Some parks deserve a bit of coverage...the Mission Valley YMCA is definitely one of them, since it’s been a staple point of the BMX scene for the past six years (through two locations).We asked the Mission Valley Bike & Skate Park Coordinator, Laszlo Keleman some questions about the past, present, and future of the park.
06-05-06Give a brief history of the Mission Valley YMCA.
The Mission Valley YMCA has had a history with skateparks for about 15 years now. It started to appeal to the BMX community at our last location about 6 years ago at the previous park that I worked at. At the time skateboarding was kind of mellowing out and there was a slight demand from the community to have a park that allowed bikers. So we tried it out. It started with one session a week for 3 hours, and it just grew from there. Our prior location closed down about 4 years ago and we relocated to our new location. The same thing happened and people needed a place to ride. So we gave it a chance I had not yet become in charge, but I highly urged the people in charge at the time to provide a place for people to ride. Once again it was a slow start but the numbers were growing and we are now operating bike sessions every day after 2:00 until dark, except for Mondays.

What does the park currently feature?
60 ft wide vert ramp, concrete pool (no bikes, sorry, unless your special), and a 50,000 sq ft street course that includes a 4′-6′ mini-ramp. The course is pretty much evenly divided with about half the terrain directed towards skateboarding and the other half towards bikers. Also we have a newly redesigned street course that is street oriented for skateboarding, but all the bikers are killing it also, it has a variety of hips, a jersey, sub boxes, ledges, stairs, rails, the money maker box jump and a 12′ tall bowled corner with a curved wall ride.

How many changes has the park gone through?
Over the past 4 years…nothing for the first 2 years. Then we started changing obstacles as ramps were getting damaged. For the past year there have been numerous minor changes to add new elements of variety to the course so that no one got sick of the same thing over and over again.

 credit: Ryan Fudger

Chris Hervan has been known to come to the park just to ride flatland. Feeble grind up to manual to barspin and a feeble up to hang nothing in between flat sessions. Click here to see the sequence.

What prompted the recent redesign?
There was concern for the direction the park was heading and it has not had any serious major maintenance done for the past 3 years. It was time to do something drastic or the place was going to fall apart. So instead of spending everything on fixing the broken ramps and wasting a lot of time, we chose to demolish 1/3 of the course and completely redesign it for pretty much the same cost.

What do you think the M.V. park offers over other parks in San Diego?
We are the only park in San Diego that currently offers bike sessions. We have obstacles for people of all skill levels. You can try stupid stuff on a 2 ft quarter pipe or air out of a 12 foot quarter. There is just so much space that you can session different areas of the park throughout the day.

Why do you choose to let BMX into your park while other YMCA parks don’t?
I’ve had great support and help from all the locals and the industry. I try to get outt and talk to all the riders and they have great input. I think if other parks would listen there could be a great opportunity to add a great new aspect to their parks.

The M.V. park actually seems to be pretty BMX orientated; did that happen consciously?
At first the course was really skateboard oriented and since more riders were coming I tried to add new things that the locals would be stoked on. I definitely tried to design and add aspect that the bikers would like. Its fun trying to come up with new crazy ideas for ramps that bikers can hit, I can get pretty wild with some designs that are specifically designed for riding.

What are the current rules with BMX in the park (pegs/mixed use/time/etc)?
There are no restrictions on pegs. Basically people can ride any day after 2:00 except Mondays. We have been very busy lately since we’ve remodeled and we might start having a rotating session on the new obstacles. This means that for example, first bikers would session the new stuff for 30 minutes and then we would rotate to let the skaters ride it. But the riders can still ride about half the course while the skaters are on the new stuff. We will rotate every 30 minutes. We will only enforce this most likely on the weekends when there are younger kids around so that we have no accidents. Also we don’t want the razor scooter mob cutting around the corner of a ramp when people are hitting the box and hips.

Hoang Tran enjoying the new Backyard Jam-inspired booster box.

You’ve recently thrown a couple of contests. Each seems to get better and better, are you planning on doing more?
Definitely! I would like to throw 3-4 contests a year. That is the goal for me for now. There is just so much going on. It seems as though the Retro Jam {contest story can be seen here: http://www.bmxonline.com/bmx/features/article/0,15737,1155820,00.html} and Biketober Fest {video from the contest can be seen here: http://www.bmxonline.com/bmx/videos/image/0,15741,960616_1121472,00.html} will be happening every year and we are going to add another event for the summer time. Everyone has had such a good time and people come from so far away. Every time I put together a contest I get excited, there is just such a great response and there is great help from the industry. I can’t complain, I look forward to seeing who might show up. The list of pros keeps growing for our events.

What are the future plans/goals for the park?
More variety. Starting this summer and into next summer, I plan to do multiple minor and major makeovers throughout the park. I have planned that at least every other month we will be able to change, or add something new to the park, Also more events, that will grow larger every time.

Little Tammy tried to shoot a sequence of a toothpick hanger to 180 (which he’s pulled before), but he couldn’t get it done on this day. Regular tooth-hanger on one of many MV flat bars.  credit: Ryan Fudger

Any thanks?
Jay Miron, Fudger, Dave at Primo, Sean At S&M, Marco at Props, John at Sole Tech, Ron at Sparky’s, Ralph at Animal, Steve & Jeff at FBM, Mike at Snafu, Sean at TransAm, Zack at Kink, Kronik Energy, Ricky at DirectBMX, the locals, 1904, Rachel, my staff, Winger Inc. and everyone that comes to ride, and those who lend a hand when we need it.