Our illustrious reporter, Robbie Stevens, gives us the lowdown on this year’s edition of Hogtoberfest!
It’s 01:00, pitch dark and wet from the near constant rain of the last twelve hours. Not hard rain, that slow annoying rain that just makes you miss the summer that has just past.
I’m waiting by the side of a country road for Odd Steinar who has just walked for two hours from the train station to the campsite that is home for the weekend’s event. He appears out of the dampness smiling, dragging a massive bag with his streetluge, leathers, helmet and other gear behind him. I take it from him and almost drop it – it weighs a ton!
“It’s 50kilos!” says Odd.
“F**k what?!” says I “And you’ve just towed it for two hours all the way here?!”
My next question was going to be “Why the hell didn’t you hail a taxi?” but this ‘country road’ we’re on is actually Epping Forest, inside the M25, so technically Greater London and hailing a cab would have cost him a big wedge of money!
“Your mad!” is instead my next comment.
Odd has travelled for 27 hours to get to the event from his home country of Norway. Two flights, trains, two hour walk. He’s dedicated. Mad, but dedicated and that’s what I’ve kind of come to expect of my fellow Gravity Sports enthusiasts at these events and part of what makes attending so special.
Hogtoberfest is always well attended and generally the biggest of the SkateHog trinity of events held for the past 11 years. This year though, the UK seems to be experiencing a new Monsoon Season after one of the best summers on record, how very tropical.
So numbers were down, and yet the next day I was still surprised to see just how many people turned up! The scene is strong here in the UK – and determined!
Photos : Efe Akande
Sadly, the now 24-hours of drip-drip-drip rain interspersed with slightly more annoying wet stuff meant that the Slalom Competition could not go ahead, although I did see a few slalom people lurking around seemingly praying to the skate gods for a dry day. Unfortunately, their silent prayers were not answered. It’s the first time in the last four years I’ve been attending that the slalom comp didn’t run in one form or another. Better luck next year and fingers crossed!
This meant that the main hill was the focus of the weekend for the longboard, streetluge and streetsledge riders – all speeding down with rooster tails of spray behind them!
One brave streetsledger – Photo : Near The Coast
Longboard dancing kicked off the competitive activities, again showing the sheer will to have a good time and a devil-may-care attitude was the order of the whole weekend. After all, we were here and we were going to have a good time.
I spent my time on my new metal DPM Corse Streetluge and my wooden Sp8Boards as I was there for both the UK Luge Championships and the BDSL (British Downhill Skateboarding League). I had stiff competition from regular luge racers and some new faces too. The luge scene in the UK is growing every year which is awesome to see and racing luge at Hog Hill is always tight and exciting. Although not the fastest of hills, it’s still great fun and the competitive spirit soon comes out even if the sun doesn’t! Being a Cycling Centre the track is very good quality and still grippy in the wet, so when racing is on, it’s on!
The evening back at the campsite had what is now a regular thing of three wicked bands playing and again, the dampness did not stop the radness and we partied until something o’clock. One by one people eventually disappeared into their respective tents and vans and a few even into the back of their cars.
Freeride images – Photos : Near The Coast
Sunday, race day for the longboard and luge competitors. A more serious atmosphere takes hold around the track and people definitely seem to be going faster than the day before. Still with the comet-like tails of spray but now the wet stuff wasn’t falling from the sky quite so much. In fact, it even stopping for periods of time – almost as though allowing the racing to commence.
Photos : Efe Akande
Racing means more commitment and hence the usual crashes, although I only saw one in the Luge final (yes! I made it to the final!) Ell Macey flew through and out of the chicane – I think he actually got airborne – but I was too concerned with trying to pass my fellow racers and manoeuvring my now mobile puddle of a Streetluge to the finish line in one piece!
It was the moistest Hog Hill I’ve been too and it was also one of the most intense and involving too. I can’t wait to return in 2020.
For more images & videos go over to the event page : Skate Hog Hill – Hogtoberfest 2019
Words : Robbie Stevens
Images : Robbie Stevens, Efe Akande, Near the Coast