no matter how much picture frame wire you tied the spokes together with most of all the Ashtabula forks would bend like a chopper motorcycle and you could not bend them back for safety reasons. Time to buy a new pair of forks again!
The Runway closed in nineteen seventy-eight and another skatepark opened in Marina Del Rey California. Bicycle technology was changing with lighter and stronger frames, crome-moly tubular forks and four bolt heavy duty aluminum clamp stems that would not let the handlebars slip. But still every night we were riding at the skateparks we would break random bike parts and it would stop us from our riding so my brother Devin and I started to bring an extra bike to the park just to strip parts off of. It became a game to us to break the new Zytel Tuff Wheel. They would usually crack at the rim beed. You would never ride the new light-weight aluminum racing wheels in the skateparks because they would not last one night. One time Devin had just bought a new Redline racing frame in the morning to ride that Friday night at MDR skatepark. I was watching him as he was jumping from one bowl to another and he was going way too fast, he cleared the landing ramp and the whole bowl and plowed his front wheel into the other upward side of the skating bowl. The brand new cro-mo frame crushed like paper and when he picked up the bike the only thing holding it together was the rear brake cable. That was the end of that night for him! But it was worth it for laughs.
For me I would live for big air and dropping into the rear keyhole bowl at MDR. This seventeen foot deep bowl had ten feet of vertical and was made for aliens skaters or bikers to ride. It was not that popular because it was just too big with too much vertical and no coping. I saw this bowl as more of a launching ramp. There was an opening on one side where you would enter the bowl that sloped all the way to the bottom and straight up the back side into the vertical wall. I wasn’t trying to do an ariel to come back into the bowl because that was too crazy. For month’s I was thinking of a new trick and would try to get as much height as possible out of the bowl to do it. I maybe got seven or eight feet of air and that’s all. I just couldn’t get enough speed up the ten foot “wall of vert” at the end of the Keyhole to get as high as I thought I needed. So I came up with a solution for this jump that I needed to do. I removed my 41 tooth Addix Zytel sprocket that I was testing for a sponsor and replaced it with a 52 tooth road bike chain ring to get the speed I needed. I also changed the rear bendix hub sprocket to a smaller one and replaced the thin strip metal coaster brake arm band with an Addix dual piece seat clamp for safety. Those clamps never held the seat-post straight anyway! That was the solution to my big air jumping trick. More speed! It worked! Now, what to do when I got up there I had forgotten what I had planned. I had noticed that the people in their cars getting off the new MDR freeway off ramp next to the Skatepark could see me higher than the Opaque fencing and that was the fun. It was simply too high to plan any trick.
Dropping back into the keyhole bowl was my other trick and it took me about five minutes to do while standing one foot on the right pedal with the coaster brake locked shut while balancing the rear wheel on the edge of the bowl and my left foot I used to support myself. Then I had to get the courage to lean forward and pick up my left foot and put it on the other pedal to drop down the “Wall of Vert”. I never bailed out, ever. I knew that if I changed my mind after I had both feet on the pedals that the result could be a lot worse. You don’t commit to something like that and not do it because you are scared.
Soon, other local BMX riders started to come to MDR like Tinker Juarez and an insanely good rider named Rat who was riding a lot better than us. We started to go to other parks like Skatercross in Reseda and The Pipeline in Upland California but we would live for our time at the Marina Del Rey Skatepark because it was never crowded and it felt like our theatre. We even brought a side hack and a two-person tandem bike into the park and attempted to ride the bowls and pools but it is just not possible. We rode there until the park closed in nineteen eighty-one. I never went back to skating.
Now we were getting old enough to drive the family car and this meant we would be able to get to new places and do new things since all the skateparks around Los Angeles had closed probably for several reasons like liability and not making enough profit. Skatercross in Reseda remained abandoned for a year or two so we just hopped the fence to ride but usually got kicked out and would go over to the Van Nuys BMX race track to ride the jumps. BMX racing was pretty big and growing bigger but was never going to be a sport for us to try. So we began to borrow our parents Ford Mustang now that Devin could legally drive and pile four or five bikes on the roof to begin trying new stunts and new ways to ride a BMX bike in places outside of the cement city that we could get to now. We needed to replace the lost skatepark times.
Devin would drive myself and some of our other extreme adrenalin BMX friends like Jerry Ignozitto and Dave Metcalf to the dirt trails in the Santa Monica Mountains. Where the Getty Museum is built now, back then, we would hike to the top of one of the steepest and fastest trails and race down on a hiking trail that sometimes was not wider than your bike and it was a long drop into the canyon below. There were no rules and the first person down to the bottom of the trail was the winner. Passing at those speeds was hilarious and no one ever got hurt which is truly unbelievable. Our other next bike adventure would be building downhill gravity road race bikes out of our old BMX frames for racing in the Hollywood hills on Sunset Plaza Drive. We built these new bikes with a twenty inch frame, fork and wheels, non-nobby tires, a road bike handlebars and stem, banana seat, pegs for your feet screwed onto the rear axle, and without cranks or pedals. One person would drive the car and the other would race down the extremely winding and steep mountain road.
By nineteen eighty-one the ramp faded away since we now had a car to find greater fun. I eventually disassembled it and my brother Devin replaced the ramp with our engineless nineteen-seventy mustang that had taken us to our riding gigs in the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, The Pacific Palisades and all around Southern California. We had other more important things to do now like jumping our bikes off our neighbor’s garage roof into our swimming pool. He was a lawyer and was not too happy about that! Our father had died that year leaving the family to find our own ways to survive. Devin became an engineer and began custom building his own crome-moly mountain bike frames, forks and even his own tubular cranks and he was the first to put disc brakes on a bike he would race at the Victor Vincente of America Puerco Canyon races in Malibu. The first mountain bike races anywhere. Now, Devin is Vice President of engineering for a small electric vehicle company in Santa Monica. You will see him all the time in the Santa Monica Mountains riding the single track and fire road trails blowing peoples minds. I am also an inventor and I ride three times a week in the Santa Monica Mountains on my road bike and at Mammoth Mountain on my downhill three-wheel mountain / BMX bike. Bike riding is a religion and I am sure for my brother Devin too. There is something about balancing on two wheels headed for a ramp or into a pool or along a road that causes your spirit to laugh. It’s more than just impressing your friends or being the wildest one out there that day. It’s more for living life.
“Don’t hide your scars, life is a souvenir”
True Story by Todd Bank
Read part 1 by going HERE