JAY ALIANO’S GARDEN: On the spot with Jack Griffin & David Guest
Aliano’s Trails – these two words combined mean a lot to the UK BMX scene. From many appearances on the pages of Ride UK and in certain videos, thanks to the likes of Scott Edgworth, Jay Aliano’s garden became a legendary, recognisable UK trails spot.
That was the old place. After a house move in 2012, Jay kept the dream alive and now has this amazing setup to enjoy, along with a good crew of locals. Jack Griffin gave us a nudge towards doing a little scene report there, and thanks to Clem cooking up some beautiful photos, here we are.
– What’s the (brief) history of having trails in the Aliano garden? How long have these been running?
It all started when I got a copy of code 4130. (GT BMX vid maybe 93/94). It was mostly park and race stuff on it but there were a few short parts that had the racers riding jumps. I was hooked. I went out and started digging a rhythm section that same day. Nino (my dad) went nuts… That was it then, no more lawn. As for jumps at the new place, I have had them here for about 8 years now.
– Having a wooden quarter at the end of the line… Is that like an Aliano signature?
It seems to look that way. They’re just nice for flow. Wank for rain and trains though.
– Who’s responsible for the building and maintenance?
In short, no one. None of us do enough digging to be able to say any one is responsible.
– Who has been the guy to make decisions about the design, how lines get built etc?
The wonderful thing about having jumps in your garden is it’s NOT a democracy. They all have their say, I listen and then I tell them what we are going to do. I let them have a bit of freedom one winter and all they did was dig a massive hole they labeled the death pit. I had to then back fill their hole as it filled with stagnant water and stank.
– Who’s in the main core of the riders here and do you have any guys who dip in and out?
Jack and Dave are the young keen ones. Then there’s Spider, Ted, Ray, Tommy B and Craig that come regularly. Then Porno (Mark Taylor) and Ryan less frequently. We have Done and Joe (Shrews jumps) come down quite a bit.
– Tell us about the connection with Stephen Murray.
Well, I met Steve Murray in ’97 and he came round to my house to see my jumps. He liked what he saw. Then said to me we could have some of the best jumps in the world here. I replied with “I can get a digger here tomorrow, let’s do it”. The rest is history.
Q&A with Jack Griffin
– How long have you been riding and digging here?
I first went to Jay’s in March 2015 for a digging session and met the crew that have now become some of my closest friends. That day changed my life, with the jumps now being like my second home (even living part time in the caravan last summer with David Guest). I can’t thank Jay and Charlotte enough for letting me feel welcome to just turn up whenever, whether it’s for a riding session, some digging or just to hang out.
– Describe a regular session…
In the summer we usually have set riding days of Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays (or dig days if the weather isn’t playing ball for a session). The jumps require at least a full hour of watering before riding in the summer, which we are fortunate enough to have a hose to do. We also do any repairs to any of the jumps that are required before we ride.
A lot of the crew are in their mid to late 30s and the prospect of a cold beer (Coors light is the beer of choice at Aliano’s) is often too much on a hot summer evening after an hour or so of riding and they will call it a day. Guest and myself will usually continue the session until it gets too dark. We then head down to Jay’s garage for some table tennis or a round of darts.
During the winter, the weekly Thursday evening games nights in the garage are a nice weekly break from the long dark evenings.
– Have you learnt any tricks at this spot?
When I first started riding at Jay’s I hadn’t ridden many trails before, after growing up riding mostly skateparks and street. I learnt most of the regular tricks that I do today at Jay’s and my riding wouldn’t be the same without the trails. I barely ride any skateparks during the summer months these days, and I can’t even remember the last time I rode street properly. Some of my favourite tricks to do are 360 no handers and nac seat grabs.
– Have you had any rough slams?
I have had a rough few years of injuries over the last 3 or 4 years, mostly in relation to my knee where I have had to have 3 surgeries but that wasn’t caused by a slam at Jay’s. Everything is on the up now and feeling really good on my bike again at the moment.
One of the worst slams I have had at the trails was doing a tailwhip air on the quarterpipe at the end of the line back in 2016 where I pulled out a bit too much, landed flat and rolled my ankle, resulting in an evulsion fracture which took a good 6 months+ to heal. (That’s what you get for doing “park” tricks at the trails, haha).
