In the realistically small world that is BMX, longevity is a bit of a difficult thing to achieve–especially when it comes to ramp setups. Ramps, in any shape or form, are difficult to make happen, no matter how you slice it. Indoor parks have to find funding, a building, and a landlord that is cool enough to be down with an activity that is considered dangerous and liable by their insurance company. Working with a city to get a skatepark built is a small miracle in itself, an entirely long and arduous process, and then there’s the omnipresent issue of getting bikes legal inside of the park. The logical step, especially in BMX, is to just do it yourself–DIY and BMX have always gone hand and hand, right?
BMX has seen plenty of backyard ramps, very few which stand the test of time. Unless the climate is somewhat perfect, a ramp will always be exposed to some sort of extreme elements, whether it be rain, snow, severe temperature shift, you name it. Most outdoor ramps don’t have the budget to Skatelite and weatherproof the thing, which generally leads to a slow and painful death of the ramp over time. The Terrible One ramp, which resides on the east side of Austin, Texas is not one of these setups. It really is hard to keep an outdoor ramp alive–the location, climate, and construction have to be extremely on point for a ramp to have any chance of surviving. However, through years of hard work, dedication, and respect from those who have ridden and helped maintain it, the T1 ramp has had a strong history and existence and been a staple in the Austin scene for over a decade at this point.
A few months back, Terrible One’s Freaky Friday series made mention of the ramp turning ten years old in March. After some digging through our archives, Jeff Zielinski found a bunch of exposures that he’d taken over the course of the ramp’s decade long existence, a mix of lifestyles and action shots featuring the likes of Chase Hawk, Taj Mihelich, Paul Buchanan, Morgan Wade, and Joe himself. Considering the landmark status the ramp has achieved in ten long years, we asked the “Ultimate Male” if he’d be down to talk a little bit about the ramp and its history. Joe was kind enough to take some time to give some great answers to these questions. Keep reading below to get some education on one of the most well known ramps in BMX history.
The Terrible One ramp has made it to the decade mark. Did you ever thing it would last this long after the completion of the initial build?
I can’t even believe it has been 10 years. I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend the ramp being here for this long back then, and still can’t. Or for that matter, what it has become after we built the first stage of it.
You ran out of room in the yard a while ago. What are the main stages the ramp has seen since that point? You started with a simple mini and it has grown completely organically since then.
Who told you we ran out of room? There is always room ! ha ha. There is still room not to expand it, but money is always the problem. If a truck filled with wood and Skatelite showed up today, that thing would expand plenty. I still have lots of ideas for it, but they are on hold until a bit more money can be saved. I’d say there have been 5 main stages of the ramp. The initial build of the straight main part, that was back in March or so of 2002. Then the end of that got bowled in the following January. That was 2003. 2 more years passed and we added the spine, 8 ft quarter pipe, and the big hip roll down next to the spine. So we were in 2005 at the time. In February of 2007, we added the big vert bowl corner, box jump section, and small hip to the 8 ft quarter. The next few years after that were mainly just trying to maintain the ramp. In June of last year, Red Bull was doing a trip and wanted to come ride the ramp. They offered to help us add an addition to the ramp, so we took out the box jump lip and deck, cut off 5 feet off the one side of the 7 ft part of the ramp, and added a 9 1/2′ quarter that had bowl corners on each side of it that slope down to the lower sections. We also added a roller next to the spine. This set up is the best the ramp has ever been. You are right about its growth. Each stage has been added as a result of how the ramp rides. Directions it naturally spits you in, and speeds that it generates. Every addition has been added in an attempt to harness what the ramp was naturally giving.
Who has been responsible for the main design, work, and upkeep of the ramp?
