Words by Fran Hardy
The cool chill of the tunnel came as a welcome relief after miles of pushing and sweating along the beautifully bright leafy path that links the two cities of Bath and Bristol. We rolled into almost complete darkness to the hoots and whoops of camaraderie of 180 very tired longboarders! The long dark tunnel marked the looming finish and, at a gradient now finally in our favour, riders could enjoy a speedy last few miles of Lush Longboard’s biggest ever event.
I emerged out of the other end into the bright mid-afternoon sun glaring through the trees, with the Lush crew’s smiling faces welcoming us. We chatted as we rolled and I became enlightened as to the success of this year’s event and how the number of riders had doubled from last year’s debut...
The Lush boys decided on riding for Sustrans this year, who are an organisation hoping that there will be a cycle track within two miles of everyone in the country within two years! Sustrans are the country’s leading sustainable transport charity, who campaign for a more environmentally friendly transport system nationwide and have recently been fighting to prevent the Bath-Bristol cycle path from being made into a bus route. This has been a really topical issue in the area over the past few months, so Lush took this ideal opportunity to support such an important and relevant cause by getting 180 long-boarders to skate the 15-mile cycle path!
Advertising only via their website and word-of-mouth proves the effectiveness of the longboard network, with every rider paying £15 towards the chosen charity, in return for a Lush t-shirt and an awesome day (maybe the perfect way to spend a sunny urban Saturday) amongst like-minded long-boarders, all up for a laugh - and a challenge!
I managed to exchange words with a handful of girls who were riding and learnt that they had travelled from Oxford, Sheffield, Devon and Newquay to be there. All the girls involved finished after great effort, despite quite a few of them being new to skating. No doubt all were urged along by the high spirited energy emitted from all the riders. There were probably less than 10 of us girls riding that day, and for anyone concerned that females are not sure footed enough, you’ll be spewing confidence after 16 miles! This is the beauty of this event; it's accessible to people of all standards of riding, so next year more ladies please!
Other riders included boys on Rollsrolls long distance boards (like the one ridden by Dave Cornthwait on his epic trip across Australia a couple of years ago - and the original inspiration for the Bath-Bristol skate); the boys from Bath who made their own boards out of planks of wood the night before; a short-boarder (yes, even he made it on those tiny wheels!); Simon, in head to toe purple lycra and G-string for added shits and giggles; three grown men using either their dog or wife (on a bike) to pull them along! I’d have thought they’d have known better! Plus, a handful of roller-bladers, a didgeridoo player, and a 6ft plank rider all came out to play in the sun.
The lunch time mid-way stop was swarming with riders watching the silly antics of those showing off their nose manual skills, with a Canadian shredder taking these tricks a step further, pulling off a 3ft drop and tunnel wallride indy grab further down the trail! Sweet!
Having hosted a really successful, downhill free-riding (no racing) event at a disused race track at Cadwell at the start of the year, Lush are now awaiting their next big event in September, as the title brand sponsors of the Eastbourne Downhill (a 3-day world cup downhill and freeride event) where there are expected to be about 200 riders. And so stoked on the turnout of this year’s marathon skate, Lush are looking forward to an even bigger event next year. I for one can’t wait... only this time I’m definitely going to put bigger wheels on my board and wear my belly dancing outfit!