For the 93rd daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Ollie Jones. Ollie is a 33-year-old inline skater living halfway between Bristol and Birmingham in Cheltenham, England. Due to the lockdown, he has been unable to work at his job in signage and large format printing.

Free skating. (left) Over the chain gap. (right)

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

At the moment we are only allowed to meet up with a few people from different households as long as it is outdoors and social distancing guidelines are followed. Previously we have had periods where you could only meet one other person and I think with no one from outside your household at one point.

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

I am still skating. Most of the time I skate on my own anyway, so it hasn’t made a lot of difference. I try my best to keep my hands off everything and always use my hand sanitizer before and after skating and packing my bag to go home. Once at home I can wash properly and change into clean stuff. Things that have probably been a good idea all along.

Front royale on the gate to alleyoop makio on the ledge.

Where are you going out to skate?

I went to a couple of spots at empty buildings, where no one goes to and were perfect for skating out of the way. Unfortunately, one of them is now being worked on so I can no longer go there. Earlier on during the lockdown I did a lot more skating around town on my big wheels, just to still be out skating while there weren’t many spots or any parks to skate. Trying to find some smooth roads and interesting hill bombs out in the countryside was fun too instead of just being in the city center.

Is there anything that would make you stop skating?

I actually didn’t skate at all for five weeks as I hurt my knee, so I had to take some time off. I had cycled out to a spot just to practice a few simple tricks, got really unlucky catching my foot on a wall and dislocated my knee. I immediately put it back in place myself and after some time lying on the floor I managed the 3 mile bike ride home only using one leg. Luckily it seems to be healing well now and I am able to do all kinds of skating again. Prior to being injured recently, the only times I don’t go skating is when the weather is particularly bad or there is no daylight before or after work. 

Are you doing any cross training? 

I do plenty of other exercise to help with my skating and overall fitness. Usually on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights I exercise at home. Recently I have been doing extra physio exercises in the mornings to make sure I regain full strength and mobility in my knee. To be honest I treat skating like just another form of training. I recently came up with an idea where I would try and do as many consecutive tricks as possible on a rail by landing one, skating round the side, jumping up some stairs and going in for another trick. Originally I thought about Five tricks would be possible but in the end it took so long to get three and it was really tiring so I was happy just to leave with what I got.

Consecutive tricks. Filmed by Christopher Hallam.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time? 

During the lockdown I have been reading and working on little puzzles at home when the weather has been bad, and on nice days getting out on my bike to enjoy the weather and begin rebuilding my knee. Though there were two weeks when I couldn’t leave the house at all and probably a third week when I still couldn’t ride.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life? 

Usually I would be at work during the daytime Monday through Friday, so obviously being at home has been an opportunity to work on some other things. Besides that obviously I have seen my friends a lot less, as we have been unable to all meet up and go skating. Also I haven’t been able to travel anywhere abroad since February, so the local spots have become a lot more important and some forgotten spots have been brought back into action.

Safety grab over the gap.

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

My main concern is staying safe and hoping my family and friends are safe as well. No one in my family is missing important school years and most people who work are able to work from home, so mostly life has carried on as normal.

How is your local skate community responding?

For the first stage of the lockdown if anybody was out skating, then they were just staying local and skating alone. Now we are able to get out more together and the good thing with skating is that it’s very easy to maintain social distancing during a session. It’s usually a lot more fun to skate with more people, so everyone is probably looking forward to getting back to normal. Hopefully it happens before the summer disappears again.

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All photography by Sam Cooper.

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