Years ago I built a 5′ tall, 20′ wide mini-ramp in my backyard. I’d recently moved in with Reza Bahador, my Hapkido instructor, and we were both keen on using our immediate physical surroundings to full capacity, taking advantage of every space to develop ourselves physically and spiritually. Beyond the momentous task of designing and building the structure, which was a challenge and process in itself, the ramp soon became my training ground and my temple, a place for me to clear my mind of confusion and connect to the real world.
When I moved, I broke down the ramp and kept the wood in storage, and in the last few months the Land Of Plenty interns have revitalized the sleeping behemoth out in the mountains of Los Angeles. I am so happy that what might have otherwise been discarded was effectively recycled, and now some other young skaters have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their own backyard ramp. In a world of fenced-in skateparks and the ever increasing criminalization of skateboarding in the streets, there is a special magic to containing your own secret skate wave in the privacy of your home base. It’s a place to learn and grow and share.
Arthur readers in particular should be hip to this situation. On one hand, skateboarding is of the world- you can, and should, do it anywhere. Break down the barriers and run wild. On the other hand, it is an opportunity to go inside, to create the most introverted sacred space available and find the silence within. If you are lucky enough to have a yard, use it! A backyard ramp is like a playground set for the spirit. Transitioned walls reverberate a spiritual energy right up into the heavens. You can skate for hours, with your friends and family around, playing music, burning fires, drinking tea and dancing into the night.
This link will take you to a page I created about the LOP ramp development process: taking a look at the space you have available, cultivating a design from your imagination, and then building that imaginary construct with your hands. As with skating, there are no rules, but there are some conventions that tend to result in the most constant and progressive skating: circular transitions, flatbottom, platforms, coping… but anything is possible, using any number of materials, and there is no reason to limit yourself to what has already been done.
I’m currently working on some small, portable ramp designs, and waiting for the universe to land me in a ramp-ready situation again. In the meantime, I hope you can find some inspiration in the LOP ramp, and maybe look at your backyard in a new way. If you don’t skate, don’t worry about it- once you have a ramp, you’ll probably start, and either your kids or the local kids will be able to roll through and show you how to have an endless good time with the simplest things: earth, wood, wind, and fire. Light it up.