Carving, pumping, effortless flow and a line choice like no other are just a couple of things that come to mind when you think of Ruben Alcantara's riding. These elements are also very much a part of the way he designs and builds skateparks. Read: soulparks!
If you have ever had the chance to ride one of Ruben's creations you will know what I'm talking about – there are endless amounts of possibilities when you drop in and everything works just the way it's supposed to. Soul Parks, Ruben's skatepark company, makes terrain informed by a bike riding career like no other, with a deep understanding of transitions, spacing and flow.
Ruben's newest creation is another gem. With a great location in a mountain town called Padul, just outside of Malaga, you can't go wrong. Needless to say the bowl is a treat, everything is smooth as silk and there are plenty of fun lines. We asked Ruben all about Soul Parks and this new spot.
Words and photos by Mikkel Mogensen
Q&A with Ruben Alcantara
– Tell us about Soul Parks. How did it get started, what are the main aims of the company, what projects have you done so far?
"Like many of you guys, we've been seeing how bad park projects have happened all around and the often it's a big waste of money... After having the opportunity to design the Malaga bowl and the great response, my friend Aitor Aveguillas (architect who helped me with the Malaga bowl) and me started to see if we could help with the projects for towns and cities to make sure that whatever the budget, Soul Parks could design something to get the most of it and to be nice.
"Whatever the budget, we can design something to make the most of it."
We know exactly how much things really cost so we can adapt to the budget to make it as big as possible or get the most from it... We also help to make sure the company who does the construction has experience and we follow the construction to make sure all is correct..."
– How did this new park in Padul become a project for Soul Parks?
"The city council of this town knew the bowl in Malaga and we got in touch. It's cool because is a little town in the middle of nowhere and I think many kids are going to get into it..."
– What was the design process here?
"We are very happy because it wasn't a big budget but we could still make it very interesting using the land and take advantage of the elements there, like the building and some kind of tower… Also, Padul has a BMX race team so we made a tech fun pump track … and a mini pump track bowl for the kids."
– Which parts are you most happy with?
"The bowl. I like it because it looks simple but has many hidden lines and is steep enough to air anywhere, so there are many more lines…"
– Was it difficult working around the tower?
"No! It was really easy, I love when I have objects like this to play with, and think about how cool to use it in the design… It's funny because at first they told me to knock it down, thinking that could be in the way and I told them please NO! It's perfect! Also it's one of the parts that helps you to keep your speed no matter what."
– We heard the bowl transitions are borrowed from the T1 ramp... Is that true?
"Very similar, yes, inspired by the T-1 ramp, where you can air anywhere without pulling too much. We made it a bit taller and a bit bigger radius but not much… It feels really good, I think we will use it in more designs..."
"Transitions inspired by the T-1 ramp, where you can air anywhere without pulling too much."
– It's already seen some visits from Garrett, Sergio and obviously yourself. Who else would you really like to see ride it?
"Watching these guys is amazing, specially with Sergio who was doing the lines that I knew would work but I can't do, haha... So sick to see him ride, also Pitu, Miguel, Cristian."
– This isn't far from Malaga. There's a lot to ride around there now! Do you think there will be even more in the future?
"Yes I think a couple more are going to happen in the area, we want to make it different so we have more options and motivation to get in the ride. The Malaga one is great but it's cool to explore other areas too… Malaga is really good to come visit but soon with more parks it will be really cool for people to explore more of the beautiful country."
– What's coming up next for Soul Parks?
"We're finishing a little fun one in Pizarra (20 minutes from malaga) and looks like in Alora (30 minutes from Malaga, close to El Chorro) is going to have a mid sized one like Padul, also a big version of a pump truck in Estepona (40 minutes) and a few more in the air, we will see...
I'm so glad to be involved with this because I know how much people love it and it feels good to help to keep the motivation with nice parks. I hope the cities and towns understand the difference and they keep coming!"