How much upkeep does it take? And have you had to make any sacrifices to keep the yard going?
One thing about Utah is that winter hits. There’s either snow all over everything or it all turns to mud. Snow soaks everything, and then it freezes and melts a bunch of times and then in springtime the first couple inches of everything is like cake mix or something. It’ll be mud under a bunch of crumbling dry mess and everything that’s built steep will fall down. It sucks. As for the ramps, the layer on top can kind of take some of it but usually if it doesn’t you can’t just take it off and put another layer on. Every time I think I’m getting into fixing a little hole in the ramp, as soon as I start getting into it I realize that I’m going to have to replace a big section of the ramp, it turns into a crazy project. These ramps are falling apart from the inside out. The slides have been thrashed by windstorms a couple times and ripped apart where the sections are bolted together. Last year the one that goes to the far backyard didn’t even get fixed and hit all year. I just kept putting off going all the way back there to drill and bolt together the sections that ripped apart because drilling fiberglass sucks. The next thing I knew they were overgrown with weeds the entire length of the slide. That’s another thing that takes over hard. If we don’t go back and get at the weeds, after a rainstorm they’ll be about five times worse. It’s an ongoing battle. As for sacrifices to keeping the yard going… well, I’d have to say that knowing that the resale value of a trashed BMX house is shot kind of sucks. Another thing is… well, my roommates have been cool for the most part, but I’m almost 36 and I don’t want to have my roommates my whole life. As long as I live here I’ll have to have roommates to be able to afford to keep it. I honestly don’t know if that will be much longer.

“More stuff that I can’t ever get rid of. My trophy collection. They’re either from ’84 or ’85 when I was racing when I was 7 and 8, or they’re from ’94 or ’95 when I was 17 and 18. The biggest trophy there was from the 1994 ABA Grands. I went there as a 17 and over novice and finally raced people who weren’t experts. I won all my races and turned intermediate. I also saw the K.O.D. there where Fuzzy tried front flipping off the GT show lip to the back of the berm where they had the contest…. clipped in! Going to that race was an amazing experience because I saw my first real dirt jumping contest that had so many people that I looked up to in it. Another funny thing about winning that race was that I came back and my high school caught wind of me winning a national event. They gave me the Roy High “R” pin at the beginning of an assembly and after that all the jocks in school that had been pricks for so long told me “good job” and thought I was number one pro or something. Little did they know, I was number one novice.” Photo: Zielinski

Can you describe how ideas for new features in the yard usually come about?
It could be something everyone’s sessioning that ends and needs to do something different. I could end up with a hand me down ramp from someone else that I get to figure into everything. There could be a jam coming up and a bunch of people get into changing whatever they want. Or I’ve been known to get into building stuff on my own that I don’t really want anyone else’s help with because I don’t want to hear “We should do this…” when I know they mean “You should do this…” There are a handful of people that actually do constructive work over here. Most the time people have a hard time moving a couple boards out of the way so they can ride stuff that’s not even very hittable. When people act like I’m in their way when I’m trying to fix something, they need to go ride somewhere that doesn’t need to be fixed because they’re wasting my time with their bitching. Sometimes I get more into building than riding.

“The little canning/storage room downstairs next to the laundry room turned into my shop because my dad gave me his old lathe when he got a new one. His friend Everett who was kind of like a father figure to him gave it to him probably around when I was 10 or so. Back then I remember cutting on my skate wheels when I only skated. When it was at my parent’s house and I was about 16 I figured out how to make bar ends and some other little nick-nacks. Now my machines are in the other room downstairs that used to be Aitken’s room. I still use that stuff, I just need to use it a lot more, but I’ve been saying that for years. I went to school at the local vocational school called the ATC to be a machinist. I almost finished, but in ’98 I got picked up by Redline and I said, “I’ll finish school later.” That was 15 years ago. Photo: Zielinski

