Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Too hot, too old, too slow, two-seventy?

The riding progresses at a glacial pace. Granted, it's hard to find time to ride and the dirtpark needs a lot of work done to maintain it and keep it in form. Actual 'real' yardwork takes precedence though. Somebody has to ride the mower, man the trimmer, start up the pool, clean up the dog crap. The problem is that that somebody is me. And I'm also the dirtpark maintenance crew.

But the real problem is the 360s. 360s are just, uh, like, uh, argh.

I'm working on the them a lot lately and they are coming along slowly. I can tap/pivot a 270 around but that is not what I want to accomplish. I want to land both tires at full 360 degrees. This past weekend, I kept at it, but the 3's are just not there yet. Although, it was ridiculously hot and I think I had the beginnings of heat stroke. Other than being old, slow, and overheated, I'm not sure what the problem is. I think I maybe just need to go higher? Tuck the back up more? Keep my head turned? Dunno. Sometimes I tap the rear brakes to help spin, but this just makes me land on the rear tire and pivot out. If I don't grab the brake and really tuck up, the bike comes around, but I lose my centre of rotation and start to go sideways. Any advice on 360s would be really welcome.

My bro came by and shot a few pics with his DSLR. He used to ride a lot of BMX back in the day as well. Here he is catching some air off our old 8' quarter pipe that we set up in front of our old house in Barrhaven when we were kids. So, that means that this was taken back in the mid-to-late eighties. Notice the Redline RL-20 II in Radberry. I used to have a RL-20 in Radberry. I think at one point, we were the only two kids in Ottawa with Radberry bikes. Anyway, the ramp disassembled into 3 pieces and had to be put away back into the garage after every use. It even had wheels on the back so we could roll it down to the park. Well, until the Bylaw officers would show up that is...

So, with my bro wasting some flash card space I tried to get some practice in. I had the camcorder going and I even managed to land this little 180 fly-out to fakie roll down thingy. It was fun.



Here's another crappy video edit. It's nothing special, but at least this one is short. (I have also made a promise to myself to not film anything again until I actually learn a new trick.)

Dirtpark 2000 from slamigo on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Good times in the dirt park!

This is a hard feeling for me to describe. Everyone who rides a BMX knows that feeling of just hanging out and riding with your buddies, that feeling of wasting time, of goofing off, everybody just trying to either work on reaching a personal goal or maybe just pull something that will impress your buds. You're outside, you're young, the sun is shining, and nobody has anything on their minds except what they might try to do next as they wait ther turn to hit the jump. Now imagine fast forwarding 20 years into the future and enjoying that space of time with your kids.

My boys are 5 and 7 years old and it's a lot of fun to hang out and ride with them. The boys are just out there living in the moment, riding and having a good time. Progress doesn't always come easily though. Sometimes you fall. Sometimes you're nervous. As I keep at it I realize that it really is hard work. And I see the boys starting to try these things. They are working hard.

But we are all enjoying some sense of accomplishment. My 5 year old rode the dirt bowl for the first time. My 7 year old can actually catch a few inches of air. To be at this point in my life that I can ride with my kids is really, really cool.

Still working on getting the walls packed down harder so I can start getting higher out of the bowl. Since there isn't any vert, if you go any higher you hang up your rear tire.

I remembered that I used to be able to do can-cans. Here is a fuzzy memory of what those were like. I realize it is a bad representation, but hey, it's progress and I'll take it.

Here's another little video of the riding from the dirtpark. It won't be super exciting to anyone but it's just an awesome feeling to share riding with my kids.

Good times in the dirt park from slamigo on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Baby steps

The weather has been brutal. Rainy and cold and it's making life at the dirtbowl miserable. In what can only be described as a tiny window of opportunity of no-rain, I decided to try out a jump that I had never before attempted: the no-footer. I think that it is an important trick that you need to learn in order to progress.

So, on my 39th birthday, I got out the bike and tried a few. The first time I tried it, I slipped a pedal and went over the bars and rolled down the side of the jump into the poison ivy. I now have an icthy plumber's crack. Great. But I managed to land some and they really aren't that hard. My no-footers are not pretty, or high, or stylish. Yet. Right now they are actually just terrible.

But I can land them. I found them to be a neat little trick. I like them. I was really tempted to try them higher but I decided to just do baby steps. I want to get used to finding my pedals and developing some 'muscle memory' before going higher.

The no-footer is a cornerstone trick. You need to be able to do them without thinking if you want to be able to do the really cool tricks. Like tailspins or supermans. I tried a couple of whips but the bike doesn't come around quick enough. Oh well, baby steps...

Here's some of the craptacular action. Don't mess with the dirtbowl guard dog. Any sudden movements could set him off.

Baby steps in the dirtpark from slamigo on Vimeo.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Live from the Dirtbowl - some lame riding!

I have been digging so much that I haven't really had a chance to ride. The dirtbowl is dug, but the walls are still not packed down. I've brought out the hand-tamp and have some of the sides somewhat packed, but it's going to take a long time. Anyway, here's a frame grab from a little video that I took today.

Nothing says pathetic loner like a video shot completely from the perspective of a camera stuck on a tripod. So, that's just the way it is. I placed the tripod at a couple of different angles and tried to capture the action as best I could. There's a ton of bugs attacking the video camera, but oddly enough, they didn't attack me. The riding is still particularly lame, but hey, I'm working on it. Keep in mind that the walls of the bowl are still very soft and if you do a 'real' jump, your tires will dig in and you'll just go over the bars. Plus did I mention that I'm old?

