saturday 29 august
I hosted my customary Birthday Bash in New Milton skatepark this year, joined by fellow streetboarders Colin Horan, Paul Nash, Andy Garett, Tim James and James Kelly.
New Milton skatepark had only just opened a couple of months before - the most notable feature of this Maverick-built park being the "concrete wave" stepped rollover, located in the corner.
There's a kidney-shaped bowl at one end and the rest is split into 2 sections, including a step up lunchbox, street section and wide quarterpipe at the far end. The street section involves a rather nice down rail, hubba, plaza steps and euro gap.
Colin, Paul, Tim and James started the day in the bowl - Paul was trying long noseslides round the coping, Colin and Tim were throwing various airs off the hip of the kidney bowl, with James doing his trademark 180-noseblunts.
Andy worked his way around the park from launchbox to vert wall and grass gap to concrete wave, going huge with his signature bir air style before getting inverted in the wave...
I spent much of the day in the street section on the rail and the nearby quarter before I was joined by Colin and Andy, riding the concrete wave and throwing combo's down some of the long grindboxes beneath.
We all agreed that Andy comprehensively won the day's best trick with either of 2 massive tricks - initially blasting a huge air over the grass gap, before throwing a huge rodeo flip in the concrete wave...
Legendary stuff...! ;)
It was a great day spending many hours riding hard with friends and getting some footage down, cut all too short by the necessity to be home for the next part of my birthday - the BBQ! :D
The lads stayed the night, but everyone was too knackered and sore to skate next day, so people had a big breakfast and eventually went their different directions...
On a completely different subject, I feel I should talk a bit more about little baby Violet...
Violet has been growing up quick as children do, learning new skills and developing day by day - a far cry from the tiny infant of the first couple of months! She is very happy and inquisitive, and loves her bouncer and getting out-and-about, visiting parks, baby classes, swimming - all the things a child should!
CJ & I both feel very lucky to have such a gorgeous, happy, healthy little bundle of energy, and are loving parenting - the good times and the bad ;)
We all went for a long weekend with Rich and Lou down to north coast of Devon, sleeping in slightly-oval wooden huts with no elecricity, in a field on the exposed clifftops inbetween Delable and Port Isaac.
We had a good day exploring Port Isaac and walking the coastline there but the onset of a prolonged bad spell prompted an early return home - but it was good to get the vans doing camper duty again...
A week later, I called Flipside Boards founder Adam Walder and rider Paul Nash with the idea of checking out the newly-opened skatepark over in Andover, and we headed there for afternoon skate.
Essentially rectangular, it features a step-up launchbox, bowl spined to mini, hubba, flatbar handrail, battleship rail over driveway, gap with large ball feature and c-block.
The sun beat down relentlessly as we rode the park, making for a roasting skate with all the reflection off the fresh 'crete..!
I started on the hubba and rail while Adam and Paul rode the mini and the bowl, everyone pulling bangers out the bag before moving on around the park...
It always amazes me how Adam can just jump on a board after months off, and bang out smooth tricks like he's been practising all week. Astonishing! ;)
There were far fewer people at the park this time and the average age was older than the kidfest we had expeienced previously at this park, and it was good to be able to ride without having to constantly be on the lookout for errant kids...
The c-rail was a regular feature, gentle enough not to throw you off balance and allow balance for combo's. Adam was using the quarter at the end for frontside airs, Paul manual-ing the driveway and I tried Miller Flips over the rollover.
Was great to see the guys, especially Adam as it had been a while, and get riding like the old days on such a fabulous day! Classic.
And finally, I have noticed that this blog is now 10 years old! 10 years dedicated to bringing you quality content from our part of the streetboarding and snowboarding worlds :)
You lucky people! ;)
tuesday 30 june
Earlier this month I checked out Andover skatepark with Tim James and Simon Johns, and what a sweet little park it is.
With an unusual street section including a driveway with gap ball feature, long curved ledge, step up, 3/4 bowl spined to mini, flat-down hubba and a flatbar rail its a great set up.
