2 years ago, a friend/Facebook told me about an event Emerica was putting on ”we own the streets”. It was the Sunday before Go Skateboarding day, it made sense since I had lectures all day on June 21st. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Up to this point I hadn’t skated with double figures yet. I managed to convince one of my neighbours and 2 other people from our University skate club to come up to London for this event. The plan was to meet at Southbank, an iconic London skate spot and then skate to different spots around the city.
We of course, in typical skater fashion, missed the start and had no idea where to go. We found them and caught up with the mass of what felt like 9,000 skateboarders. It was probably closer to 200. It was rad. We literally took over the streets in a none polite ”yeah I’m skating in both lanes, watchu gon’ do about it punk?” way. It was the most skaters I had seen then, and not surprisingly, I was soon easily in front on my big soft wheels. The thunder of the ollie battalion behind me was tremendous. You definitely heard us before you saw us. It felt awesome.
Skating the usually busy streets of London that day put fire in an engine that would drive me to chase that high with people on quieter wheels again.
I knew that the next year I had to organise a similar event, with as many longboarders. I wasn’t sure where I’d find them or if they even existed but those were minor details. Sometime after, I saw a Broadway Bomb video and my thoughts started to crystalise into a nice plan.
Last year the dream became reality, I had my big crazy longboarding family and organised the first ”West End Bomb” on Go Longboarding day – the Saturday before Go Skateboarding day.
It was awesome. In typical English tradition, it rained heavily for most of the afternoon but we still had about 100 people turn up. I skated, I was happy
Fast forward to 2 Saturdays ago. The community was mega stoked for this year’s race and loads of people came from silly distances just to skate with us. Massive love goes out to the CamBoarders from Cambridge, super talented oversized groms with the widest grins! Timmy Peters and a bunch of Southerners also came to represent XSS and PUATB. Reading Longboarders and some Southend Pirates also made the journey. Around 130 people came. Gnar!
We met up in Hyde Park, and as always happens when lots of sick skaters come together – a lot of steeze was beeing oozed. I wanted to do a hippie jump contest, but we had no hippies and we had no sticks. One of the lads had a shoelace belt and handed it over. Assisted by the gorgeous Fiona, we now had the world’s cheapest hippy jump. People got silly with shuvits and silly tricks I can’t name. Texas Matt’s old school kick-flip seemed to be the crowd favourite.
At sometime-in-the-afternoon o’clock we had a short briefing. We were about to skate down Europe’s busiest shopping streets, people needed their wits about them! Some people decided to take a bus/train to meet us at Trafalgar square. And then BOOM! Everyone was off, I started and finished with the front pack. Ant won, Konrad was 2nd! K-town 1&2. Yeah!
Marble Arch to Oxford street was a big push, lots of buses, a bit sketchy sandwiching between them, then down to Picadilly Circus, lots of tourists were scattered about the place, shopping, waiting for buses and the sight of a huge posse of skaters sent them into a photograping frenzy. It was quite cute.
Things got really interesting when we got to Picadilly circus, the roads were closed to cars, just before the downhill section! Everyone started pushing like mad and tucked down the final stretch – WITH NO CARS! In London! On a Saturday afternoon! I finished a respectable 9th, one place behind my previous years performance, just behind Jorge McFly.
A lot of the new people looked like they were about to have a gnargasm right there by the national gallery. I can’t count how many times I heard ”that’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life”. It made me happy.
We did prizes when everyone arrived. I had a set of Arbor wheels donated by Alex team manager of Arbor Europe. And shitloads of schwag from SMB Bearings: 2 sets of ceramic bearings, 2 sets of skate bearings, 8 t-shirts and some stickers and arm bands to throw into the crowd. I also had an unread Concrete Wave magazine that I won and some issues of Nordic Surfer Magazine from my Viking friends. So the first 15 people or so all got prizes, which was great. Thank you sponsors.
As everyone knows, after a gnar push race comes a gnar slide jam. So we all skated together at an ambient pace down towards Charring Cross, what do we see at the intersection? A nice police man who had closed the road to cars. He ushered us through unto our freshly paved highway to stoke and we had a nice big family push up to the hill. Tourists were out in force again, and lots of people waving from the sidewalk. Great times.
On arriving at the bottom of the hill, we see someone has put some big traffic cones there, I look up. Police vans AND cones. Could it be? Had Skate Jesus closed Ninja Hill for us on this special day? I was near delirious at this point. We were very very lucky. We drop our bags halfway up the hill and set up camp, someone puts some music on, we get to the top of the hill, say hi to the officers and proceed to make the most of our amazing luck.
The slide jam was lots and lots of fun! The groms were so steezy! So many of them going BIG sideways. It was nice to see how much individuals and the community had grown closer and in skill since the year before. Longer slides, more gnar crashes, more tricks I can’t name and bigger smiles! Jorge McFly of course found a stair set to hover over. Himself and little Bruno had some gnar close runs together. Tandem slides made the admiring groms weak in the knees. Ant was on the hill on his penny laying some fat sideways lines. It was awesome. I skated till pushing up the hill wasn’t fun anymore, said goodbye to the people and rode off into the sunset.
Thank you rain for not falling. Thank you Queen/Jesus/Batman for closing all those roads for us. Thank you amazing people for coming to skate with us. Don’t wait till next year to come again. We get to skate ANY street in London with Zero traffic every Critical Mass with even more people, music and beverages of your choice!
Turn up, have fun, go home. Repeat!