The video is longish, running nearly 6 minutes. If you endure the full vid, you are a trooper.

Backyard Dirtpark from slamigo on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The dirtbowl lives! I just finished digging out the last portion today. Holy crap, that was a lot of digging. I don't know if I had unrealistic expectations or anything, but when I thought of this day, I had thought of something like the following occurring:

It was a vision of me blasting huge airs while fireworks went off. Music was blaring as the Snow Birds flew directly overhead in perfect formation while the neighbours cheered, my wife wept tears of pride and my kids went nuts. Somewhere, just outside the edge of the crowd, Chuck Norris would make eye contact with me long enough to nod his silent approval. Yeah. F-Yeah!!

Well, it was more like me being so freaking tired and sore that I could barely ride my bike. My hands are a mess of callused blisters. The sides of the bowl are still pretty soft, but I am getting it packed down. I managed to pop off the spine transfer thing into the pool. Here, my 7 year old captures a picture of me entering the pool.

Here's a pic of my 7 year old testing out the berm wall. You can't really go any higher on the berm yet because I haven't packed it down. I'm still kind of planning how that will take place. Maybe I will get a water filled lawn roller?

This is his first time riding anything like this. I can't possibly imagine how cool this would have been for me if I had one of these in my backyard when I was a kid. Hopefully, the kids stick with the sport and have a lot of fun. If not, they better enjoy skateboarding, because the halfpipe will be built next summer and that will cost some actual money. All that I spent on the dirtbowl was the price of a shovel. ($15.99 at Cdn Tire)

I was reading online about how some guys can get bummed out about all the 'other' aspects of BMX. The trendiness. The peer pressure. The respect or lack of it. For me, this backyard dirtbowl is the pinnacle of what BMX was supposed to be. When I was a kid, if we could find a spot to ride and some dirt, we would just use our imagination and play on our bikes. On more than one occasion, I'm quite certain I said something like, "wouldn't it be awesome if you could build a quarter pipe out of dirt?!" We even built 'lake jumps' into really gross cow ponds. That was awesome until one of us got a nasty ear infection. Yuck.

But I look at the dirtbowl in my backyard and I can't help but smile. For me, this is pure BMX. Go play.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dirt bowl is steadily taking shape

The digging continues. It just freaking continues and continues.

Sometimes I feel a little like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. He started out making a replica of "Devil's Tower" with mashed potatoes and then eventually lost it and built a giant mountain in the living room. Hopefully, somebody in my family loves me enough to organize an intervention if I ever get to this point.

But, on a positive note, the digging obsession is paying dividends. The bowl is actually taking shape now. I think that it requires about 2-3 days of digging. But I'm pretty optimistic. Three weeks ago I figured it would take about a week.

Here are some pics of the progress.

Here is a picture of the little spine transfer/entrance into the bowl. I've tried it a few times and it's already fun.

Another pic of the spine jump.

The arrow shown here is pointing to the smaller side of the table jump. That is the spot that I was hitting up in the earlier pictures from 'Day One'.

And finally here is the view from the edge of my lawn before my yard goes into the 'dirt park'. Kind of looks like the Shire from Lord of the Rings. Maybe it is time for that intervention...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A crushed skull and plenty of broken bones in the dirt bowl

The dirt bowl work continues. It's hard because I have to fit in the digging around 'life', but it is really starting to come along nicely. I figure that I have about a week or so left. I think I can have it totally dug by the end of the weekend. Getting the dirt packed down enough will take a while longer and if it doesn't rain, I will get out the hose. Which reminds me, I broke the outdoor tap last winter icing the hockey rink. Which reminds me, I have to take down the rink boards and get rid of the tarp.

Anyway, here is a picture of the skull that I accidentally busted up while digging. I believe it to be a deer. The whole skeleton was down there. The kids got a big kick out of this because they were sincerely hoping to find some dinosaur bones. In this first picture, if you look really closely, you can see the outline of the deer's head that I traced in the dirt to show the kids how it went together.

Then here's a shot of the rest. I'm sure there's still more down there, but the bones were really brittle. I don't think I have a career in paleontology because I pretty much destroyed everything I touched even when I was trying to be careful.

The bowl is really progressing. It's pretty hard to get the depth from my crappy pictures. The camera flattens the perspective badly. The walls here are about five feet high. It will be plenty big enough to boost some little airs. The twin tabletops are just to the left in this picture and will be attached to the bowl. It will be possible to boost off the smaller table directly into the bowl. Once the dirt is packed enough that is. Try it now and you'll auger your front tire about a foot into the berm wall.

There is a roll-in entrance and there will also be this pretty sweet spine to get into the bowl. It doesn't look like much in the pic, but in person it's cool. I have day dream visions of busting 360s off this spine into the bowl. Hey, it could happen...

I also picked up the new bars. This is purely a vanity purchase. I think they look just swell and I'm told that those Edwin grips are preferred. Good stuff.
As you can see below, I bought some Odyssey Aaron Ross spacebars. I am told that my jumps will be much higher and way more stylish.

Here they are attached to the bike. Which reminds me. I suck at taking pictures with my crappy camera. I will have to get my brother to come by and take real photos of the bike, the bowl and me riding the bowl, with his DSLR.