PAUL’S PIT: The story of Paul Callan’s dream DIY spot
Yep, it’s every rider’s dream. Your own back garden bowl / ramp / set of trails, somewhere you can ride whenever you want, with no scooter kids to snake you, no scallies asking to borrow your bike, and no burnt out cars appearing overnight. Oh, and most importantly, a spot that is built however you might imagine it. Your own design to ride with friends. What’s the cost? It’s that classic combo – money and time! Is it worth it? We asked Paul Callan (aka Paul Plonk) for the lowdown on THE PIT…
Photos by Clint Vancliff
Q&A with Paul Callan
– When and why did you decide to build your own spot?
I’ve always had a dream to build something to ride, so when the chance came I just had to do it. The place I moved into is my grandparents old house and it had enough space to do something. Local skateparks can get pretty busy sometimes and what’s better than a private sesh with your mates? Also there are lots of DIY spots around Essex but none really big enough for BMX, so I started sketching out ideas on paper and talking to a mate who is pretty handy and used to ride, and we got an idea of what would be good.
– It’s in your garden?
Yeah, it’s in the garden, hidden right down the back so away from neighbours. I wanted something that wouldn’t rot away in a couple of years and as it’s surrounded by trees we went for concrete. I love bowls because of the endless lines and speed you can get so that’s what we went for. We got a digger in September 2017 and got to work.
“I’ve always had a dream to build something to ride, so when the chance came I just had to do it”
– How did you approach designing it?
The design changed a bit as we made forms and decided how big we wanted it to be. It was mainly me and my mate Liam, after work and weekends doing little bits here and there and picking up lots of hardcore.
– Who has been involved in building it?
When it was time to pour concrete, I asked a few mates and they kindly helped mix up and float in some concrete. Thanks to Liam, Ginge, Paul B, Fred, Ben, Alma, Harrison and loads more, you know who you are!
– How long has it taken to get it to how it is now? Would you say it’s finished or is it still a work in progress?
It’s taken 4 years to get to where we are now. And it will always evolve. Just because it’s concrete doesn’t mean you can’t change it.
– Which were the most challenging parts to build?
The most challenging bit to do was definitely the first big quarter, it’s 6.5ft and wide and the concrete is well thick, haha, it’s solid and probably the best quarter to ride. Everyone loves it!
“I still can’t believe it when I walk into the bowl in my own garden…”
– Did you know much going into this project or was it a ‘learn on the job’ kind of thing?
We are both landscapers by trade so knew a bit but had only done floors and concrete bases before. We just watched a few videos and looked up a couple of tips and ideas for radius size and then we just winged it. The harder parts for us were the corners, but as it went on they got better and better.
– Did any parts turn out a bit ‘funky’?
There is always a couple of funky bits but they can always be sorted out and sometimes you learn to love the quirky bits.
– Who’s been down to ride it so far? Any highlights?
We’ve had a good few people over here already and had some killer sessions, some include Darren going bonkers and trying to gap to wallride and Isaac destroyed it when he came over. Last weekend was ripping too, loads of good riding and some great times that’s what it’s all about!
– Do you keep it very private or are you happy for new people to hit you up for a session?
It is private but I have no problem if someone wants to ride it all they have to do is ask. Lots of friends and their friends come over so it’s always a good time.
“It will always evolve. Just because it’s concrete doesn’t mean you can’t change it.”
– What would you say to other people who are dreaming of building their own bowl / ramps / park?
Working on it for 4 years in between weather and whatever else was going on, there was always something to be getting on with. It would have been easy to quit but I just kept thinking of how fun it would be. I would say if you get the chance to do so and can graft at something then you’re making your own fun! It’s a no brainier.
I have a few more ideas of what to do next but I’m happy with how it’s turned out. There was a lot of welding, grinding, digging, drainage and lots of mixing going on, it was definitely a bigger job than I first thought. My mate Dan helped a lot with the wooden extensions and wouldn’t be half as good with out. But I wanted to get it finished and enjoy it with me mates. I still can’t believe it when I walk into the bowl in my own garden.
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