Michael Stride, 6th April 1964 – 23rd February 2020

Michael Stride. Photo: Jason Bishop

We are deeply saddened to announce that Michael Stride passed away at the North London Hospice on Sunday 23rd February following a lengthy and courageous battle against cancer.

I first met Michael when we were fresh-faced skaters at Southbank early in 1980/81. Little did I know then what a pivotal role this happy-go-lucky chap, driving around in a yellow Triumph Spitfire, would go on to play in the UK Skate scene. Michael was an enthusiastic supporter of all things skateboarding. In recent years his online skate shop, Octane Sport, would go on to sponsor many Slalom and Downhill events as well as maintaining a team of riders of all ages.

His first love was slalom. It’s resurgence in 2000s would see him travel to the States for the World Championships and compete in slalom competitions all over Europe. Historically the Brits have always been very good at tight slalom – where the cones are closely spaced together – and in 2003 in Morro Bay, CA, Michael beat Chris Barker to be crowned Amateur World Tight Slalom Champion.

Michael racing at Hog Hill. Photo: Jason Bishop

When Sam Gordon first secured Hog Hill as a race venue it was Michael that offered help, providing starting ramps, timing gear, speed guns and prizes. This was a progression of the support that he had provided for the Wasteland series at Hillingdon Cycle Track in the years previous. He didn’t provide for just one event, Michael and Octane Sport were title sponsors for over eleven years. He saw it as his duty as a skater to keep the stoke alive. Octane Sport was the UKSSA’s prime supporter. Michael was a decisive presence at the UKSSA’s inaugural meeting at the Punch and Judy pub, Covent Garden, with Chris Linford and Mog and Barny from Brixton Cycles at the start of the Millennium.

Michael’s love of gadgets and Heath Robinson engineering meant that over time he amassed a fair bit of eclectic timing equipment. When the word spread, Michael and kit were in demand. He timed everything from Joel King’s (and Jason Bradbury’s) jet luge World Record attempts on ‘The Gadget Show’ to running the clock on Guy Martin’s street luge when he was in training for an attempt on the toboggan world speed record. But his TV work didn’t end behind the scenes. He appeared as a judge on ‘Scrapheap Challenge’ where teams were tasked to build giant skateboards. Furthermore, Michael proudly won a Blue Peter badge by teaching Helen Skelton, in her first presenter challenge, to skate so that she could enter the Eastbourne Speed Days Downhill race.

Donning his engineering hat Michael designed and developed a range of CNC trucks for slalom and LDP use. These were sold and distributed by Octane Sport under the Virage brand name and made their debut appearance on the international slalom scene at the Tunnel Race in Zurich, April 2009.  

His 50th Birthday present to himself was a Caterham 7, which was fettled and tuned to astonishing capacity, just as he would with a skateboard. Michael joined the 7 Club and went out on drives and rallies, where he made many new like-minded technical friends. At slalom events he would turn up with the Octane shop crammed into the passenger seat of the Caterham, with just a few bolts and bushings squeezed into the tiny boot space. In between races he would gleefully take people for a quick burn up round the block.

Those of us that knew Michael well will each have a lasting image or fond memory of him. The news of his passing spread rapidly around the worldwide skate community and tributes soon came flooding in. It is testament to the kind of person he was that there were so many beautifully written heartfelt posts summing up the person he was. Generous, playful, witty (never crude), irascible, but ultimately always inclusive and considerate.

Thank you for all of your kindness, endless enthusiasm and encouragement but above all your friendship. I shall miss you trackside at Hog Hill with the Ol’ Jalopy Shop – C7 SKT and your terrible jokes. Farewell Michael, enjoy the ride. 

 Our most sincere condolences to his mother, sister Susan and the rest of the Stride family.

 

With thanks to Sam Gordon.

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