Setting Goals

Happy New Year all! 2016 has come around quick. 2015 was a big year for me, lots of Travelling, improving my skating and making a lot of new friends!

I’ve had a lot of time to think recently about what I want from this year and things are pretty clear in my head.

One of the more obvious goals is to attend as many Euro Longboard Races as I can. Definitely Lillehammer and Kozokov for a start, going by what some UKDH friends said about those events, when they attended last year. I already attend 90% of UKDH events and plan to keep it that way this year, but I feel Euro Races will be a bigger test.

On the subject of UKDH events, another goal is definitely to get into at least one Outlaw Race final. I feel I wasn’t far off the mark in the last few events of 2015, so it’s something to aim for! I got some nice encouraging comments at Thrill Hill Winter Chaos about how much I’ve improved since the first Fumble in the Valley @ Sheepy back in February 2015. Spread the stoke, always encourage others, no one ever started off good at skating!

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Photo by J Pattern Photography.

My last goal is to achieve a better work life balance, I’ll be making big changes to my life this year in order to do this, but I’m keeping my cards close to my chest. Throughout the year I’ll definitely be skating every weekend, I have nothing keeping me in Cheltenham week to week, except work on weekdays, so lots of time at Welsh hills, like Junglewank, Sheepy and Bleek is on the cards. I find I go a bit crazy to say the least when I have a weekend without skating, especially since I no longer skate to work.

I don’t like to complain at all, but the weekends I haven’t been skating with mates (ie, around Christmas), stress gets to me.. everyone needs an outlet! Though the last 2 weeks have been fun, most notably because of New Year Skate Bash weekend, which went down a storm! I had 5 friends staying over after Saturday’s skating (Ben, Lewis, Hermione, Lynsey & Ross), most of which are from a far away Northern place called ‘Barrow’.. Made for a fun night at the local ale house! Check out the Impossible road madness below:

Myself the usual BC/Welsh/Hereford DH crew have also been to Sheepy twice in the last 2 weeks, the first time being very patchy, with wet of the straights and dry in the corners.. made for some serious gnar, but you’ve got to be ready for anything, however unlikely!

Needless to say, when it was consistent wet, we were all a lot faster. We spent about 5-6 hours skating yesterday and I felt like we could of stayed longer!

On a final note, make sure you get your arse down to Fumble in the Valley Freeride/Race on 30th Jan! @ Sheepy! You’d be mad not to attend. It’s also the first BDSL (British Downhill Skateboarding League) event of the year, for those of you that take it seriously. One thing’s for sure, someone has to deny Ben Stainer a third win in a row! Haha, see you there!

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Until next time, cheers.

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End of Season Blues

Last Weekend marked the end of the 2015 UKDH Event (and BDSL league) season with Thrill Hill Winter Chaos in the Lake District. Organised by good friends Lewis & Hermione of Skate to Escape.

Lewis won it last time out, back in the dryness of August, but this time proved to be a lot different, with much more hectic racing, due to more skaters attending from far across the country, such as Ben Stainer from London, who won Dig Deep Outlaw recently and Slide Perfect Wheels Bossman, Bodhi, from Paignton.

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6 of us went in the AOB van with Bodhi, partly because I finally got a refund for my faulty Mazda 6 and was car-less, but it made the trip up and back cheaper and less stressful. When we arrived on Saturday at the hill, the weather was horrific and that’s putting it lightly! Myself, Bodhi & Tom immediately put our BTR leathers on for skating, mainly just to keep warm and shielded from the violent sideways rain and hail. None the less, we rode for 3 hours odd in appalling conditions, in prep for Sunday’s racing. Dat spray!

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Myself & Tom Campbell were especially well prepared, having done Impossible road, in the wet a couple of weeks previous, dialling our wet slides. We took lots of runs down before racing with Ry & Bodhi amongst others. Including this run where Tom followed me down:

Racing came around and I was drawn against Finbarr, someone I’d never beaten in any Outlaw, or even come close to, but I was optimistic, I was confident with my lines down the hill and it the hill itself can catch anyone out, at anytime, so you’re just always 100% on it, no time to chill.

Off the line in my first round, Finbarr had the lead, but only just, slightly overcooked the first corner, giving me a gap to overtake mid corner, as I had a tighter line. Finbarr came back instantly though, with a tight overtake just before corner 2, his arm on my back, but nothing aggressive, just racing. I thought I’d lost at this point, but Finbarr had a very wide line for corner 2 and too much speed, due to not scrubbing on the exit of corner 1 like myself. He went wide and slid out onto the grass, allowing me to chill down the rest and take the win to progress to Round 2 (Quarter Finals).

