WORDS AND PHOTOS BY JASON EVERTS
It’s been waaaaaaay too long since I’ve built one of these.
After my parents split up, we moved in with my grandparents around the time they were auctioning off their house. After it sold, the auction company left their sign up in my grandparent’s front yard. It was a huge 4×8 sign made out of full sheets of plywood and 2×4’s. By some stroke of good fortune, one side of the sign was 3/4 ply, and the other side was 3/8; just what I needed to build a quarterpipe.
I was about 9 or 10 and had skated ramps before; mainly neighborhood launch ramps and home rigged stuff, but never real transition. I had no clue what I was doing, so I went to the local skate shop and got a phone number of someone who did. His name was Jason too. Like all good skate missionaries, he was more than willing to help a fellow skater, even if I was about 4 feet tall and had a voice like Alvin and the Chipmunks. I was so small at the time, when I used to call lumber yards to get prices for ramp materials they would put me on hold and say, “Hold please, ma’am. I’ll check on that”. When they got back on the line I’d say in my high-pitched kid voice, “I’m not a girl!” That happened regularly. Anyway, Jason came over one day at the time we agreed upon. I was eagerly waiting on the front steps of the house when his beat up Pinto covered in skate stickers came rattling up the driveway. He turned off the heavy metal that was blasting in the car, turned off the heavy metal car, and tied up his heavy metal hair into a heavy metal pony tail. “Whoooooooah,” I thought to myself in my chipmunk voice, “This dude is radical!” My mom probably had a mini stroke since the type of person she had spent her whole life trying to protect me from was now hanging out with her baby chipmunk.
He got his tools out of the hatch. Standard ramp building arsenal: string, pencil, jigsaw, circular saw, hammer and drill. We walked around to the back of my grandparent’s house where I had stacked the material for my ramp. They had a basement with a slick concrete floor where my grandfather stored boxes and boxes of stuff. I had already cleared a path from one end of the room to the other by stacking head-high walls of boxes, in front of the cinder block walls, on both sides of the runway. He showed me how to pencil a transition, and how to line your studs up so you can splice two sheets of plywood on one stud, and a few other ramp-builders tricks. Within a couple of hours, we had her ready to go. Jason hung out for a while showing me rock-and-rolls, smith stalls, and a few other moves that are now staples in my bag of tricks, and then he hit the road. I never saw him again, but I vividly remember what an amazing thing it was to posses the knowledge of how to build something to skateboard on. I had a useless pile of lumber that in just a few short minutes was turned into a magical roller coaster of radness.
I went back down to the basement, walked through the door, and stared across the length of the room through the musty, cold space that was dimly lit by the tiny basement windows around the tops of the walls. There it was. My quarter pipe. I spent the next several hours simply riding up and pumping back down that ramp. I’ll never forget the feeling of perfect transition and riding back and forth on a skateboard. I eventually learned to hang my trucks over the deck, and bring it back down without hanging up. I wasn’t interested in doing mctwists like Mike McGill or grinding over the stairs like Salba, or doing Christ airs like Hosoi. I was just having fun. Of course I wanted to do that stuff, but just because I can hit a baseball with a bat didn’t mean I had any inkling of a thought that I could go out and play shortstop for the Braves. Those were just dreams. I found some scrap and built a small bank ramp at the other end of the basement so I could pump back and forth without pushing off. Almost like a real mini ramp… Almost.
I spent the next 15 years building stuff to skate. My dad gave me my own skilsaw for my 11th birthday. I borrowed jigsaws and whatever else I needed from neighbors, and somehow always managed to scrape up some cash for materials or find some in a dumpster or somewhere. When I moved to Calhoun, I brought two quarter-pipes with me in the U-Haul. There were a few street spots around town, but I didn’t yet know what to do with curbs and ledges. I was a child of the ’80s. I wanted pools, vert ramps, launch ramps and mini ramps, but it was the early ’90s in the South and there was none of that stuff around, so I built it. I had so much stuff built and drug out in the street in front of my house that cars would cut through the parking lot up the street instead of trying to weave in and out of my ramps. I eventually took over that parking lot and gave the road back to the cars. I built ramps at closed down Wal-Marts and closed grocery stores. I built skateparks for friends that flourished and faded like all privately owned skateparks eventually do.
Now I’ve built this quarter pipe for my nephew for Christmas. He’s so stoked. I hope he forgets about his Xbox and drives his parents crazy going up and down it over and over and over until they have to come outside at midnight and make him stop skating and go to bed.
These days I build houses, and walls, and tile showers, and porches, and cabinets and floors. Not quite as fun after they’re done, but I enjoy working with my hands and I value the knowledge I possess. Ramp building came right back to me like I’d never quit. I even used a few tricks I’ve learned from construction… like how to make something square and how to cut a bevel.
Skating a quarterpipe came right back to me too. First try in my boots: b/s disaster, tailtap, sweeper, rock and roll, nosepick, and f/s crail-to-tail. The frontside air and the frontside rock took a bit longer to nail, but the best was just riding up… and pumping back down.