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Steph Biscoe at a beach clean-up. Photo by Jen Bernard.

New skate group Concrete Cruisers combines skateboarding with green space and beach clean-ups

By Jamie MacPherson on July 28, 2022

Ottawa’s diverse womyn’s skateboarding scene grew this skating season. Concrete Cruisers is “an all-female, adult skateboarding community, focused on uniting women through getting together to be outside in an environmentally sustainable way, to gather along local waterways and host beach clean-up events,” says Leigh Fenton, which provides 613 skaters with another way to give back to our city. “Meeting through a love of skateboarding, to enjoy time together as people with similar interests, making new friends and appreciating nature” they’re positive, welcoming, and out for a good time. Come skate with them!

Over the years, Girls+ Skate 613 board member Fenton noticed an opening to enhance Ottawa’s womyn skate movement further. The focus was on “skatepark shredding, competitions and packed bus trips to indoor skate facilities. There was a huge uptake in the younger skate community for these kinds of events: the youth lived for these gatherings,” Fenton says. While hugely successful, “a significant interest was expressed by the older generation of skaters to try more of a cruise skate-style when they came to meet-ups.”

Photo by Jen Bernard.

Ideally, community skate town halls occur to hear all voices before establishing varying programming directions, but COVID-19 prevented a safe in-person community survey. Instead, in late 2021, the former Girls+ Skate 613 board convened to discuss and debate a “destination-based skate crew to cruise the alternating green space paths and quiet paved areas of the city, near beaches and waterways [with a] focus on group water activities, and an emphasis on keeping the environment clean,” says Fenton. The motion passed unanimously.

Fenton met co-founder Jen Bernard at the 2019 Capital Pride Parade as part of the Girls+ Skate float. Among the boarders pushing down Bank Street, they bonded over raising awareness for critical causes, community involvement, and doing “rad” stuff.

Photo by Jen Bernard.

“Bernard was getting back into her car after a visit and said, “Hey, if you ever want to organize group skates on paved cement in and around the city, I’ll do it with ya.” I guess her suggestion was an idea that I just couldn’t get out of my head,” Fenton says of her co-founder. There, it bloomed. They put the idea out there through word of mouth, a website, and an Instagram page.

“The movement would not have happened without Steph Biscoe of Kindred Social, who brilliantly handles our web presence, and makes all the story animations and colourful doodles with inspirational quotes,” says Fenton. “This gal completely embodies her own company’s tagline, ‘be cool, be kind, be real, be you.’ Biscoe originally came on board as a business partner, but no sooner did she join did she become an absolute spark behind our mission.”

Soon this new movement needed a name. “We tossed around a list of names like: Broadside Riders, Crewmate Skate and Ex-date Skate but settled on Concrete Cruisers for the way the lettering could work with a wave.”

The event schedule was ready with a name and logo finalized. Meet-ups occur on the last Sunday of every summer month. Five official events are booked “all over the Ottawa/Gatineau region. Our first couple of events have been well-attended with approximately 20 women attending the yoga–skate–lounge–beach-clean format,” says Fenton.

A beach clean-up. Photo by Jen Bernard.

“The response to our presence by local business owners has been truly incredible and defies the way general society has historically stereotyped skateboarders.” Fenton lists some examples. “We’ve had the Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Association sponsored refreshments for our beach clean-volunteers in May, Top of the World Skateshop gave us stellar prizes for our beach clean bingo events, Landyachtz supported our meet-ups by donating a number of complete longboards and cruiser boards for upcoming awards in our end-of-season gatherings, The Beachconers Microcreamery in the Britannia Beach area offered us 15% off ice cream cones to wrap-up our June skate meet-up and the Wakefield Skateboard Association is hosting free skateboarding tips and a full BBQ for our crew when we get over there this summer.”

These friendly, strong skateboarders on cruisers are creating a new wave in Ottawa, bringing real, positive change and good community encounters. Come for one ride, and you’ll become part of it all.

Follow @concretecruisers on Instagram for information on events, destination maps and playlists to cruise to.