The Loading Bay X DIG Presents: Modularity
A Glasgow response to the un-creative world imposed by covid
Words by Kerr Bilsland. Photos by Olly Geary, Jacob Campbell and Innes Graham
It feels like at this point it's dull to talk about what happened in 2020. Instead, from here on out we should acknowledge what we missed out on and how we move forward from it. Like many that check DIG it will have been jams or group street rides that you missed the most. In Scotland we're not gifted the wonders of nice weather. You can typically expect a bleak outlook from September til March. What we are lucky enough to have is some of the best indoor skateparks in the world. Most will have seen videos worldwide of the success of Unit 23, TX, EK and Transgression. Now the Loading Bay looks poised to take its place up there amongst the best. What's different is the environment it's established itself within. Not just forward thinking in terms of riding space, but aesthetically, morally and environmentally. It's a space in which we can all take something from, on a personal level.
Like most of the world right now, our local city of Glasgow has seen a seemingly constant stream of changing coronavirus restrictions in the latter half of 2020. And, for three weeks in late November, restrictions stopped Glasgow’s indoor skatepark ‘The Loading Bay’ from trading altogether. Never missing out on an opportunity, we decided to team up with them for a build-and-ride video project whilst their doors were closed.
“The idea of building a modular street section within The Loading Bay had been around since it’s conception, but never quite materialised in the way we imagined. This project became an amazing opportunity to go back to the drawing board, pull inspiration from many sources and build something a little out of the ordinary. We wanted the space to encourage people to be creative with their riding, so we filled it with abstract shapes, bright colours and hanging artwork. Most of the riding obstacles are fairly standard in their design however their modularity allows them to be used in a near limitless number of ways. Something as simple as adding or removing a ledge from a set up can open so much up, and it’s quite refreshing to design a park which fully embraces this flexibility.”
Cain Martin & John Bailey
The goal was to build a new street section which was fully modular and movable, and then to invite four pairs of riders to interpret the potential of the space. With some support from Red Bull UK, some swift design and construction by Vision Ramps, and a team of volunteers, they were able to make this happen within three short weeks.
Aesthetic considerations comprised a large part of the project. The space has been given character through the shapes and colours used in the park design, but also by making space for artwork. Two linear installations of mono-screen-prints hang in the skatepark, one on the brick walled entrance, another suspended above the riders and ramps. Lines embedded in the scribble drawings echo the marks on the floors, walls and obstacles made by wheels, pegs and trucks. The artwork “Two-Step” is a collaborative body of work by Beth Shapeero and Fraser Taylor and is the first (though not the last) exhibition to be held in the skatepark.
After a week the build was done. In a massive effort through help from the Loading Bay locals the new main room was brought to life. The colours chosen reflect those used in The Loading Bay's cafe and reception space. Not colours you would usually find in a skatepark but the idea was to hopefully step away from the staples of a normal skatepark interior.
"Scotland is a hotbed of BMX talent so finding riders who could make it to The Loading Bay during lockdown was the easiest part of the project." - Kerr Bilsland
Scotland is a hotbed of BMX talent so finding riders who could make it to The Loading Bay during lockdown was the easiest part of the project. We invited four pairs of riders and gave them each a full afternoon or evening to film. Sean McGilly and Jensen Murray joined us from the east coast of Scotland, Alex Donnachie and Joe Foley of BSD brought some top-shelf heat, Hector Spencer-Wood and Rory McLean showed us why pegs are not necessary, and Guy Scroggie and Dan Banks were on hand to demonstrate some technical street prowess and peg chinkery. It's also worth noting that Thomas Roulston was due to film with us as well, but due to breaking his back big Tam couldn't ride with us. Although he did show up - much to our delight - as you'll see in the credits.
“Having the park to ourselves with such a good crew and tools on hand to make adjustments was incredible. You get the chance to do things you might not normally be able to. The rail to curved wallride we built would be almost impossible to find in the street, so getting the opportunity to ride something like that was absolutely sick. Thanks for the opportunity.”Joe Foley
If you check your social media, you'll no doubt be faced with a rider from Scotland these days. In some weird way the place seems to bring out exceptional riders left, right and centre. That's in no doubt thanks to BSD and the brilliant job they do in supporting Scotland's fringe riders. Joe Foley is the latest remarkable person to show up on the Glasgow scene. I've personally never seen someone with more of a hunger to ride than Joe, he simply attacks any obstacle put in his way.
After filming was wrapped up on the last evening, Joe had "One more idea". The idea was to screw a Subrosa rail to the top of the five set and pegs bar it. Sadly it just all went very wrong. Joe already had a rolled ankle and his leg went straight into the ground snapping it fully in half. Due to covid, the ambulance services were particularly busy that evening and upon phoning, we were told it'd be a 4 and a half hour wait for Joe to get there. Luckily we were in the forntunate position of having spare sheets of plywood, drills and screws. John and James fabricated a makeshift stretcher with a splint to hold his foot upright n'everything. I actually temporally lost grip of Joe's foot while we were about to move him onto the strecher and watched his foot do a full 180 while hanging by the skin. The man still stunts even when he's broken! Thankfully Joe got surgery and after a big steel rod was implemented into his leg is up walking around, keep your eyes peeled for the comeback!
"This project became an amazing opportunity to go back to the drawing board, pull inspiration from many sources and build something a little out of the ordinary." - Cain Martin / John Bailey
Rory Mclean has been making waves on social media lately, his brand of pegless riding has us all re-considering how we view pegless riding. Hector Spencer-Wood is someone I've always wanted to film with and the two of them couldn't have paired up better for the closing section. Even though their riding is different in style it's massively enjoyable to watch combined together.
It's been a dark year, but somewhere in the new, brightly-painted main room at the Loading Bay we've been able to find a joy that wasn't there for some time. It's an amazing feat being able to build, film and produce a whole video with friends you've known for so long. Entirely unintended as well, and simply at a point in each others lives where we've picked up the skills to work together on a project such as this. Have we reached our peak? Not a chance. We’re just getting started...
And the winners are...
A New Dawn for Premium