The city just opened a skate park in Santa Monica, two miles from my pad, and Eyal and I checked it out this morning. There’s bike-only sessions 3 times a week, so I’m in tall cotton since unicycles are welcome.
The place is NOT built for street riding, rather world-class vert skateboarding, with the most radical of the five pools being roughly fifteen foot deep with side walls steep as the flanks of Half Dome. If you got into a few of those pools with a uni you’d need a fire truck or a rope to ever get out. These pools make the few 8-10-foot half pipes I fiddled around on look like sidewalks.
Thankfully there’s a 6-foot deep “kiddie pool,” where you can get the hang of dropping straight off the coping and trying to roll it out (a couple places have a beveled lip for those first few experimental drops). Below the coping, the walls are vert for only the first few feet, then they angle out into the flat bottom over the next 4 or so feet. Exciting at first, but not bad if you’re used to rolling out forward drops. We tried a few rolling drops into the kiddy pool but were pretty tentative. At this early stage of experimentation, we’d basically side hop, do a quarter twist in the air and roll out that way.
Things get quite a bit more challenging, and scary, on the 8 foot pool, which has about a 40 inch airball drop onto a radically steep wall that rolls out to the flats basically in the last few feet. That’s a lot of compression on a Muni (we were on 24s), and delivers a huge rush. You gotta go to rubber in 4th gear and get your legs moving like bee’s wings or the roll out’s impossible. And it’s so steep you can’t back pressure and limit your spinning speed. We’re used to doing steep Muniing but nothing like this.
The twelve foot pool stays vert for about the first 5 feet, the fifteen footer even more, and we didn’t even try those–yet.
That’s a wild sensation, jumping off the coping and freefalling till you go to rubber, then trying to rool it out so you don’t face plant on the flats. I have no idea how deep we can go, but I bought the full pass so I guess I’m gonna find out.
There’s a few 100-foot long rolling whoop runs with steep ramps and a few stairs you can gap, flanked by think angled walls you can hop onto (which soon get 3-5 feet high) then “skinny” down to bone jarring forward drops onto the flats or (harder) onto the steep cement ramps on both sides. There’s also some “skinnies from hell” formed by the raised coping separating sections of various pools. Some roll out onto humps inside the pools, which the bikers fly off. If you bungle the skinny early on, it’s a six to twelve foot drop/roll out on either side. Eyal did the easiest one while I watched.
Basically I was expecting a “street” park to practice hopping, gapping and roll outs–stuff we use for Muniing. Instead this place is more like an uni practiceground for cliffdiving. You can’t really do much once you’re down inside the pool because you can’t maintain enough momentum on a muni to get up on the side walls–but maybe on a Coker, though the huge drop in on a 36 incher will be something to behold.
Basically the Santa Monica skatepark was way, way over my head to do anything but the easiest stuff. But I’ve learned from Muniing in Santa Barbara that practice brings most anything down to size. But I wanna see the guy drop into the 15 foot pool and roll it out 'cause it ain’t never gonna be me.
If you’re ever in the area, give it a look.