Wax&Bombing Recap by Jamie Reid – Part 1.
Wax&Bombing Crew – Pic Xavi Wiros
Ok, so I’ve just got back from a week in Barcelona for the Wax&Bombing Powerblading event, and have no idea where to start with writing some sort of report.
So instead of trying to sound like some sort of travel writer, I’m just going to give you all my overview of the experience as whole, and what lead up to it. I apologise if some of the days blur into one another!
It’s the middle of June in the UK, which usually means it should be fairly warm, with clear skies and just about the right weather to go for a good skate session. Now when I say skate session I mean on my Powerblading setup, because ever since buying some Kizer Advance and some 80mm wheels my aggressive frames stopped getting used.
Just as I am about to head out the clouds open up and it starts to rain, which meant I headed back to my laptop and watched more edits of Powerbladers, including a load from in and around Barcelona.
The city looked amazing, the level of skating and the number of skaters was far higher than I’d expected.
It was at this point I made a little suggestion on the Powerblading Community Facebook page that I might want to visit Barcelona for a couple of days to skate the city. Little did I know at that time what would happen following my comment!
Loads of people, not only from Barcelona but from around the world started saying “yeah let’s do it” and “when shall we go?”
My little idea had suddenly turned into a plan waiting to happen, and happen it did!
Now before I go any further I have to take a couple of moments just to thank those people that made it happen, Alex Rahali Vicente, and Oli Benet for arranging accommodation, meetings and basically everything that went down over the week.
Roll-Line, Grindhouse and Powerslide for sending over a load of products including wheels, bearings, frames, tools, clothing, stickers……Wax ( a LOT of wax ) all for the people that were part of the event.
And also to the local skaters, photographers and friends who made the event such great fun from a socialising point of view too.
So a couple of months go by and more and more ideas are flowing around for things to do, what exact dates will be suitable and so on, and I am starting to get really excited about the prospect of visiting a new city and skating with new people.
All that excitement suddenly turns to concern one day when I decide to dust off my aggressive setup and head to a beach event with a couple of small halfpipes.
I’d only been on the ramp for maybe 15 minutes when I went for a basic safety grab air, which went horribly wrong. I landed on the flat bottom of the ramp somehow, right on my lower back with such force that my spine was crushed and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance on a back board and neck brace and not able to feel my legs fully. I thought that was it, not only no trip to Barcelona, but maybe no more skating or even walking!
3 months on and I’m still not fully healed, but I genuinely don’t think I’d have recovered to this point already if I didn’t have something like Wax&Bombing to look forward too.
Let’s fast-forward now to the first day of the event. 7am near my home near Brighton UK, and I’m getting on a bus to take me to the train station, to take me to the airport, to take me to Barcelona!
I keep thinking how long every mile seems as the excitement is growing, but then I remember I am not the only person traveling from another country, and that my journey is actually quite easy compared to the one being taken by my new friend Romain Tanlagneau.
Romain lives in Paris, which as any of you will know it not exactly close to Barcelona, and so travel by anything other than a plane would take some time. 15 hours in a coach through the night, now that’s dedication to skating. Dedication he’d show later in the week by constantly beating his body up skating. Barcelona left scars!
2.30pm in Barcelona and my Easyjet flight doesn’t really land so much, but instead seems to make a controlled crash into the runway. “Welcome to Barcelona” the pilot says in an apologetic tone of voice.
I’d arranged with Alex and Romain that I’d meet them at the main train station at 5pm, which gave me a couple of hours to get there from the airport, which as it turned out I needed.
At the airport train station it was 31 degrees Celsius .
(31!!! When I left my house back in the UK my car had frost on the frickin windows!)
I arrive at Estacio Sants, sweaty, hungry and tired, but as soon as I’d met Alex and Romain it just felt like I was catching up with old friends and I felt awake and excited again.
We headed to the Hostel Alex had arranged for us, called the Nice&Cozy Hostel in a little village-like part called Horta.
Alex did really well finding this place for Romain and I, It was pretty much perfect!
The staff were great, the location was really chilled, and only took 20 minutes or so to get the metro into the busy city centre. Plus it was very cheap when compared to some other places.
Alex left us to get settled in, go for the first beer at a local bar etc and arranged to meet us later at Placa Catalunya where we’d then skate down through the busy city, into little alleys in the older parts and down to a restaurant where we’d hook up with some of the other guys.
Now there’s something you need to know about Alex, he’s crazy! The guy skates like a man possessed, and loves everything about skating and everything about Barcelona. Add the fact that he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met I couldn’t have asked for a better person to show us around during our time there.
It was at the restaurant where we met a number of the others, including the main man Oli Benet.
Oli was and probably still is as I type this, very busy with his work for Powerslide, yet despite this wanted to make sure that everything was ok with where we were staying, and that we were happy with what was planned for the next few days.
Oli and I have been chatting on the Powerblading pages since the start of the year when I joined the group, and I’d been helping out a bit with blogs, reviews and adding new members for a long time, so finally getting to sit down and share some time and a beer with him was long overdue.
Again, he’s one of the nicest, most down to earth and chilled guys anyone could ever wish to meet, and lives for skating.
Oli Benet, Rokio – Pic Xavi Wiros
Over dinner it was announced we’d be doing the Friday night skate, which meant we’d meet up with “a lot of other skaters” to skate through the city, including the old town and some beach front routes.
The “a lot of other skaters” turned out to be bloody loads! I reckon there must have been around 250 people on just about every type of inline skates on the market, all just skating around and enjoying each other’s company.
The pace was nice and slow, meaning us newcomers had a chance to see some sights and chat with some people as we skated along. We’d stop occasionally so everyone could re-group and grab a drink, and it was on one of these stops that I was introduced to sewer beers.
Basically there’s loads of Indian and Pakistani guys in Barcelona that each night walk the streets selling beers for €1. So I pay for a beer, and see one of these guys lift up a man-hole cover to find that he’s storing the beers down there. I quickly learnt to wipe the edge of the can before opening and drinking.
Those of us connected to Powerblading then left to go hillbombing from the top of Montjuic, near the 1992 Olympic stadium.
Hillbombing, hmmm, this is where it got serious VERY quickly!
Oli, Alex and a couple of others took a moment at the top of the hill to tell us the route we were going to take down. This talk involved being told things like “you must be careful, cars from the left come very fast, so look out” and “there’s a very tight left hand turn, so maybe watch your speed”.
The left hand turn turned out to be a bloody hairpin at the bottom of a hill that we were taking at roughly 40mph / 65mph.
I reckon I could have taken it slightly faster, but it was the first night and didn’t particularly want to leave half the skin from my legs on a Catalan mountain side.
Once we’d reached the bottom of the hill we were fairly close to where we’d started with the Friday night skate lot, and so headed back toward the coast and on towards Forum skatepark, hitting some spots along the way and getting some great shots which are now on Powerblading.org
We headed towards Alex’s car where we’d left our bags before going off on the long skate, and were about to start skating a few K’s towards the famous Forum skatepark when Alex said we could all skitch there using his car.
There were about 10 of us I think, all holding on to different parts of his car, with me grabbing hold of the passenger side front door with the windows down.
It was fairly easy going at first, just cruising along at about 25mph / 40kph. That was until we pulled on to a wide stretch of double lane road that lead all the way down the coast to Forum.
One thing to remember here is that Alex was driving! A man with no apparent fear, and an ex motorbike racer. The lights go green, and my shorts nearly go a shade of brown!
We accelerate quickly up to around 40mph / 65kph, but that wasn’t enough for Alex and so he puts his foot down. The speed limit on that road was 50kph, and we hit 50mph / 80kph for a fair distance.
I wussed out and had to peel off to the side so that I didn’t take out anyone else as I let go.
Luckily for me Oli and a couple of others had done the same and were just behind me slowing down, although still moving at rather silly speed.
Four or 5 minutes later we met the others at the end of the road at the famous Forum skatepark, where we stayed for a while until Romain and I decided we’d head back to the Hostel and chill out, and the others headed off to a party somewhere.
First day in Barcelona, well it certainly made an impression.