Place: Southsea, Hampshire, UK.
Organisation: Catlow family.
King of Concrete: 1.Zach Shaw 2.Ronnie Remo 3.Dennis Wingham 4.James Hitchcox 5.Jamie Bestwick
Prince of Concrete: 1.Joe Bray 2.Rekka 3.Ginger Bomber 4.Darren Claggett 5.Andrew Hamilton
|Mark Noble, Ride BMX UK october 1997: Ahh, those heady days of freestyle when riders like Greg Guillotte battled with the gales and rain to cement one of the first King of Concrete events into the history of time -when ground breaking inventions such as four piece bars [woo!], axle pegs [wahoo!] and -shudder to think- lip tricks were just cutting the mustard. Ten years has seen almost a revolution in riding with many changes, many companies, many esteemed faces coming and going by the wayside: one thing remains constant in the storm -King of Concrete takes place every August Bank Holiday at Southsea Skatepark. This year was no different. KOC is always a pilgrimage for many riders, with more than a few cowing over from mainland Europe to ride the legendary skatepark. Add a sprinkling of American visitors, and you're set - KOC is easily one of the events of the year in Europe: the park is always nice and full, the riding is always going off, sponsors banners are all over the shop, end even TV cameras turn up to record the action for some sort of extreme TV show. What could be better? Every year Geoff and the organisation team like to mix things up to improve the running and spice it all up. This year's schedule looked better then ever, spreading more action over two days, rather than the previous years where Saturday almost seemed like a warm-up for Sunday's pro contests. Saturday was in fact a good day in itself.|
Mark Noble, Ride BMX UK october 1997: There was a time when the flatland contest was just an excuse to sod off to the Jolly Sailor over the road for a pint before the ramp contests: "Flatlands on next - pint in the Sailor anyone?". But that was when flatland wasn't as killer to watch. Nowadays the roller-rink, one of the first such rinks to be built in the country, was surrounded by the crowds all waiting to see the latest in spinneyflippeyscuffylinky tricks. C group flat was large - a sign for the future? B group stepped up the quality a good few notches, with a definite A group contender for next year, Thomas EbIing, taking the first pace gold. Once the expert classes were done, the pros warmed up, giving me a chance to get in the way of their practice runs and score some nice photographs. Top five went like this - but believe me, I won't even try to name some of the tricks. Your best bet is to wait for the videos to come out to check the runs. 5th - James Needham. James has won a couple of Bicycle Stunts contests in the States and rides for GT/Dyno UK as their top flatlander, and he racked up a great fifth here. James has a cool style, it's calm and collected and dialled - not to say he has wimpy tricks no sir, it's just that James makes 'em look easy and sweet as a nut. 4th James White. Seventies just picked up James to ride the new Hoffman EP frame, and he's stoked with it. It showed -James pulled some great stuff, and at one point I even thought he would walk away with the win. Solid tricks, only a couple touches, with innovative links and barflip tricks. Joint 2nd Day Smith. Hoffman -or was it Odyssey? flew Day over for the contest, and to be honest he didn't looked as dialled as I expected. Day touched a few times, but did have some damned hard moves along the way. His style is solid and fast, what do you expect from someone who rides with the Fugitives all the time back home? Joint 2nd Phil Dolan. KHE's newish sign-up lived up to his rep as he came on to his usual D&B soundtrack. Fast, furious, swift and sure. Phil rocked the house with tons of scuff moves and pinky squeak variations, inside peg scuffs, Phil just plain rules. Had he not dabbed a few times, Phil could have won the event but that's flatland these days: you've gotta have a dialled run to score the biggest points. 1st - Effraim Catlow. Effraim however did have a dialled run on his orange KHE Premium Lagger. He's been working on riding speed recently and definitely rode faster than before, switching and so forth. I've seen some of his latest practice links on videos, end they last a LONG time. Effraim remained calm and collected at the KOC, and looked pretty confident to me -his run included whole new links, and on this day he was definitely the most solid rider on the rink. Justified first place. Flatland did indeed rule the day's events, but it wasn't over yet - pro bowls was up next.
|C group flatland: 1.Damian McKenna 2.Chris Morgan 3.Lard 4.Steven Green 5.Mathew Dyre
B group flatland: 1.Thomas Ebling 2.Eduardo Alex 3.Sascha Schramn 4.Jason Bates 5.Mack
Effraim Catlow gliding one of his scuffs, while James White rolls past in the backgroud.
