HawRADen 2015 – BMX Fun Ride

HawRADen BMX Ride

Saturday 24th October 2015

Hawarden, Flintshire

My mate Danny is into BMX.  He gets BMX bike parts, builds the BMX bikes, rides the BMX bikes too.  Proper, old school BMX bikes – Haro, Mongoose, Raleigh – all the vintage legends.  He was into BMX when he was a kid in the 80’s, and a few years ago rediscovered his passion.

Nowadays, in addition to hunting down vintage bike parts to build his dream machines, he also meets up with other enthusiasts for a ride.  Apparently this is what these BMX geezers do: all over the North West, even all over the country, they meet up and go for a ride together.  There’s usually breaks in the ride for refreshments (ie they stop at a pub or two – soft drinks, obviously…). IMG_20151024_130248497_HDR

Dan decided to organise a local gathering for riders, which would take place in and around the home area of Hawarden in Flintshire, North Wales.  This all sounded like good fun to me.  I was invited and decided to tag along.

My only problem was the fact that I don’t own a BMX bike, at least not anymore.  That left me with two options: my mountain bike or my Schwinn low rider.

It had to be the low rider.  The Schwinn is a retro styled bike that looks like a Harley Davidson chopper, but pedal powered.  I figured this bike was my best bet, it has a cool look and was a little different.  Also I decided to kit myself out in heavy metal/biker gear – rock t-shirt, bandanna, mirrored shades.  Not taking the mickey, but I thought I might as well go the whole hog, on my hog.

So off I went, a Happy Shopper Dennis Hopper, to join the ride.

The meet up point was the Fox and Grapes pub in Hawarden village.  Luckily they were a friendly bunch, so although I only knew Dan, I wasn’t left out.  With a few stragglers to round up, we just made the train from Hawarden station up to Buckley.  It was just one stop and a free fare for most of these BMX bandits.

A short ride then up to the Shamrock in Buckley, where the owner, also a BMX aficionado, laid on some food.  Good stuff, great boozer.  More BMXers met up with the original party here and the group grew a few more.

By the time we left the Shamrock on the ride across Buckley, there must have been twenty odd BMX riders (plus one Easy Rider interloper).  The ride was through the streets and finally the first downhill stretch of the day, which was a relief.  It’s hard work without gears, this bike riding malarkey.

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A short break at the Parrot in Drury and we were off again, this time a nice long downhill stretch to Ewloe.  I think a few heads turned as drivers and passers-by clocked the throng of bikers rolling down the road.  One rider got a little too rad and ended up with the only injury of the day – but we all have to pay our dues some time.

The final stop, for me, at any rate – was the Running Hare in Ewloe.  Never my favourite pub, never the less the open space outdoors for bikes and riders was ideal.

Throughout the afternoon, there were stories told and memories recalled of bikes and adventures from our youth.  There was a very positive and fun atmosphere.  It was all very light hearted and I was made to feel welcome, despite not having a BMX bike.

The group then rode on to complete the circuit back at the Fox.  I bailed out and rolled down the hill to home, having enjoyed a great afternoon of nostalgia and banter.  These BMX bike rides are a great idea – here’s to all the Rad Dads and other forty somethings keeping the dream alive.

My Christmas list this year will feature a BMX bike, for the first time since about 1984.

Segway Forest Adventure

Welcome to a new section here at the Virtual Hot Tub, Activities. Here I’ll be writing about activities that I’ve taken part in and – I hope – would be of interest.

Segway

For those who don’t know, a Segway is an electronic transport device. It has two wheels and a central column so that the Segway resembles an upright broomstick. The rider travels around stood on a base, with two wheels that carry the contraption around.

I had the opportunity to ride a Segway at Go Ape in Delamere Forest, Cheshire. The experience, called “Forest Segway”, was a guided tour around the forest in charge of my own machine. segrally-oct-7-t-sm

The session began with a brief safety talk and time learning to ride the Segway. There was a small track to work my way around, learning the basics of control and balance. Slowly I developed a better grasp of the device and grew in confidence.

Next it was time to hit the trail. As part of a group, we started off slowly for the first few minutes till we reached the track and were allowed off the leash. At first, the slower speed meant that it felt as if I would fall off the back; so I over compensated by leaning right over the handlebars. Segway_Bray_Aug2014 91

The Segway started to get really fun as soon as the safety was off and the vehicle could travel faster.   It was immense fun cruising around the forest, making wide arcs round corners and picking up speed along the straight tracks. As we weren’t racing, there were no potentially dangerous collisions amongst the group, no bad vibes at all. It was just about learning to ride the Segway and having fun with the wind in your face.

I enjoy any activity that involves speed and balance, and found the experience of riding the Segway brilliant. They are quite simple to master and very soon I was enjoying riding around. Stopping and starting was quite simple, though not always executed with finesse. There were no issues with safety and everyone had a great time.

Riding a Segway is definitely something I would recommend!

You can read all about the Go Ape Forest Segway Experience here.

Alternatively, check out what my old pals at Treatme.co.uk have on offer here.

Disclaimer: Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub is not responsible for any injuries you receive whilst participating in any of our featured activities.  You silly bastard.

Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub receives no remuneration/compensation from featured venues.  Unfortunately.

Mindless Skateboards: “Hunter” Longboard

The skate shop in Chester closed down recently.  Bad news.  They had some pretty cool stuff.  As chance would have it, I turned up on the very last day, and managed to pick up a couple of bargains.

The big bargain of the day was this Mindless Skateboards Hunter model, which I picked up for under half price.  I had been hoping to pick up a new longboard for the collection for a while, and it had been my birthday not too long before – so I actually had a bit of cash to spend.  This board was perfect.

