North Tour 2011
Words by Simon Johns : Photos by Chris Earnden
To most, ‘The Northern Tour’ probably sounds like a rigorous trip around the upper ends of England. Sleeping rough, eating crappy food and going out on the lash every night for a week. Thankfully it is none of that and can be better compared to a friendly weekend excursion, skating with your mates in some awesome skateparks.
This particular trip I had been looking forward to for a fair few weeks because of the caliber of the skateparks we were going to be visiting. The excite-o-meter increased when I heard it had been moved forward a week to bonfire weekend. Since I never have the motivation to go anywhere or do anything on bonfire night, I thought this would be good excuse to take advantage of others peoples kind & careful planning and rekindle the love for fires, loud bangs and sparkly things.
Friday night, after a long 3+ hour drive, we (myself, Colin Horan & Neil Shillabeer) arrive in Liverpool. We left a bit early as not to hit the standard ‘get the fuck home as fast as you can’ traffic, so we had time to chow down some food before we strolled on over to Rampworx. As we arrived we saw the familiar face of Jonni Webster who would be our host for the next couple of days and also the not so familiar mugs of Cameron Wright and Mattie Hale. It’s always good to see riders you don’t know, especially the younger generation who will help keep streetboarding alive when we are all in wheelchairs. It also shows that the scene is growing and maybe what we are doing is actually making a bit of a difference.
Rampworx is a place that for any skater/inliner/bmxer I could only compare to somewhere like Hamleys toy store. There is so much going on that it’s always quite hard to know where to begin. Everything just looks so dam tantalising, and with so many obstacles that you wish were in your local skatepark, it gets a bit mind blowing. Colin started impressing us all on the down rail showing how to do every board and lipslide in the cleanest way possible. Jonni, Neil and Andy Bracegirdle joined in the session with some clean smiths and lipslides to regular and fakie. The two youngsters tore up the miniramp with steezy combo stalls giving us all a glimpse of things to come. I joined in the session with some half cab 5-0s and cab 270s to round up a good little filming session for the next issue of Overcast!
After the buzzer rang it was back in the car to Preston to sample one of the Northern tours most famed traditions…. Jonni’s home cooked chilli. With Jonni’s culinary skills being second to none anyway, the taste was amplified from the evenings worth of energy draining skating. After the chilli was demolished, it was time to head out to town to unwind and see what the ladies of Preston had to offer. We headed to a club called ‘The Warehouse’, which is a 3 tiered building with different musical genres playing on each floor. A bit of something for everyone. On entering the club, myself and Gadget Ruiz (who had arrived during the last hour of the rampworx session) were mistaken for thugs due to my silver neckless and Gadget’s burglar styled stripey jumper. After some smooth talking from Jonni, we were finally allowed in and the rest of that night is history. To that guy standing outside of the Warehouse at 4am…. No mate, we did not say chip butty, but yes they are good!
Saturday morning and everyone was as you would expect on a Saturday morning. Luckily for us, the session in Blackpool didn’t start until 9pm so we had the day to recover from the chaos of Friday. We had some attempts at skating some street after breakfast. Colin laced some nice front boards down a rail with a grotty run up, whilst I continued to get further more frustrated because of the angle I had to approach it on. It was getting to that point where I knew it would not be worth hurting myself as I had the evening session to get those skating demons out of me. We headed back to Jonni’s for a quick slice of pizza and a round of xbox before heading to the evenings venue.
Before it was time to skate, we had been invited by Pete Whitely ( fellow streetboarder) to his bonfire and fireworks get together over at his ranch in St Annes. It was a bitterly cold night, but the atmosphere of the fireworks and bonfire made it worth it. We also got offered hot soup and a bread roll to give us some energy before it was time to shred.
9pm came around and it was time to hit up Ramp City in Blackpool. Jonni had managed to rent the park out for 3 hours and thus given us a private playground to roll on until the clock struck midnight. Everyone took advantage of the empty park hitting up all the ¼ pipes and rails that would usually be too difficult to get close to during normal operating hours. A highlight for me was seeing Ryan Geddes back on his board tearing up the spine miniramp with his trademark steezy style. Ryan was always a guy I looked up to when starting out, so was awesome to see him getting involved in the scene again after some time out. Andy and Jonni started their session on the 6ft ¼ pipe with some solid fs airs and 5-0 stalls. Myself and Colin took advantage of the newly built flat bar with some long front boards and noseblunt pretzels. We then moved on to the kink rail where Colin threw down some disaster front boards joined by some kinked switch boardslide 270s from myself. Gadget accompanied Ryan on the miniramp with some floaty airs and grinds showing that the veterans still got game. Neil Shillabeer started to pad up and make his way to the top of the roll in for a launch box session. He nailed some nice fs 360 indy’s for the crowd that had gathered from the earlier bonfire and firework get together.
As the clock struck midnight we left the park for the drive back to Preston. This night, ‘The Warehouse’ would not be graced with the thug like antics of Gadget or myself as it was clear that everyone was in need of health food and sleep. We grabbed ourselves a greasy kebab filled with way too much salad then headed back to Jonni’s for some shut eye. The morning came around, and it was time to say goodbye to people and head back to our lives in the south, but not before a trip to the green frog which as of now holds the record in my books for best double egg and ketchup baton.
Massive thank you to Jonni Webster for once again hosting this weekend and everyone else that came to make it an event. See you all next year!