Hadley's Ramp 1985-1989
Most of the guys that I had started skating with were now either moved away or just MIA. But of course a new crew was starting to form. Some of them were the "youngin's" who stuck it out after skating became less trendy. Some were older cats who picked up a board for the first time for whatever personal reasons. This group would develop into a pretty hardcore circle. It was obvious that a new era was beginning to take shape.
Up till about 1985 we always skated other people's halfpipes. Now it was time to build our own. I remember thinking about how we were going to build this thing. When I was around 14 y/o I use to build balsa wood model airplanes. The main body shapes were made up of "formers" or "templates" and those were connected together with "stringers". It all seemed obvious to me on how to do this. We make one transition section.. and simply use that to make copies. Once we had enough of those cut out we could them assemble them together with 2"x4"s running on the horizontal. We used 2"x6"s in the bottom of the transitions and flatspace for extra strength.
[ Jeff.. you are going to have to help me here. I cant recall how it all came to be at your place. ]
But yea.. the decision was made. We would build this thing at Jeff's place. (see related story). Wood was dropped off and once we got enough to get started we set the day and began. I had skeched out some scale drawings of the ramp design include sideviews to show clearly what the transition templates should look like. This was WAY before you could order "ramp plans" or anything like that. Back then, everybody who had a ramp had to figure out what worked best for them, in terms of construction design. Everyone agreed that this was the way to go for us.
The ramp actually went up pretty fast. Working long days didn't bother us because we all knew the sooner it was done the sooner we would be RIPPING! We had a small grill out there so we could make food and keep working. Back then there wasn't any close food options. You were out in the country. We started out with 2 layers of plywood but soon we had to add a third layer. After a couple of years the ramp had on it *think* 6 layers. It was pretty solid once it "settled".
The ramp went thru many phases. Basically it was different every year. The first version had 8' transitions, 12' of flatspace and was 16' wide. The next year we went to 10' transitions, with 16' of flatspace and 24' wide. Various vert extentions, escalator, pvc coping, steel pipe coping, cement pool coping. Bigger decks, always putting on fresh plys. even BIGGER decks, added a room on the one end. In its day, it was a pretty massive structure. In fact it was the biggest private half pipe in the state of Michigan.
Jeff held a series of skate parties that were called "Shred-a-mania". Shred-a-mania was not a contest. The only competition that took place might have been an inpromptu "highest air" or "longest grind" contest.This basically ment a FULL day of skating, grillin' mass amounts of food and general hanging. Not really any different from any other weekend except for the number of skaters who showed up. Skaters from all over the midwest made the trip for this one.
Its hard to start naming names when it comes to who skated and or helped in some way. The "inner circle" seemed to change on a weekly basis. I thought that was cool. Skaters just came and went. Some faded away due to injuries or whatever only to be quickly replaced by a new up and coming skater. Every weekend you could count on a session taking place.
Pretty much anybody who knew where the ramp was located could come out and skate. It did not matter what your skill level was just as long as you tried. The kid who came out and just sat around all padded up and never tried was the one who got heckled. And we always encouraged new people to learn. I remember this one kid who was trying to "drop in" his first time. He was scared.. you could tell. But we kept telling him to "just do it" and "the more you think about it the harder it will be". Ya know? general encouragement. Well there was this one poser kid who came out a few times. I dont think I ever saw him skate. He was sitting back watching this kid learn to drop in. Ok.. so the kid drops in . and eats shit. Just SPLATS in the flatspace. The poser kid starts laughing. We told the poser kid to shutup, leave and not come back. A couple of guys helped the kid off the ramp and helped him to some shade. After he caught his breath he gave it another try. He made it this time!.. That kid was SOOOOO excited! It was a huge moment for him. After a couple of hours he was droping in and pumping the ramp with confidence. It was cool. We never did see that poser kid again after that.
Sure we rode ramps before this, but it was this ramp that really taught us how to ride vert.
At some point around 1989 we decide we are going to try and move the ramp to my farm. So we took a sawzall and cut the top 4 feet off across the ramp. Then after looking everything over again.. we decide that we had just FUCKED UP and ruined the ramp. It wasn't going anywhere. When we built it, the last thing we had considered, was the day we had to tear it down. Welp.. its fucked now. Nothing much we could do at that point.
On a positive note, some of the local kids took it upon themselves to build small decks on each side and learn to ride. It was now the biggest mini-ramp around. So it was cool that a new generation of skaters, ones I never knew, were now riding it. Jeff had been wanting to get rid of the structure for some time now. Some of those kids took the wood from it and went back to their neighborhoods to built ramps. Probably quarter pipes or launch ramps. Who knows? Hadley's might be living on today in another form.
The one sorry thing about this experience was that Jeff ended up being the one who had to clean it all up. By himself. A lot of the original people involved with the ramp had either stopped skating or moved away. Me? I have no excuse either. I did go help tear the remaining structure down. Well. as best as I could. Even I failed Jeff on this.
ALL the skaters of that time period who ever skated at Hadley's owes him and his family a HUGE debt of thanks for allowing a bunch of punk kids to take over the backyard. There will never be another perfect outdoor skating situation like Hadley's Ramp.
Babylon Ramp at Vets Park - 1990? - 1992?
This ramp was an effort by a group of non-skaters known as "The Ann Arbor Skateboarding Association". This group went to the city and petitioned for a ramp to be built in a local park. The plan was to make something about 32' wide, 10' transitions, lots of flatspace with a steel riding surface. OFFICIAL plans were made and OFFICIAL rules were established on what could or couldn't be done. In a few weeks, the ramp was done and open for "business".
I hated this ramp. To me.. it was a TOOL for the city/police to use to keep the skaters from downtown. It wasn't long after that ramp was built that skateboarding was outlawed downtown and on campus. And YES.. I heard cops say .. "If you want to skate then go out to Vets". Of course the stupid pigs didnt relize the difference between vert and street skatin'. Bah
While the ramp might have been made well, I never felt it had the right zen to it. I mean.. from my perspective *I* was an outlaw skater trying to ride a government sponsored ramp. I did ride it a few times but overall it just didnt work for me.
Skaters did schrap it up tho. We had a couple of sessions out there.
The ramp was only rideable for a couple of years. One spring it was annouced that the ramp was "closed for repairs". What repairs!? there wasnt anything wrong with it! and dig this! the ramp was NEVER "repaired" so it never reopened. Same story the next year. So what was the end results? NO more vert ramps in the area and skateboarding was outlawed downtown.
As for a PROPER place to skate? that would all change very quickly.
Barn Ramp - Joy Rd. 1989-1992?
Living out on a farm in the country gave me a rare opprotunity to have an indoor ramp. Here was the deal. There was several barns and large buildings on this property. Most were being used for various farm activities. There was one building that wasn't usable for farming but made an excellent place to host a half pipe. The building had collasped at one end and most of the roof was gone or had huge holes in it. We started fixing the holes in the area we planned to build the ramp but there were to many to deal with. So we ended up hanging a huge tarp, up next to the ceiling and at an angle so any water that did fall through the holes would just run off to one side. It sounds cheesy but it actually worked pretty well. The ramp was 24' wide and had 12' of flatspace, made with 10' transitions but only 8' tall. The whole ramp was coped with cement pool coping. That was the one big thing that made our ramp fucking awesome. REAL grinds on REAL pool coping were rare in Michigan. On one corner was a severe vertical extension that was 4' tall and 8' wide. Pure vert. We took a sheet of plywood and built a heavy frame for it and attached it to the deck. It was cool to thurst up onto the extention then use that speed to blast moves on the other side. At one time there was a cement curb on top of it. Now THAT was a bitch to get up there! Doing curb tricks were hectic! due to being way up in the ceiling rafters of the building. I could frontside grind the curb. Brian Mank (where is THAT fucker???) did lien to tail and fakie rocks on it. The extention was also very fun to blast airs off of.
Besides being indoors, the ramp also featured huge decks with couches, making it a nice hangout scene. Stereo system, nice big flood lights and storage for beers. Some spectators were tolerated, but as rule this was a "skater only zone". Besides, if you didnt skate you had no business being out there. With the closet neighbors being about a mile away ment that we could skate at any time of the evening. And we did. On the weekends.. damn.. it wouldn't be unusal to have 30-60 skaters out. Crews from ALL over Michigan, Ohio and Indiana made the trek up. MANY MANY midnight sessions were in FULL effect. Skating till 4-5am at times. Consuming beers and throwing down grinds. In the wintertime it was THE best place to skate. Many skaters braved snow storms and icy roads to make their way out for a few hours of session. Several pros made the trip out to skate. Reese Simpson skated it a couple times. If you can find his interview that was done in TransWorld Skateboarding say... around 1989-1990. All those pictures were taken at my ramp. Jimmy Murphy (Alva), Monty Nolder(BBC) and Jamie Mossberg(BBC) was on tour and stopped out for a session. That was an awesome evening! Those cats loved the pool coping and perfect flow of the transitions. Monty Nolder stoked me by saying that I did the best "frontside rock and rolls" he had ever seen. I'll never forget that. Ben Schoeder (dogtown) came out a couple of times.