The location being a natural suntrap, and its almost perfect - almost. Apparently Maverick tried a different surface when they constructed this park, and the resulting finish is very slippy - its very easy to slip out with an overzealous movement or if spinning on landing.
In other matters,on the Saturday 2nd May Pat Murray & I had the pleasure of attending the LDNcalling skate tour - a group of international riders hitting street spots and parks across London organised by Colin Horan .
We met Southampton rider Lewis Langford at Southbank, and spent a few hours sessioning the blocks there - Pat snapped a bar upon arrival, but we sorted him out and set about riding with Sergi Nicolas, Tony Alvarez, Colin and the other guys...
My little neice Camille had a birthday meal at my Pa's house in Salisbury, so CJ, Violet and I drove over with Mum for dinner.
We spent a lovely afternoon with the family all together and it was great to see Violet and Camille spending a bit of time together.
I was in Sainsbury's car park, and saw this most unbelievealy tame little fox just wondering around looking for food between all the parked cars.
I tried offering it some jelly sweets and it trotted up and sniffed my hand, before turning around and searching elsewhere - it clearly didn't fancy any high-sugar pork gelatine-derivitive that I had to offer ;)
Well summer's rolling on, so I'll see you all soon...
wednesday 29 april
To combat the post snowboarding blues I have been skating a lot recently, learnng new tricks like backside hurricanes and blunts.
Although the weather is getting better, it's still dark in the evenings - so most of the time we skate at Prevail after work after in the evenings.
Pat has been honing his skills, learning a bunch of extra tricks and showing significant improvement to his control.
Tim is ripping round the mini, building long lines with every conceivable grind and slide, and throwing long manuals across the driveways in the street section.
Rob comes over from Yeovil quite often, bringing his snowboard style of spins and butter-inspired street combos such as 180-switch-manual-180-out.
All in, theres a lot of different styles going on here, which is great for creativity - always bouncing ideas off each other and raising the bar.
I saw these kneepads for sale and just had to get a pair.
They have a flexible protective cap made from D30, the material that goes hard on impact - giving the best of both worlds as they protect without hindering movement like conventional pads,
I look forward to reporting how they perform in the line of duty, and whether D30 might be the future in persnoal protection gear
Until then, take care...
tuesday 31 march
James and Rob joined me at Prevail one evening, and they had pulled the moveable block out, so we spent an evening riding this impromptu driveway, trying to stay on the block the full distance.
James was pulling some long tailslides, and I got some frontside noseslides in, it was a long way and there were some spectacular miscalculations... ;)
Took the Eurostar to Tignes with George Moy and my brother Jules for a week in Tignes Val Claret. The weather looked decided dubious, but there was a last minute 36 hour dump just before we left. Convenient. :)
With good snow for the first few days we cracked into action, trying to hit as much off-piste as we could find - the weather was cold and windy but the snow was in good condition, and we found lots of fresh lines in the Vallon de la Sachee off the back of the Aiguille Perce ("The pierced needle").
We went across to Val d'Isere a few times, but with the exception of a couple of places the snow cover seemed less good, so we always ended up coming back to TIgnes...
The apartment was tiny, as only the French deem appropriate, and we spent our time swimming and playing cribbage - apart from George who spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping. Still - he skied hard on the slopes, so fairs fair I guess ;)
Jules and I say a virgin chute under the Merles chairlift, so dropped down to it after a long traverse. It was a difficult chute rather than spectacularly long, peppered with rocks at the top - requiring a precise drop-in with an immediate sharp turn to ride it out without crashing into something sharp and hazardous.
With no new snowfall, the snow condition worsened, so Jules and I began to hit the park - starting in the blue parks then moving up to the main park.
Some of the days suffered from flat light so the park was out, but we got three reasonable days and managed to get some footage down...
Jules freestyle skills have improved vastly now he has twintips, he can often be found switching ends and jibbing about riding piste, but he has nailed his 360's in the park which is testiment to his practise and determination.
There is an airbag at the bottom of the Carline run back into Val Claret and we spent plenty of time practising spins and backflips as a more practical alternative to the icy landings available further up the mountain...