Did you ever build something that ended up not working?
Ha, that’s a funny thing. I’ve got a problem where I start stuff and get distracted with something else so I’ve half built stuff that could some day be working. I just get into riding or working on some other project. I’m pretty bad at that. One of the things that got almost going is a hot tub that was originally Fuzzy’s. Aitken got it from him and had it working at his house. When he had to fix his deck at his house we ended up with it. At first it was over in the trees by where the trampoline was. Then I found out that wiring it up so far away from the electric box was going to cost a whole bunch of money. I ended up taking out the ramps on the other side of the house that put you from the roller ramp into the old slide. I took out ramps and dug a good square spot for it. I bought a huge bag of gravel and put it down where it needed to go. It sat on the four-wheeler trailer in front next to the driveway for a little while. Then Elf came over with the guys that set up and tear down Winter Dew tour, they came over to skate the garage. They helped us get the hot tub off the trailer, put it through the fence on its side, then get it set down where it needed to go. All it needs is to be wired up, the electric box is right through the window in the garage. Now it’s sat through a couple winters and the cover’s been blown half off a couple times. I’m sure that’s how it is now if I go over there and look at it, half covered with some ratty frozen water in the bottom of it. When the Red Bull Ride and Seek came here I got some 16-foot 2x6s and we put a bunch of flat 2x4s on those and covered it with four 4×8 sheets of 3×4 plywood. It had a bridge/cover thing so you could ride over it and get into the old slide. Since then all that wood has been taken apart and used for other stuff so now there’s just an up ramp, a trashed hot tub, and then the start to the old slide. I need to take that hot tub to the dump or put it on KSL for free and just make it so you can do the old slide loop out of the ramp again. Damn, I guess with all the ways this place has been changed you could just say that most of the things that used to be how they were ended up not working. That could be argued though, because some of the things that have been changed makes me miss how they used to be. This place is an awesome complicated mess.

“Shawn “Elf” Walters… When Shawn “Elf” Walters moved to Salt Lake he pretty much introduced us to riding street and to this day he’s the most motivated person I know around here to really seek out the really good street stuff. He’s also really organized when it comes to keeping track of what’s what and who might be able to do what on it. Elf’s got street spots that absolutely nobody will be able to seek out because he rides around so much on the lookout for all that stuff. The cool thing about Elf being such a street killer is that he can build jumps better than everyone and works his ass off until it’s done right. I always thought that it would be crazy if Elf came back to town from building contest jumps and wouldn’t be burned out on building. He’d just look at it like he was able to build stuff that a bunch of contest guys weren’t going to bitch about and he wouldn’t have to work 14 hours a day to meet a deadline. So if there are people out there that think that Elf is only street they should think of this… Elf not only builds the dirt jumps at most of the big dirt contests, he’s the first one to hit them.” Photo: Zielinski

What is your favorite thing you ever built?
I’d have to say the combination of things that got built for the GnarBQ in ’06. Before that construction project you had to walk downstairs with your bike and go out the downstairs back door. I took out the window next to the fridge, busted out all the wall below it, rented a saw for cutting bricks at Home Depot, stood on a ladder out back and cut the window into a door, put a door in, we built a deck off the back of the house, a hill going down to the deck of the mini, extensions on both sides of the ramp so people could session the roof drop. The combination of all those things really changed this place and made it a lot more fun.

“The old slide. We must’ve gotten it in 2007. This is a picture of it when it just got put together because it got painted army green the next day. Before that stuff gets painted with flat paint it’s damn slick to ride. Having that slide has always been a real attraction to the yard. Where else can you go ride one where you don’t have to trespass and have to risk riding some slick thing with drops over the edge and a skidding stop at the end before you go into a pool? One of my favorite things to do is make sure nobody’s coming down it and go through the dish the other way and go up the slide. It took me a while before I could get up the slide without pedaling. I love that thing because it might have dirt crumble into it from the jump over it and it might have water or fruit in it [from the trees], but it’s a whole run that’s pretty much ready to go when we’re rebuilding after the winter. There have been some funny crashes in it—my biggest fear has always been some kind of head on collision with two people. Having criss-cross crash lines around the yard makes me have to pay attention a lot more when there are more than just a couple of us back there.” Photos: Beringer

