For the last seven years, shredders from all over the world have descended on PR, and this year Mark Short and I became the first Brits to join the party. I wandered into the opening ceremony just as the organiser was announcing this, and as everyone looked on he proceeded to address me personally over the microphone… awk-some.I was fortunate to have made it that far, with freezing weather in the UK and a fifth of flights cancelled the day before our departure. It was anyone’s guess whether leaving the country (or even reaching London) was possible. However, we made it and soon settled into the rhythm of island time. In the mornings Juanita (the awesome lady upstairs who puts up with legendary levels of debauchery on her property) regularly treated us to fresh mangoes and sweet coffee, while her parrot shouted various intonations of ‘Hola’.
Downhill skateboarding is embedded deep in the culture of Puerto Rico, and the influence of early downhill ambassadors from Canada is evident in the proliferation of Coast PR symbology in patches, stickers and tattoos.
We needed to adapt to the riding conditions and road surfaces; brutally rough pumice asphalt compared with the polished metal in our paved roads in Cornwall. I quickly learned that the harder freeride wheels I had brought just bounced over the rippled surface, chunks torn from them as they went. Note to self: next time bring softies as a backup.
The slide jam was as chaotic as the race (plenty written on this subject already), runs down the hill were impeded by spectators and other riders alike. After about 4 hours of jamming and just as the sun dipped in the sky and rain clouds rolled in, the opening of the competition was called, only two hours late! An orgy of spray soaked mayhem ensued in the dark. Louis Pilloni won with a solid display on the hill and kickers (sad not to see him rocking the wellington boot chic this time though, #superpreparedness). Mark’s storming runs and wild abandon earned him third place overall.
A few light beers later and we managed to jam at least 18 skaters into the long-suffering rental car, tight. Props to Alvaro for his valiant efforts driving and ignoring the baying of the crushed. Killed it.
What more can I say, the island is a hit with me, can’t wait to be back in the land of coquí frogs and having to have eyes in the back of your head.
Big thanks to Les, the Rayne crew and fellow inhabitants of the Florida house, purple love.