They were done for. Completely torched. Looked like a penny after you’ve put it on one of those penny-stretching machines.
Les Honnock: Those bags looked like how I felt. But now we knew it was possible. So then it was just a question of replication. Standardization, rules of play, bylaws, et cetera. Those were important and necessary details, sure. And they’ve gone a long way towards putting the sport on the map. But once the guys knew it could be done, man, there was no stopping it. I was just in the right place at the right time.
On the importance of focus and mental toughness
Sacks Cadwell: I mean – I don’t mean anyone as an individual, okay, I’m not trying to knock any one person here – but the thing about bringing all the bags inside in one trip is that it’s all about that one trip. That one person’s single trip. It takes everything you have. All your focus, all your strength, all your mental strength. Both your arms. And relationships...well, if you’ve got two people bringing in the bags all at once, together, that’s not just one trip, is it? That’s two trips, done simultaneously. But that’s two trips.
Jaffi McSymonds: Let me guess. Sacks had something to say about two people making two trips? [Smiles tightly.] That’s one opinion. Luckily there are no rules about having only one opinion like there are about making it back with all the bags in only one trip.
Les Honnock: Some of the guys had a lot to say when Jaffi and I started hanging out. Some guys have a lot to say all of the time. But I was like, let’s let the trips speak for themselves. If you catch me suddenly making two, three trips at a time, then fine, you can talk to me about Jaffi. But if I’m still bringing the bags in regular? Still all in one trip? Then it’s just noise. Whether it’s motivated by jealousy or confusion or whatever else – it’s just noise.
Jaffi McSymonds: I’d been single-tripping bags for years. And not just mine, but sometimes when I was out at the drugstore, or wherever, if my roommates needed me to pick something up for them – I was single-tripping their stuff too. But none of the other guys ever asked me about it.
Les Honnock: That was one of the first things that I noticed about Jaffi. She had this great, really low, center of gravity, and this rock-steady bag pace. That’s what’s so cool about our relationship. We both have our own unique approach to the trip, and we both bring our own strengths to each new challenge. I’m always learning from her. I’d never even thought about getting an extra bag looped around my neck until I saw Jaffi do it. That was all her. That was like, her signature move.
Gordon DeBeef: If Les says Jaffi taught him the Choker? I’m gonna take his word for it. That’s good enough for me. I don’t know, maybe some of the other guys are threatened by the idea of a woman bringing in all of her bags in one trip. But I say bringing all the bags inside in one trip – that’s for everyone, man. That’s what freedom is. That’s – sure, I love the competitive aspect of the game. I don’t ever want to give that up. But it’s not just a sport. It’s not just a way to make a name for yourself, or rack up a lot of sponsorships. It’s a movement. Anyone can do it. Or at least – maybe not everyone’s going to start bringing in all of their bags inside in one trip every single time, but everyone can try. And everyone can get better.
On the importance of failure
Les Honnock: We dropped a lot of bags in the early days. I still do, sometimes, even now. Lot of stores have their own arrangements with different bag suppliers, so you have to take into account variations in tensile strength, Mil thickness, sometimes they just slap a plastic handle on your twelve-pack of beer or seltzer or whatever, so you have to take adhesiveness into account, humidity and moisture...a lot can go wrong. And things usually end up going wrong more often than it works out in your favor.
Dirk Hendirk: Some states phased out plastic bags entirely, and then there was the question of how to score those 99-cent “reusable” bags the stores would sell you with your stuff – usually just 3-Mil poly bags, to be honest – against tote bags people sometimes remember to bring from home. And sometimes you’d remember two bags from home but end up needing four or five at the store – we’d call that a mixed-application load. I’ve seen a lot of guys blow out at the halfway mark because they overloaded their dominant arm back at the car, hoping to just brute-force their way to the door, and completely hose their balance a few steps onto the driveway. They don’t respect the process. You’ve got to have a holistic approach.
Les Honnock: I tell all the guys who want to train with me, you’re going to spend at least as much time loading and unloading back at the car as you do out on the sidewalk. And a lot of guys don’t want to hear that, they just want to grab as many loops as they can and go “beast mode.” Which is how you end up with a torn bag, torn ACL, wishing you’d spent another thirty seconds loading up properly before gunning it. If you respect the process, respect the flow, you can learn something from every failure.
On the future of the sport
Les Honnock: Rodan Cielo is absolutely one of my heroes. These younger guys, they’re doing stuff you wouldn’t believe. It’s incredibly exciting.
Sacks Caldwell: I remember the first time I saw him make the run with six bags on each arm. Six. It blew my mind. I was like – what’s next? Seven bags on each arm? Eight? [Laughs] That’s sixteen bags for one guy. It sounds impossible.
Les Honnock: But that’s what they used to say about six bags. That’s what they used to say to me.