Who does most of the work? Who helps the most?
That’s changed depending what’s been going on. There has been times when my roommate Ethan has been all about digging on that big spine elbow thing and out there constantly. In 2011 Fuzz got some money from Red Bull for us to work with. Me, Elf, and my roommate Ethan built nonstop for two or three weeks for when that Ride and Seek trip came here. After that was over we got the old Coliseum park bowl corners from our friend Jeff Hall who had them set up in the back of his office over by 5050.  I got really obsessed with working on all that stuff and that’s all I did for three or four months. I was always out there hooked on Red Bull with my headphones on, just going crazy like some kind of ramp scrounge that hit the jackpot or something. Mostly with help from GWAR Pandora and the Saltair ghosts, but sometimes Pinko and his crew came over and helped, too. There was four nights in a row that I was just wheel barrowing scrap and rotten wood down to the fire in the fire pit, at least six hours a time and probably eight on the last night when Pinko, Skyler, Beecka, and Forackis came over and helped haul stuff down there.  In general, it’s been Skyler Pingree, James Pinko, Chicken, Elf, Tristen Cooper, Beecka, Ethan Spaulding, and Brian Miller in the last year.

How much time do you have to spend getting the yard back into shape after each winter?
It’s probably a couple months depending on if I’m in and out of town or whoever feels like riding over here instead of riding street or the cement park. It kind of gets back into shape a piece at a time. The line where you hip out of the mini, go next to the dish, hit the step-up and then go down to the spine elbow thing usually gets running first. Then the flat between the steep spine off the ramp and the 10-foot quarter. Then the bowl off the side of the mini and the curved wall lips. Then the hip out of the 10-foot to the other quarter. Then the style-jump line. Then the left line. It all kind of goes in a random order depending on who’s over and into it and what they want to hit, and usually the whole yard won’t be all the way running all year. There’s always something that needs to be fixed, everyone will just be having fun riding what’s running and have the intentions of doing it later. Everyone’s standards of what’s good enough to ride or what needs to be worked on are different, too.

“This must’ve been 2005 too. I remember thinking of stuff to do for my Ride interview and I really wanted to do something different, something that almost wasn’t riding. Jeff Z. was already in town to shoot photos and [Ryan Navazio] Navaz was there to film for Standpoint. I think it was maybe on our ride out to the Utah tree or back when I thought about it and brought it up. I know for sure that when I brought it up Navaz said if I did it he’d give me $50. The next day I went out there and put some couch cushions after the trampoline and started doing the jump on-to-half-flipping flop. Then I got around a little more and moved the pads. I wrecked a couple more times before I got it all the way around. I had to pop high off the sheet metal on boards on a couple 2x4s, then land with my brakes locked, and just flip as hard as I could off the bounce. That’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had riding away from something because I didn’t know if it was even possible. I feel like I had a bunch of years being the only one that would go for front flips and it was always a roll of the dice for me. I never went for them unless I was really amped up by the crowd at a contest and half the time I’d get worked. The other half the time, it was always that stoked, “I can’t believe I’m on two wheels after that” feeling. Well, I think it was probably around 2004 or 2005 when Scotty Cranmer learned them a different way. He’d blast way up in the air and wait until he was at his highest point and then throw around the flip. A new amazing way to do them higher and more consistently, so a bunch of people caught onto and added a bunch of tricks to. I never figured out how to do them that way, but I still did one last year at an Evel Knievel days show over the 5050 show jump after saying to myself, “This ones for you Evel.” Well, as few and far between as I’ll get myself to do frontflips and as my eternal hit or miss syndrome with that trick will never catch up to par. I feel the same way as I did when that magazine with my interview came out. Props to everyone that sends frontflips and does ’em right, but I’ll always have the tramphop-to-frontflip under my belt. Too bad I never had the balls to 180 onto the trampoline and backflip off—never say never, I guess.” Sequence: Zielinski

