Words & photos by John Streit.

The drive down US 158 and NC 12 is part and parcel of Virginia Beach surf culture. It’s a pilgrimage made hundreds — if not thousands — of times over each year every single time the Atlantic holds the potential for great Outer Banks surf. As the miles pile on, so do stories of scores past and the anticipation of what lies at the end of the day’s journey. Hopefully, it means packing in pits or racking up turns with just a handful of your best friends.

The dedicated do not let the cold temperatures of winter stop this from carrying on this most sacred of surfing traditions. With a blast of frigid northerly wind catching a decently-sized fetch of ocean directed at the Outer Banks, offshore winds in the forecast and an incoming tide for the afternoon. Three different vehicles with Surf & Adventure Co. team riders in tow made their way south with the prospect of scoring overhead barrels as the motivation.

But not every trip to the island yields the ideal result. While the surf that awaited Tyler Balak, Julian Smith and Alex Smith was more-than-rideable with fun sets pulsing in as the swell and tide finally began working together; the conditions fell well short of the potential it showed on the charts. As the sun hide behind a pesky cloud bank, a bone-chilling cold replaced brilliant sunshine. Although things didn’t quite fall into place as expected, the session that ensued was still attacked with the same spirit that brought the boys away from the warmth of their homes.

After all, there’s nothing like enjoying a couple of cold ones with your friends!

A brilliant sunny day gave way to cold, drab, overcast conditions. The moody ocean at this Pea Island spot reflected the feel of the afternoon. Photo: Streit.
S&A team rider Julian Smith grabs rail to pull up into this lefthand runner. Photo: Streit.
Julian's big bro Alex Smith is as committed as they come, making the long drive from VCU to the OBX when the swell calls. Photo: Streit.
While jumbled peaks, closeouts and double-ups ruled the day, the last light session began to produce some classic moments as the tide filled in. Photo: Streit.
Julian Smith with a tight backhand gaff. Photo: Streit.
Sneaky peaks could be found up and down the beach. Photo: Streit.
S&A team rider Tyler Balak gets low to pull behind the curtain. Photo: Streit.
Power lines run like a spine down the center of the ribbon of sand we call Hatteras Island. Photo: Streit.
Tyler Balak squeezes in to this tight backside pocket on his SUPERbrand Vapors. Photo: Streit.
Down the beach, this left goes unridden. Photo: Streit.
While the majority of the afternoon was overcast and grey, the sun gave a brief-but-brilliant light show before dark. Photo: Streit.
Oregon Inlet, N.C. with Shaun Devine. Photo: Streit.

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