It has only been a couple of weeks since Fumble in the Valley, but here I am again – on the road to a race meet. This time it is The Crackling at Hog Hill (aka Redbridge Cycle Centre, Hainoult) and therefore my journey is a couple of hundred miles South instead of West.
I set off early on Saturday morning to make it in time…and I do…despite a bad crash snarling up the M1 just past Leicester.
I am on my own this time as my partners in crime all have work commitments. Still, I am looking forward to it. My injuries from the last race have just about recovered and I always enjoy Hog Hill.
There is usually lots going on and this time I am not only racing but also providing a custom deck as a prize. It is a bullet deck, SP8BOARDS’ best selling downhill deck (37” x 10”) and is handmade and hand drawn like all SP8BOARDS. Featuring my new extra course grip tape and The Crackling’s logo, there is a bit of me that wishes I was keeping it for myself!
The sun is shining and it is hot. I can’t believe the contrast with Wales, where sleet and high winds were very much the order of the day.
As usual, I have entered the street luge competition. I do a few practice runs but I am not racing until the Sunday and there is a lot to distract me. I am keen to try a few stand up runs and Harry Bentley helps and talks me through the race circuit. I haven’t done this before and I really enjoy it. However, I don’t think I will ever be a threat to the downhill guys (even assuming I had the fitness to run up and down the hills to get back in line for a downhill race after the street luge!!!).
Sam Boneless agrees to try out Flow, the new dancer deck from SP8BOARDS. I have seen Sam perform before at Hogtoberfest and I am keen for someone with skills to try it out. Although I have made a few custom dancers, this is the first year I have offered a standard version. Sam takes it away to practice and decide to compete on it later that day. I am thrilled at his help.
I am keen to watch the Saturday competitions. There are lots, including some new races such as the new street sledge (lots of contact) and electric skateboards from evolve. Somehow I get roped into the slide and freeride jam. There are all sorts of old and new tricks being done with prizes for good tricks rather than placing/ranking. Being one of the older participants, it is no surprise that my sliding skills are classed as “old school” and I focus on tech sliding tricks (hands down), including a surrender slide into a 2 wheeled pendulum slide. I win a cup – not for being amazing - but for not killing anyone when I come off during one of my surrender slides. (Essentially when I throw myself forward, I forget to take my board with me with the result that I am heading towards the judges on my hands at about 20 miles per hour). I walk away unhurt, to the surprise of many, including me!!
The campsite is waterlogged, but I manage to find a patch of concrete to park my campervan on and so have no fear of getting bogged down. It has been a great day and it ends with a camp-fire and lots of relaxed, good humour.
Sunday dawns and although it is a bit cloudy, it is still warm. The street luge racing is ON. The course is approx 500 metres long, with four main features - a sweeping left hand followed by a right hand into a chicane and then a sweeping right which tightens up just before the finish line.
I come first in two of my heats and second in a third. I make the final but my over exuberance in the slide jam yesterday is taking its toll. My hands are hurting and I come last after a poor push off (jokes about peaking too early are not allowed!!). Congratulations to Gareth Chamberlain, Lionill Ironlung and Ell Macey who take 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively.
I am consoled by the awards ceremony. Ben Stainer wins the downhill and takes home my board as part of his prize. Sam Boneless gets third place in the dancing event with the Flow board.
A big thank you and shout out to Sam.
In fact a big shout out to all the organisers and helpers, including St Johns Ambulance. It has been a great event and a testament to Timmy Peters. He has been one of the organisers for the last ten years but is now retiring. He will definitely be a hard act to follow.
The next event is at Gurston on 28/29 April but it is a family birthday and so I won’t be there. I am however, hoping to make it to Ride the Dragon in May.
For more details on SP8BOARDS decks, check out our store.
To read about SP8BOARDS’ adventures at Fumble in the Valley a few weeks ago, see our blog.