Backyard Ramp

There is nothing quite like a backyard skate ramp. Something about being able to roll on it, every day, in the privacy of your own property, progresses your skateboarding like nothing else.

It's on my mind today because my friend Josh started a skate company called Intrusive Skateboards. I met the guy while picking up my daughter from school. I had seen him back and forth on the drop-off circuit, but never spoke to him until one day I heard skateboarding from his phone -- that unmistakable sound of polyurethane wheels hitting concrete curves, wood snapping against the pavement, slamming back down with the crack of a successful trick -- I asked if he was watching skate videos and he said he was editing them. If that doesn't scream instant friend, I don't know what does.

It turns out that he lives a few blocks away from me and has a daughter only one year older than my oldest, so we all became fast friends. He was also dreaming up a skate ramp in his backyard, which he then built out of scrap wood he had at the house, along with a few purchased sheets of masonite -- the whole thing only cost him less than $100, which is a huge feat in itself.

My own childhood was graced with a skate ramp, my parents being cool enough to let me build a four-foot-tall monstrosity in our backyard. I call it a monstrosity, because it was a Frankenstein of a ramp, built from scrap wood we found in dumpsters in the construction sites around our burgeoning neighborhood. It started as a quarter-pipe, and then I moved it to the backyard, building a frame and then finishing it up with a reciprocal side and some coping. After a few months, I learned the space between was far too short, so I had to disassemble the ramp, build an extra four-feet of platform foundation, and extend it.

The benefits of this ramp were innumerable. As I wrote at the top, I tried tricks I never would have at the local skatepark, both for pride's sake and practicality. When you don't have to wait for four other skaters' turns, you can just go...and go, and go, and go. I remember one day watching Bob Burnquist at the X-games. He was trying these crazy 5-0 reverts that looked cool to me (he was my favorite skater growing up; probably still is), so I just went in the backyard and tried them. To this day I still bust these out at local ramps and get little "woo!"s out of people, because it's not a common trick.

Of course we also did ridiculous stuff on my ramp like this:

Back to present day, and Josh's ramp is finished. Almost every time I skate it, I learn a new trick, which at my age (in skateboard years) is no small feat! Blunt to shuv-it out, fakie 5-0 pivot to regular, crooked pivot to backside disaster are a just a few. Our last session included a younger guy who is joining the Intrusive team. The camaraderie of skating even a tiny, shanty-looking skate ramp could not be denied as we each pushed the others to progression. I learned about three tricks, Josh got an ollie to rock-to-fakie which was super rad, and Daniel was doing buttery-looking 360 flips on the difficult transition. Progression and community...those words could sum up skateboarding for many, and a backyard skate ramp is the epitome of those elements.