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I knew beforehand that if I won R1, I’d likely face the local, Lewis Taylor, who had a reasonably easy R1. Little did I know what an intense race it’d be, I knew it’d be close, due to us both taking very similar lines on practice runs, but it was ridiculous!

Lewis had a slight lead off the line, but was within my arms reach, we both had a super tight line into corner 1 but Lewis over-slid his scrub on the exit, allowing me to overtake, but forcing me to take a wider line than usual into corner 2! All I remember is hearing screams from the top of the hill as it all happened, as Lewis was the favourite. I held my line round corner 2 with lots of speed, gripping it all, but Lewis somehow held a super tight line, as shown in the below picture, probably down to slightly less corner 2 entry speed. We slingshotted onto the straight before corner 3, with Lewis’ slightly ahead and me within bumping distance. In the maybe 3 seconds before the slide for the corner, I was about to bump Lewis, with my arm outstretched, when I backed out of it, so I could quickly slide and hit the apex of corner 3, hoping lewis would slightly overcook it. I hit the apex, but so did he, no way to overtake after that, but what a race! Certainly one I’ll never forget, still on an adrenaline rush days later just thinking about it!

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Lewis went on to be in the final with ‘Big Ben’, a race I thought he’d win, but unfortunately a first corner tangle led to his board rolling off the side of corner 1, giving Ben an easy cruise to take the win. Some epic racing, probably the most fun and hectic racing I’ve ever done! Here’s the podium, Ben Stainer 1st, Lewis Taylor 2nd, Tom Campbell 3rd:

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We all left the Lakes super stoked on the event, definitely one to remember.

With no UKDH events now until 2016 (get super stoked for New Year Skate Bash 2016 on 2nd Jan), I guess it’s back to practicing, twiddling my thumbs and looking for a new car, so I can get back on big hills more often. Sad face.

The UKDH community & events all of this year has been awesome. I feel I’ve improved a lot since my first Outlaw race back in February, at FITV @ Sheepy in the Snow. Special thanks goes to my good friend Tom Campbell & Brianne Collective as a whole, for hosting the best events of the year, allowing me to improve and make lots of new skate friends!

As Christmas draws in, the skating is likely to be less, but I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings!

Until next time, cheers!

Chasing Change

Recently I’ve been trying to make changes to how I live my life, a lot has changed this year and made me look at the bigger picture.

I rarely, if ever, talk about work or life outside of Boarding to many people, so this might be a little insightful for some. I’m 22 now, but since I was 19 I’ve been working full time in the IT Support Industry. I’ve been very lucky with opportunities and could almost say it’s been handed to me on a plate. People often find it strange that I didn’t go to Uni, but experience is more important in my industry, in my opinion.

Not going to University has benefits, such as earning more than average for my age, meaning I can always afford to go to Longboard/Mountainboard events across the country, have a car and a flat etc. But I do sometimes feel I’ve missed out on the social aspect of early adulthood. It’s hard to make new friends outside of Skating, when I’m a lot younger than everyone I’ve worked with in the last 3 years and I don’t have any social hobbies for weekdays.

A bit negative but clearly something has to change, any sane young adult doesn’t get stuck in a rut at age 22, surely?

Probably stating the obvious, but I do skate on weekdays, though 90% of the time it’s on my own. I do still enjoy it, but as I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m a lot happier when skating with others.
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I’m considering getting back into Swimming, or taking up something new, such as Yoga, to do on weekdays (suggestions welcome), that would not only help me be more social, but help my skills relating to Downhill Skating, such as Balance and Core Strength.

Weekend life has been great recently though, since getting back from NZ, I’ve been to a fast and or ‘difficult’ hill every weekend, in an effort to continually improve. The last 2 weekends being ‘Junglewank’ in Wales and ‘Impossible’ in Malvern. Both times going with new to Cheltenham, Ben Holmes, a good friend, amazing videographer and rider for Arbor UK, who moved down from Derby recently for Uni. Ben took the below photo:

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This weekend it’s back to Malvern, with a bigger crew, Impossible needs taming.. only got down it twice last Saturday! At this precise moment, I knew I fucked up:

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I’m most excited for Thrill Hill Winter Chaos event in 2 weeks time though. I first went to Thrill Hill back in August, for a freeride hosted by the awesome Lewis & Hermione of Skate to Escape! The hill is steep, grippy in all weather and always makes for intense skating, as my raw run from last time shows:

More riders should be in attendance and we’re all expecting hectic wet, fast and possibly snowy freeride and racing!

I’ll most blog about the Winter Chaos a few days after, in early December. Gotta love how the UKDH scene keeps events going all year round!

Until then, peace.