Do you have any pipe dreams for the house? Something that was just too big or expensive for you to pull off yourself…
Yeah, I always thought that if I were rich I would cut a hole through the wall so you could go from the garage and roll down into the ramp with the roller. I always thought it would be the coolest thing ever if I was rich enough to be like Willy Wonka and just build a big wall around this place. I would just have it be closed and build the most amazing stuff ever, with everyone always wondering what the Hell was going on over here. I guess that’s pretty antisocial, but sometimes I get burned out on stuff and I feel like I’m building it for everyone else to come ride, shoot pictures, and film on. I guess the attention this place has got over the years is my job and I’m psyched that people like it and want to come ride here. I just sometimes feel like this place has had it’s day and it’s on a downward spiral of doom. Winter’s just depressing and as soon as it’s Spring I’m sure I’ll be stoked to build new stuff if I can still afford to be here and run it like this. I think that’s really the motivation these days, the fact that we’ve got a place where this kind of stuff can be built and sessioned with friends. I can’t take that for granted. The best thing would be to have a sick invite contest here, have [Nate] Wessel go crazy with the ramps, have Elf, Gilly, Clint Reynolds, Matty, Nutter, and Dave King build for three weeks or so. Then turn this into some kind of BMX time-share or something after it’s over.

“I think that this was 2009. Me and Cam were filming for a little ski bike edit that was on the ESPN site. I think if you put in Matt Beringer and Cam Wood ski bike edit you can find it on Youtube. Some years we’ve had enough snow to session snowboards and ski bikes at the house, other years we just don’t catch the session in time before it melts and it’s gone. This year there’s even more snow than there was in this picture. I made our ski bikes in my shop in my basement. I’ve made a couple setups since then, but I’m way better at making and testing prototypes than I am at going through what it takes to make a company out of them. Me and a couple of my friends kind of turned into a ski bike gang, too. One of my favorite things about going ski biking is that it’s a getaway from the scene of riding with wheels. There are no politics, no “good enough”, no shit talking crews, no internet shit talk, no “seat’s too high’, no cliques to clash. It’s just a damn good time hauling ass and making turns. Just make sure not to piss off the lifties or ski patrol. People have been asking me to build them one for a long time and I have some skis, but there’re a couple people that I need to build custom ones for before building them to sell. I’ve been talking to this guy Drifter Dave who does DSB ski bikes. Hopefully I can work with him and combine some ideas for next season. For now if you’re where you can’t ride because there’s too much snow or you’re lucky enough to have a resort near you that lets them on the lift, DSB has legit ones for sale on their website. Or if you want to get into it like me and a bunch of other people have. Go to work making one for yourself, once you get into it you’ll wish winter wasn’t over instead of wishing it was for months.”

Was there ever a point when you thought, “Ok, the yard is perfect, I’m never going to change it up again.”
In the fall of 2011 I was so close to having this place 100% for the first time ever. We got the main part of the whole yard awesome for Ride and Seek and the Coliseum bowl turns we got from Jeff were up and running. I just needed to put Masonite in the 3/4 bowl and on the mini. I had a couple slide turns going into place for a little S-run coming back up from the dirt spine/elbow. I had angle iron on the right side of the shed and started widening the lip and landing for making that line. It seemed like having this place 100% was so close to being a reality, but around every corner was a new idea of what needed to be done or something to fix. Then a windstorm took out some sections of the far back slide and then winter hit. When spring of 2012 came along I just didn’t have the crazy motivation or the money I needed to go to Lowe’s and get new stuff to fix a lot of things. When I had gone crazy trying to work the bowl turns into the mix at the end of 2011 I had maxed my credit card out. In 2012 we got the jumps running and I layered some parts of the ramps that really needed it, but there wasn’t some kind of jam or goal to go crazy for. We just rode and had fun. Right now everything’s covered in a foot of snow and there’s still a couple months left of that. When spring of 2013 happens we’ll see what’s in store for this place. I’ll hopefully have a couple more roommates in here helping with the bills. If this place isn’t doomed and gets rebuilt and fixed up in the spring, there’ll be a “Don’t Tour” or “GnarBQ” in 2013.

“When I think of all the good times and bad times and all the projects finished or being worked on at this house I think that this Odyssey poster really sums up the fun that’s been had here. When I’m completely washed up and out of this house I think that this picture will be the one picture I have up on the wall to remember this place.” Photo: Zielinski