When I conjured up the idea to host an outlaw race league, I was in the pub. I thought that just getting 5 riders in the league would be a rip-roaring success. Ryan Boroughs tells us more…
One video filmed by my poor girlfriend, featuring Mii channel music and the words “KING OF THE NORF SIDE” scrawled across my bare chest in Sharpie later, I had 18 likes, 13 comments and 1 share. I was floored.
My name is Ryan Boroughs and I live in Enfield, North London. Since I started skating in 2015 I’ve come a long way, both in ability and personal growth. After ditching my knock-off Penny board after a mere week in search of something faster, I ended up, as most new downhill skaters in London do, in Crystal Palace Park. The problem was that I live 2 hours away by train – on a good day. Thus, the seedling idea of hosting my own event, closer to my neck of the woods, was planted in my brain.
Photo : Matt Crabtree
Despite my searching, it seemed that not many people skate North of the river and with good reason. South London, with South Bank, Greenwich Park and Crystal Palace Park in particular. has a strong history with the sport and was host to some of the pioneers of UK slalom and downhill skaters in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The established scene is thriving and will continue to do so.
Fast forward in my skating journey, past countless bruises, a broken finger and about 1km² of road rash; it’s 2019 and I’ve had enough of Southern Rail. In my years skating I had amassed a smorgasbord of spots local to me, with varying degrees of difficulty, yet only one local mate to skate them with. It was time to get people NORF SIDE!
Photo : Matt Crabtree
At the heart of creating the league was the desire for it to be silly from the ground up – none of this was to be taken seriously. For many years I struggled with anxiety and depression and skating was my only outlet. Whilst I was too shy, initially, to make many friends, I had started to find my footing in the scene and found the most welcoming crowd, especially on the London Longboards Facebook group.
So, in the spirit of being the person I needed when I was 15, this was to be a welcoming affair for riders of all abilities. It would be devoid of the hyper-aggressive, competitive nature of some races and it would be set exclusively in North London, to show that this side is worth skating too.
To keep it light-hearted, I added mini-challenges for bonus points. For example, the summer/Hawaiian themed costume contest at the last race, INFLATABLE DOWNHILL, was worth an extra 3 points and pushed the winner from joint third to second place.
So far, two races have been held in the league, OAKWOOD OUTLAW and INFLATABLE DOWNHILL. Both were fantastically well received. ALLY PALLY PILE UP will be the third instalment.
OAKWOOD OUTLAW was held near Oakwood tube station on 12th July and I could not have been happier with the outcome. Practice got underway as soon as spotters were in position and, before long, we had amassed an audience. Not only were the riders stoked, a family who lived on the hill came out to watch after seeing a practice run while walking the dog. Over the course of the night, more locals stepped out of their houses to watch in awe as the riders hurtled down the track at 30mph. This was exactly what KING OF THE NORF SIDE was meant to be about; coming together and sharing our sport.
Photos : Matt Crabtree
With a smiling audience, racing got underway. It was 1:1 knockout heats, and then a third place race, followed by a very tight final. This was followed by the water-cup-downhill race. Objective being, a full cup of water given to each rider at the top of the hill, then a Chinese downhill start, rider with the most water left at the bottom of the hill would be declared the winner and given the bonus points for the event. After the final podium and pictures, it all ended up, of course, in the pub. I was shocked at how well it ran. It filled me with a determination to do more.
The second installment, INFLATABLE DOWNHILL, was a result of the lack of official racing at Skate Hog Hill‘s Summer Swine Stomp this year, due to the organisers being away on Euro Tour – once Summer Swine Stomp became the Big Summer Chillout – I knew there was only one thing to do; host a downhill race and make the skaters hold a giant pool inflatable.
Photos : Sabina Edwards, Thrill Magazine
Two heats of four racers each set off from their start line, ran to their boards and then grabbed an inflatable before heading down the hill. It was every bit as ridiculous and wonderful as you would expect.
We’re on track for our third installment on Friday 16th August, 7:30pm at the “ALLY PALLY PILE-UP!” This is a path race and is super mellow but long enough to get some drafting and cheeky overtaking in.
This event will be a fantastic opportunity for beginners and skate-heads alike. Ability does not matter, come have a laugh with us!
The response to KING OF THE NORF SIDE has been way beyond anything I expected. I am stunned that more than two riders showed up. I am stunned that my ridiculous posts on Facebook went anywhere and I am stunned to be writing this article. Thank you to everyone who has helped me, raced, taken photos, shared my posts or taken the time to read this.
If you would like to get involved, please keep your eyes towards the London Longboards Facebook group, as it’s where I post all announcements and updates about future events and races for KING OF THE NORF SIDE. Please also – make your own meetups! Get some training going so you can be the one to steal the crown, it’s still anyone’s game!
I hope to see you all there!
Next Race info can be found here: Race Three : Ally Pally Pile-Up
Full info on the league can be found here: Norf Side Outlaw Info
Words : Ryan Boroughs, Sabina Edwards
Images : Ryan Boroughs, Matt Crabtree, Sabina Edwards