On the last day, Jules decided to flip the new BunJ ski bunjy they had constructed at the top if the Merles chair - basically a huge launch ramp 40m up into nothingness, whereupon the partipant would bunjy about a bit then get lowered to safety.
Jules dropped into the 30ft run-in, and laid down a perfect backflip out into the massive natural bowl... HUGE! Top marks to Jules for having the bottle to do it. (and it's all on film ;)
All-in-all a fantastic holiday which came to an end far too quickly - except for the Eurostar, which I can do without in future! Cheer Boys, awesome :)
Next-up, skate news...
saturday 28th february
Back with an almost exclusively snowboard-oriented edition this month, so try to keep up at the back ;)
Rosco and I had planned an Tignes long-weekender in November, so headed out to Chalet Melezes in Tignes Les Boisses (just above the dam) for the annual 3-day weekender just as a snow front arrived.
The weather was poor the first 2 days, bad vis with flat light, but snowing hard the whole time.
With few people venturing far from the cable car, the run down to the MM piste was covered in powder, often knee deep. As long as you didn't hit anything you were laughing!
But them on day 3 the sun came out, and we could see fields of untouched powder - there was off-piste everywhere you looked, and Rosco the powder hound was searching for deep pow stashes to throw up big rooster tails.
We got so much good snow we were spoilt for choice, riding the "Double M" down through fields of uncut powder where the crowds had not gone due to the poor vis - we spent the day on the funicular riding the mountain from the top to Val Claret on the valley floor, seeking new powder lines in the falling snow.
We met Rosco's friend Jo for lunch in the Aspen bar in Val Claret, and after a hard day riding, we rounded the day off with a hot tubat Le Melezes :)
But all good things and all that, and we had to return home, glowing in the satisfaction of a fulfilling trip with some epic pow - in November! :D
CJ and I took little Violet to MonkeyWorld over near Wool, to see all her relatives ;)
We had a great time walking round all the different enclosures, lots going on even though it was cold and wintry. So much to see there with hundreds of different types of monkeys - Orangutans were the highlight, the little ones were so cute!
Having spent Christmas and New Years Eve visiting relatives in sequence, the New Year was on us, and that meant only one thing - Chamonix!
The season had got off to an awful start with green valleys prevalent across the Alps - but there was snow in the Chamonix valley, and it snowed for a couple of days just before we arrived :)
We were there for 9 days; first Rosco joined me for the first 6 days and George joined me for the last 3 - so unfortunately they never rode together.
Rosco and I tried each area of the upper valley in turn - Flegere, Les Grands Montets and La Balme, of which Flegere was the best snow conditions by far as both Grands Montets and La Balme were cold and icy.
There was fresh snow in the gulleys above the Chavanne chairlift, and minimal avalanche risk there so we rode there for a couple of days. The very shallow snow depth meant there was no chance of backcountry freestyle, so we spent our time cutting lines in the gulleys and jibbing about on the pistes.
I saw a natural hip up the side of a powder face and managed to land a backside rodeo back onto the piste, benhind the hip was a rock face, so I had to flick backwards to change direction and avoid the rock. Although the landing was rough as sin, there was enough powder around the lip to engender the confidence to try...
Eventually it was time for Rosco to leave, but on the plus-side George joined me eager to try his new skis...
Almost immediately, it turned out that though George's new skis were awesome, his new skiboots were too tight, hurting his feet if he skied for too long. So we hooned around in short bursts sticking mainly to the pistes for the last couple of days - the snow in the gulleys having been skied out by this point.
Its was then that I spied a chute formed in the lee of a much larger rock, formed by the melting snow cover exposing some of the rock either side of a narrow strip just wide enough to ride down...
George only had 2 days on the snow, but it highlighted a need to address the fit of his new boots and he was in agony by the end.
We had a final night out at the Nationale, eating the traditional epic 3-course gourmet meal, and packed for home.
We bid Chamonix farewell, both already planning our next mission to get back out onto the snow.
So we'll be back with more snow adventures new article...