“I love it when Stephen Murray comes along to the trails with his kids Seth and Mason, they are both progressing so fast”
– Who are your favourite guys to watch ride the trails?
I love it when Stephen Murray comes along to the trails with his kids Seth and Mason as they are both sick and progressing so fast with their riding. It is also cool to just have Steve there during the session as I love seeing his passion for BMX still, even after everything he has been through.
It’s also cool when Kye Forte comes to visit. He still shreds even when he hasn’t been on a BMX for 6 months!
Most of all I just like watching the local crew get stoked on doing new lines for the first time or doing a trick that they haven’t done for a few years.
– Have there been any big sessions already this year?
We have had lots of regular sessions with the local crew and recently did our annual ’10 laps at 10′ tradition on the longest day session, where we make the most of the daylight and have 10 runs after 10pm.
Other good sessions have included a couple of visits from Kye Forte and Toby Parker whilst working locally, and a big session for my birthday at the end of May when James Done and Joe Baddeley came down from Shrewsbury.
Hopefully now that lockdown restrictions are easing, we should be able to have more people come visit and some more big sessions over the rest of the summer. Roll on the good times!
Q&A with David Guest
– What’s your living situation?
I basically live in a static caravan about 50m from the roll in to the trails in Jay’s yard. Jay lived in the caravan whilst he was doing up his house and once he was able to move into it the caravan became available. It’s sick. Jumps out of one window and panoramic hill views out the other. I did have to put a log burner in though because during the winter, without the fire going, it’s the same temperature inside as it is outside but that’s a very small thing when I think about the life I’m living at the moment.
– Do you take it for granted or are you always stoked?
I’m pretty much always stoked. People always say whenever they come and visit that I’ve got it really good here and the local crew who come down always remind me how lucky I am. I owe a lot to Jay and Charlotte and really appreciate them letting me live here, so I’m more than happy to help them out doing whatever needs doing round the yard or jobs on the house with Jay. Even then I feel I don’t say thanks enough or show them how grateful I am, because what BMXer wouldn’t want to have this opportunity? There’s been loads of sick times with sick people since I’ve been living at the trails and there’s definitely going to be loads more.
“There’s been loads of sick times with sick people since I’ve been living at the trails and there’s definitely going to be loads more.”
– Would it be hard to live somewhere normal now?
I haven’t really thought about it but I guess I just don’t look that far ahead. I’d like to be able to wake up and already be at the jumps for as long as possible. You can never be sure what’s going to happen in the future so right now I’m just super stoked on where I’m at. I’ve always been pretty easy going and don’t really like to make plans and that’s gone alright so far for me.
– Have you learnt any tricks here?
Haha, I practically learnt to ride a BMX here. The first time I came over to Jay’s new jumps here he asked if I’d ever jumped a bike before and I confidently told him “yeah!”, even though that was a complete lie. I went down the roll in and crashed going round the first turn which was just the set up before even hitting the first jump!
After learning to get through the line after about a year of just slamming I started just chucking a hand off or doing no footers and stuff but the best thing riding trails does teach you, as well as having Jay as a bit of a coach, is that it doesn’t matter what tricks you’ve got in the bag, you can just pull up more or go faster or try and manual the rollers differently and it’s just as fun and makes you a better rider than if you’re just hucking tricks all the time.
We’ve got a good variety in our trails crew and I get just as hyped off watching everyone else have a good session and try stuff as I do if I’m doing something new, so shout out to all those guys (Ted, Spider, Craig, Jack, Tommy B and Ray.)
– Have you had any rough slams?
Haha so many! I’ve got pretty good at crashing and bailing now after all the practice. Loads of gashes and cuts, a couple of times being badly winded but that’s just the standard really. I had a funny one about 4 years ago back when I still wasn’t very good and I did a full dead sailor tilt on the last jump and dislocated my thumb. I stood up and I looked at the back of my hand cause it felt all weird and my left thumb was just pointing at the ground which made me whitey. I’ve got plenty of scars from the trials but if you aren’t crashing you aren’t pushing yourself.
– Any new lines for the year?
We’ve recently been building a little line for Jay’s nephew who’s getting into BMX which is gonna be good for a bit of a warm up as well if you haven’t ridden in a while. We’re always talking about what we could do and new stuff to build but I think next on the list is some form of roller line. Oh, and some of the lads started sculpting a dirt volcano into the back of a landing so that will be interesting.
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