A group flatland: 1.Effraim Catlow 2.(tie)Phil Dolan 2.(tie)Day Smith 4.James White 5.James Needham
Mark Noble, Ride BMX UK october 1997: This short contest basically consisted of just jumping out of the jump bowl, when personally speaking I would have liked to have seen riding all round the park in the different bowls, a true bowls contest. But given that spectators were in abundance and standing all over the place, this would have been pretty much impossible - so it was just another jumping contest. 'Just another jumping contest'? This one did go off as a good end of the day event. Highlights included Zach's flips out of the bowl -a bowl he hasn't jumped out of in five years- Dennis Wingham's crazy-ass flips [back and front] about six inches off the ground, huge 360s from Remo, Theaker's tailwhip jumps, and more riding in the evening light. A crazy event indeed. Once that was done, the evening's entertainment was about to start. Chaos, the club on the pier, planned its usual annual Super-Chaos event where most riders go to just plain get damn drunk and mosh the night away.
|Am bowls: 1.Luke Nicholson 2.Phillip Aller 3.Gareth Howell 4.Ginger Bomber 5.Scott Spencer
Pro bowls: 1.James Hitchcox 2.Remo 3.Richard Pettman 4.Drainer 5.Mark Theaker
|Mark Noble, Ride BMX UK october 1997: This year's climax to King of Concrete was the funbox contest, what with jumping being the number one thing to do right now. The jumpbox contest was invite only, to keep the numbers down and to get max entertainment for the crowds and that exactly what we all got. Everyone got four jumps, except there were no judge's score sheets - just a judges voting panel. Again, Mr.Wingham was on his crusade frontflip pulled, backflip, and then, pedalling like hell to the quarter, he aired round and then went for a double flip. Obviously, he didn't even come close, but t was a definite crowd pleaser all the same. Zach did the sickest nothing jump in history which was just plain awesome. Combined with a huge flip, Zach indeed looked good for another overall title. In first on the box was Jamie enormous 360 variations and flips, that's all you need to know.||Pro fun box invitational: 1.Jamie Bestwick 2.Zach Shaw 3.James Hitchcox|
|Mark Noble, Ride BMX UK october 1997: There were some new ramps built by those guys at Fearless Ramps. A new big quarterpipe, a flat bank thing with a platform and transition ramp to the side, a wall ride contraption built underneath the bandstand roof with two mini transitions, a big funbox, several grind boxes, a fly-off, and a new sub-box ramp which looked pretty big to say the least [7ft tall ramp, five foot box on top], and a flat bank to the side of the sub ramp. Pretty killer all round. Novice street was first off and a good chance to see wha's what with the lines and jumps from the new riders. Some lines were being made, but most of the effort went into jumping the box. Mark Theaker was on his way to a collection of good finishes in am classes with his win in the street here, closely followed by Tow Brace and Richard Pettman in second. Theaker was all over the course, which no doubt helped him win the event.
A group street. Practice occurred, but mostly riders were seen to be working out lines and launches. 15 year old James Harrison from Guernsey was signed up to ride pro street - how rad is that? He didn't even look stupid either, with barspin launches from the fly-off to the funbox platform, which was quite a distance and at a angle. Rated. Who else looked good? Jay Hotton looked rad, and you know he came up with some unique lines [like he did at the BCR contest]. He rode off the sub-box platform to land on the flat bank, but hooked up and blew out his tyre, and broke a few spokes. Zach too had lines, and some crazy jumps over the box - Zach was well on his way to another overall KOC title. Simon Tabron and Jamie tied for 3rd place, both having excellent lines around the park and flips over the box. Jamie had massive 360 variations during practice he was even clearing the box on opposite 360s, and even opposite Iookback aired the gap between subramp and flatbank. Simon suggested that he was going to flair the big quarterpipe as his big trick, but it wasn't to be - he went even bigger: he launched from the sub ramp to the cafe roof, and pulled it so clean it looked like anyone could do it. Then he bombdropped back into the flat bank from the roof, and that's a hell of a drop. Marcus Wilke again powered around the entire street course - he was one of the few riders to utilise the grind boxes, and launched 180 off them too. Combined with overall prowess around the obstacles, Marcus looked solid again and was justified in his place. You could argue the point that solid runs should be scored higher than stuntmen lunatic runs, but that wasn't the case here. Hoffman's Butcher came over and surprised the lot of us. His street run was short lived, but stupidly rad non-the-less: a fat tailwhip over the box, followed by a ghost-ride launch onto the dodgy cafe roof, he climbed up there to get his bike back. Then, he net up, and rode towards the edge -he launched back in off the roof to the sub ramp! Street. It was a giant launch, and was the trick of the contest. He crashed it, but what the hell -what a drop.
