Every year Asha Kirby the founder and owner of the skate school SkateFresh throws a party to celebrate another year of rolling. The party is an open invite to all skaters whether or not you have been a past pupil or not. I some how have managed to miss it every year but was glad to have finally made it today. Asha held the party today on the promenade in Brighton.
Over the Christmas break I was helping some slalom skate friends compile a demo video to showcase to a well known talent show. The original edit focused more on the performers abilities but this revisited cut has some nicer closeup shots as well some added inferno from our little hero, Alice!
I was back again trying to master these two slalom tricks and I'm finally getting down the cone line for ‘The Special,’ but I’m still trying to get the right feeling for the ‘J-Turn,’ off cones. I need fresh legs for these moves, so having not recovered from my slalom session earlier this week I struggled a little today. Nonetheless I thought I’d film the progress.
First slalom session of the year today. Given my absence from this style of skating for most of last year due to the marathon it was obvious I was going to feel rusty. I made a little progress with the 'special,' and 'j-turn,' today but given that I was taught it nearly 3 years ago I would have liked to have nailed it by now!
Whilst overall slalom progress isn't great it was really nice to hear that my friend Gio said he "started slaloming after being inspired," by me! He's been slaloming a while now so hearing that now I was quite taken back by that, made my day.
Today I've been helping out some of my more experienced slalom friends shoot a video to pitch for a well known television program. Just a sneaky peek here at what these guys can do!
Worked out some toe pivot manoeuvre which can be seen at the beginning of the video below. (Not sure what the trick is called). As with all new tricks the flow isn't quite there yet, but the essence of it is. Your body will figure it out after lots more repetitions..!
At the end of the clip the little girl riding the bike says something. What did she say?!
Today I tried an old pair of skates which still has the heel brake attached. I managed to pull off a 'one wheel heel brake stop,' and also a variation with two heel wheels also known as the 'Wile E Coyote stop,' which was actually quite fun. Probably not the most stable way of stopping but one of the more comical at least!
I would never have attempt this before slaloming. Braking on a single wheel almost feels like you're doing heel wheeling with stabilisers.
For the fifth year running this slalom event in Hyde Park is always a more fun oriented occasion. There are always bunny ears and the exact rules are a bit flexi, especially if you’re doing something Easter/hoppy related!
This will be my third competition and all I wanted to achieve was to perform as well as I usually can, but in public.
Before the event started I had a practice on some cones and was happy with how I was doing. In fact I seem to be doing better than usual!
However, even though I didn’t feel nervous my legs still went to jelly as soon as I was called up. (Just as the other competitions). On my run I knocked lots more cones over than in my practice. My battle was with my friend Irina. The judges’ decision was tied so it went down to best trick. For some reason I chose to do a backwards one foot even though I’ve not managed a whole line of cones for ages. Needless to say Irina went through to the next round.
Just a little annoyed I got jelly legs again during my run. Looking back at the footage it wasn’t as bad as I felt at the time though.. This was fun event all the same.
The three day urban sports festival was held in Gravesend at the Cyclopark. Events and activities included inline & quads skate, circus skills, BMX, skateboard and scooter. Camping facilities was available too.
I only attended the final day so can’t comment on the Saturday and Sunday events.
It was an hour journey from Charing Cross station on the train. The great thing about going to an event like this was that we had our skates with us. It took about twenty minutes to skate from Gravesend Station to Cyclopark, saving us the taxi fare. We saw some longboarders doing the same on the way but they were struggling when they got to the hill.
The inaugural event was well organised. You could sign up online ahead of time. As I was unsure whether I could make this event I did so on the day. Everyone was given different wristbands depending on what event they may be partaking or if you were just spectating. I signed up for the inline skate half marathon.
We got at the venue early so we caught the end of the slalom competition. Natalie, one of the organisers had been trying to persuade me to enter this but I hadn’t really slalom skated since the last competition, four months ago. (Speed skating has had my attention lately, hence the marathon sign up).
