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      Hopkin Skate Blog — Ben Hay

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      Beat The Bastard 2013 part one

      Beat The Bastard 2013 part one

      Beat the Bastard charity freeride is an event held annually to raise money for chosen charities. Organised by Townsville local Adrian Alderson who is a cancer survivor and downhill icon amongst the Australian scene. This year the event was in its fifth year and I have been fortunate to of attended 4 out of those 5 years. The Btb team chose Camp Quality as the chosen charity and over $30 000 was raised for children with cancer this year alone!! Something I am proud to say I was a part of and a great excuse to fly to north Queensland and skate this now legendary hill called Mt Stuart for 3 days. Well that had been the usual plan in past years. After attending previously and not experiencing much more than Townsville and Mt Stuart a plan was hatched to discover more of north Queensland and its skateboarding potential. Therefore in some late night facebook chat amongst the naccos crew about skate adventures it was decided a roadtrip to Beat the Bastard charity freeride was going to happen. After looking into it, the cost of the big ass camper we hired and our share of the fuel it was going to be a relatively cheap way of touring around and being able to visit the exact locations we had scoped out that most appealed to us for a skateboarding, fishing and relaxing trip. The skaters who I was lucky enough to share this epic adventure with were fellow Hopkin Team mate and Landyachtz aussie team manager Adam Yates, long time all around central coast shredders Ryan Nicholls and Neil Duddy and mid north coast local and big man in the aussie racing scene, Simon Duber. After only telling these guys about Mt Stuart, I was travelling with BTB first timers and I couldn't wait to share the stoke with such a rad group of lads.

      Duddy stickers the van Duddy stickers the van

      Our plan was to book the camper, to be picked up from Brisbane to save money, then head north stopping and skating our chosen destinations. We left the central coast and four hours later we were getting out of the car at the top of Dorrigo mountain, you just can't drive through that area without doing some runs. The few runs at Dorrigo were rad despite some heavy traffic and some sketchy moments we decided to cruise on and get to the Gold coast that night to stay at Yatesys and have a day to skate the Goldy before picking up the van the following day. Anyone that knows the Yatedawg knows that he makes one hell of a tour guide and without missing a beat the next day we found ourselves warming up at the Gold Coasts Pizzey skatepark and its legendary bowl. Kurt from Heelside got word of the session and turned up, it was a cool session with Yatesy knowing the lines in the bowl like he knows the inside of the cove at Burleigh, dude was killin it with everyone having a schralp before moving on.

      Gettin ready for a Goldy session Gettin ready for a Goldy session


      Next up was a shred at a steep turny fast little hill, it rained a bit and we done some wet runs with mondo skids getting laid down just to stay alive before we ventured over to finish the day off on the early mini, couldn't of worked out better with a few beers and a rainy arvo of undercover mini ramp mayhem, Early rider Flavio Beihl turned up with some other southerners Pat Hurel, Nick, Justin and it turned into a full on progression session, but in all seriousness Flavio is streaks ahead in that arena, he totally kills it. Hop's note: You can read part two here, or go straight to Mt Stuart freeride in part three here.

      The Wild West Outlaw

      The Wild West Outlaw

      The Wild West Out law In the back country, far from Sydney's busy streets and surrounded by dirt roads, bush land and farms, BenBro and Duddy  had found a long sweeping downhill run, starting in butter and ending in chunder. The ideal location for Australia's end of year outlaw to rule all outlaws. Maga has been looking forward to more Aussie races since we got back from the Euro tour mid year, after hitting 3 world cups and mobbing mountain roads like you wouldn't believe, coming home and racing footpaths and alleys just didn't cut it. I've been riding as many different styles as possible lately, moving from board to board, getting out on the my custom DH setup from Fibretec  is always a step up, speed and concentration mixed with thrill and risk. The wild west hill would test you on all accounts and with riders travelling from around the whole country to race, it would only take one slip up to possibly ruin your day. When we left on the race morning, we drove up some nasty back road, 4wd stuff, we pushed on and with a little following the nose we came across the butter smooth tar that only teased you at the top of the run. NACCOS where there setting up hay bales and cleaning the track, we pulled up to find Yates, Kam, Duber and the rest chilling on the final corner, big hugs all round and a quick catch up over a safety  meeting, Maga wanted to check the gnar hairpin that followed the chunder straight, so we walked up and had a closer look at what would be a pinnacle point of the race, Mustard came hauling through the left hander already getting it dialled, the steep straight into the hairpin had a unskateable entire left hand lane, it was full of craters and forced the riders to use only the right lane, the apex was late into the corner too and with exit speed imperative you had to stay wide and chop it like it was your job.