The original base of the straight 7′ part, was headed up by Nate Wessel. He built the 7′ ramp at the Ramp Ranch outside of Austin. We were riding that so much at the time. When we had to move T-1, we made sure we found a space where we could build a ramp out back. Since we were driving 40 minutes each way to go ride this 7 foot at the park, we decided to make our own version of it here. Pretty straight forward. 7’3″ tall, 40 feet wide. It had an elevator to an 8 ft section, and a vert wall that was set back back from the main 7 ft section. That following winter, Taj dreamed up the bowl corner addition, and Ryan Corrigan slid into the director seat. Ryan and Paul Buchanan did the majority of the work on that part. The spine section was something that we talked about for a long time. With the way that the ramp rode, it sent you in that direction with so much speed. So it was only natural that we put something there you could blast. The way this section ended up was mainly my vision. The size of the spine, the size of the hip landing and quarter were all things I really wanted on the ramp. Ryan headed up that build mission as well. There was quite a bit of help on that part. Many friends came and donated their time to help. The box jump, bowl corner section was a group decision, and the newest 9ft / bowl addition was Ryan and me combining ideas. Ryan is always the foreman since its first phase of growth. Apart from him, the usual people that show up to help are Logan, Big Rob, Adrian, and Matt Morren. I’d say the 6 of us are the ones that are out there the most. Upkeep is mainly my job, but Ryan and Logan help with that as well. On this last build, my friends that skate, along with Nina and a few of the girl riders, all put in time to help. It’s always nice to have help.
Last year, the ramp got “tightened up.” What exactly did you guys do, and what did the ramp feel like before and after the maintenance? Who helped with getting the ramp back in shape?
You must be referring to what was done before the 9ft quarter was added. Logan and I basically went over the entire ramp and put in new screws. I think we sank about 6,000 new screws into it. This involved taking the old ones out, and drilling new holes and countersinking them all too. That was a lot of work, but the ramp needed it. The ramp gets so much use over the year by us and all the visitors to Austin, that it requires a lot of maintenance. But it’s all worth it. That thing rules !
To entertain us…if you were given a handsome sum of money and had a serious desire to make some improvements, design changes, etc., what would you do and why?
I have way too many ideas if this were to happen. Maybe Ride Magazine could give this a go, and I can give you a story and pictures to follow that would answer this question perfectly ! ha ha ha, Really though, yeah, I have so many ideas. the ramp would have some major things done to it, but until then, we’ll just keep doing what we can, as we have means to do so.
Off the top of your head, who are some of your favorite riders to have touched tire to ramp in your backyard?
So many good ones. Almost impossible to name them all. But some of my favorites include Paul Buchanan, Isaac Hoefling, Logan Balbirona, Morgan Wade, Tom Dugan, & Chase Hawk.
What other purpose has the ramp had besides it’s primary use? I know you have had various premieres and shows there…
The ramp has hosted many a video premiere, benefit and music show. All 3 of them are in rotation thoughout the year. Its such a good place to throw benefits for people that are in need of help. So many people come out to enjoy the day, and as a result, their donations help people in need. So good. We haven’t had much music back there lately, but I’d like to do more. Music days and nights are so much fun. I just have to be careful with how much attention I draw to the backyard. The fire marshall would not be happy if he got a glimpse of what is back there. ha ha.
What’s your personal favorite part of the ramp?
It would have to be the entire thing. The way that it rides is like nothing else & I love that it has provided so many good times for the people that have come to ride it.
Tell us a story about a day you wish you could relive in the backyard.
It would probably the the night that we premiered the T-1 video ” You Get What You Get “. I have a hard time putting into words how that evening felt. It was one of the most intense feelings of happiness I have ever experienced. I had been working feverishly, and round the clock for the previous 120 hours to finish it all up. And was running on a total of 10 hours of sleep during that time span. I felt like I was out of my mind. The first time I ever got to watch the video as a whole, was during the export of it. Which by some miracle exported perfectly on the first try, and finished up an hour before the premiere night started. Getting to show it, with the music cranked, to a yard full of my closest friends, was a feeling I will never forget.
One decade down–what’s next for the ramp and what’s next for T1 as a whole?
I feel like the ramp and T-1 parallel each other in a way. So my goal is to try and keep putting my all into both of them. There are times when they need more work than others, and there are times when they feel perfect. But in the end, I just want to make sure they both keep existing, and appreciate these days that are here with them. They are a huge part of my life, and I can’t imagine it any other way.
Any last words or thanks?
I can’t thank Ryan Corrigan enough. The ramp would never be what it is without him. Logan would be #2 on the list as he is here helping nonstop. Big Rob, Adrian, Matt Morren have all put so much into it as well. Thanks to anyone that has helped along the way. Thanks to Skatelite for being such a huge help through the years. The only reason this thing is in as good of condition after 10 years, is because of that stuff.