Bali grom Max moved to Sydney at the end of last year to complete his last two years of school there. He’d grown up in Bali and for a large part of it, in and around the Deus Temple in Canggu. It’s the best boys shed in town and he enjoyed a life there punctuated with the bikes, boards and enthusiasm that abounded.
As is probably the case with anywhere in the world, living locations are a double-edged sword. Sure Bali exposes you to a veritable raft of activities. Biking, motorbiking, surfing and nowadays, most of the team sports out there. There are a few that are pretty thin on the ground. We’ve a huge group that skate, but they’re mostly centered around bowls. Longboarders, and I am not referring to the over nine foot versions here, are not that prolific. Not sure if it is the obtuse traffic or the pretty lousy tar conditions or a conspiracy of both.
Since taking up residency in Sydney’s inner suburbs, max has been a part of a group that meets Thursday nights and slides and speeds their way through car parks and around deserted streets. The two schools of longboarding mesh in this freestyle application. The speed these planks of word are able to achieve and the sideways slides their pilots get them into.
Sunday last, the people at Hopkin’s, the go to shop for all things skate in Sydney, and ASRA, the skate body in Oz put on a Grom speed run. A sort of feeder race. Something to show the kids what they could aspire to. Most of this brat pack had never competed in a race before. Kudos to the people who organized it!
It was to be held in some place called Manly Dam. While the first part is very well known we’d never heard of there being a dam there. With the luck of the gods and the GPS on the phone we found it. Right in the middle of suburbia is this national park and a huge dam. It’s bloody beautiful. The place abounded with Sunday afternoon family’s and picnickers. We’d turned up as sunlight shafts broke through the cloud cover and turned this late autumn day into one of those magical days. Sure it was brisk, but what better place to come and enjoy it. People exercising or just taking their dogs for a walk. The further we drove in the more strange it seemed to host a speed run in here. Until we got towards the end of the road.
The last car parks are in a loop, all heading down to the water. You come in from above with this one-way traffic system where the entire road doubles back on itself. With the exception of a couple of potholes and a depression right across the road, the place was perfect for it.
We weren’t there to compete. Max was out of the age group. We were there to skate. We came in late, witnessed the finals, a bit of carnage at the start of both the last two races and then a small presentation. You’d think that after that they would disperse. Nope. Almost to a kid, they stayed and skated. Round and round they went. When they got bored standing they sat and set about to luge.
They skated until the sun descended and the cold came in across the dam. Not that it seemed to affect these boys though. None seemed to stop long enough for the cold to get in. Round and round they went. They staged small grudge races with each other. The prize the chance to gloat and laugh first before the rest joined in. The after noon wore on in this fashion. Round and round until the imminent threat of the gates closing somehow forced the parent’s to arrive and driven by cold, they chided their kids into cars and out. We extracted Maxi and followed.
Out of Bali there are other distractions. One’s we can immerse ourselves in while off her shores. Next postcard we send will be again very un-Bali like. School holidays are coming up soon and we’re off snowboarding in NZ.
Photo's & Words by Ano Mac