After a couple of hours, we headed off to the next stop, The Vault at Rollersnakes. I'd gotten in touch with Darren Pearcy a few months prior to drop the idea of a road trip and he was keen as mustard. I'd seen some sick edits of The Vault over the years but footage of the ramp room had become rare so after he confirmed it was alive and kicking, it automatically become a stop on our little pilgrimage round the Midlands.
When we got there, the Derby lot (Darren, Adam Gaucher, Cheis 'Bambi' Price and Greg Hollingsworth) were in the Rollersnakes shop watching the Malmo Vert Attack contest live. After exchanging pleasantries we also got hooked on the footage for a minute or two (it was going off) before finally checking out the vault, just to the side of the shop. First impression: fun, Hectic, intense but nonetheless, fun. Dropping in anywhere sees you at the opposite end at speed. So much fun. I wish there were more of these micro installations all over.
Seaghan Crawley Frontside Smith grind at The Vault, Derby.
Tiredness was started to creep in after the hour-long drive to the fourth spot of the day but the hype of seeing the vault for the first time got the better of me so I got stuck right in with the lads who had arrived with us at the same time. Mike and Paul did the grown up thing and decided to sit this one out, being the straight thinking street dogs that they were. Despite my eagerness, or as a result of it, I managed to hangup on a front lip and went straight to the floor. The slam knocked the wind out of me and after I managed to crawl to the side, I resigned myself to collecting footage of the rest of the onslaught. And I'm glad I did.
Most of the crew had something for the ramp. Add into the mix the stunts delivered by the locals on their home turf and it was banging! The amazing thing about rolling this deep is the variety of stoke that gets created. It was a pleasure to witness and document such a kaleidoscope of styles and tricks. All equally appreciated. Skateboarding with the homies is sick!
After a few hours of tearing up the vault, we headed to our hotel to get checked in. Derby's not a massive town and luckily we were within walking distance of the town centre. After a chilled night in a gin bar (celebrating Jordan's birthday and watching Big Johnny dominate a pool table) we heading back for a well-earned night of rest, via an obligatory midnight carb/protein supplement store, aka a donner house. This actually had a full menu for donner pizza variants. Birthday boy was buzzing.
Ben Cook Back Smiths the vert wall.
On the Sunday morning we congregated for the buffet breakfast. It was obvious who had an early night and who didn't. The morning banter proved that despite the various levels of energy, we were all still hyped on how the plan was progressing. We had managed to hit four spots in one day without any serious casualties or incidents. Riding the wave of providence, we heading to our first spot of the second day, Derby Skatepark.
Despite being about ten minutes away on the map, this park was a mission to get to thanks to Derby's confusing road network. When we got there it was clear the previous day was starting to take its toll as a good chunk of the crew were either chilling or taking it easy on the flat ledge/rail/pole jam line. A small number went to work on the driveway and main section of the park while others had a blast about the (not too shabby) bowl section after a foray into street (some certified ATVs in this crew). We pretty much had the main park section to ourselves, apart from the one scooter kid who couldn't help but snake almost everyone. In fairness the little gremlin did apologise every time. A few locals turned up a little while later as the session got into full swing.
A few of the crew jumped on the street section to bless the rail with some stunts while others focused on the quarters on either side of the park and also the bank. Feeling like i hadn't filmed enough footage over the trip (i only started filming at the vault), i assumed filmer duties and set about capturing some footage. Glad i did too. It's easy to forget how good the lads are when you only see them at the odd skate session sporadically thorough the winter.
I quite enjoyed this park although I didn't do much skating. It seemed very progressive and flowed well. Kudos to whoever designed and built it. Nothing too crazy, just right with nice lines to accommodate a handful of skaters at once. Maybe nerding out a bit on it but I was impressed.
Again, after about an hour or so, we left for Clifton in Nottingham, which would turn out to be the last stop of the day. But not before capturing a group photo on what was turning out to be an iconic trip.
Clifton Skatepark, Nottingham
Clifton was only a thirty minute drive away. When we got there the local blader crew were right in the middle of a session, complete with some belting tunes. I can’t remember the last time I had seen a large gathering of these guys before. It seems the scooter hordes had decimated the inline population as much as the plank pushers. At least that was the case up North. Looks like other "disciplines" were holding their own round these parts. Dare I say, it was good to see. After finding a spot to perch, the crew fanned out over the park, everyone reaching for their poison, be it tranny, blocks, gaps, or just a spot to chill in the sun.
Johnny took a little roll around before scoping out a spot for various photos. A few bits and bobs got filmed by Mike including my shabby attempt at a heelflip across a small gap. Note to self, skate more, drive less next time. My legs were well and truly dead.
After about an hour at Clifton, the general pace of movement had went from demo-level lines to casual cruising and finally settling on spectator perching. Taking in the sunshine and banter and hyping up a young skater who had turned up to the park with his Dad to get a bit of skating in. I'd imagine the young dude was stoked to go down his local to see about fifteen skateboarders on the session. With a little encouragement, he managed to channel the hype into an ollie, kickflip and nearly a 360 flip across a grass gap. Yes Lad!
Connor Stokes gaps up to Pivot at Clifton.
We were meant to head off to another park on the way home but seeing as it was now nearly 4 o’clock, and everyone was pretty much goosed (Except Jake, who was hyped for more), we decided to call it a day. After a round of fist bumps, hugs and high fives, we all hit the road facing north. We took a slight detour to deliver Johnny to his good lady in Nottingham before heading home.
The drive back as actually pretty tranquil. Jordan and Ben hit the snooze button for a fair chunk of the journey so I was left alone with my thoughts and some lo-fi hip hop on the drive back. I felt like we had accomplished something pretty epic. We had a plan and it was executed flawlessly. Judging by the smiles I saw over the two days on the road, I don't think it was going to be a one off. I'd be gutted if it was. Really looking forward to the next one, wherever it may be. Probably Scotland, maybe further down south. It doesn't really matter where, all that matters is with who.
Skateboarding is never about being stationary. To me, the whole ethos of skateboarding is about transitioning/expanding/improving/growing/going from one "thing" to the next. This "thing" is you current state of mind, your current physical location, your current impact on your local scene, your current appreciation and mastery of your local skate infrastructure (be it parks or street), your current awareness and appreciation of skate culture and also, but not limited to, your current level of respect for your peers and others in and around skateboarding. This "thing" is and can be anything in skateboarding. And the more you skate, the more you grow with it.
I'd encourage everyone to go grow. Go move from one thing to the next in (or outside) skateboarding. And if you're lucky enough to have a sidekick (or fifteen) to come along for the ride, you'll always be guaranteed good times.
Ronny Calow for the Sheffield connect
Darren Pearcy for hooking up the Vault Visit
The House Skatepark for being a bastion of UK skateboarding for all these years
And the crew:
and last but not least Hangup, for making me write this. It was a mission!
Words: Dave Apomah.
Photos: Johnny Haynes.
Interviews coming next week.