I was flippin knackered AS HELL! ‘Best night in London by far’, I thought as I stumbled home at the end of the day. We had taken over the streets on skateboard or bike and shut the city down! Raved in the middle of Oxford Circus, took up some causes, and raised our boards in freaking chaos! My badges: a scraped up arm, knee, torn jeans, worn down shoes, and a body that was going to ache like none other in the morning. Critical Mass–done!
We amassed randomly, some at the train station and some at Southbank. It was a mix of costumed get-ups and regular clothing as it was Halloween weekend and we all got ourselves a fair share of stares as we glided along on longboard. Getting closer we found ourselves dodging tourists along the Thames-walkway and the wheels of our boards clicked noisily over the tiled paving. They commented in curious amazement at this group of skaters in their midst, and the whispering stirred my anticipation.
Finding the other skaters everyone hugged, said hellos and checked out the crowd that was milling about. There were hundreds of us! Hundreds of skaters, cyclists and who knows what! Gradually the crowd shifted to the roadway next to the National Theatre. I waited there anxiously awaiting the go-ahead. Suddenly I hear a series of voices yelling out “Go! Go! Go!” and we were off!
From here began a series of flashing memories fuelled by adrenaline, Redbull and pure excitement. I pushed along trying with all my effort to keep up and stay on. Having only begun to learn to skate just a few months ago; It was skate or die (at least in my mind it was), and skate I did. Bikes carting speakers and ghetto blasters filled the night with club beats and we filled the streets, forcing posh looking cars to a crawl as we passed by. We laughed with our newfound power in numbers as the vehicles helplessly sounded their horns.
In a blur we passed by famous monuments: Big Ben, Euston Station, Saint Pancras Station, the Fleet Street statue, and countless others. As we rounded a steep downward curve on a dark London street I realised I had been there just one week earlier in my mate’s car. I thought suddenly with a thrill that these were streets I had only ever passed by on foot or by bus, and this time I was flying down them on my campus v-tail cruiser board.
I had just gotten going when suddenly a board clipped my wheels and sent me diving to the street. As we tumbled I scraped my arm, knee, and tore a massive hole in my jeans. In the shock of it I didn’t feel a thing and only wanted to get back up and continue on. The guy apologized profusely but I assured him it was ok and laughingly called the bloody red patches my badges for the night, my souvenirs even.
At stoplights, friends reunited and the drink flowed freely. Through the course of the ride I somehow ended up with a can of beer and a can of cider both! A cheerful man on bike offered to let me rummage through his backpack for a can of whatever I could find. To my delight I dug out a can of strawberry flavoured Magners Cider. “my favourite” I thought with glee as I thanked the man and popped open my drink. I clutched the open drink as we approached a killer steep hill and tried with all my might to keep the can up and not completely eat pavement as we hurtled down.
Critical Mass is known to be somewhat political, and though I knew it, I heard a variety of causes being spouted. Most said it was a night to raise awareness of cyclist and boarder rights. One cyclist told me as we waited for the group to make their way in a ridiculous mass through the McDonalds drive-through that it was to remember a girl who had died recently after being hit by a London bus when on her cycle. Many people I found though were just filled with the excitement of doing something this crazy in a large group. I took all of this in as part of the experience and found myself filled with a vague sense of purpose alongside my giddy enchantment with the event.
As we kept on we stopped randomly at intersections and roared, raising our boards and bikes in the air. The bikes carting music blasted as we danced in the middle of the street. Shutting down Oxford circus round-about, we raved and yelled as car-horns sounded around us. “you little rebel” my friend, Rob, commented with a grin as he saw me hoist my cruiser board in the air with a loud shout and smile.
A guy dressed as the cookie monster ran about saying; “Cookie! Cookie!” with cookies on offer in his paw. I took one with a slight doubt in my mind about the safety of this cookie but ate it anyway. Just after this our young Jorge, who was dressed as Pedo-bear (the web-famous Japanese viral icon) found himself tackled to the ground by another boy dressed as the infamous bear. The two comically tousled and chased each other down Oxford street and we laughed at the random hilarity of it all.
We skated and skated for hours alongside the cyclists. Passing by Buckingham Palace my legs were turning to jello and it was getting harder and harder to keep my board straight with the uneven pavement and walkways. Bruno, a friend from the skate society, came along dressed as Mario and offered his hand for a tow. I held on as he pulled me along and slung me past him. The cyclists were also extremely kind and helpful and offered their bikes to help tow some weary boarders up hillsides.
