When the BDSL began in the latter half of 2015, I attended a couple of events and gained a few points which took me to the top of the leaderboard in the Women’s category. Those early months were really just a trial to see how the league might shape up but I quite liked earning points doing something I loved already. I decided that in 2016 I’d have a really good bash at more events but life got in the way and I only managed a couple in the entire year! I did, however, get to the first AGM and volunteered myself onto the committee. With fresh zeal, I decided to get to as many events as possible, although this time, more as a supporting committee member than anything else. But … those points!… I just like them. I think maybe I’m a tad competitive?
In 2015/16 there were 10 women competing in downhill skateboarding events here in the UK – in 2017, however, there were just 4 of us: Hermione Pearson, Ann Marie Philip, Anna Carter and myself.
I missed the very first event which was Brianne Collective‘s Abercynon Race but we were well represented by Hermione Pearson (Skate to Escape Unit). Unfortunately, Hermione didn’t get to the rest of the races here in the UK as dates clashed with her other exciting skate trips abroad.
Hermione Pearson at Velefique – Photo: Sacha Romero
Tregaron Freeride was my first event of the year. This was a weekend event; freerides on Saturday and races on Sunday. I’ve only done this hill once before and have never managed to get around both corners successfully! This year was marginally better than previous, even though the weather was its usual changeable self. For me, the best bit was when, due to a few riders oversleeping and not turning up, I managed to qualify – so thanks for that, lads! ;-)
Ann Marie Philip at Tregaron Freeride 2017 – Photos: Tony Brider
Bleek Race, another from BC, occurred in August and, I have to say, though this was the fastest hill, I loved it! It took a while for me to realise I could grip the corners with only one bit in the middle where the speed got a bit hairy resulting in copious and unsuccessful attempts at Colemans to shut down a bit – or a lot, as it happened – right into the verge!
September saw another old favourite from BC, Summer in the Valley aka Sheepy. It was basically a disaster for me as we got lost and arrived later than hoped. I did manage to add a Women’s run in on the end and went down the hill once, literally just for the points – I had turned up, after all! I sessioned one of the corners for a bit and then because it just got so wet, windy and cold, we shoved off home.
For the first time, the Gurston time trial event appeared in the BDSL line up this year. Always a good event! Because it is a very fast and slim hill, with a tricky chicane and camber, riders go down one at a time so you are really competing against yourself to improve your own personal best. I certainly did, so was well chuffed with that! Ann Marie totally smashed it with a BP of 1.26.62secs. My own BP is 1.28.59 but that day my best time was around 1.34secs. To give some point of reference, the more experienced riders were getting sub 50secs – it gives us something to work towards, but we were both very pleased with our achievements. :-)
Rumble at the Peep has got to have been the highlight for me as this has been on the bucket list for years! I never, in a month of Sundays, thought I’d ever go from the top! I did, multiple times and I loved it – oh, my days!! It doesn’t matter about the slipping and sliding along the way either – I pushed off at the start line and landed after the finish line … whatever happens on the hill, stays on the hill!
Sabina Edwards at Rumble on the Peep – Photo: Kai Menneken
And finally, Bolsterstone. A very small turnout, a sweet hill, grippable so I didn’t have to worry about my rubbish speed checks and I just enjoyed it! Took 3rd on the podium too!
Sabina Edwards, Louis Smallwood and Oscar Taylor – Photo: Thrill Magazine
Apart from Sheepy, where I pretty much demanded a ‘solo’ women’s race because I’d travelled so long and so far to get there, missing the open heats, I was the only women racing in the other events. Hermione raced in Abercynon and both Anna and Ann Marie took part in the freeride element at Tregaron where Anna sustained an injury, cutting her attendance short.
Anna Carter at a previous Bo Peep meet – Photo: Sabina Edwards
My hope for 2018 is to see more women on the hill. Of course, I love having ranked 4th in the opens and have no issue with just racing with the lads; they made me very welcome, are encouraging and helpful. However, I miss riding with the grrls; there’s a special something about the skate sisterhood :-) What I found to be a beautiful thing, though, was that the hosts of these races had produced prizes for the women’s category races, working on the assumption that women would attend and take part. I don’t think there was a specific women’s race at any 2017 event in the end due to lack of numbers and I wasn’t willing to take the prize by default, suggesting they be kept for 2018. The fact that they catered for us is very uplifting and, may I say endearing. I look forward to seeing those prizes finally being presented to a women’s podium this year.