      sector 9 bus captain Bruce de Graf"

      The sector9  bus from the hopshop arrived, piloted by bruiser and stack to the rafters with speed hungry groms shitting their pants after seeing the bigboys course they were about to suit up and race on. You wouldn't  believe it but I've  have never had to race against Maga in a DH, BenBro started the day with a 5 round robin Qualify session that would seed you into a 32man single elim format after lunch, the round robin was a excuses  for practice on the hill but also race practice with other riders, 1st round comes and Maga is suited up and ready to race we barely realise that we are in the same heat and it wouldnt be the last for us racing together on the day.


      high speed style from Maga

      I've got my game face on and so does she, after the push off you pick up speed really fast, its butter smooth and seems to get steeper, the corner drifts left before rallying to the right, you can't see around the corner and grabbing rail your other hand is floating over the inside scrub as you need to keep the line tight, the exit pinches back to the left and after accelerating through the corner you get dragged to the outside edge, trees fly by as you push 80km/h and the g force kicks in as the road comes back up to level, at this moment your fairy tale run ends and a sudden slap in the face with chunder chip seals almost gives you a bleeding nose, you need to hold on and stay in tuck

      Kam killing it out in front"

      The quicker you can maintain across the rough the better chance you have, the road slowly risers up hill and over a right hand crest, the outside lane, the left lane was smooth around here, and even when racing hard you needed to remember it was faster too. i would have a chance now to get worried about maga. did she really make that? id check behind and have a look and SHIT YES there she was,  getting rattled to death on the chunder but still rolling. seeing her mobing hills was enough to stoke me out and calmed me down as i headed into the final section of the run. Shes been progressing well, surprising  me and impressing  others as she's  getting to more and more races and sessioning at  freerides.

      local shredder Caspian hanging out front while dominating Quals"

      After a solid morning session, and a good stack blowing my line around the big left hander and going bush bashing in my leathers, i had qualified equal first with Caspian. Maga Equal 16th with Penny, a solid result and a goal we have been aiming for a while. Making the cut in an OPENs event can be only half the challenge for a aspiring racer, and beating half the field is the way to do it. Benny and his lovely missus and prepared sandwiches  and put on a massive esky of beers, water and supplies, the 32 man tree meant everyone got to race, we had barely any traffic and had plenty of time thanks to JackBro being solid on the books and the sector9 bus running smooth. Dejan flying around the final corner while young rippers chase him down

      i had made it to the semis, bonus round guys, at this point you have raced all day and its only gonna get better, the first heat was all the grommies, Jayden, Dijon, Kelly  and Mail while the second heat was Yates, Kam, Chad  and myself. i was stoked on all the Hopkin boys holding tight and still in it, i wasn't really worried about the outcome and knew what happened  happens, i trusted everyone to not do anything stupid and the fastest rider would take the win, Kam pushed off hard like a mofo, made me wake up a bit, he was hungry hey, i slipped in behind him and we peaced out on the others until the left hander when Yates tried making a move, but when following me in he was was borked by a mad wobble  i got over the inside line and he lost control in the apex, kam was stoked in 1st and had momentum going into the finals,  dijan and kelly made it too,  so the Finals would be a Hopkin Race Team battle with Yates racing for 5th in the consi. BenBro hosted an awesome event, it was a great moment when i saw his face stoking out on all the boys making the finals, even though i knew he wanted to be here with us he was happy to just cheer us on as the bus drove back up the hill one last time. Lining up against your best of mates is one of the great times in DH racing for me, you spend so much time mobing hills with these guys and jaming out on monster runs its hard not to be stoked when we get a whole race hill to our selves. [caption id="attachment_4333" align="aligncenter" width="618" caption="one very tight run with yates and myself"]one very tight run with yates and myself

