The weekend of 15 - 17 November saw a group of us get together for two days of free-riding in the Peak district.
A similar weekend had been held in February this year with great success (see my earlier blog) and I was keen to replicate it before the 2019 season finally ends. The objective - a day on our old favourite, Bolsterstone Road (site of the long running but now defunct Bolsterstone Outlaw Race) and a day on a new spot found by the Sheffield University Longboarding group a few minutes away at Dwaridden Road.
The torrential rain in the week beforehand together with tales of the Don Valley flooding has me monitoring the weather forecast and news on a daily (OK...hourly...) basis in the days prior to the event. In the end, no-one is put off. We end up with over 30 people. Some are old friends with South Down Shredders, Southern Fairies, Sheffield University and London Longboarders represented. There are some very welcome new faces too, coming from as far afield as Glasgow, the Lake District, Devon and Grimsby.
I arrive at the bunkhouse on Friday night. It is a different venue (due to the old one being booked up when I called) but very near to everything. If anything the consensus is that this is better - it is self contained, nearer the pub and, perhaps most importantly of all, fires are allowed.
After a short visit to the pub in Hathersage, we walk back to the bunkhouse and Ben persuades us to play some of his not altogether appropraite board games. I won't go into detail but to give you an idea, one of the more normal ones is called "Throw Burrito...…". Surprisingly we carry on until the early hours of the morning.
Despite a late night (for those in our 50s anyway), everyone is up and on their way to the Swimming Pool Cafe in Hathersage early on Saturday morning. The cafe is literally under an open air heated swimming pool (perhaps not something you would expect to find open in the peak district at this time of year). After fuelling up, we head to Bolsterstone to meet up with the others. There is a lot of water on the road and there are a few tumbles as the day progresses. Indeed, Harry, Jason and I all slide out on the same corner and end up in the same water logged ditch.
When darkness falls, we have to give up and head back to the pub. Afterwards, it is fire time - something of a tradition with skating weekends. Harry Bentley goes to bed at 9 pm so he can get up and luge the legendary Mam Tor in the early hours of Sunday morning (which he apparently did but we only have his word for it as he forgot his go pro!).
For the rest of us, Sunday starts off more sedately. We meet up at Bolsterstone with a view to heading over to the second spot. at Dwaridden Road. It is raining so hard that visibility is impaired and, as expected, the road is also covered in leaves. We had asked people to bring brushes but Lewis Taylor decided he needed his petrol powered leaf blower (you know how skateboarders like to travel light) and so the road is cleared in no time at all.
The Dwaridden Road is fast: a straight followed by a tight right hand hairpin, then a long straight into a sweeping left hairpin. The rain makes it slippy. Not only is there lots of free-riding and sliding, but there is also a lot of sliding out. Fortunately, there are no injuries and, from the laughter and banter, it seems everyone is enjoying themselves.
I am thrilled that so many people are able to get together this late in the year to enjoy skating (despite the weather). Hopefully, there will be a few more chances to skate over the off-season but for me it is time to get on with Christmas orders. Of course I love making boards and luges, but I must say it is all the more sweet when memories of such a great weekend exist to sustain me.
For a video edit of the runs, check out:
Thank you to Josh Leach, Kinga Rumin and Max Brown for the video and photos. Much appreciated.