The slalom skaters were amazing as usual. It did make me want to get into the cones, just maybe away from the really good cool people!
We saw them do jumps and slides as well. Something I’ve done very little of. They demonstrated an immense amount of control whereas I’d go for it, commit and just hope for the best.
I only signed up for the half as I have the full marathon at Copenhagen a week later. Having not done a full distance before on my speed skates I didn’t want to potentially cause an injury, or not give myself enough time to recover before the event a week later.
The racers included inline skaters and longboard skaters. For the full and half event we were split into our designated start points. Full marathoners started first.
Soon after the half marathoners lined up. My friend Mark, aka Sushi invited me to join him in pacelining together for the race. I was unsure whether I could keep up with him but he reassured me he was going to take it easy. At the start line I had two rows of people ahead, Sushi was at the front. I don’t like fighting for space so I stayed put, aiming to squeeze past when I had the chance.
The gun shot and people scrambled for positions. It all happened really fast and that was the last time I saw Mark before the end of the race.
At the start of each lap was a nice downhill straight where you could really sprint down. I thought about using that stretch to recover but the speed was just too inviting with nobody in the way.
The course otherwise was very hilly, lots of sharp turns so it was difficult to actually get into a nice rhythm.
Part way up the final hill my friends Ania, Chidi and Thomas had perched themselves on a bench to cheer us racers on. Very good position to do so as that hill became longer after each lap.
There was a very sharp U turn on the final bend. If you overshot you would have ended up down a grass hill. Fortunately I tested the track out before the actual race as I freaked a little the first time, breaking quite heavily on my speed skates. As the laps went on I engaged it more efficiently with tight cross-overs.
As I went around I could see the other events going such as the BMX and Scooter. It was great to see what the other groups were doing. This also provided entertainment as I climbed the steep section of the course. Later on I was pretty much taking one step at a time up the hill.
It was a really hot day. Every time I passed my friends I envied the ice cold beer they had. Roger in jest offered his beverage. During the rest of that lap that’s all I was thinking about. I fancied a cheeky swig. So when I saw Roger again I accepted his offer.
That was the most memorable lager I’ve ever sampled. Being so thirsty I became all the more conscious of its sweet bitter flavour slipping back, working its intense taste all the way down. Slowly dispersing its coolness where it touched. I felt refreshed from that sip which surged me to go faster, knowing I could have a full bottle once I finished. (I don’t encourage or endorse alcohol during active exercise!).
Unfortunately that boost of energy didn’t last long. On the final lap I lost a bit of enthusiasm as my legs ached and cramped. My smile and bouncy energy was not around this time as I passed my friends on the hill. No posing for photos this time. I just wanted to finish.
Hats off to the longboarders as they look like they were struggling with the hilly track. A lot of them walked up the inclines.
Mark came first. So much for him taking it easy! There was no way I could have kept up with him.
I finished at just over 46 minutes (I can’t remember the exact time) which was a similar finish time to my race at LIM. This was a surprise to me as I was literally walking up some sections of the Cyclopark but at LIM I was more consistent with my pace. (On reflection I must have made up the time difference with the downhill sprint at each lap at Blitz).
Blitz Festival Finale.
To finish the day my friend Gary was attempting to break the Guinness Book of Records’ fastest time to complete a line of twenty cones on one inline skate. Unfortunately it didn’t happen that day but his attempts were impressive. They had the official Guinness man, camera crew and CBBC presenter with all his cheesiness for the event. (It took forever for them to film everything and I was getting hungry..).
Blitz Closing Comments.
This was a really nice day out and it was great to see urban sports from various disciplines all in one place. I was gutted to have missed out on watching some of the other events on the other days such as the skate cross. Hopefully I’ll catch more events next year…
Highlight of the day.
My friend Richard had the great idea of going down to Whitstable after the event. Watching the sunset on the beach, whilst eating a well-earned fish and chips with everyone was bliss.
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