      I wasnt gonna let Kam beat me off the push this time and dejan has smoked me off the start line before so i had to be ready to attack and take them by surprise. off the push Kam shot off and i had to dig deep to slap the foot down hard and fast, i heard the other guys stop pushing and threw an extra one or two big ones, i had the lead and kam was sniffing my arse, but now i was in the lead i could drive the car, i needed to cover my line and drive it home. as we hit the chunder i felt a small push from kam, i was hoging the smooth lane so he wasnt able to pass, hahahha, we mobed over the crest and now kelly and dejan where both drafting us too, we entered the steep section before the big left hander and dejan came up on kam and gave him a push now kam wasn't going to push me again so he moved up on my outside as we entered the corner, we looked at each other and judged our speed and entry line, i was about to get shafted as he moved in closer so a friendly shove kept us at arm's length,  we dove in faster than ever and it was too tight, we were going to lose traction, but who would lose speed? i had some hectic proto type wheels on ,over  100mm contact patch, 75a with 99a core ( thanks Jacko and old mate at S9 ), i had trusted them to not float off and they didnt disappoint,  Kam kept drifting and i griped up and ripped it, all the way out to the apex and down to the final right sweeper, Dejan and kelly got bucked off and both dislocated their shoulders some how, shit eh. Kam followed us in and the celebrations began before we crossed the line.

      ash maga and alix taking the girls podium.

      Maga won the girls too and had a great time doing so, we havnt been so stoked from a race for a very long time and will remember that weekend for a while yet.

      hopkin race team, Dejan - Rob - Kam and kelly grom

      I'd like to thank BenBro and family, Duds, duber, PC, bruiser, Ryan, jackbro, all of NACCOS and every volunteer that made the event possible also the sponsors that supported the event, Sector9 Australia sent riders down from Qld and forked out $$$ to get Sydney groms to from the race in the event bus. also Otang, Glyde, Oneliner and Hopkin for helping out sponsering the event. and all my personal sponsers especially Fibretec for helping me build a board that i can win races on, Kahalani for trucks when i want to go fast, Riptide Bushings to stay stable and Hopkin Skate for everything else. these are rad days il remember for a long time. all photo credits to Astrid Carey, thank you for donating your time and skill. -Rob.

      Words from Ben Hay: Elements

      Learning all the skills and how to be a good rider while having loads of fun is basically what most skaters aspire to do. Although some things cant be practiced and learnt in short time, time on the board and being witness to hundreds of different incidents teaches you a lot more. Experience is something that never stops - every rider no matter how long they have been doing it constantly learns new things and governing factors that further add to our knowledge and therefore help us to become better riders. Adapting to the prevailing conditions is vital to perform well at a race or even getting down a hill safely. Knowing what effects that the surrounding conditions may have on the way you need to ride the hill is something that is hard to be taught. Personal experience is improved by having an open mind and learning from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. After a certain time your brain begins to take these inputs of information and turns it into whats known as 'second nature' or 'instinct' - doing it without thinking about it. It is at this stage that your riding really starts to improve. With your skating being lead by instinct and second nature it becomes easier to put your mind on other things that become beneficial to your added personal progression. Being aware of the prevailing wind while high speed racing or riding has huge benefits - Knowing the parts of the hill where its a head wind is beneficial when planning tactics for racing or passing. Also knowing how a tail wind will affect your braking is important. Skating a hill one day with a slight headwind can trick your mind and set a standard for how you perceive the hill can be ridden. Returning to the same hill with a solid tailwind can turn what was a seemingly  fun and basic hill into a crazy fast beast swallowing up skaters and spitting them out. Newtons nation 2012 was a classic example of favourable conditions, with riders being able to catch plenty of air - The elbow had never seemed so friendly. The constant progression in riders abilitys was also a big factor but im calling a return to heavy braking the next year if we have conditions similar to 2009 when it was a 30kt tailwind hurling riders down the top part of the course. Tailwinds also affect a riders ability to slow down behind other riders - pulling out of the draft and standing up to catch some air has way less of an effect if its a tailwind. Slight speed checks or a tap of the foot are more commonly needed to slow down and keep you and your buddy's safe. Another disadvantage with skateboarding down fast and open mountain passes in strong winds is a riders ability to stay in control and on the road. Roads in mountainous areas tend to follow gullys wich can create wind tunnels were wind can funnel through, gusts bounce of protruding bluffs on the hill and can hit the rider side on forcing them off their line. As the rider attempts to fight against the sidegust to stay on the road, the gust eases initiating a high speed twitch and the skater goes down. In other situations you can also struggle to hold the line you need to make a turn. The forces of gravity coupled with a 40kt wind can be to much for a human body to control. Once the wind suddenly lets go and is no longer forcing a skater in a certain way, its easy to lose your balance as you no longer have to fight against that force and all of a sudden you fall. Alpine areas and higher altitudes or places with extreme and quickly changing climates seem to host some crazy out of control winds. Checking a new hill first before riding is always good idea. Check for damp or wet spots before mobbin' in at ridiculous speeds. Being aware of the dangers and all the aspects that govern your ride down the hill makes it safer and easier - good riders are smart riders and have more on their minds than just doing a sick skid.

