Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Urbside in Winter - A Dry(ish) Session In The Rain

These past few years our little island has seen some fairly punishing weather over the winter period. And if you know anything about this country you'll know that it only takes a few flakes of snow or a unusually strong gust to set the countries transport authorities to tell us via TV & radio news to "...stay indoors..." or "...only make a journey if it is absolutely necessary...".
This must be the funniest thing to a visitor to our shores in winter. Geographically, we're barely a stones throw from some of Europe's best ski slopes yet we always see snow as a deadly foe with a vicious back hand ready to swipe as soon as our guard is down.
This year has begun not with the drifts and white windscreens of past years, instead we have, for the past few months experienced strong winds of which many have commented were "worse than the great storm of '87" (if you feel you have to, look it up. We had hurricane force winds across the south east that blew an estimated 15 million trees over. 18 people lost their lives in one night. One national weather man, Michael Fish completely dismissed any chance of extreme weather on the evening of the storm and after a night of chaos this unfortunate BBC Meteorologist became the victim of a media witch hunt which practically ended his TV forecasting career), widespread flooding and unusually high tides rolling over our shores.
In a skateboarder's terms, this time of year, given the funds and availability of venues results in an increased number of visits to indoor skate parks. We in the south east of the England have a small number of these establishments dotted around the region. Although one or two are gems, in the most part they are generic driveway, ledge, flatbar, flat bank setups with a small mini, if you are extremely fortunate.
In short, winter in this Great Britain is depressing. Whether wet or frozen, the thought of visiting that scooter packed indoor park again is a grim one and any chance of an outdoor session is gleefully grasped with both hands!
There is however, one place that bucks the wet in winter trend as just an hours drive from my door is a small, clean, under-bridge DIY setup called Urbside under the A120 near Dunmow, Essex. It's not Washington Street, but it has begun to take shape with transition sections at both ends and obsticles of various designs built on the large flat bank, on the flat and up most of the supporting concrete posts.
You will see photos from last year's big build day in an earlier post.
Given that this was likely to be the only dry spot within driving distance (and also the fact that none of the guys, including me are very impressed by the never changing interior and lack of scene support by the owner of the park on the coast that others in the Milk Skateboards crew were visiting), we opted for Urb.
I feel I should tell you that this plan was hatched between Sam, Harley & myself before heading into town for "a couple of drinks" on Saturday night. As we chatted our way to the  the Maison's Arms we made comment on what we were planning for tomorrow and by the time we reached the bottom of our pint glasses we'd got a plan!
These plans were quickly scuppered when we met some friends at the next bar. None of us remember getting home. Events from the previous night began filtering through as the day went on and it became clear that none of us were home much before 4am. 
Photo credit: Gabbi

Rather pleased that I'd dodged the worst of what could have been a bitching hangover, I woke Sam and prepared for the hours drive by visiting Krazy Horse for breakfast.
Not able to contact Harley until nearly 1pm, we finally got the car loaded and set off.
It was at the point of arrival that we realised that we'd forgotten one of the Urbside Winter Essentials - spare shoes. And to be quite honest, we weren't going to be satisfactorily protected against the mud on this occasion without waders!
As I said, the park is clean & kept so by anyone who skates there, but unfortunately the dirt track from the nearest road to the park is not the driest place in winter, what with a swollen River Chelmer passing under the bridge, feet away from the park. So a quick stop at a supermarket to blag some carrier bags and off we staggered through the mud. Biodegradable plastic bags are probably fit for purpose, but not designed to keep mud off shoes and so, my Vans are ruined.
A group of locals had exactly the same ideas as us and after the usual greetings I watched Harry filming a trick and spotted a good shot.
Harry Wilson - f/s over-crook along and up
By this time and after a little medication, Sam had woken up a bit and was trying a few bits which turned into the next two shots. 

Sam Hayter - wall ride nollie pop out

Sam Hayter - wallie b/s tail slide
By now the light was fading and skating the centre of the park became impossible, so moving to the dry end and surviving a barrage of flashes following an unannounced sequence shot (sorry mate!), Harley came through with a cheeky one on one of the 1/4 pipes.  
I've posted both a black & white and a colour version as I'm not sure which I prefer.

Harley Miller - f/s no comply disaster

#skateboarding #urbside #essex #uk #photography #outdoors #diy #skate #skating