Pretty much any skater was welcome to come out. Oh..there was one rule, no FUCKING BMX BIKES were allowed. I remember bumming a few guys out with that one.
The ramp was only around for 3-4 years. In that time there had to have been at least several hundred different people who skated there at one time or another. It was without a doubt THE place to skate at that time. It was as close to a perfect situation as you could get. We ground the FUCK out of that pool coping. *grin*
One of the main people involved with making the barn ramp happen was David Tuck. Without David's spirit and energy this ramp never would have been as cool as it was.
David lived for a few years with me out at the farm. He and I had been skating together now for several years. David did his own thing but he and I also took many "skate missions" and rode quite a few different places together. Virginia Beach (Mt. Trashmore, Lynnhaven), Ocean Bowl in Ocean City, Maryland. "Rebel Ramp" and "the bowl" in Georgetown S. Carolina. Endless Summer in Michigan, Lansing ramp, that bigass ramp near Raleigh, N. Carolina. We skated there with Morris Wainwright. DAMN that boy could rip. His brother is Bryan Wainwright. Bryan was the World's Roller Skating Champion back then. That man could rip his roller skates on vertical .. and just blow minds. This was YEARS before those lame "rollerblades". Morris was living under the ramp when we visited. Hardcore. We also skated Kona skatepark in Jacksonville, Florida. That place was rare just because it was a cement skatepark. Back then there were no new skateparks. Only ones that were left over from the big skate boom of the 70s. Kona was cool because they had built a half-pipe. They also hosted a Pro contest every year. It was one of the rare times to see the pros rip without having to go to California.
I first met David at his school when Tommy and I went there to hand out some flyers for a little contest we were going to have. A "Burns Park Wading Pool Contest" was in the works and we wanted as many "skater kids" to show up as possible. David was just a kid then and I remember him taking a flyer and was all "cool.. I'll be there". I remember on that day he skated tough and won that contest! David always showed an ethusiasm for the art that only a small handful of people could understand. He was another one who lived and breathed skating. He was also a damn fine drummer and played in several bands at that time. I was proud to have been with him in the band P.V.C. (the Pool and Vertical Club). He also played in a reggae band called "Catch It". I remember that name kinda morphed into "cat shit". I still have my "Catch It" t-shirt. *laugh*
In some ways. David was the little brother I never had. I dont think I ever told him that. His friendship and intense skate energy meant a lot to me.
Sometime around 1992 the ramp was torn down along with the old building to make way for a new building that the farm business was going to use. We all knew that day was coming. We just didnt want to think about it. Soon after that, with no ramp to skate, David moved away.
It wasn't but a couple of months after that that I kinda noticed i wasn't skating any more. It was sad really and hard to explain. I mean.. I just woke up one day and didnt feel like skating. The spirit had left me. I'm not sure what really caused that. Maybe my ramp being torn down with such glee by NON-skaters. Hell, I dont know. Maybe because I was getting older and my body was starting to ache. I dont know. Maybe because a lot of my old friends had stopped skating and I felt like I didnt have anyone to skate with. I dont know. Maybe a little bit of all those reasons. This was the first time in 15 years that I had NOT had a ramp of my own. Life as I knew it was over.
Now its June 2003.
I never got rid of my gear though. I still have my "Pro Design" knee pads. I still have ALL my boards/trucks/wheels and shit. I have a lot of boards. I have clay wheeled boards from the 60s. I have a few G&S, Sims and Dogtown boards from the 70's. I have many 80's boards. Including an 1985 Santa Cruz "Duane Peters" still in plastic. Countless wheels and dozens of pairs of trucks. I have a HUGE bag of stickers. Many going back into the 70's. I still have my black "Jay Adams flyaway" helmet. I have the first 5 years of TransWorld Skateboarding magazine. Bryan Ridgeway hooked me up with that subscription. He published a 'zine called "The Monthly Shredder" or simply "The Shredder". I remember driving down to West Virginia and skating with him and a couple of others in a cool backyard ramp. I have Thrasher mags from about 1982 till 1991. Damn near every issue. Skateboarder magazine, a couple of Action Now (lame). Remember Poweredge mag? Not sure if that is still around. I have a bunch of those including the issue that had a cover photo of Rick slashing a BIGASS frontside grind at my barn ramp.
I have never declared that I stopped skating. I could never do that. I have rolled around some lately. Maybe I can get the spirit to come back to me. Feeling the thrill at a local bank...and a new street course not far from me has been built... and there is that one pool out off XXXX Rd.........hmmm...