Tag Archives: Skating

A Skatepark in Xinbei?

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Recently, a small skate park has popped up in the Found City shopping plaza across the street from Xinbei Wanda. This is actually in the inner part of the plaza, and is currently in front of the equally new Ellen’s Bar. It’s fairly simple with a few obstacles like two rails, a launch ramp, and a few others. There are two quarter pipes at each end, too.

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I’m not sure exactly what is going on, here. Could this be linked to an upcoming event? A few months ago, Vans did a skateboarding demo in Wuxi. Regardless, in the time this little skate spot has been in Xinbei, I haven’t actually seen anybody riding it. I would have tried, as I do have a board. However, I’m a middle aged guy that easily prone to foot injuries these days. Some of the signage seems to suggest it’s legit and lays out terms of use.

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There are only two sports I tend to be a fan of: professional wrestling and skateboarding. So, I hope the above place is legit. However, I have to speak with a little bit of skepticism. Up till now, Changzhou has had two big skate spots. Over in Qingfeng Park, there is a X-Games styled place that even has a half pipe. Yet, the obstacles are rusted, it’s unsafe to ride, and it’s closed to the public. Down in Wujin, there is a concrete set of banks set up like a snake run. A few years ago, I had actually spent an afternoon riding it. This is in the park next to the Holiday Inn near the Wujin governmental complex. Last time I was there, layers of dirt had made that place unusable.

The other issue, really, is Foundcity. From time to time, things pop up there, remain unused, and then vanish. I remember an attempt to set up a outdoor gocart track, for example. So, as I said. Count me as skeptical. As somebody who appreciates skating, I really want this place to be used and still in Xinbei within a couple of months. However, I will not be surprised if this vanishes, too.

The Holiday Inn Snake Run

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“Are you our mayor?”

Laughably, this was not the first time in my life I have been mistaken for somebody’s governing municipal official. But, that’s a story for another time. This time, it was a little kid, and I was at a skate park in Long Branch, New Jersey. Pentagram stickers were plastered all over my helmet, and the person asking the question was nine years old.  His mother eyed me with extreme suspicion. If I could have read her mind, it would have been filled with What is this grown man doing by himself in skate park filled with children? The answer was simple: a half pipe or an empty pool is a good source of cardio.

That was more than ten years ago, now. Funny how life changes. Now I live Changzhou, but some things do not change at all. I still have a skateboard, and I think riding it is a fun source of exercise. While I seldom skate these days, I still keep an eye out for good spots. It’s an instinct drilled into me by my friends back in Belgium, when I was a teenager.

Changzhou does not have many good spots to go skate that I know of. There is a mini ramp and flat banks in Qingfeng Park. Yet, I have never seen anybody there. Its fenced in, and access has looked limited the last time I looked there about a year and a half ago. Over in Wujin, there is a place with no fence at all, and I have ridden my board there a few times.

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It looks like a concrete drainage ditch. When I first found it, it was covered with graffiti. Over the years, that graffiti has changed themes, but all that means is that concrete has several layers of paint, and paint makes concrete much more smooth against urethane wheels. My guess, though, is that the place is seldom used. The last time I went there two months ago, the concrete was covered with dirt and needs to be thoroughly cleaned before riding could be enjoyable.

This small set of flat banks is located in the park behind the Holiday Inn in Wujin. This is also in the part of Hutang that is close to the College City area. The No. 2 People’s Hospital is also nearby, as is a library and the Wujin governmental complex. Unfortunate for me, I now live in Xinbei and it’s a bit too far to go to. Yet, something inside me is itching to get the board out and go riding again. Part of me thinks its just middle age and a yearning for nostalgia and bygone years.

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This is Not a Skatepark

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As far as I know, Changzhou has only two actual skate parks. One is in Qingfeng Park in Zhonglou. It has ramps and rails and the sort of thing you might expect from a skate park in America or Europe. The other is in Wujin, and it’s a spray painted concrete ditch / snake run. This one is closer to the College City, and it’s in the park next to a Holiday Inn. In both instances, I have never seen anybody with a skateboard at these places other than myself.

And then, there is something fundamentally misleading in Xinbei. Next to the Changzhou North Station, there are two ecological parks split by Huashan Road. Both are named for the high speed train that glides by overhead: Changzhou High Speed Rail Ecological Park 常州高铁生态公园,

For the most part, both the east and west parts are ecologically well maintained and manicured. There are also wide concrete paths that make the park excellent for bike riding — both pedal and electric varieties. What caught my attention, however, was a sign that said “Skateboarding Plaza.”

I spent an hour walking and riding around both the east and west sections. At one point the signs and the arrows began contradicting each other. And, no matter how many times I looked at the park’s posted map, I just couldn’t seem to find it. Eventually, I did, and it was utterly disappointing.

Many parks in Changzhou have amusement areas and rides for children. This place was no different. Only, the concrete in this area was very hard, and it had some twists, turns, and painted lines. Sure, you could ride a skateboard here, but it wouldn’t be any fun. It’s all just flat. And, then I realized something. This place was probably planned for Chinese kids on inline skates, not for middle aged Americans who still like riding a skateboard from time to time. IMG_20160518_145850