|Novice street: 1.Mark Theaker 2.Tom Brace 3.Richard Petitman 4.Mr Pants 5.Ashley
Pro street: 1.Joe Butcher 2.Markus Wilke 3.(tie)Simon Tabron 3.(tie)Jamie Bestwick 5.Zach Shaw
Mark Noble, Ride BMX UK october 1997: Southsea's vert ramp ain't the best place to hold a vertical contest, as the ramp isn't everyone's cup of tea. A little bumpy, a little raggedy in the coping department, and sometimes the wind picks up off the sea to blow it all to hell. Having said all that, KOC vert contests are always a total blast, and always a good place to see upcoming riders totally going for it. Chalk up 540 attempts, the odd flip attempt, pulled barspin airs around coping level, and great grins across the faces of the riders. Sebastian Bennerson should have won 'Best Sunglasses of the Event', but got 3rd in B group instead, behind Paul Meacher and the fast rising tweaker, Mark Theaker. Tweaker was going for everything this weekend, and he was on his own mission - awesome.
|B group halfpipe: 1.Mark Theaker 2.Paul Meacher 3.Sebastian Bennerson
A group halfpipe: 1.Jamie Bestwick 2.Simon Tabron 3.Zach Shaw 4.Remo 5.Ira Rainey
|Mark Noble, Ride BMX UK october 1997: Mini ramp is always good value for money at KOC - right in the beginning, the mini ramp contest provided one of the highlights of the event because it was always unpredictable. These days, a mini ramp has to be more than the basic five foot by twenty foot simple design - a cutting edge mini ramp contest reeds a spine, a sub-box, a hip, a volcano section, a tombstone, and a fully loaded mini-bar on one of the decks. Southsea's mini is about as basic as you can get, although they did install a sub-box a couple years ego, and that does add something to the game. One side was used for advanced lip trickery, while the box side was used for set-ups and the men took their big tricks to the bridge [well, on to the sobbox]. A haze of riders and runs during the win contest ended up with Mike Bose in B group's first place, and Remco winning the C group. More details are in the pictures.
Running almost at the same time as street was the pro mini ramp contest. This was pretty outrageous to say the least, and despite the simplicity of the ramp itself, the contest truly went off. Local Ronnie Remo rides a bike that looks like his bars have slipped, but that's just his style: what isn't his style is riding mini without a chain, but that's what he had to do since he cased his chain and ring on a box trick gone wrong. Remo pumped the ramp smoothly and kept his flow, and went through some damn hard tricks - toothpick on the box, icepick on the box, barspin stuff, and more. James Hitchcock got third with a solid run - A group only had one run, but it lasted two minutes. In second was Markus Wilke, one of the few German riders who came to the KOC [a contest in Germany was happening on the same weekend...] and man, has this guy got style or what? No front brake, but he didn't need it Wilke stuck every trick like it was going out of fashion, it was so rad to watch, so solid, and so flowing. In first place however was Jamie Bestwick -Jamie looked like he arrived right before his run, as he was being paged over the PA to come to the mini ramp to ride, and sure enough, he made his way through the crowd and straight on to the mini for his contest run: with no practice at all. Jamie ran through tailwhip nosepicks, full tailwhip [pedal to pedal] tyretaps, and tons of other hard moves in a full two minute run. With no practice, warm-up, or getting used to the ramp. Jamie rules.
|C group miniramp: 1.Remco 2.Ashley 3.Joe Wray 4.Zac 5.Jonathon Powell
B group miniramp: 1.Mike Bose 2.James Witt 3.Paul Meacher 4.Mark Theaker 5.Jay Hotton
A group miniramp: 1.Jamie Bestwick 2.Markus Wilke 3.James Hichcox 4.Remo 5.Lee Mellor
|Mark Noble, Ride BMX UK october 1997: 1997 King of Concrete will definitely go down as one of the best, if not, the best KOC in its ten year history. The pumped riding, the decent weather, the relaxed atmosphere, and the fact that there were more competitors than ever before. When previous KOC's have perhaps lacked that certain something, this year's content definitely ruled. If you missed it, tough. Thanks must go out to Geoff Cotlow and the KOC team, because they always put on a killer event: we'll definitely be there next year for KOC number eleven.|