Mooresville, NC. Race City USA. Home of the bustling NASCAR industry, Rick Flair, and the Goatpen. Nestled between lush farmland and fields of cattle lies our sacred oasis, a place of refuge for asylum-seeking concrete connoisseurs and good-timing folk alike. We’re hidden deep in the thick Carolina Kudzu, and there is no address. There are only landmarks and context clues. If you see the cows you’ve gone too far. This overgrown sliver of land is an ongoing experiment on the communal power of strength in numbers and tireless dedication. But we’ll get to that. How the hell did we end up with a private concrete skatepark?
Some fifteen years ago, in my early teens, my parents purchased two acres of land and an old body shop to house equipment and supplies for their concrete foundation business. If I’d only known then what I know now. At that point I couldn’t be bothered to care about anything past where I’m riding next and who I could make out with soonest. My ragtag friends and I swiftly colonized the mostly empty building and filled it with all the ramps we could construct, a lot of the wood pilfered right under my parents nose. Parties ensued. I really skinned my teeth out there. Early experiences with weed, beer, debauchery, and sessions lasting into the mornings nearly drove my parents to late-term adoption.
I had a video premiere there once. We had a bouncer checking IDs, and over 200 people came. Regardless of precautions taken, lots of underage drinking went on. Myself included. I find it funny looking back now; me holed up behind a chicken coop swigging cheap beers exactly where the skatepark sits now. This area housed our two goats, one of which had three legs. He was aptly named “Third Gear”, and then years later the spot would appropriately adopt its locational namesake. (Fun fact, at first we called it the Mouse Trap until we realized that a spot with the same name already existed).
Anyway, I had just taken my last gulp of cheap beer and was ready to return to the crowd of drunken animals when I hear the scream of a teenaged young man bawling and running up the driveway. He’s got blood all over his face... I’ve never seen a place clear so fast. I kid you not, in a matter of a minute all 200 people hiked, biked, and motored up the driveway. I circle the building to find only my parents, fists clenched and pacing. My blushing drunken demeanor did nothing to uplift their moods. The bloody teenager, when asked by mom to not smoke in the building, responded with a “Who the fuck are you?” and shoved her on his way past. He might have made it two more paces before his nose met my dads chapped Irish fist. Party’s over. Things calmed down after that.
I spent a wayward decade or so outside my hometown, traveling and studying skateparks and DIY builds alike. My comrades and I had executed a couple small builds, some successful and some complete flops. A true moment of clarity struck me under a bridge in Atlanta. I had snuck to a secret DIY at 6am (the official hour of BMX sessions at DIY spots) in hopes to catch a few laps. Upon arriving, the place left me utterly baffled. 10 years of all hand mixed concrete work spanned the grounds and climbed the pillars. I need this in my life NOW. I don’t need to beg others for approval or inclusivity. I need my own. My epiphany timed almost comedically with the sale of my parents company. In its wake, piles of rebar, lumber, and equipment were left at the Goatpen to die. I knew back home we had the hands, a few homies with experience in the skatepark industry, and my family’s staggering support. I just needed to give myself over to this process. I high-tailed my ass back to the Carolinas.