The Bristol board meeting first began its long and noble cause back in 2007, many a brave soul trekking from far and wide to skate the 13 miles from Green Park to the promised land of Vandem Hill for various charities.
Steam, Stitches and Charity
The UK has a sheer variety of events. Local slide jams where everyone lets off steam after an arduous 5 days, small downhill in the mountains and the national longboard stoke fest that is hog hill. The UK has seen a rocketing in the number of events in the last few years. Trying to get to these events is a juggle of hitching, transport confusions and swearing silently to yourself as the dreaded ‘Bus Replacement’ is bellowed over the tanoy. Lighting a fire in a hurricane is a less frustrating exercise.
This year the end marker was at a skate park slightly shorter than the original distance. After two years of hiatus it was awesome to see such a cornerstone event of the longboard scene come back and with varying twists tantalizingly displayed on the Facebook page, it was a case of counting down the days.
Arriving at Bath Spa station at 9:45, with blow dried hair thanks to the pull down windows of the Great Western Railway, it was a small distance to the meeting point. Having not even reached the event my foe, the pebble, nearly sent my board flying to its doom in the canal below. It is acceptable for a fully grown 2 meter high man to hug his board in the middle of a path while everyone else wonders what the hell he is doing.
Green Park is a lovely area. Sadly, finding parking anywhere nearby seemed to take longer than an unconscious sloth doing a marathon. Regardless, the flow of skaters came on by. Communities of skaters from across the UK converged on the park. Stoking me even more was seeing the old faces that do events time and time again. New faces were also awesome to see, trying to meet everyone took the breath out of you and occasionally my memory would go kaput quicker than a fatal move in jenga.
The plan was to leave at 11 but the golden rule of skate events of “Add 45 minutes” came into being, allowing dozens more to join. Richard Auden, using a bin for a stage gave a talk about the money raised and how everyone could get even more into the charity. An obligatory shot of all of us with boards held aloof and then it was onto the path!
Being at the front seemed cool at the start, but by the time the skate was entering the 6 mile mark I began to wish that I had bigger wheels then 75mm. Ben Williams then came cruising through on flywheels, 97mm of rolling goodness. Then came shooting through Bodhi, John, Louis Selby and the king of distance in the states, Sam Holding. The endless leafy greens that stretched out either side were lovely, but the continuous revelation of more to go did feel bad at times.
One memorable moment was skating by an old railway line used as a showcase for steam engines. Adding to this 1940s nostalgia was that the path had been totally repaved! It no longer felt like an earthquake under your legs! Harry Phelps made a dash to the front along with Bodhi, Ben and several various dudes. We stopped at the railway siding and Jed Chapman came up, face and knee scratched up. Turns out that wallets can cause a face plant with the by-product of an endless questioning of “What happened to your face?”
Resting occurred once more between the siding and the slide hill. Massive credit for helping me get there goes to Ben Williams, who selflessly plodded me along the rack most of the way. A true gentleman. The great joy was being able to use the features that rose out of the ground. Old Platforms not used since the mid-20th century made for some amazing riding up and down, while skating through a damp tunnel became one pretty awesome moment with everyone playing echoes all along its length.
After this and a further 3 miles of hard-core pushing, we arrived at the slide hill. A cycle path with 3 hairpins and grip for days. Pack runs and the like went down and a fair amount of livestreaming was also going on, with Alex Ireton providing a live feed of awesome runs, slides and myself going straight into nettle bushes. The ground was somewhat grippy, but compared to the limpet grip of Hog Hill, it was hardly worth complaining. And besides, everyone was awesome.
Photos by Sabina Edwards
The rest was over time to reach the rendezvous. It was a joyful time with Bodhi, John and myself doing various amounts of platform riding, near crashing and an attempt at a push contest as we neared the end point. The highlight of this final push being a Lidl the size of Monaco with all the cold drinks and sugar rushes you’ve ever dreamed of.
To the Skate park, which summed up in one word, Amazing. Tombstones, various ramps and several street skate features being tackled by those whose legs were made of much stronger stuff then mine. I proceeded to flump onto the floor for 15 minutes while consuming Haribo’s at a rate I would never usually do. In other words, I gorged myself and probably gave myself diabetes.
The Raffle opened and with a great deal of excitement over the prizes that stood before many. From an entire set-up to DVDs to Skate Slate right the way to foot stops, there were no shortage of prizes to be won. Even a speaker set was raffled off. Some people bought a single strip of 5 tickets for £2.50, while some bought entire sections. As Far as I can recall, one dude bought £32 worth of tickets. As the numbers came through the air and everyone checked their tickets like detectives on a murder mystery, the lone cheer would resound and everyone would either be clapping, or groaning that they didn’t have the ticket for a DVD. It was entertaining to say the least.
Those that won nothing still had a chance to grab some free stickers in a throw-out that was much more relaxed than anticipated. No wrestling here, it was a gentile case of scavenge the stickers while they were still around. Lanyards were also thrown out, with Richard Auden smiling away as the Bath to Bristol officially ended, although many choose to stay a while and tear up the skate park like a bull in a china shop.
Overall, the event was one awesome adventure and with so many faces old and new. Reinforcing the idea that the community is expanding with a great pace. Add to this that the event raises money for charitable causes and you have one of the largest community lynchpin events in the UK longboarding calendar.
Bristol Board Meeting: