Shortly after moving into his house in 2001, Matt Beringer started off with a mini ramp in the yard, a few ramps in the garage, and then slowly progressed from there with the help of donations, found objects, and whatever else he could get his hands on. Today, it's hard to think of a house that is more consumed by BMX than Beringer's--from his rider roommates, machine shop in the basement, trophy room and BMX memorabilia scattered throughout, the bowled-in garage, and of course, the backyard. Matt's house has become legendary for the ramps, ever changing and expanding backyard setup, and just the aura of wackiness, weirdness, and fun that is Matt Beringer. People from all around the world have made the trek to his small Utah town just to experience the house for themselves--it's become almost like a pilgrimage. With over a decade of hard work and dedication trying to turn his visions into reality, the backyard has become a testament to Matt's love and passion for BMX. With so much history and stories to tell, we let Matt take the reigns and caption all the photos and answer some questions as well. There’s a lot to read here, so prepare yourself! --Jeff Z.
How long after moving in did you begin to build ramps? And what came first?
It was in the first year that we got the mini ramp from some friends in Salt Lake City. I remember going down there, taking it apart, and moving it up here on a trailer. It was crazy because one time we had two giant 12 foot wide transition pieces on a trailer like big spoilers. We where driving on the freeway just waiting for the Highway Patrol to roll up next to us and say, “Hey guys, I've been behind you for a while with my lights on." We wouldn’t have known because it was impossible to see behind us.
Was it the plan all along to make the whole yard rideable?
Yeah, the thing is, there used to be a little wood fence between the immediate back yard and the far back yard. Once we got the mini ramp here we just built on stuff in the immediate backyard that linked into the mini ramp. It was a long time before we got a tractor here, then the little fence came down and we started building further back. There’s a slide turn back in the back left corner now that’s as far back as it goes. Walking back to the back fence kind of makes this place seem less than half full still.
When did you start bowling in the garage?
In the first year for sure. I remember Mike Aitken and Tim Thompson trying to figure out who was going to be parking in the garage after it got cleaned out from moving in and I said “Nobody’s parking in there, I’m building a ramp in there." We just got the mini ramp out back and had leftover wood so I went in there one night and started cutting four foot trannies because I could get four out of each 4' x 8' sheet. Nobody has ever parked a car in the garage since the last people that had this house. Funny thing is, the first thing I ever worked on with this house was putting a new garage door opener in. Now the garage door tracks and garage door opener are under the mini ramp. They have been for years. I wonder if the opener even works still.
It seems like the building in the garage kinda reached its limit...
Yeah. It’s bowled all the way around and built up to the ceiling almost everywhere. I always wanted to make a crazy cradle with the first vert corner, but I think it would be too tight and someone would get destroyed. The thing about all the rest of it being filled in so much is that there’s not that much room for more than two or three people to session in there at once.
How have your neighbors reacted to your evolving yard over the years?
The people that used to live to the east of us at first, they wouldn’t ever look over. I know that it was over a year that we lived here and I had never even met them. One day I just finally walked over and introduced myself and just said, "I hope you guys just don’t completely hate us." They were nice and said that they didn’t hate us. They just kept to themselves almost all the time. The neighbors on both sides have always been cool. There’s been a couple times when new people moved in both of those houses and I was always worried about somebody moving in and shutting us down. Actually, I think I’ve probably had the coolest neighbors ever for not calling the cops on some of the wild times that we’ve had here. A lot of the times I’ve thought to myself, I would have called the cops if I were them.
How many different roommates have you had?
Wow, let me think. At first it was me, Tim Thompson, Mike Aitken, Justin Miljour, and Pat Kendall. Over the years there have been a lot of roommates that have come and gone. Some of them I don’t even know what ever happened to them and where they are now. Bowling Ball, Zon, Josh Laurio, Brandy, Clint Peters, Brian Miller, Jeff Brown, Dave Thompson, and Ethan Spaulding. So I guess there’s been 13 other people that have lived here besides me.
Are there any specific ones worth mentioning, because they were crazy, weird, or just awesome?
Damn, that makes me think of so many stories of good and bad things that have happened here. I’m just going to say that I’m better friends with some of them now than when they lived here, I miss some of them being a roommate here, some of them I’d rather never see again, a couple of them owe me money, and one of them has a car buried in my back yard. You can be really good friends with some people, but when it comes to living with them, that’s another story.
Mike Aitken, Brian Foster, Drew Bezanson, Hucker, Garrett Reynolds, Taj, Rob Wise, A.J. Anaya, Clint Reynolds, Def Paul, Josh Hult, Chris Doyle, Corey Bohan, Heath Pinter, Chase Hawk, Tony Cardona, Randy Brown, Ryan Nyquist, Cam Wood, Elf, Pinko, Rooftop, Aaron Ross, Bas Keep, Corey Martinez, Jamie Bestwick, Van Homan, Kevin Porter, Big Daddy, Fuzzy, Jonesey Fedderson, Ethan, Cody Gessel, Pantyboy, Greg Ingersol… I guess that’s a short list of people that I can think of off the top of my head. The amount of people that have shredded here makes it hard to think of 'em all.
What are some of the sickest things you've witnessed back there?
Brian Foster jumping off the roof and then hipping from the old extension to the hip landing out of the mini doing one hand tables, BF going off the roof, then up onto the roof on the other side, Hucker front flipping off the shed, Aitken, off the roof and then hipping over the deck into the roller ramp during a Halloween party at night with a bunch of dumb asses on the deck, Drew Bezanson jamming down the waterslide and then tailwhipping over the dish (even jumping it), Josh Hult tailwhipping over the shed and then trying to double whip it, A.J., off the roof-to-triple whipping the hips on both sides, Rob Wise icepicking the window ledge from the mini over the part that I side wallrode, Garrett Reynolds double trucking off the shed, Cam Wood caveman off the roof into the mini, Rob Wise dropping off the roof into the mini before the extensions where there, Taj downside whip transfer onto the shed-to-360 off, Taj 540 tailtapping the tight tranny steep bank thing on coping the whole time.
I know some summers would get really crazy with riders from out of town wanting to come visit and ride at your house. Can you describe what it was like during the craziest, most hectic time?
Yeah, there has been some crazy times when people would come into town and stay here and then I’d get a day before I left town and then when I got back there’d be more people here. Sometimes it’s been team after team. I guess it was 2010 when I cracked my skull at FDR. I came back here and couldn’t do anything for a couple months. Then Road Fools 18 came here, and then another team or crew, then the DC guys, then another crew, and then some of the S&M team came here. It’s really cool to see what people do when they come ride here and I’m glad people are psyched to come ride, but sometimes it’s like a rerun session to me. Everybody’s cool, but there’s been times when it just seems like this place is a free skatepark/motel. I won’t get anything done in my machine shop or really have time to think about anything besides being a host around here. This place is kind of off and on, it’s either really busy and crazy with people or it’s just empty and dead. That’s how it is lately with it being winter. It’s sad. As for people coming from crazy places, there have been people from Australia, South Africa, Japan, England, and even Idaho. I know there have been people from a lot more places around the world, but it’s just hard to keep track because there’s been so many people that have come through town.
How much upkeep does it take? And have you had to make any sacrifices to keep the yard going?
One thing about Utah is that winter hits. There’s either snow all over everything or it all turns to mud. Snow soaks everything, and then it freezes and melts a bunch of times and then in springtime the first couple inches of everything is like cake mix or something. It’ll be mud under a bunch of crumbling dry mess and everything that’s built steep will fall down. It sucks. As for the ramps, the layer on top can kind of take some of it but usually if it doesn’t you can’t just take it off and put another layer on. Every time I think I’m getting into fixing a little hole in the ramp, as soon as I start getting into it I realize that I’m going to have to replace a big section of the ramp, it turns into a crazy project. These ramps are falling apart from the inside out. The slides have been thrashed by windstorms a couple times and ripped apart where the sections are bolted together. Last year the one that goes to the far backyard didn’t even get fixed and hit all year. I just kept putting off going all the way back there to drill and bolt together the sections that ripped apart because drilling fiberglass sucks. The next thing I knew they were overgrown with weeds the entire length of the slide. That’s another thing that takes over hard. If we don’t go back and get at the weeds, after a rainstorm they’ll be about five times worse. It’s an ongoing battle. As for sacrifices to keeping the yard going… well, I’d have to say that knowing that the resale value of a trashed BMX house is shot kind of sucks. Another thing is… well, my roommates have been cool for the most part, but I’m almost 36 and I don’t want to have my roommates my whole life. As long as I live here I’ll have to have roommates to be able to afford to keep it. I honestly don’t know if that will be much longer.
Can you describe how ideas for new features in the yard usually come about?
It could be something everyone’s sessioning that ends and needs to do something different. I could end up with a hand me down ramp from someone else that I get to figure into everything. There could be a jam coming up and a bunch of people get into changing whatever they want. Or I’ve been known to get into building stuff on my own that I don’t really want anyone else’s help with because I don’t want to hear “We should do this...” when I know they mean “You should do this...” There are a handful of people that actually do constructive work over here. Most the time people have a hard time moving a couple boards out of the way so they can ride stuff that’s not even very hittable. When people act like I’m in their way when I’m trying to fix something, they need to go ride somewhere that doesn’t need to be fixed because they’re wasting my time with their bitching. Sometimes I get more into building than riding.
Did you ever build something that ended up not working?
Ha, that’s a funny thing. I’ve got a problem where I start stuff and get distracted with something else so I’ve half built stuff that could some day be working. I just get into riding or working on some other project. I’m pretty bad at that. One of the things that got almost going is a hot tub that was originally Fuzzy’s. Aitken got it from him and had it working at his house. When he had to fix his deck at his house we ended up with it. At first it was over in the trees by where the trampoline was. Then I found out that wiring it up so far away from the electric box was going to cost a whole bunch of money. I ended up taking out the ramps on the other side of the house that put you from the roller ramp into the old slide. I took out ramps and dug a good square spot for it. I bought a huge bag of gravel and put it down where it needed to go. It sat on the four-wheeler trailer in front next to the driveway for a little while. Then Elf came over with the guys that set up and tear down Winter Dew tour, they came over to skate the garage. They helped us get the hot tub off the trailer, put it through the fence on its side, then get it set down where it needed to go. All it needs is to be wired up, the electric box is right through the window in the garage. Now it’s sat through a couple winters and the cover’s been blown half off a couple times. I’m sure that’s how it is now if I go over there and look at it, half covered with some ratty frozen water in the bottom of it. When the Red Bull Ride and Seek came here I got some 16-foot 2x6s and we put a bunch of flat 2x4s on those and covered it with four 4×8 sheets of 3×4 plywood. It had a bridge/cover thing so you could ride over it and get into the old slide. Since then all that wood has been taken apart and used for other stuff so now there’s just an up ramp, a trashed hot tub, and then the start to the old slide. I need to take that hot tub to the dump or put it on KSL for free and just make it so you can do the old slide loop out of the ramp again. Damn, I guess with all the ways this place has been changed you could just say that most of the things that used to be how they were ended up not working. That could be argued though, because some of the things that have been changed makes me miss how they used to be. This place is an awesome complicated mess.
What is your favorite thing you ever built?
I’d have to say the combination of things that got built for the GnarBQ in '06. Before that construction project you had to walk downstairs with your bike and go out the downstairs back door. I took out the window next to the fridge, busted out all the wall below it, rented a saw for cutting bricks at Home Depot, stood on a ladder out back and cut the window into a door, put a door in, we built a deck off the back of the house, a hill going down to the deck of the mini, extensions on both sides of the ramp so people could session the roof drop. The combination of all those things really changed this place and made it a lot more fun.
That’s changed depending what’s been going on. There has been times when my roommate Ethan has been all about digging on that big spine elbow thing and out there constantly. In 2011 Fuzz got some money from Red Bull for us to work with. Me, Elf, and my roommate Ethan built nonstop for two or three weeks for when that Ride and Seek trip came here. After that was over we got the old Coliseum park bowl corners from our friend Jeff Hall who had them set up in the back of his office over by 5050. I got really obsessed with working on all that stuff and that’s all I did for three or four months. I was always out there hooked on Red Bull with my headphones on, just going crazy like some kind of ramp scrounge that hit the jackpot or something. Mostly with help from GWAR Pandora and the Saltair ghosts, but sometimes Pinko and his crew came over and helped, too. There was four nights in a row that I was just wheel barrowing scrap and rotten wood down to the fire in the fire pit, at least six hours a time and probably eight on the last night when Pinko, Skyler, Beecka, and Forackis came over and helped haul stuff down there. In general, it’s been Skyler Pingree, James Pinko, Chicken, Elf, Tristen Cooper, Beecka, Ethan Spaulding, and Brian Miller in the last year.
How much time do you have to spend getting the yard back into shape after each winter?
It’s probably a couple months depending on if I’m in and out of town or whoever feels like riding over here instead of riding street or the cement park. It kind of gets back into shape a piece at a time. The line where you hip out of the mini, go next to the dish, hit the step-up and then go down to the spine elbow thing usually gets running first. Then the flat between the steep spine off the ramp and the 10-foot quarter. Then the bowl off the side of the mini and the curved wall lips. Then the hip out of the 10-foot to the other quarter. Then the style-jump line. Then the left line. It all kind of goes in a random order depending on who’s over and into it and what they want to hit, and usually the whole yard won’t be all the way running all year. There’s always something that needs to be fixed, everyone will just be having fun riding what’s running and have the intentions of doing it later. Everyone’s standards of what’s good enough to ride or what needs to be worked on are different, too.
Yeah, I always thought that if I were rich I would cut a hole through the wall so you could go from the garage and roll down into the ramp with the roller. I always thought it would be the coolest thing ever if I was rich enough to be like Willy Wonka and just build a big wall around this place. I would just have it be closed and build the most amazing stuff ever, with everyone always wondering what the Hell was going on over here. I guess that’s pretty antisocial, but sometimes I get burned out on stuff and I feel like I’m building it for everyone else to come ride, shoot pictures, and film on. I guess the attention this place has got over the years is my job and I’m psyched that people like it and want to come ride here. I just sometimes feel like this place has had it’s day and it’s on a downward spiral of doom. Winter’s just depressing and as soon as it’s Spring I’m sure I’ll be stoked to build new stuff if I can still afford to be here and run it like this. I think that’s really the motivation these days, the fact that we’ve got a place where this kind of stuff can be built and sessioned with friends. I can’t take that for granted. The best thing would be to have a sick invite contest here, have [Nate] Wessel go crazy with the ramps, have Elf, Gilly, Clint Reynolds, Matty, Nutter, and Dave King build for three weeks or so. Then turn this into some kind of BMX time-share or something after it’s over.
Was there ever a point when you thought, "Ok, the yard is perfect, I'm never going to change it up again."
In the fall of 2011 I was so close to having this place 100% for the first time ever. We got the main part of the whole yard awesome for Ride and Seek and the Coliseum bowl turns we got from Jeff were up and running. I just needed to put Masonite in the 3/4 bowl and on the mini. I had a couple slide turns going into place for a little S-run coming back up from the dirt spine/elbow. I had angle iron on the right side of the shed and started widening the lip and landing for making that line. It seemed like having this place 100% was so close to being a reality, but around every corner was a new idea of what needed to be done or something to fix. Then a windstorm took out some sections of the far back slide and then winter hit. When spring of 2012 came along I just didn’t have the crazy motivation or the money I needed to go to Lowe’s and get new stuff to fix a lot of things. When I had gone crazy trying to work the bowl turns into the mix at the end of 2011 I had maxed my credit card out. In 2012 we got the jumps running and I layered some parts of the ramps that really needed it, but there wasn’t some kind of jam or goal to go crazy for. We just rode and had fun. Right now everything’s covered in a foot of snow and there’s still a couple months left of that. When spring of 2013 happens we’ll see what’s in store for this place. I’ll hopefully have a couple more roommates in here helping with the bills. If this place isn’t doomed and gets rebuilt and fixed up in the spring, there’ll be a “Don’t Tour” or “GnarBQ” in 2013.