Big Wheel Blading’s COVID-19 Coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every skater in the world in some way. In this new series, Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19, we will be checking in with various inline skaters from around the globe to see how the pandemic has affected their life. This is only one part of our COVID-19 coverage, which includes editorials, interviews with skaters who are deemed essential workers and an in depth report of what long term affects the pandemic will have on our sport and industry. Also check out the series, Essential Workers, Inline Skaters on the Front Lines of COVID-19, where we talk to inline skaters from around the world who are considered Essential Workers. If you’d like to contribute an editorial piece or have any comments or suggestions you can email janericwelch@bigwheelblading.com.


Matt Lyon, aka Hood Panda, is a 25-year-old inline skater and FedEx delivery driver living in Columbus, Ohio, USA.


What is the current situation with COVID-19 in Ohio?

We are on a mandatory stay-at-home order with social distancing being heavily recommended. It’s a weird balance here, sometimes I see social distancing in full effect, then other times it is like, “damn y’all really don’t listen huh?” We currently have less than 2,000 confirmed cases, which is a low number compared to other places. But still, people’s lack of concern over COVID-19 makes me a little bit nervous.

Are you still skating? If so what precautions are you taking to stay safe?

Yes, I am skating at least 3-5 times a week. I’ve been wearing a mask when skating since last summer, so everyone else is late to the party! I keep a great distance from others and only holla at people from a far.

If you are still skating what and where are you skating?

I’m am taking full advantage of the current situation to explore and skate the less populated areas of Columbus. My first big wheel blading session, after all the schools shut down and the stay-at-home order was introduced, was around Ohio State University with my 360 camera. When all non-essential businesses shut down, a lot of aggressive inline spots opened up for me, so I called my buddy Paul (aka Hood Opossum) to help me film a day of street skating trick missions. We went to a plaza downtown that we usually get kicked out of and then hit up this perfect silver kink rail that is at a government building. Everyone has talked about skating it for the past 2-years, but security usually kicks you out before you even make it up the stairs. Thanks to COVID-19, I became the first person to grind down the whole rail.

If you haven’t stopped skating, what would make you stop?

I’d probably stop skating for a while if I got shot in the legs.

Are you doing any cross training?

My job as a delivery driver is extremely physically demanding and due to COVID-19 we are busier than the holiday peak season. I lift and deliver anywhere from 200-350 packages a day. It’s not an easy job, but I do my best to stretch daily and maintain a healthy diet. Then when I get off work I get straight into my skates and go out for a session.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

I’ve been painting a lot of pandas and working on a Christmas album.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

COVID-19 has effected my work life the most by everyone staying at home and ordering more stuff that needs to be delivered, but other then that not a whole lot. I make a smoothie every morning, go to work, then focus on skating and making content. When I began big wheel blading last year I skated solo about 90% of the time, so I am used to being away from other people and being as weird as I want. I still see some of my close homies regularly, but I do miss the random social interactions I’d have big wheel blading through the city’s nightlife.

What are your major concerns right now and looking into the future?

I try to stay positive about every situation in life. What’s happening in the world right now is unfortunate, but I am focusing on all the good things going on around me. I think this pandemic is making everyone value life differently. As for the future, I look forward to making more enjoyable blading content, hosting our weekly Tuesday night skate and social interactions that can include hugs again!

How is your local skate community responding? Are they self-isolating or are they still getting together and not social distancing?

A little bit of both! They have been skating together, but maintaining a safe distance. I haven’t seen a group of more than three people getting together to skate, but I’ve seen a lot of people, that I don’t know, solo skating around the city. Which is dope!

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

I would like to thank Seba skates, 50/50 frames and Oak City Skate shop for keeping me rolling fresh n’ clean. Shout out Hood Goose (Hawke Trackler) Hood Opossum (Paul Stewart) and hood Panther (Bradley Wilson) for keeping my wild ass grounded and in check during this PANDA-DEMIC. Thank you to everyone that follows my weird adventures! I wouldn’t do it without the love and support y’all show me. Shout out to my only fans, I salute y’all, I holla at y’all and I be with y’all!!!


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Jan Welch

Founder and creator of bigwheelblading.com

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