Inline skaters Matt Brown and Simon Coburn live for the weekend, when new locations can be found and spectacular tricks attempted. After an evening exploring Bristol in the Peugeot 208, including the Dean Lane skate park, we sat down with the pair to find out how they fit in such a time-consuming and energetic sport into their busy schedules…
When did you first get into inline skating?
Simon: I got into blading around 18 years ago. At the time there was a huge boom in aggressive rollerblading (inline skating which includes tricks), which led most of my friends to pick up a pair of blades. It was a fairly new sport back then, with limited tricks and basic skates, but as time went on it gradually grew and I fell in love with it! As all of my friends were doing it there was a strong social side. I’ve never ever looked back and still have the same passion for it today.
Matt: I first got into aggressive inline skating when I was 16 years old. My brother started a year or so before, and it looked like so much fun I just had to at least try it. Eleven years on I still love it!
How long did it take to get to your current level?
Simon: I’m learning each time I go blading, whether I’m really pushing myself or just having fun. I think experience plays a massive part too, but it took about five to six years to get to the level I’m at now. As the years have gone my skating has changed, so unlike when I was younger and could just chuck myself around, it’s now a more thought-out process.
Matt: I think when starting any sport, the first few years are all about understanding how to do it, who does it and how best to do it. I would say I’m always learning whether it’s skating a new obstacle or even trying to perfect a particular trick.
Do you just see it as a hobby, or would you like to turn professional?
Simon: I think it’s always been a dream to go pro and get paid to travel the world. There’s not a lot of money in the sport at the moment, so even some of the top pros struggle to pay their way. I’m quite happy now working my full-time job, and having blading as my main passion while being realistic about having to pay my bills. When I was younger I tried to go pro, but I enjoy doing it now regardless. I’m sponsored by BHC Wheels, Slap Tap and Blade Clothing so I always have money to skate, and it doesn’t interfere with my full-time job.
Matt: I would like to call it a professional hobby. The sport has limited money involved within it, so I think it would be rather difficult to earn a living. I see it as a hobby because I love blading and would do it regardless of being paid, but I do have sponsors (Blade Clothing and a skate shop called Fear and Rolling) so it’s also a profession of sorts. I try to represent them as best I can, and being sponsored gives me confidence as someone else has invested in my ability.
Why did you choose inline skating over skateboarding?
Simon: It was never a choice for me. I didn’t want to pick up a skateboard or ride a BMX, so the minute I put blades on I knew it was for me. It has highs and lows, but it’s always fun and you forget any day-to-day troubles instantly when you’re skating. All extreme sports are very similar, carrying a lifestyle that means even when you’re not blading your life revolves around it.
I’m just lucky enough to have found something I’m so passionate about. Even after 18 years of rollerblading I still get the same feelings as when I started out, it’s amazing.
Matt: I spent a year skateboarding and enjoyed it, but after watching my brother, Tom, rollerblading I knew I’d be joining him fairly soon.
Skateboarding is great too, but I took far more enjoyment out of rollerblading. There’s nothing scarier than committing to a trick and knowing you can’t just jump off the skateboard. There’s also nothing more empowering than knowing you’ve successfully landed it!
You both work full time as well as skate, how do you keep your energy levels up to head out after a day at work?
Simon: Good question! I don’t drink any energy drinks or take any sort of supplements. A lot of it comes down to staying fit and healthy, not lazing about and getting fat. You need a lot of mental as well as physical energy to rollerblade, but if you love doing it you’ll naturally generate the energy you need. Sometimes real life catches up and I don’t feel like blading, so on those occasions I won’t go.
I’ve found stretching helps a lot and can give you a new lease of life. It also gets the blood flowing and reduces injuries.
Matt: I honestly don’t know! If I didn’t have so much love for this sport, I’d probably be sat on the sofa watching TV.
Being self-employed as a plumbing/heating engineer is very labour intensive and isn’t 9-5, so there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing in a few hours you’ll be in a skate park doing what you love!
What parks do you most enjoy skating at and why?
Simon: I love to skate my local skate park, Rush Skate Park in Stroud, Gloucestershire. It’s only been open two years, but has a nice vibe and everyone is really friendly. The park itself is awesome and is kept clean and well maintained. Most importantly the lighting is perfect and the ramps are big, which has helped me progress. I’m also their inline skating coach doing one-to-one lessons and academies for kids during the school holidays, which have proven to be very popular.
Matt: I enjoy skating Fear And Rollings Skate Park in Newport, South Wales. It’s got a real underground feel to it. It’s completely different to other parks and definitely worth checking out. I also love Rush Skate Park, as it’s 15 minutes away from where I live and it’s huge as well as brilliantly managed.
I think the best park I’ve been to is The Back Yard Skatepark in Germany. That place was legit!
Where in the world would you like to skate and why?
Simon: I would really like to rollerblade in a few more countries, such as around Europe, Japan and Australia. I’ve travelled a lot with skating, and the beauty is you can meet new people and instantly have something in common with them. As a result, I have friends all over the world purely through skating.
Matt: I would love to go to California, purely for the street skating. There are amazing handrails, ledges and plenty more that can be used there. Weather-wise California also has significantly fewer bad days than good.
What constitutes a normal day for you, and how much skating does it include?
Simon: A normal day for me would be working from 9am to 5pm, then blade for a couple of hours, which might include a skate park or on the street depending on the weather. On the weekend I get up at around 9am, see what my friends are doing and either travel south or north for a day of blading. We tend to travel most weekends to different towns to find new stuff to skate. I also do a lot of coaching on weekend mornings, so that would always come first. I try to blade all day on either the Saturday or Sunday.
Matt: My normal day constitutes regrettably waking up at around 6.30am. After looking out of the window and seeing the ‘great’ British weather I usually work from 8am-5pm. I skate two to three times in the week locally, and travel to new locations at the weekend.
Some days I wake up and think, “NOPE! No work today! That bright yellow thing is in the sky and I am going skating!” But we all know how often that happens, so it is quite rare!
What would a perfect day be for you?
Simon: Wake up around 8am-9am, have a big breakfast and stretch before walking the dog, then head out to meet everyone and blade for the day in the sunshine. I’d then find new places and things to blade, capture some videos or take some photos. Lunch would be an amazing burrito, afterwards I’d head back out blading for the afternoon at an outdoor concrete skate park with some beers and a barbecue. And the next day I wouldn’t wake up with a hangover!
Matt: My perfect day would be waking up at 8.30am, having poached egg and bacon for breakfast, and then walk out of my terraced house in Barcelona. I’d strap on my skates and spend the day blading, chilling, and having a few beers while enjoying the sun.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to re-energise their life?
Simon: Just get active and go out, don’t sit around wasting time in front of the TV! Try to find something you enjoy doing, that can take your mind off any stresses, even if it’s just for an hour a day. Life is too short to sit around and do nothing. As clichéd as that sounds, it’s very true! Just go out, have fun and maybe pick up a pair of rollerblades!
Matt: I’d say take one second in your busy life to stop and think about all the hours worked, bills paid and housework done, and how much of that time you took for yourself. Then take 30 minutes and do something different, you may enjoy it! Do something you love each week, because otherwise you’ll get stuck doing things you don’t.