Mindless "Hunter" longboard

Mindless “Hunter” longboard

The Hunter is the ideal shape that I was looking for, pin tail (with a nice concave) so it offered a different ride to my other longboards.  At 44 inches long, it’s a little shorter than my Sector 9 board.  It’s solid but not too heavy, with a very stylish striped graphic that is reflected on the grip tape cut away.

Soft (80A) wheels provide a slick yet comfortable ride – ideal for cruising.  I’ve taken this longboard out and found that it glides very nicely and was easy to get used to.  With winter well on it’s way, further rides will probably have to wait a while – which is not a good thing!  Come spring, this board will be excellent to carve the local area.

The only down side with this board is that, as a complete, the deck comes ready shrink wrapped.  Great for keeping the graphic in nice condition, but annoying when trying to remove the deck from it’s plastic prison.

As my Sector 9 board had been around for a while, this Mindless longboard has made a fine addition.  Not exactly a replacement, but it will fare well as my day to day standard board.  The price was excellent for a man on a budget (like me) without compromising on quality.  Overall, I’m very impressed.IMG_2576

Technical Specifications:

  • Length: 44″
  • Width: 9 “
  • 100% Canadian maple deck with concave, complete with di-cut grip tape
  • 6″ Six Star Raw trucks
  • 95A SHR cushion & 14 x 8mm rubber wedge riser
  • 70 x 42mm 80A SHR wheels
  • ABEC-5 chrome bearings

Soundtrack: Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath

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My First Skateboard

Sometime in the early 80’s (1980 or ’81, I believe) my Gran informed me that she had picked up a present for me.  Gran sometimes did that, finding bargains at charity shops and jumble sales for me.  These items usually turned out be toys and games that were great fun.  This time, my present turned out be something different: a skateboard.

It was a small red plastic skateboard that she had found at some local kids garage sale, and bought for a few pence.  At that time my only concept of a skateboard was of a craze that had peaked a few years ago when I was younger.  Kids didn’t ride skateboards anymore and the thought of actually trying to ride it didn’t appeal to me.  So the skateboard was left in the garage for years and never used.

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Red plastic skateboard. Amateurish camera strap in view.

Fast forward a few years and I saw the film “Back to the Future”.  This is something of a cliche now, but suddenly my eyes were opened to the possibility of what I could do with that old plastic board.  Out of the blue skateboards had become “cool”.  The toy in the garage that bemused me previously now had serious potential.  That looked like fun.

Our driveway at the time was about twenty feet long and fairly steep.  I decided that I would dig the skateboard out of the garage junk and ride it down the drive.  Placing the board at the top of the drive, I held it in place with my front foot.  Then carefully lifted my back foot off the ground, placed it on the board and started rolling.  I rolled about three feet, lost my balance and fell.  Grazes to right hand and that was it.  No more skateboard.

The board went back in the garage junk pile, there to stay forever more.

But it played on my mind.  Over the next week or so, I could remember the few seconds of riding the board successfully.  And I could imagine what it would be like to ride it again.  I could see in my mind’s eye what it would be like, and what I would have to do to stay on.  I liked that feeling.  My imagination was sparked.  What if I made it to the bottom of the drive?  Wouldn’t that feel great?

So I tried again.  Skateboard at the top of the drive, facing downhill.  One foot on, then the other.  Rolling.  Keeping my balance this time, like I had in my mind’s eye.  And I made it.  I rode the board to the bottom of the drive.

When I reached the bottom I felt great.  I felt a feeling of accomplishment that I hadn’t felt before.  This was to be the beginning of an amazing relationship.

I then began to learn to ride the board, down the drive, along the street.  I learned to turn, left and right, and keep rolling.  Big sweeping turns and short, quick turns, leaning to each side.

At the time I was unaware of (then modern) skateboarding tricks so learnt from old 1970’s books.  I practised over and over, doing the same moves and fine tuning them.  Kick turns left and right, round corners – over and over again.  Hour after hour, learning and perfecting just very basic techniques.

That’s over twenty five years ago now.  I’ve had many skateboards since then, of different sizes, shapes and styles.  Learnt new tricks.  Travelled to new spots.  Met great people, some of whom I’m still friends with.  Some aren’t with us anymore.

I still have the small, red plastic skateboard that I learnt to ride.  It’s faded and looks a bit worse for wear now.  It only cost a few pence and was eventually superseded by larger, better quality boards.  But of all the skateboards I’ve ever owned, it’s probably the most important.

Thanks, Gran.

 

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Length: 22.5″
  • Width: 5.75″
  • Wheelbase: 12″
  • Plastic deck, flat with no concave.  Minimal kicktail.
  • Metal trucks.
  • Wheels: Unknown – hard – not polyurethane.

Soundtrack: Huey Lewis & the News.

 

Random Bike Ride Playlist

First bike ride of the year this afternoon.  Just a short one to check the gear still works.  Whilst out on my bicycle, I hit shuffle on the ipod and this is what I got:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Police Station”
  2. The Damned – “She”
  3. Deep Purple – “Hey Joe”
  4. Johnny Cash – “Send a Picture of Mother”
  5. Zombina & the Skeletones – “The Fragile Heart”
  6. Tommy James & the Shondells – “I Think We’re Alone Now”
  7. UK Subs – “Teenage”
  8. Nashville Pussy – “Nutbush City Limits”
  9. DJ Format – “2,3.. scrape”
  10. Iggy Pop – “Starry Night”
  11. The Cult – “Tiger in the Sun”
  12. Flogging Molly – “The Rare Ould Times”
  13. Nirvana – “Been a Son”

With apologies to Matt Barnes – ripping you off a bit here, but I did warn you.

Bike riding t-shirt option for today – Motorhead