      Words from BenBro: Bigger than Tracey

      A recent report by channel 9 ACA program concerning longboarding on public streets has sparked a lot of discussion and debate amongst the Australian longboarding community. Members of the longboarding community have been stating their frustrations and disapproval in the wake of the unfair, one-sided and poorly researched report that went to air. Some like myself are claiming a storm in a tea cup, others referring to a public backlash with big implications ahead for longboarders and gravity racers. Organizers of a legal race to be held in the snowy mountains have postponed their event claiming relevant civil authorities have suspended further granting of relevant permits. Maybe we are about to see a shift for the better and are in early stages of a plan being developed to accommodate for our sport in the way of maybe road closures being easier to obtain and red tape surrounding holding legal events cut to make the process easier. Wishful thinking maybe!? Or will nothing change? Sweeping us under the rug or into the 'too hard basket' further stamping us with the title of outlaws and hindering our progression toward being an accepted legitimate sport that draws positive media attention where professionalism is respected. Either way, longboarding and skateboard racing is here to stay. The grassroots will never change, we as a community will continue to hold organised sessions and events away from the public media as a means to enjoy our sport. Getting stoked when the pros come to town for the World Cup races or simply gathering together on an isolated hill in the countryside for a skate or controlled freeride. No one can change who we are or what we do. If in the process of gaining acceptance we are forced to remain underground then so be it, at the end of the day we are skateboarders and not criminals. Skateboarding is bigger than any politician, media personality (Tracey) or individual, we can't lose at skateboarding, the stoke machine grows strong therefore it will always be there for us no matter what happens.

      Words from Ben Hay: Discovery

      Skateboarding gives us all a sense of freedom, a chance to let go of our everyday life and clear the mind and express ourselves in our own form. While in the moment, not much else is thought about. Totally engrossing our attention while enjoying the ride. However when we are not on our boards, the skateboarder's mind wanders. Thoughts of the next trick to learn or the next epic decent down a winding hill constantly flow through our minds. For many skaters, seeking out new terrain and learning how to skate it is what drives them. Searching out new terrain can turn addictive - once a person becomes addicted to longboarding the signs appear. The constant head turn looking up side streets, scoping out landscapes and searching Google earth are all symptoms of downhill addiction. For longboarders we don't have purpose built facilities yet. What we choose to shred depends upon what we find or choose to ride. The need for a wider variety of hills and more challenging terrain becomes vital for continued personal progression. To fulfill our cravings and further improve our skills it is helpful to have access to a variety of hills or spots. To search and seek out new hills is one of the greatest things in downhill skateboarding. The fact that it is there is still so much out there, unlike surfing for example where all the good spots are known or the well-known city skateparks that are loaded with scooters. We still have the opportunity to search and find un ridden and unknown hills or spots. Getting amongst nature and in beautiful surroundings shredding new-found or seldom skated hills with mates is something I live for. Finding a new double hairpin to session just across town is also another truly stoking and satisfying moment. Next time you feel a bit like a change, jump on Google maps, fill the car with fuel and mates, or jump on the bus, grab your buddies load up the skateboards and go search. What you might find and the memories you will retain forever are all determined by your passion and dedication to your search. discovery Ben Hay rides on a Glyde, is part of the Hopkin Racing Team and when he is not climbing to the top of podiums, he is commonly found fishing off the coast and practicing his tuck on top of an esky.