I happily bathed in the camaraderie as we pushed along for the last few miles around to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The infamous tent village that had set itself up on and around it’s steps (thus forcing the cathedral to shut its doors for the first time since the war) shouted happily when they saw us approaching. Our two crowds merged together in that night as we came to a stop. Wearily we picked up our boards. I felt my legs stumble as if with drunkenness, but only so because the muscles felt completely worn through. “To waterloo?” became the question as the people who needed to catch last trains home contemplated their departure, and we hopped on our boards for one last stretch.
Each square of pavement felt like a boulder underneath my wheels and the stairs we climbed to cross the pedestrian bridge back to the station felt like Mount Everest. That adrenaline and excitement that had kept us going was waning and everyone struggled up the stairs, laughing and complaining playfully.
Three of us wandered down to the station’s McDonalds and picked out greasy fries and carbonated drinks. Hungry and exhausted we dug into the junk food, said our goodbyes and scattered as each person took different trains home to their London suburbs. When I found my train I sank into my seat exhausted but with memories that would last me a lifetime circling underneath my eyelids, memories of the best friends anyone could ask for and one of the craziest nights in my life: skating, dancing, raving, and shouting our hearts out into the night.
–Critical Mass: Don’t Follow Leaders!
I’ve just had a look at it. It comes with stock (globe?) wheels and trucks, and sells for double the price of a mindless board with similar quality hardware. You can get a second hand top of the range board for a little more money. So no, it’s too expensive for what it is.
Madrid longboards look well made, I haven’t ridden one so I can’t give an objective review of their boards. One of our members won some stuff in their last prize draw - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NZ0ZotnVjZg , so they are awesome for that.
Yes his name is Frosty. Londoners have the best names
That was awesome. Absolutely amazing. People really took the star wars theme and ran with it. Highlight must have been the race/lightsabre battle between boba fet and obi wan kenobi.
Ah and the girls. haha. I won’t say anything till you see the pictures. Love coming back to London and going straight into a critical mass. For me this is what longboarding is about - a nice cruise through your city.
Hit up a lot of new routes/spots tonight. Skated uphill to kings cross for about 5 minutes and we were rewarded with a GNARLY run on the other side. Apparently it killed 2 longboarders. I will be sending flowers to their unborn children. The last statement was a classic example of jesting.
We had louis and bruno (#1 and #2 slalom skaters in the UK) come as mario and luigi, cristina was princess peach. Jealous you weren’t here yet ? We only pushed for about 4 hours but I feel like someone beat me with a lot of plastic straws filled with liquid lead. A few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to get up to skate the next day, it’s 3am now and the ninja skate starts at noon. Yeah. I will not be posting anything for a while. I’ll be either dead or dead. From skating. Not to be confused with being deceased.
Oh wait lowpoint of tonight’s mass. One of the sound systems started playing my favourite artist - Fela Kuti and I jumped up in glee and accidentally handled a nice lady’s mammary glands, then the guy CHANGES the song. Oh, I was living. Like really what kind of dirty tease is that ?
We must have had 70-80 skaters tonight. Epic in many proportions.
Big love to the southend pirates who came all the way from essex in large numbers to skate with us. Love those dirty scoundrels.
It’s that time of the month again. And for the second time in a row - the sun is blazing in post summer London. Really looking forward to the skate tonight. And my faith in this social network is now cemented as one of our stalkers/followers/minions is now posting on the event page every 5 seconds. I didn’t think anyone from England read this blog. Or that anyone who would want to partake in our awesome awesomeness. So yay for internets and for tumblr. My costume for tonight. It will be epic. As it is star wars theme, and as I am, you know - the one, I will be going as THE FORCE. Yes. I will be going as an ideal, as an abstract, ubiquitous in the galaxy. Like gravity, only nerdy. The pictures from this weekend will blow you. Away. Fingers crossed for at least one princess lea.
Normally the maximum dimensions of carry on luggage is 22 inches by 10 inches. So unless you’re a girl in a short skirt, I can’t imagine you being able to get away with carrying your board on.
- check it in using a kitesurfing bag, or a big gym bag.
- get in touch with a local crew through Longboard Europe (www.facebook.com/longboardeurope), if you attend one of their sessions you can loan a board while you’re there. Depending on how long you’ll be there.
- check if your airline has special allowances for sporting equipment. You may be able to put it in the hold.
PS, London isn’t that far from Germany ! Come skate with us too !!!
How big is your board ? One of my pieces of luggage was a kiteboarding bag and it fit 3 boards. Get one ! Or a golf bag.
When I went to madrid, I took my haleiwa. It’s about35 inches, so it fit in there fine. Virgin Atlantic lets you check in sporting equipment for free, so it’s worth checking with your airline to see what the rules are.