tuesday 30 june
Earlier this month I checked out the new Andover skatepark with Tim James and Simon Johns, and gotta say 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 untrap, 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...
friday 31st october
In a contrast to the bad news in last months article - we start this one with proud news of the birth of my daughter, little baby Violet Jean Ebel :)
Although we experienced a few difficulties at first as a result of a tongue tie, this was resolved and life has started to normalise into a relatively consistent routine - and while difficult at time, she is an absolute joy and delight especially now she has started smiling and laughing at you :D
Needless to say, both CJ and I are totally smitten with her!
The summer has been fabulous, and provided a wealth of opportunities to skate, and we have made the most of it, both indoors and out.
Sherborne has been our destination a few times - those white concrete expanses proving an irresistable mix of features - while Prevail has been uncharacteristically empty, and the given us the opportunity to ride a relatively deserted park as the kids were outside in the outdoor parks.
The long-awaited Winchester skatepark opened in September, and Tim and I met Simon Johns and Max Anderson to check out this much-anticipated Maverick creation. I took a day off work and we arrived on a boiling hot Monday, to find about half the park composed of Bournemouth skaters - by sheer coincidence at least 3 different groups had independantly arranged trips to ride it... Bournemouth Takeover!
Had a good day, but found that with so many features in the relatively small space - everyone was constantly cutting across everyone elses lines to hit their own, which meant more often than not you were waiting for a viable gap to open...
One to return to when fewer people riding it.
I went on missions to check out more loca skateparks in the area, of note Hedge End near Southampton (top) and the redeveloped Salisbury park (bottom)..:
Hedge End has 2 blocks and a nice round rail, although possibly spoiled by the quarter-pipe at one end, that is tighter than a gnats chuff.
However Salisbury is really good - they have kept the good elements of the old park, and replaced the poor or knackered parts with a selection of well thought out concrete features, including a launch box, sweet double level mini, and a clover leaf-style bowl - plus the usual selection of blocks and manual pads,
A very good park with the features positioned out of each others way to minimise disruption of other people's lines - probably the best outcome that the redesign could have produced :)
The summer has provided a wealth of opporuntities for other pursuits too; the inevitable beach visits, building Violets room, family time with Jules, Jo & baby Camille, various weddings and parties, and lots of sunday breakfasts and walks down at Boscombe, just to name a few... ;)
I have finally managed to get back in touch with a good friend of mine from my school years - Pam, our favourite tea lady from my school house C3.
I had lost contact with Pam when I had mislaid my address book in a house move and had always wondered how she was - so when I found it over summer I arranged a meet.
It was fantastic to catch up over a cup of tea and to find her in rude health and enjoying life - we chatted for a few hours before I took a trip down memory lane around Marlborough before returning home. Great to see her, and will catch up again early next year :)
here's a few random shots I have taken over the last couple of months..:
Good times - what an awesome summer we've had :D